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Vietnam War, Operation Rolling Thunder, 1965 1968

2950 words - 12 pages

Vietnam War, Operation Rolling Thunder, 1965-1968Chapter 1IntroductionOperation Rolling Thunder was a frequently interrupted bombing campaign that began on February 24, 1965 and continued until the end of October 1968. During this period U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft engaged in a bombing campaign designed to force Ho chi Minh to abandon his ambition to take over South Vietnam. The operation began primarily as a diplomatic signal to impress Hanoi with America's determination. Warning the North Vietnamese that the violence would increase until Ho Chi Minh gave in. Secondly, it was intended to bolster the sagging morale of the South Vietnamese. Additionally, targets were supposedly chosen to damage the supply lines between Hanoi and their soldiers fighting in South Vietnam. This damage to the supply chain began to increase in importance as the U.S. determined that the will of the North was not being broken by this campaign. This paper will evaluate the strategy of saturation bombing used in this campaign and intends to show that Operation Rolling Thunder was a complete and udder failure in all of its objectives and cost the lives of hundreds of American servicemen.Chapter 2Conflict and Campaign BackgroundThe Vietnam conflict was the longest war America ever fought against a foreign power; the French and Indian War and the American Revolution being the only two other conflicts that were longer in duration. The U.S. began its involvement in Vietnam at the end of 1954, initialing just helping train the South Vietnamese army. The war lasted until April 1975 when South Vietnam finally collapsed. The heaviest U.S. involvement occurred from 1963 to 1973, taking the lives of some 58,000 American men and women with another 365,000 being wounded (1:15).The main goal of the U.S. involvement in this conflict was to preserve the independence of a non-Communist South Vietnam. The means employed to attain this objective, as well as our relations with South Vietnam changed throughout the war. Vietnam was not a conventional war and was fought within a maze of political influences. Each of these factors weighed heavily on the success of campaigns within the war like Rolling Thunder and greatly changed the prevailing military doctrine of the time.One of the prevailing thoughts in military doctrine at the time was the technique known as saturation, or carpet, bombing. Saturation bombing is defined as "dropping a large amount of bombs on an area of varying size over and over again until there is virtually nothing left to bomb (4:1). In most of our modern conflicts, saturation bombing was used to cut off supply lines and decimate the enemy's war-making capabilities. It was believed that air support was a vital part of any war effort in combination with ground troops. In Vietnam, the U.S. tried three separate bombing campaigns; Operation Rolling Thunder, Operation Linebacker I, and Operation Linebacker II. They each had similar, yet varying objectives, each achieving...

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