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vietnam war without conscription

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
    Thanks for your detailed reply. But I'd like more information about this. Even if the VC manage to kill the president of South Vietnam - so what? So long as the ARVN can retake Saigon from the VC, they can hold fresh elections and so what? That's the strength of a democracy.
    Look at WW2...any war where countries fell. The government goes, the country falls. You can't hold elections during an invasion, and when a government falls, the army stops fighting.

    Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
    By the same token I don't see what is wrong with pulling back to defensible enclaves until you're ready to reoccupy the rest of South Vietnam. You mentioned the belief of the common man - so what if the common man believes the South is losing.
    The common man also makes up the army. Governments are simply constructs of belief; when the belief ends, so does the government. And the simple truth is that is ARVn couldn't hold the country in the first place, so it won't retake it.

    As a plan, it is absurd. History teaches that clearly.

    Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
    The Northern Alliance in Afghanistan were forced to pull back to less than 10% of the country too, and were in fact losing, and everyone knew that, and then all of a sudden they became invincible and retook 100% of the country in 2 months.
    You have one lame event, and you're beating it to death. The NA had superpower support. And their 'retaking' was just political drama, not fact: 13 years of fighting followed, and the Taliban still exists. They retook very little.

    And they were not ARVN. Armies are not interchangeable clumps of robots.

    Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
    What we know for certain is that South Vietnam is going to be lost if it becomes unpopular because Americans are drafted. I am hoping that if history is rerun we could fight South Vietnam differently. Especially with the evidence of Northern Alliance success in Afghanistan.
    You're wrong.

    We know for a fact that in the 60s the USA could not afford the Vietnam war and the great society and an all-volunteer army.

    We know for a fact that we would not get enough volunteers to maintain the US military's world-wide commitments and the troop strength in Vietnam needed to prop up the Saigon government.

    We know for a fact that with or without the draft the war would be unpopular.

    We know for a fact that the US cannot correct the deficiencies in ARVN in the time available.

    We know for a fact that the US cannot correct the shortcomings in the Saigon government in the time available.

    We know for a fact that the US would not give South Vietnam a Korea-level of support after the pullout.

    We know for a fact, therefore, that there was nothing that can be done.

    You mean well, but you don't understand how a military works, how US politics ran in the period in question, the culture or history of Vietnam, or how US society was working in the period in question.

    South Vietnam, as a nation, was fundamentally flawed before the USA got involved. Moreover, the USA was not interested in nation-building; it simply wanted to prevent SE Asia from enacting the 'domino theory', and we didn't want Soviet SSBNs using Cam Rhan Bay.

    By '72 the Domino danger was fading, and we had seabed sonar systems in place to minimize the SSBN threat, so it was time to go. South Vietnam had ceased to be of value.
    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
      Look at WW2...any war where countries fell. The government goes, the country falls. You can't hold elections during an invasion, and when a government falls, the army stops fighting.
      The Rabbani government in Afghanistan fell in 1996, but the Northern Alliance kept on fighting.

      You have one lame event, and you're beating it to death.
      Because I think this should be a model for conflict. The US is very fickle about seeing its troops in harm's way, but is far less reticent about dropping bombs. I think warfare should be built around this US reality, so that more can be achieved.

      The NA had superpower support.
      That is available to South Vietnam too. Air support plus special forces only.

      And their 'retaking' was just political drama, not fact: 13 years of fighting followed, and the Taliban still exists. They retook very little.
      They have control of all provincial capitals, which is all I'm trying to achieve in South Vietnam for now - ie to not let Saigon fall to the NVA. I don't care if it takes generations for all of South Vietnam to be retaken, so long as Saigon doesn't fall. Actually, I don't even mind if Saigon falls temporarily, so long as the ARVN are eventually able to retake it, the same as the Northern Alliance managed to achieve with Kabul.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
        The Rabbani government in Afghanistan fell in 1996, but the Northern Alliance kept on fighting.
        The NA was a tribal structure with only loose connections to the Rabbani gov't. Different cultures, different histories, different peoples.

        Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
        Because I think this should be a model for conflict. The US is very fickle about seeing its troops in harm's way, but is far less reticent about dropping bombs. I think warfare should be built around this US reality, so that more can be achieved.
        You REALLY do not understand US politics.

        Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
        That is available to South Vietnam too. Air support plus special forces only.
        Except that in Afghan, a place of a different cultures, different history, and different people, the opposition were irregulars. In Vietnam, the NVA invaded with a fully mechanized army.

        Your complete ignorance of military issues blinds you to the differences, but they are night and day.

        Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
        They have control of all provincial capitals, which is all I'm trying to achieve in South Vietnam for now - ie to not let Saigon fall to the NVA. I don't care if it takes generations for all of South Vietnam to be retaken, so long as Saigon doesn't fall. Actually, I don't even mind if Saigon falls temporarily, so long as the ARVN are eventually able to retake it, the same as the Northern Alliance managed to achieve with Kabul.
        Enough with the NA; you are comparing apples to cinder blocks.

        ARVN could not, ever, defeat the NVA force that invaded in '75. Not with US airpower, not with US SF support, not if they painted themselves blue and howled like Picts.

        The North invaded with more tanks than Patton ever commanded. They had stationary, mobile, and MANPAD SAMs, and multi-layered radar-controlled ADA.

        The South did not have the means to stop that.

        The only way the North's invasion would have been prevented is if US ground troops were, like in Korea and Europe, sitting astride the invasion route, because that would mean that the war would escalate into an open and declared conflict with the USA.

        And we know for a fact that no matter how you shuffle the deck chairs, the USA was not going to establish a permanent ground force in Vietnam.
        Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
          ARVN could not, ever, defeat the NVA force that invaded in '75. Not with US airpower, not with US SF support,
          Wow. I didn't expect to hear that. The ARVN managed to repel the 1972 NVA attack so I thought they could repeat that success in 1975 so long as their funding wasn't cut and US air support (and SF support) was provided.

          The North invaded with more tanks than Patton ever commanded.
          And I expected that US air power would treat that as nothing more than a target-rich environment.

          They had stationary, mobile, and MANPAD SAMs, and multi-layered radar-controlled ADA.
          And I expected US air power to be superior to anything that the NVA had. As was the case just 3 years earlier.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
            Wow. I didn't expect to hear that. The ARVN managed to repel the 1972 NVA attack so I thought they could repeat that success in 1975 so long as their funding wasn't cut and US air support (and SF support) was provided.
            ARVN didn't stop them. Wall-to-wall B-52 strikes stopped them.

            Which is why the NVA came south with masses of air defense. Even if Nixon had still been POTUS, he would have been unlikely to send US aircrews into that heavy of defenses, all the more so without rescue units in place.

            Ford, an appointee, never considered it. Since no US troops were involved and the DNC element in Congress had broken the agreement, he had nothing to gain by ordering air strikes, and a lot to lose.

            Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
            And I expected that US air power would treat that as nothing more than a target-rich environment.
            Not in '75. The A-10, the tank-busting version of the Cobra, the Maverick ATGM...all were still in their infancy.

            So were the SAM-busting systems and tactics that came later.

            Navy aircrews would have flown into a maelstrom of air defenses; losses would have been substantial, and air crew would have ended up dead or as POWs.

            And the odds are high that they wouldn't have stopped the NVA. Slowed, sure, and bled them, but not stopped. And ARVN was neither trained nor equipped to face MBTs in bulk.
            Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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            • #36
              My take on this is that the arvn were beginning to come into their own as a fighting force. Their major problem being focused on trying to defend their entire countryside against the NVA. They had to defend their entire infrastructure while also trying to repulse a conventional invasion. everyone overlooks the fact that the north was basically free to mount an invasion force at their leisure.... especially after we stopped our bombing of the north. There was never an effort to train the ARVN in conventional warfare,and most importantly with the equipment to repulse one. We just did not give them enough time to reach that stage. Neither did the NVA.
              as to the easter offensive...…… our airpower definitely was a deciding factor, but without a will to fight from the ARVN it would have never had the outcome it did.
              https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2017/0...ter-offensive/
              Read this and especially the American Generals take on the ARVN contribution.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                Not in '75. The A-10, the tank-busting version of the Cobra, the Maverick ATGM...all were still in their infancy.

                So were the SAM-busting systems and tactics that came later.

