Questions about the 1970s phase of the Vietnam War
November 9, 2013 12:40 PM   Subscribe

My knowledge of the Vietnam War is not as complete as I would like it to be. My own internal representation of its 1960s period is fairly strong but it fades a little at the 1970s/Vietnamization phase of the war. So I'm posing the following questions:

*What was the last major ground campaign of the Vietnam War that involved a significant number of American soldiers and/or marines? I know that there were huge bombing campaigns in 1972 and 1973 but I don't know much about the ground phase of the war during that period.

*What were major battles and campaigns that were taking place in early June of 1971? I'm curious about this because that was when I was born.

*What are some good historical sources (print or otherwise) about this phase of the war?

Many thanks in advance.
posted by jason's_planet to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of the best books about the whole war is "The Ten Thousand Day War".

Your perspective is too narrow if you think it started in the 1960's. It goes back a lot further than that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:16 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


1970 and operations in Cambodia would seem to be one of the last large-scale offensives that involved American ground troops.

1971 saw operations mostly by ARVN troops with heavy American air support.

By 1972, 400,000 American troops had been withdrawn.

While it takes place in 1975, Fall of Saigon, by David Butler is an excellent first-hand account of the end of the war. Superb journalism.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:29 PM on November 9, 2013


Your perspective is too narrow if you think it started in the 1960's.

I do actually understand that the roots of the Vietnam War go back much further into the past than the 1960s, that the war didn't just leap onto the historical stage out of nowhere in 1965. In the interest of brevity, however, this question will only address the 1965-1973 conflict, specifically the 1970-1973 period.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't understand the end of the war without understanding Nixon's opening to China, in particular his "madman strategy" designed to make Hanoi fear a nuclear reprisal.

Some West Point resources on the war's progress may be of interest.

Overall, the key events of 1971 seem to have been the Operation Lam Son 719 campaign^ which included the invasion of Laos, the publication of the Pentagon Papers in June, the North Vietnamese peace proposal, and a drawdown of US troops from 300K to less than 150K. But overall mid-1971 seems to have been a lull in ground operations, with a number of clean and sweep/search and destroy missions. The Australians fought Operation Overlord (Battle of Long Khanh^) that month, though.

The perception by 1971, held by many of the US public and others internationally at least since the Tet Offensive of 1968, was that the war was unwinnable; Nixon was openly seeking not military victory but "peace with honor". By 1973, with an agreement in place, he was declaring that goal achieved.
posted by dhartung at 2:53 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Found it!

"Operation Jefferson Glenn ran from September 5, 1970 to October 6, 1971 and was the last major operation in which U.S. ground forces participated in Vietnam."

(Found largely through jumping around the footnotes of the wikipedia article on 1971 campaigns that dhartung shared above.)
posted by jason's_planet at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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