The Guerrilla warfare was the one of the main factor that leads to the defeat of the Americans; however I personally believe that there are more important factors like the American mistakes which lead to the US defeat, however the guerrilla tactics were also very important as it meant that Vietnamese troops were very difficult to kill which meant America struggled.
The guerrilla warfare tactics were a very important factor which lead to the defeat of the Americans , the Vietcong troops were experienced fighters that didn’t wear uniform and had no form of military base; this meant that the Americans couldn’t identify their enemy thus preventing the Americans from causing any damage, quote by Ben Walsh :“they were hard to tell apart from the villages”.
In addition to this the Vietcong troops understood the terrain very well which allowed them to move freely around the country; they used the tunnels and the jungle to their advantage, so they could hide when they were confronted this is important because it meant that American soldiers couldn’t attack the enemy, because of this Americans were exposed and couldn’t use their more advanced weaponry.
Previously the Vietcong had fought a war against France ,during this war the Vietcong had used the same approach; this was very important because the Vietcong had huge experience in the whole guerrilla fighting concept which made it very hard for the Americans to hunt them down as the Vietcong knew perfectly when to strike, when to flee and when to hide thus enhancing their performance in the battlefield because the Vietcong used their superior knowledge in the battlefield to avoid big battles with the us army (this was the whole concept behind guerrilla warfare) and allowed booby traps and ambushes create the most casualties in the war “More than one out of ten American battlefield casualties in Vietnam was the result of a booby trap of one kind or another” quote from vietnamwar. net.
His suggests that the guerrilla tactics played a huge role in the defeat of the Americans as it created many casualties and completely demoralised the American soldiers as they were scared of what could happen to them from surprise attacks, ambushes and booby traps however I believe that if the Americans approached the Vietcong with a different strategy and committed fewer mistakes the outcome of the war would have been very different since they had the upper hand in technology, numbers and resources because of this I believe that the guerrilla tactics wasn’t the most important factor as it probably wouldn’t have had an effect of such magnitude if it wasn’t for American mistakes.
Americas strategy was called search and destroy, this approach was very beneficial for the Vietcong because it meant that the Americans would walk into the Vietcong’s trap; the American troop’s mission was to search suspected areas with Vietcong troops however this was a huge mistake because whilst the Americans would be searching an unknown land the Vietcong would pinpoint certain targets and fight them using their guerrilla warfare and run away when confronted, therefor the Americans would fall into Vietnamese booby traps, quote by Patrick O’Donnel:
“When a booby trap explodes, you close your eyes and duck and float outside yourself” this is very important because the poor American strategy lead to many casualties and in cohesion the constant threat of booby traps and guerrilla fighters lead to a demoralised American army which is very important because a demoralised army doesn’t see the point of fighting, this meant that the vast majority of soldiers didn’t want be there and didn’t focus on completing their objectives, most focused on solely surviving the war which lead to the defeat of the Americans. I personally think that the poor tactics that lead to demoralised and dead troops had a huge impact on the war since it meant that America had no clear strategy of facing the enemy and dealing with the Guerrilla tactics and the Vietcong. This poor strategy was then consolidated by the lack of experience in the US soldiers.
The US troops were very inexperienced in the guerrilla wars, most of the American troops were drafted into the war; this meant that the American troops were poorly trained; this is very important because it meant that the search and destroy tactics would be even worsened because inexperienced troops would consistently fall into the Vietnamese traps; furthermore this lack of experience meant that most troops didn’t understand the concept behind the guerrilla tactics so they would walk right into their enemy’s plan by chasing the enemy until they tired themselves out and exposed themselves, however this wasn’t the only consequence of having an inexperienced battalion but also the fact that many soldiers which were drafted and suffered from depression and other mental disorders due to the circumstances they were fighting in;
this lead to really low morale and many soldiers were committing suicide and drug abuse, this lowered America’s chances as many squadrons could not trust each other and this lead to many soldiers not wanting to be there and fragging their general or commander which clearly reduces America’s chances since the general and commander’s direct the squadron and by eliminating them the squad would have no leadership so many soldiers were fighting without any clear strategy because their leader had been fragged thus reducing effectiveness and leading to defeat troops however I personally believe this only had a slight impact on the outcome of the war because if the Americans strategists had come up with a better strategy the Americans of winning the war wouldn’t have been so exposed and wouldn’t have had to deal with such morale and mental issues nevertheless it would have helped if they were more experienced as they could fight back more effectively and commit less errors which would have lead to less casualties.
Another mistake America committed was to provide very expensive weaponry and armour for the unsuitable occasion; the American armour was far too heavy which meant that the troops struggled to go under the tunnels (since they were quite narrow tunnels and required good movement) this heavy armour also meant that the Vietcong could never be chased effectively as the American troops were being weighed down by their armour, in cohesion the American soldiers were provided with very powerful guns however they were unsuitable for the situation as Vietnam was very damp and wet so the American rifles would jam because of this, quote James E. Westheider “This is my M16 supposedly the most advance assault rifle in the world.
The stupid thing jams the minute it gets near water or mud, which is pretty much everywhere in this damn country” this was very important as not only did it make it impossible for the Vietcong to be shot but it also demoralised the American army and this lead to suicide, drug abuse and fragging since many soldiers thought that their death would be coming due to the incompetence of their weaponry, skills and strategy.
The poor American tactics lead to another main factor which was the peace movement, because of the poor American tactics, the American population was well aware of the situation in Vietnam; Innocent villagers and children killed, the shooting of an innocent man in the street; all of this was seen as American colonialism in the eyes of many Americans which meant that “by 1970, the PEACE MOVEMENT had support from all sections of society and no government could ignore it” quote from www. learnhistory. org. com. his was a very important factor as it meant that the American population was very much against the war and put pressure on the government to leave Vietnam.
This was then enhanced by the operation Agent Orange which lead to huge deforestation and the suffering of many civilians, operation orange was a huge propaganda disaster as the operation lead to huge controversy in the United States as many images and protests where let out as a campaign against the war, additionally many American’s lost trust in their Government because even though the US were defeated during the Tet offensive Americans thought that the Vietcong were on the verge of collapsing but the Tet offensive showed that this wasn’t true, its schemes and most importantly the war, however I personally believe that this isn’t the most important reason because the peace movement only arises due to the failure of the war which means that poor military strategy, American mistakes and guerrilla tactics lead to the peace movement thus making those factors more important, however the peace movement did enhance the effects of those factors by adding pressure into the government thus meaning that the American government had to deal with internal and external thus making the whole situation even harder.
In conclusion i believe that the guerrilla warfare played a huge role in the American defeat as it was a great strategy for the situation as it took advantage of the terrain and experience of the troops thus causing many casualties through booby traps and ambushes, however I don’t believe it’s the most important reason as the American’s contributed to their own defeat by using a poor strategy “search and destroy” which exposed their troops and caused many casualties through booby traps as they had to explore an unknown land filled with traps, i personally believe that if the Americans had used a different approach the outcome of the war would have been very different as a more successful battle would have lead to less opposition and this would have probably prevented the peace movement and given the American’s more time to continue fighting as the government wouldn’t have faced internal opposition.