                Navy aircrews would have flown into a maelstrom of air defenses; losses would have been substantial, and air crew would have ended up dead or as POWs.
                I was previously under the impression that the US enjoyed complete air supremacy since either WW2 or Korea. And I expected any air assault to be like Vietnam in 1972, with the US having near complete freedom of action in the air. We also saw that in Iraq in 1991. Could you tell me which periods in history since WW2 that the US didn't enjoy near complete freedom of action in the air because Soviet air defenses were too good? I think we can also add 1973 - I believe the Israeli air force was unable to bomb Egyptian tanks because the Egyptians had the ability to shoot down Israeli planes. Maybe the US would have encountered the same problem in 1973. Thanks.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
                  I was previously under the impression that the US enjoyed complete air supremacy since either WW2 or Korea. And I expected any air assault to be like Vietnam in 1972, with the US having near complete freedom of action in the air. We also saw that in Iraq in 1991. Could you tell me which periods in history since WW2 that the US didn't enjoy near complete freedom of action in the air because Soviet air defenses were too good? I think we can also add 1973 - I believe the Israeli air force was unable to bomb Egyptian tanks because the Egyptians had the ability to shoot down Israeli planes. Maybe the US would have encountered the same problem in 1973. Thanks.
                  http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineA...13vietnam.aspx

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                  • #39
                    Thanks. I read that. I guess we can't really pin down exactly when the US gained complete air supremacy. We just know that by 1991 it had it in Iraq.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
                      Thanks. I read that. I guess we can't really pin down exactly when the US gained complete air supremacy. We just know that by 1991 it had it in Iraq.
                      We also lost over 10,000 helicopters. When I left in 1972 the NVA were fielding shoulder fired AA missles……….
                      https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknF..._Strela-2.html

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Paul Edwards View Post
                        I was previously under the impression that the US enjoyed complete air supremacy since either WW2 or Korea. And I expected any air assault to be like Vietnam in 1972, with the US having near complete freedom of action in the air. We also saw that in Iraq in 1991. Could you tell me which periods in history since WW2 that the US didn't enjoy near complete freedom of action in the air because Soviet air defenses were too good? I think we can also add 1973 - I believe the Israeli air force was unable to bomb Egyptian tanks because the Egyptians had the ability to shoot down Israeli planes. Maybe the US would have encountered the same problem in 1973. Thanks.
                        We had major problems in Korea when the MiG-15 appeared, and North Vietnam was one tough nut. As jeff noted, and he would know, we lost 10k helicopters during our time there; we had freedom of the air because the US military, especially the Army, had developed the aviation branch into a fine art. An art form that left in '72.

                        You can't use Iraq as a ruler because they were paying their own way. And things weren't won from the air as much as the media and Air Force would like you to think. Plus Iraq was pleasantly free of ground clutter.

                        North Vietnam got Soviet gear by the shipload for free, and a lot of it cutting edge because the Soviets wanted it tested in combat against US aircraft.

                        In '75 what was needed was an army that was ready for a conventional engagement, complete with MBTs. ARVN, as Jeff noted, was not trained or equipped for that. In '75 they had 250 M-48s, but the crews were trained in fire support, not tank-to-tank action, and the highly technical gunnery systems were not in use. Ironically, despite this the M-48s did excellent service in '75 until shortages of spare parts (they were all old and well-used) and ammunition did them in. It did not help that the NVA had Sagger ATGMs, for which there was only a limited counter-doctrine in place (ironically, the IDF was solving that very problem in '73-5).
                        Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                        • #42
                          Looking at the French experience, conscripts were not required in the Indo-China War from 1947-54. Their active military went on two or three year tours. In the Algerian War, french conscripts were used extensively.

                          Britain in the post-WWII colonial insurgencies made extensive use of conscripted soldiers in Malaysia and Kenya.

                          Given the US commitment in post-WWII in Europe and the Korean War, the regular military force could not have sustained a war in Vietnam without conscription/draft. Additionally, the tours of duty were one-year which proved inefficient.
                          Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 18 May 19, 10:43.
                          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                          • #43
                            I saw where it was lightly touched....the Geography!!! Had Vietnam been the great state of Florida....with a DMZ from Tampa across I-4 to Daytona....with 30,000 troops forever with billions of dollars it could have been different....Vietnam didnt have the choice like Korea...A Peninsula!!! surrounded with water....and Id say our govt knew the same....

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