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Vietnam War what if?


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#1 Rod

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1030 AM

After reading Tony Williams "The Foresight War", it got me thinking: Let's us you wake up in 1964 and somehow is able to get McNamara and the Pentagon to believe that you came from the future and you want to help with the Vietnam War. (For brevity sake let us assume that you have to fight the war and cannot fiddle with any other worldwide events such as sending the CIA to kill Khomeini and Osama Bin Laden).

What are some of the things that you would change in Vietnam?

-Begin a Red Flag, Top Gun air superiority program
-Make sure that F-4 Phantoms have an internal gun
-Expand the concept of SEAD
-Develop AWACS as soon as possible
-Put more R&D on laser guided bombs, ECM, jammers, NVG
-Develop and put into service the HueyCobra earlier
-Adjust M-16 training for soldiers (so they have to know how to clean them)
-Begin bombing the North as soon as possible with no safe-heaven
-Begin political reforms in South Vietnam to allow people democratic ideals in which they will really fight for their government
-Use more tanks in combined operations. Upgrade said tanks with ERA and anti-personnel rounds
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#2 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1042 AM

Band-aid stuff.

Charge the ARVN and VNAF with securing what's within their borders (with some U.S. assistance). The U.S. gets tasked with securing those borders....that is, go wherever the NVA, it's log trails, or proxies go...the trail in Laos (no silly 5 mile incursion limits...if they go deep, we go deeper), Cambodia, and shipping via Sihanoukville back to any point of origin or international waters. If the NVA ignore the sovereignty of neighboring states, we "meet" them there. Nothing's going to happen to Cambodia or Laos that didn't happen in a much worse way anyway, and Sihanouk doesn't get overthrown and interned, leading to the Lon Nol gov't and then everybodies' favorite reformer, Pol Pot (The Baron weeps.....)

Cut-off the influx of material and personnel and a lot changes.
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#3 RETAC21

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1054 AM

Mine Haiphong and any other NV harbour that has shipping going in and out.
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#4 baboon6

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1101 AM

The ARVN- Jesus! This is a quote from Martin Windrow's book The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French defeat in Vietnam, about the ANV (Armee Nationale Vietnam, original name for ARVN):
" The ANV reflected the society from which it was raised, so rank was valued as the door to personal privilege rather than to responsiblity, discipline was harsh and arbitrary, corruption was endemic, and initiative and devotion to duty were rare."

This certainly still held true in the 1960s. To me this the crux of the problem. How could the South Vietnamese military (and indeed the government as a whole) be reformed?
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#5 Paul F Jungnitsch

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1110 AM

Avoid the whole problem (This is going back 20 years previous)

Recognize that colonialism was on the way out. Use the power vacuum left after the Japanese leave in 1945 and existing wartime US-Vietnamese connections to help the nationalists in Vietnam take over instead of siding with the French.
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#6 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1120 AM

Avoid the whole problem (This is going back 20 years previous)

Recognize that colonialism was on the way out.  Use the power vacuum left after the Japanese leave in 1945 and existing wartime US-Vietnamese connections to help the nationalists in Vietnam take over instead of siding with the French.

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FDR was totally down with that plan, but he died. The Truman admin was devoted to propping up some crippled Western European allies during what was perceived as a politically vulnerable phase of reconstitution and some bad choices were made. You are obvously not alone in thinking there was another course that might have been charted. Restoring French colonial aspirations need not have been on that route, but sadly, it was. Boogers.
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#7 EchoFiveMike

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1144 AM

Screw all this bandaid shit. Massive full commitment attack on the USSR as soon as possible. Ya'll are worried about symptoms , not the disease. S/F....Ken M
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#8 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1200 PM

Screw all this bandaid shit.  Massive full commitment attack on the USSR as soon as possible.  Ya'll are worried about symptoms , not the disease.  S/F....Ken M

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Aww, Heck...if you're gonna' go nuclear, I'd 'a been for lambasting Ha Noi and Saigon....that'd solved a whole mess of pesky issues, pronto!
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#9 X-Files

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1206 PM

Screw all this bandaid shit.  Massive full commitment attack on the USSR as soon as possible.  Ya'll are worried about symptoms , not the disease.  S/F....Ken M

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Nuke them from orbit.

