Vietnam At War: The History, 1946-1975 by Phillip B. Davidson

17583439cad44d0.jpg Author Phillip B. Davidson
Isbn 9780891413066
File size 139MB
Year 1988
Pages 12
Language English
File format PDF
Category history


ISBN: 0-89141-306-5 /.50 VIETNAM WAR AT The History 1946-1975 Gen. Lt. USA Phillip B. Davidson, (Ret.) Here, at last, is a comprehensive ac- count of the three wars which ravaged Vietnam for thirty years. For the first time these wars are shown from all sides, a view made possible by recently released class- and other original sources. The book focuses on the central character in all three wars, North Vietnamese Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap. Lt. Gen. Davidson is a professional soldier, intelligence specialist, and historian. He was actively engaged in the Vietnam War from 1967-1969 as chief military ified material intelligence officer in country (J-2, MACV) and knows whereof he speaks. He provides the answers to many of the haunting questions of the Vietnam Wars: with no previous military education or experience how did Giap become a great general and strategist; why did the French lose at Dien Bien Phu; how did the United States slide into the Vietnam War; what was the true nature of the American surprise at Tet, 1968; what really happened at the siege of Khe Sanh; when and where did the United States consider using nuclear weapons and, finally, how and why first at did the United States lose its war. General Davidson worked on Vietnam for eleven years to bring all these War aspects together. The story is told in depth, and documented. Written forcefully with grac r and style, this book is a major contribu* military histoiy. faithfully footnoted ed on back flap) VIETNAM AT WAR VIETNAM AT WAR The Phillip B. History: 1946-1975 Davidson * PRESIDIO Copyright by © 1988 Davidson Phillip B. Published by Presidio Press 31 Pamaron Way, Novato All rights reserved. No CA 94949 part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Inquiries should be addressed to Presidio Press, 31 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Davidson, Phillip B., 1915- Vietnam at war. Bibliography: p. 819 Includes index. 1. Indochinese War, 1946-1954. Conflict, 1961-1975. I. 3. 2. Vietnamese Vietnam—History— 1945-1975. Title. DS553.1.D38 1988 ISBN 0-89141-306-5 959.704 Printed in the United States of America 87-7320 Contents Preface ix Acknowledgments xi PARTI 1 2 3 4 5 6 Volcano Under the Snow The French Campaign, 1946-1947 The French Campaign, 1948-1949 Giap's First Offensive Campaign, 1950 Jean de Lattre de Tassigny 3 35 57 75 95 Giap's General Counteroffensive, January 1951-May 105 1952 7 Winter-Spring Campaign, September 1952-May 1953 8 137 The Origins of Dien Bien Phu, 21 May-20 November 1953 9 161 Dien Bien Phu: Preparations for Battle, 20 November 1953-13 March 1954 1 1 Dien Bien Phu: The Battle, Dien Bien Phu: A Critique 12 Interbella, 1954-1964 1 193 12 March-7 May 1954 223 273 283 vn viii VIETNAM AT WAR PART II 3 The Year of Crisis, 1964 14 A War That Nobody Wanted, 1965 1 5 William Childs Westmoreland: The 1 16 1 7 8 19 20 1 21 311 333 Inevitable General "Oley's War," "Westy's War," and "Nobody's 369 War," 1966 The Best of Years and the Worst of Years, The Tet Offensive, 1968 387 425 1967 Decision, Dissent, and Defection, 1968 General Creighton W. Abrams: One of a Kind Nixon's War: Peace With Honor, 1969 22 The Cambodian Raids of 1970 23 The Raid Too Far: Lam Son 719, 1971 24 Totus Porcus: The Whole Hog, 1972 25 An Indecent Interval, 1973-1974 26 Defeat, 1975 27 Why We Lost the War Glossary Bibliography Index 473 529 575 587 623 637 673 735 767 795 813 819 828 Preface I wrote States this won a defeat is book to explain to my own how satisfaction the United every battle in and over Vietnam and yet lost the war. Such unprecedented in the annals of military history. And we did lose the war. Our objective was to preserve South Vietnam as an ''independent, non-Communist state," and we obviously failed to do that. Refusing to accept this defeat, or saying that we won the shooting war, may assuage our bruised egos, but it oversimplifies the 1 conflict and distorts our understanding of true nature. its Faced with the task of finding out how we decision I had to make was at what time search for the answer. After some thought, occurred to me: beginning, that start at the lost the in history I war, the should begin the not very original when is, If I back to the thirties symbol I were going thirties and Army were forties. United States' defeat in the seventies and I forties, Vo Nguyen Army and Vietnamese answer to trace the must then to tie this lengthy scenario together. chose Sr. Gen. my the Vietminh, the Vietnamese Communist Party, and the North Vietnamese being formed and developed, in the first find As some way or some the connecting symbol Giap, longtime commander of the North North Vietnam's minister of defense. principal figure throughout the three wars He was a which ravaged Indochina: Indo- between the Vietminh and the