A war too long : the USAF in Southeast Asia, 1961-1975 by John Schlight

By John Schlight

The Air strength instinctively disliked the gradual, slow method the us prosecuted its battle opposed to the Vietnamese communists.  While american citizens absolutely behind schedule a communist victory in South Vietnam, Laos and Camvodia lengthy sufficient to spare Thailand and different Southeast Asian international locations an identical destiny, the yank public grew very uninterested in this conflict years earlier than its dismal end.  Due to questionable political guidelines and decision-making, purely sporadic and comparatively useless use were made from air power’s skill to convey nice strength to undergo quick and decisively.  The usa and its Air strength skilled a decade of frustration made extra painful through the losses of its team of workers killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.  Fighting resolutely and courageously, the Air strength performed the decisive function in forcing North Vietnam to the peace desk in 1973. The calls for of the Vietnam battle pressured new advancements equivalent to laser-guided bombs that might finally significantly rework the form of air warfare. 

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Army could fight a successful war of attrition, making use of mobility and firepower to exhaust a comparatively primitive foe. Believers in airmobility hailed t h t campaign as a vindication of that concept, although they were concerned that the helicopter force, and the maintenance and 3 33 logistics base supporting it, needed strengthening to deal with a likely pro1iferation of assaults by troops landed, supplied, given fire support, reinforced, and finally withdrawn by helicopter. The headquarters of the Seventh Air Force viewed the Ia Drang action as proof that airmobile forces, considering the number of helicopters available and their limitations in firepower and carrying capitcity, needed vigorous support from the command's transports and fighter-bombers and from B-52s7 as well.

On November 1, two American divisions entered the zones and, assisted by more than 1,700 tactical strikes and 225 Arc Light sorties, drove the communists back across the Cambodian border. In three weeks of vicious fighting, Air Force transports delivered more than 11,000 troops and 9,000 tons of cargo. In these major battles and scores of smaller skirmishes during 1966, Air Force fighter-bombers flew over 74,000 sorties and B-52s flew 4,500. Airlift units conducted 13,600 sorties, reconnaissance 59,000, forward air controllers 27,5001, and Air Force helicopters flew 13,500 sorties carrying passengers and cargo, saling downed airmen, and evacuating the wounded.

Instead of giving Westmoreland what he sought and mobilizing the reserve, President Johnson called on a group of trusted 44 advisers, h:is so-called Wise Men, to review the nation’s efforts in Southea,st Asia and make recommendations for the future. The distinguished panel concluded that pursuing the existing policy would reinforce failure. As a result, the Chief Executive approved EL final token increase in Westmoreland 5; forces, bowed to the growing public opposition to the war by declaring that he would not seek reelection, and approached the task of extricating the United States from a conflict that it had taken over not quite three years earlier.

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