It's the only way to be... sure.
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#10 JOE BRENNAN

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1217 PM

I think some analogies could me made to the Korean war, original goal (reverse NK invasion and restore a split country) was achieved, though expanded one (unify Korea under the south regime) failed.

-air war and blockade stuff is mainly inherently bandaid or marginal, *perhaps* could push something over the edge to what you want. For example the minor success of Linebacker II in Vietnam, got NV back to Paris table, didn't change the longrun outcome at all, or minor success of US strikes on irrigation dams in NK in 1953 to hasten armistice talks, no lasting big picture effect. NK was blockaded, the supplies just came overland from China despite a more costly in loss rate US air campaign. Same would have happened mining or blockading NV at any time in the war; if "neutral" shipping could use the ports, sure why not? doesn't mean closing them would have accomplished much in the big picture.

-the suggestion to attack the USSR, I assume a joke, shows an underlying truth of both wars: push hard enough on the communist proxy and China and the USSR will join the war, then it becomes unwinnable automatically below the nuclear threshold. China joining on land would have meant stalemate at best with potential for military catastrophe, just like in Korea.

-if the US had laid it down to the French in 1945: "sorry no open ended colonialism in areas liberated from the Japanese, set a date for independent Indochina in next few yrs and go home then, or go home now", it's *possible* Vietnam wouldn't have ended up Communist. The US itself may have had to occupy til late 40's as in Korea. The failure to make that the rule was a huge mistake; though as mentioned FDR was inclined to do it. In Korea even with divided occupation you had the chance for a non-communist political force, albeit itself often weak corrupt and non-democratic, to grow not hopelessly tainted as the stooges of colonialists. The NK's could say the SK's were that, but the SK's could say the opposite vis a vis USSR, but the SV regimes really did start out that way and never got past it, fatal flaw that played over the next few decades.

Joe

Edited by JOE BRENNAN, 21 September 2005 - 1221 PM.

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#11 Paul F Jungnitsch

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1250 PM

If they want to go commie, let 'em. Keep ties as close as possible anyway and keep pointing out the benefits of a gradual transition to free enterprise/democracy. Recognize that communism is naturally a weak system (read 'generally a dumb idea that goes against human nature') that only seems to last in isolation. Vietnamese are naturally about as pro-free enterprise as any people can possibly be.

One of the biggest weakness of the post war free world was the stubborn viewpoint that there was no such thing as a good Communist, even in a transition system.
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#12 Rod

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 1355 PM

If they want to go commie, let 'em. Keep ties as close as possible anyway and keep pointing out the benefits of a gradual transition to free enterprise/democracy. Recognize that communism is naturally a weak system (read 'generally a dumb idea that goes against human nature') that only seems to last in isolation. Vietnamese are naturally about as pro-free enterprise as any people can possibly be.

One of the biggest weakness of the post war free world was the stubborn viewpoint that there was no such thing as a good Communist, even in a transition system.

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Well looking back today in hindsight is easy but the mentality back in the '60s was that socialism/communism was good. It had a great influence in the minds of the youngsters in Europe. For many people worldwide the equality that communism was supposed to provide was a great motivator. Only decades later did we find out the failure of communism. So sitting tight abd watching SE Asia go red and wait for the Berlin Wall to fall might have been difficult given the time period.
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#13 Tiemler

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 2034 PM

To echo what's been said before, we missed an opportunity to avert this disaster as far back as the Eisenhower and Truman administrations.

I don't believe that it was possible to "win" the Vietnam War once we decided that our objectives were to maintain the UN partition of the country into a North and South, rather than to unite the country under a single democratic government.

