The development and implementation of counterinsurgency warfare during the Vietnam war

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Virginia Tech

This master's thesis deals with the development and implementation of counterinsurgency warfare by the military and government of the United States during the Vietnam War. The main point of this work revolves around the fact that the United States did not develop a successful and comprehensive counterinsurgency doctrine during this period. However, certain counterinsurgency units and programs were developed that did achieve success in deterring the guerrilla war waged by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. The Phoenix Program and especially the Civilian Irregular Defense Group Program, which was developed and operated by the U.S. Army Special Forces, proved that counterinsurgency warfare could be waged successfully against an elusive foe. As the Vietnam War escalated, the United States relied upon the technology, the mobility, and the firepower of America's conventional military to try and destroy an unconventional enemy. This reliance upon conventional military strategies and tactics eventually led to the withdrawal of American troops and the defeat of the Republic of Vietnam by the communist forces of North Vietnam.

I believe that the United States and the Republic of Vietnam could have prevented a communist victory through the proper development of counterinsurgency warfare doctrine. This doctrine would include a combination of counterinsurgency tactics and strategies I social reform, economic assistance, military training, and political stability.

The United States learned many valuable lessons in Vietnam, including the importance of maintaining specialized units that could be used to fight a limited war against a dedicated enemy with a political agenda. Warfare has never been an exact science, and a nation must be prepared to deal with any contingency.