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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 approach the U.S. prosecuted its struggle opposed to the Vietnamese communists.  While americans definitely behind schedule a communist victory in South Vietnam, Laos and Camvodia lengthy adequate to spare Thailand and different Southeast Asian nations the same destiny, the yank public grew very uninterested in this conflict years sooner than its dismal end.  Due to questionable political guidelines and decision-making, simply sporadic and comparatively useless use were made from air power’s skill to carry nice strength to undergo fast and decisively.  The usa and its Air strength skilled a decade of frustration made extra painful by way of the losses of its team of workers killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.  Fighting resolutely and courageously, the Air strength performed the decisive position in forcing North Vietnam to the peace desk in 1973. The calls for of the Vietnam battle compelled new advancements akin to laser-guided bombs that will ultimately greatly rework the form of air warfare. 

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Particularly unfortunate, i n view of the Tet offensive, were the optimistic statements made by General Westmoreland when he visited Washington in mid-November and reported publicly on the progress of the war. He described the situation in South Vietnam as very encouraging and declaried that the United States was winning the war of attrition, onlly to have his words challenged by the sudden and widespread attacks. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Earle G. Wheeler of the Army, saw the Tet offensive not as a blow to public confidence or to the morale of the Johnson administration but as an opportunity to restore the nation s strategic reserve of military manpower.

During the interdiction campaign, Marine artillery firing longrange missions sometimes interfered with forward air controllers conducting visual reconnaissance or directing strikes. For this reason, missions occasionally were canceled, as when an Air Force controller, bracketed by artillery shells above and below his aircraft, hastily departed from the region. Obviously, coordination between the Air Force and the Marine Corps gunners was less than perfect. The southward shift of the main action during November 1966 triggered Operation Attleboro in an area north of Saigon.

Bers shot down on missions against the North, 145 were rescued, 255 were known to have died, 222 were taken prisoner, and the fate of 123 others was unknown when the operation ended. war along the trails of southern Laos complemented Rolling Thunder and the air war in South Vietnam. The objective of this third air campaign was to impede the flow of men and equipment from North into South Vietnam; in 1965 this traffic was estimated at 4,500 men and 300 tons of cargo each month. The Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps all participated in this air war; the Air Force with F-lOOs, F-~s, F-105~~ and B-57s from both South Vietnam and 'Ihailand.

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