French, Indochina War II between the United States/South Vietnam and North Vietnam/ Viet Cong, and Indochina War III between North and South Vietnam. Only Ho china War I Chi Minh was more dominant in Communist affairs than Giap, but Ho IX VIETNAM AT WAR died in 1969, well before the final Communist victory of 1975 and the historic events leading to that triumph. The focus on Giap gives other insights. Through him and his associates how the war looked to the North Vietnamese. We can scrutinize the internal disputes in the North Vietnam Politburo about the nature of the conflict, and we can see the changes Giap made in strategy and we see tactics in response to shifting circumstances. Finally, a study of Giap reveals the unique strategy he and his cohorts conceived, developed, and used against Vietnam War — us. The answer lies in large National Security Action to my Memorandum —how question measure, then, with did we Vo Nguyen 288, March 17, 1964. lose the Giap. Acknowledgments I owe My a deep debt of gratitude to those who helped me write this book. profound thanks go to that distinguished soldier, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the commander of United States forces in Vietnam from 1964-1968 and Chief of Staff, United States Army, from 1968-1972. He gave me many personal documents not heretofore made public and generously assisted throughout the book's preparation with advice, com- ment, and critical insight. Let not agree with everything I me hasten to add that he probably does have written here. I am also indebted in Walt W. Rostow, now a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, and onetime national security adviser to President Johnson during the critical period of the Vietnam War. Conversations with him were essential in clarifying several crucial points and areas. To Douglas Pike, the West's foremost authority on Vietnamese communism, I acknowledge another debt. He not only made available the invaluable resources of his Indochina Studies Program at the University of large measure to Dr. California, Berkeley, but brought a unique insight into the strategy of revolutionary war, North Vietnamese-style. Col. John Schlight, U.S. of the United States Army Army, Retired, and Mr. Arthur S. Hardyman Center of Military History furnished valuable documents, maps, and photographs. Col. Dale E. Finkelstein, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Army, provided expert advice on the rules of land warfare, while Maj. Gen. Rathvon McC. Tompkins, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired, contributed valuable information regarding the siege of Khe Sanh and the "water point" story. My thanks go to Mr. XI xii VIETNAM AT WAR Alfonso J. Butcher and Miss Patricia Heaton of the Ft. Sam Houston library for their long-term assistance. Finally, I Morris, U.S. owe a huge debt of Army, not only for gratitude to the late Col. Charles A. in Vietnam, during one of which principal assistant. RIP, Charlie. on this work, but for two tours as an intelligence officer had the honor to have him as my his assistance his outstanding contributions during I Part I I Volcano Under the Snow On 7 May 1975 the ABC evening news report showed an action shot of the North Vietnamese hierarchy celebrating Vietnam. From a platform Pham Van Dong, Vo Nguyen mander in front the North its victory over South of the Presidential Palace in Saigon, Vietnamese premier, pointed to Sr. Gen. Giap, the North Vietnamese minister of defense and com- armed forces. "There," proclaimed Dong, "is " This was not the usual hyperbole of triumph; this was a fitting tribute, for Giap commanded the North Vietnamese armed forces from 1944, when it consisted of one platoon of thirtyfour men, until 1972 or 1973, when it became the third-largest army in the world. He made war for over thirty years, and he beat the French, the South Vietnamese, and, judged by the final results, the United States of America. What is more unusual is that Giap had no prior schooling, training, or experience to fit him for the role he played. in chief of its the architect of our victory. Vo Nguyen Giap was born in 1912 in the village of An Xa in Quang Binh province, just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Quang Binh and the two neighboring provinces to the north, Ha Tinh and Nghe An, form the North Vietnamese "panhandle," which is one of Vietnam's most impoverished areas. Historically these three provinces have shown little respect or sufferance for their governors, be they Chi- nese, French, or even Vietnamese. The inhabitants revolted against the Chinese; they rose up against the French in the 1880s and again in VIETNAM AT WAR 1930; and they rebelled against North Vietnam's land reform program no coincidence that the area produced not only Giap, but Pham Van Dong and Ho Chi Minh as well. Not much is known about Giap's parents. Some sources say that his father was a scholar and a teacher; others state that he was only a poor farmer. What is certain, however, is that the elder Giap was a Vietnamese revolutionary. He took an active part in the uprisings against the French in 1885 and 1888, and Giap grew up in an atmosphere filled with revolutionary fervor and hatred for the French. 