On the subject of the air war, earlier ACM training would've done less than a set of sensible rules of engagement to protect our aircrews. The internal gun may not have been obsolete by the late '60s, but it should have been.

By the way, anyone have a good link that documents actual cases of gun kills in air combat from the '60s to present day? Can't imagine there's very many.
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#14 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 2042 PM

To echo what's been said before, we missed an opportunity to avert this disaster as far back as the Eisenhower and Truman administrations. 

  I don't believe that it was possible to "win" the Vietnam War once we decided that our objectives were to maintain the UN partition of the country into a North and South, rather than to unite the country under a single democratic government. 

  On the subject of the air war, earlier ACM training would've done less than a set of sensible rules of engagement to protect our aircrews.  The internal gun may not have been obsolete by the late '60s, but it should have been. 

  By the way, anyone have a good link that documents actual cases of gun kills in air combat from the '60s to present day?  Can't imagine there's very many.

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One of the better known is the close in shot (guncamera) footage you see endlessly of, I believe, an F100 gunning down a MiG 15 (or 17) in Vietnam.
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#15 hammerlock

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 2201 PM

Invade the north, and once the North is defeated install a real government for the whole of vietnam.. and then make sure that government that is supported by the poeople. The US would have stop their support of dictorships and work for real choice, no matter what the people elect. To be honest I don't think the US with its anti-communist craziness could do it. Almost any government for the people was seen as socialist and communist, but seeing as is a what if.... we'll give the US some cleaner points of view of the subject.
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#16 Allan Wotherspoon

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 2214 PM

One of the better known is the close in shot (guncamera) footage you see endlessly of, I believe, an F100 gunning down a MiG 15 (or 17) in Vietnam.

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That would be an F-105 guning a MiG 17. As far as I know, there were no air to air kils by F-100's in Vietnam.
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#17 SILL2

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 2327 PM

Combat reporters enlisted/commissioned and in uniform. All other news media on a similar leash as during WWII.

Unit replacement not individual. No calendar/short term tours. Duration. No drawn out ramp up fiddle farting around - everybody drops everybody fights.
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#18 tankerwanabe

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 0105 AM

The ARVN- Jesus! This is a quote from Martin Windrow's book The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French defeat in Vietnam, about the ANV (Armee Nationale Vietnam, original name for ARVN):
" The ANV reflected the society from which it was raised, so rank was valued as the door to personal privilege rather than to responsiblity, discipline was harsh and arbitrary, corruption was endemic, and initiative and devotion to duty were rare."

This certainly still held true in the 1960s. To me this the crux of the problem. How could the South Vietnamese military (and indeed the government as a whole) be reformed?

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How would you reconcile the performance of the North Vietnamese soldier? Same parents, same society, same people, same values. Yet North Vietnam was able to organize successfully... with minimal foreign advisors.

And according to Benard Fall's Hell in a Very Small Place depicting the battle of Bien Bien Phu, the best performing formations were mixed French-Vietnamese paratroopers who continued to volunteer jump into the Valley even after they knew the battle was lost.

The Vietnamese is a warlike culture. There've been plenty of practice with the Chinese for about 10,000 years.

The US should have never committed troops to Vietnam. Should have stuck with the Strategic Hamlet program. Should have only provided military equipment assistance.

Edited by tankerwanabe, 22 September 2005 - 0132 AM.

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#19 JWB

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 0224 AM

1) Put John Paul Vann in charge of the ARVN and allow him to sweep out the corruption.

2) Build a war industry for Saigon.

3) Don't bomb the North. That is counterproductive. It energizes the anti-war movement and gives Hanoi hostages (POW pilots).

4) Mine North Vietmanese estuaries in 1970 when Mao decided that the Soviet influence in Hanoi was becoming dangerous. The bribe China to stay out.

5) Put Abrams in charge of US forces from the beginning.
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#20 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 0725 AM

That would be an F-105 guning a MiG 17.  As far as I know, there were no air to air kils by F-100's in Vietnam.

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Thanks for the correction, I wasn't at all sure.
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