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Why were US forces unable to defeat the Vietcong? Free essay! Download now

Home > GCSE > History > Why were US forces unable to defeat the Vietcong?

Why were US forces unable to defeat the Vietcong?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 950 | Submitted: 22-Nov-2009
Spelling accuracy: N/A | Number of pages: | Filetype: Word .doc


Whilst the US had the advantage in warfare technology, it proved inappropriate for war in Vietnam and the Vietcong’s strengths soon outnumbered the US’s. Weaknesses such as low morale in the US troops also proved to be a major problem.


On the other hand, many US soldiers had low morale and most didn’t even know what they were fighting for and didn’t feel convinced by the reasons to fight the war. Many were recruited through a draft system and thus didn’t even want to fight. Out of the 2.8 million soldiers that fought, 2 million of them were recruited by the draft system. Most of them just wanted to reach their DEROS so that they could return home. The US didn’t want a heavy body count and as the public got increasingly against the war after seeing the horrors shown on television. Previously the American Press were pro war however it soon backfired and they turned against it. Their reports were negative and this shocked all American Civilians. The Vietcong were winning the support from the Vietnamese people and also the Americans too by now.
Due to the US having the advance in technology, they were able to control air power. They took advantage of this and used it for flying in support, supplies and for bombing and raiding. In the La Dreng Valley in November 1965, 2,000 Vietcong were killed at the price of 300 US troops. Ho Chi Minh didn’t let this loss daunt him, as when it came to guerrilla tactics, they had the advantage over the Americans. Very soon, the US troops were afraid as the Vietcong proved their skills at guerrilla warfare. Fighting war abroad also seemed to be a major obstacle for the US soldiers as they were not familiar with the landscape and the guerrilla tactics. Mosquitoes and other animals in the jungles such as snakes were all over the place in Vietnamese jungles and any step could be fatal with set booby traps. With the cooperation of Vietnamese peasants, they blended in with them and there seemed to be no difference between the peasants and the Vietcong. Women also participated in the war, being home guards (looking out for US activity) and helping lay booby traps. ‘Tunnel rats’ were soon introduced to try to overcome the tunnels dug by the Vietcong. These tunnel rats went down the tunnels alone and tried to explore the structure of the tunnels. However it often proved difficult as the Vietcong were physically smaller than the US and so some couldn’t fit into the tunnels.
The Vietcong were also very good with using natural resources to make traps, such as bamboo sticks for the punji trap. They also ‘re-used’ captured weapons from the enemy. The US had the advance in medical care for the injured as they had control of the air. They could send helicopters to pick up the wounded, whilst the Vietcong had to carried their injured on a wooden pole which had a hammock to carry the injured in. Treatment for US soldiers could be given in hospitals but the Vietcong had to make do with whatever was closest – some operations were preformed in a swamp in knee deep waters.

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