1 In 1924 Giap entered the Lycee National at Hue. It was an unusual school, founded, ironically, by Ngo Dinh Kha, the father of Ngo Dinh Diem, who would be a future leader of South Vietnam, and as such, one of Giap's many adversaries. The older Ngo, a high-ranking mandarin, wanted an institution in which exceptional Vietnamese boys could get an integrated Vietnamese/Western education free of French influence. in 1956. Its It is alumni testify to his success, including not only the Ngo brothers Ho Chi Minh and Pham Van Dong as well. Giap launched his career as a covert revolutionary at the age of fourteen. His guide into this murky underworld was Phan Boi Chau. Chau had a long history as an anti-French agitator, and for his revolutionary activities, the French Surete drove him out of Vietnam to China. There he came to know Ho Chi Minh, then going under one of his innumerable aliases as Ly Thuy. Each headed a different Vietnamese revolutionary group and therefore they were rivals. The French say that and Giap, but in June 1925, Ho betrayed Ho Chau to the Surete in Shanghai for 100,000 on two grounds: Chau's arrest and trial would stir up a hotbed of resentment in Vietnam, which was something the Revolution needed; and Ho needed his share of the piasters. Years later justified this treachery Communist organization in Canton. 2 Phan Boi Chau was returned to Hanoi, tried and sentenced money at to finance his to life hard labor, but a few weeks later the French reduced his sentence to permanent house out of jail, arrest in Hue. The French not only but they permitted Chau let this firebrand to receive visits, principally from schoolboys. Giap described these visits in his collection of writings, The Military Art of People' s War: "Often he (Chau) told us about world On events. the walls of his house were portraits of and Sakyamuni. truth." 3 We Sun Yat-sen, Lenin, were of those youths so eagerly searching for the on world affairs, Chau preached to the In addition to his talks " Volcano Under the Snow youths what he wrote in one of his books, that ". up one day and fight for 4 day, woe to the French!" Sometime people will that rise their later . .the oppressed And on Giap was pushed even independence. deeper into the revolutionary movement after he read a pamphlet written by another Nguyen Ai Quoc nationalist in exile, Nguyen was another alias of the ubiquitous or 'Nguyen the Patriot. Ho ' Chi Minh (that name is Trial, Giap records that the pamphlet, entitled Colonialism on was passed from hand to hand among the young revolutionaries, and ". also an alias). it . inspired us with so . much hatred, and thrilled us." 5 In 1927 Giap, with other students at the Lycee, launched a "quit school" movement as a protest against some perceived French injustice. was a "Children's Crusade" and, like the original, quickly collapsed. Giap was expelled from school and went back to his home in the village of An Xa. One day a friend from Hue visited him and they talked of revolution and politics. Before the friend left An Xa, he recruited Giap into the Tan Viet Party, whose aim was \ .to carry out first a national 6 revolution and then a world revolution." Although the Tan Viets were not Communists, they tilted heavily in that direction. It ' . Shortly thereafter, Giap, then about sixteen, returned to active underground until member Hue as an of the party, serving with the Tan Viets 1930. In the spring of that year the Tan Viets (including Giap) joined another nationalist group, the Viet Nam Quoc Dan abortive uprising against the French. Giap was Dang, in an arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, but the length of his actual stay in jail is obscure. Giap claims that he was imprisoned for two years; others believe he spent only a few months in prison. At any rate Giap has always omitted any discussion of the period between 1930 and 1932 his life. This Giap, for it in his imprisonment, of whatever length, was not provided him his another revolutionary, a young first girl romantic interlude. In accounts of all bad for jail he met named Minh Thai, who was to become his first wife. By 1932 he had somehow ingratiated himself to the French, and with their consent he took and passed the difficult Baccalaureate in Hue and moved to Hanoi, the site of the nation's best university. Giap entered when he gained a He failed to obtain the Certificate of Administra- the university in 1933 and remained there until 1937 Bachelor of Law degree. tive Law him to practice. the following year, however, Nor which would have permitted did he win a Doctorate of Law, as many sources VIETNAM AT WAR claim. His biography in the hands of the United States he also gained the equivalent of a doctorate that but other sources dispute About Giap's in political science, is no dispute professors