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Notes on Tonkin Gulf

Essay by   •  May 11, 2011  •  Study Guide  •  1,112 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,469 Views

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* The Vietnam War was a battle between the South Vietnam Republic against the North Vietnam Communist that began in 1959 and 1960. Fighting began as small covert South Vietnam actions towards the North, but as the Communist started to pull ahead, thoughts of escalation began to surface.

* Chapter two explains the U.S's struggle debate between disregarding the war or to move on to large scale warfare.

* In March of 1964, the United States Secretary of Defense was sent to South Vietnam to evaluate the current covert attacks, in which he reported back, describing them as actions of little risk yet little gain. The initial response of several U.S. officials was to bomb the North Vietnam-Leos border with loaded planes. Such an overt attack had been proposed in 1961, but it was not until 1964 that it was truly considered. The United States was unwilling to publically be involved with expanding the war into Northern Vietnam.

* America agreed to assist the Republic, participating in the Farmgate system, where a Vietnamese plan is driven by an American pilot with a Vietnamese on bord under the cover of training. There would also be additions of B-57 to the planes being driven, a change from the traditional propeller planes of Vietnam.

* Even though the details were slowly coming together, strong hesitations still lied in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was skeptical if the air raids would truly end the north's support of the guerillas. They were also aware of the risk bombing North Vietnam would bring Chinese support and possibility of full scale war. Reports confirmed the ineffectiveness of an air raid, but the plans never faltered due to the desperacy of the United States to something, anything to fight the Communist.

* With such strong opposition, it was decided no action would be taken but immediate preparation for such action would begin. Two written plans, the OPLAN and the NSAM both called for small, covert action to ensue with large numbers of reinforcements nearby. The difference was the OPLAN had reinforcements in case of a counter attack of sudden escalation, whereas the NSAM used the large reinforcements for when the smaller group failed to complete a mission. Both plans falter in the sense they both attempted to keep both the small and large numbers covert and they both required assistance from the Republic of Vietnam Air Force, who at the time, was unaware of the attacks on the North. .

* Meanwhile, Southern Vietnam was on the losing end of the Communist struggle, as a few American officials tried to stress the urgency of a decision, yet the wait went on.

* The appearance of preparation would have to convince Hanoi to control the spread of Communism or the United States will attack.

* The main hesitation in all possible plans of large scale attack was the overwhelming fear of escalation. The Viet Cong, or the communist in Southern Vietnam, could call in reinforcements of not only North Vietnam but China, in which the Saigon army, would be outnumbered . Supposedly.

* No one knew the size of a counter attack. Predictions ranged from six American army units could face all northern reinforcements to reinforcements from Northern Vietnam could leave the United States only option nuclear war. The one issue officials could agree on? There needed to be clarification of a victory and a defeat because the small secret attacks could

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