described him —he was a preco- most brilliant as "the student at the University at that time," but noted that man "he was a young eager to learn, but introverted." During his student days university, During this states this. scholastic aptitude there One of his cious student. Army at the Giap read every available book on history and communism. same period he met Pham Van Dong, now premier of North Vietnam, and Truong Chinh, the Party's leading theoretician. Chinh converted Giap to doctrinaire communism, and Giap joined the Commu- nist Party in 1937. Giap continued economy, but his academic In 1938 to attend the university, studying political brilliance waned. He now spent most of his time at the mundane business of earning a living and in writing articles for four underground newspapers, two in in Vietnamese and two French. In 1937-1938, with Truong Chinh, he completed a two-volume work The Peasant Problem. Wilfred Burchett, the Red propagan- entitled work with his usual excess of admiration for Communist: "Giap, together with Truong Chinh published a Giap and Truong masterly analysis of the Vietnamese peasant Chinh' s profound study of Vietnamese society, The Peasant Problem, served as the basis for the Communist Party, and later Vietminh policies dist in Asia, describes the all things . . . toward the peasantry." 7 To support himself during this stage of his life (circa 1938), Giap taught history in the Lycee Thang-Long, a private high school in Hanoi. He home Dang Thai Mai, whose daughter was to become Giap's second wife. He gained a reputation at the school as a lecturer on history, and a student of his, who in 1954 fled to South Vietnam from Hanoi, told with awe how Giap "... lived at the of one of the professors, could step to a blackboard and draw in the most minute detail every battle plan of Napoleon." His high school pupils called him "the gen- eral," a peculiarly accurate prophecy from a group of derisive children. In either 1937 or 1938 he married Than), the girl Both Minh Thai and her The latter Minh Thai (real name Thi Quan he had met during his prison term in the early had studied sister, Minh in the Soviet Central Committee of the Communist thirties. Khai, were ardent Communists. Union and was a member of the Party of Vietnam. In his writings

Author Phillip B. Davidson Isbn 9780891413066 File size 139MB Year 1988 Pages 12 Language English File format PDF Category History Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Weaving together the histories of three distinct conflicts, Phillip B. Davidson follows the entire course of the Vietnam War, from the initial French skirmishes in 1946 to the dramatic fall of Saigon nearly thirty years later. His connecting thread is North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, a remarkable figure who, with no formal military training, fashioned a rag-tag militia into one of the world’s largest and most formidable armies. By focusing on Giap’s role throughout the war, and by making available for the first time a wealth of recently declassified North Vietnamese documents, Davidson offers unprecedented insight into Hanoi’s military strategies, an insight surpassed only by his inside knowledge of American operations and planning. Eminently qualified to write this history, Davidson–who served as chief intelligence officer under Generals Westmoreland and Abrams–tells firsthand the story of our tragic ordeal in Indochina and brings his unique understanding to bear on topics of continuing controversy, offering a chilling account, for example, of when and where the U.S. considered using nuclear weapons. The most comprehensive and authoritative history of the conflict to date, Vietnam at War sparkles with a rare immediacy, and brings to life in compelling fashion the war that tore America apart. We witness the chaos in Saigon when fireworks celebrating the Tet holiday are suddenly transformed into deadly rocket and machine-gun fire. We sit in on high-level meetings where General Westmoreland plans operations, or simply engages in some tough “headknocking” with subordinates. And in the end we learn that even the seemingly limitless resources of the U.S. military could not match the revolutionary “grand strategy” of the North Vietnamese. With its easy movement from intimate memoir to trenchant military analysis, from the conference rooms of generals to the battle-scarred streets of Hue, this is military history at its most gripping. A monumental, engrossing, and unforgettable chronicle, Vietnam at War is indispensable for anyone hoping to understand a conflict that still rages in the American psyche.     Download (139MB) 10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War The Cambodian Campaign during the Vietnam War Tradition, Revolution, And Market Economy In A North Vietnamese Village, 1925-2006 Inside An Loc : The Battle to Save Saigon, April-May 1972 The Vietnam War: From Da Nang To Saigon (the United States At War) Load more posts

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