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Losing Vietnam

Losing Vietnam: How America Abandoned Southeast Asia

Ira A. Hunt
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 416
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    Losing Vietnam
    Book Description:

    In the early 1970s, as U.S. combat forces began to withdraw from Southeast Asia, South Vietnamese and Cambodian forces continued the fight against the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), more commonly known as the Viet Cong. Despite the evacuation of its ground troops, the United States promised to materially support its allies' struggle against communist aggression. Over time, however, the American government drastically reduced its funding of the conflict, placing immense strain on the Cambodian and South Vietnamese armed forces, which were fighting well-supplied enemies.

    In Losing Vietnam, Major General Ira A. Hunt Jr. chronicles the efforts of U.S. military and State Department officials who argued that severe congressional budget reductions ultimately would lead to the defeat of both Cambodia and South Vietnam. Hunt details the catastrophic effects of reduced funding and of conducting "wars by budget." As deputy commander of the United States Support Activities Group Headquarters (USAAG) in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, Hunt received all Southeast Asia operational reports, reconnaissance information, and electronic intercepts, placing him at the forefront of military intelligence and analysis in the area. He also met frequently with senior military leaders of Cambodia and South Vietnam, contacts who shared their insights and gave him personal accounts of the ground wars raging in the region.

    This detailed and fascinating work highlights how analytical studies provided to commanders and staff agencies improved decision making in military operations. By assessing allied capabilities and the strength of enemy operations, Hunt effectively demonstrates that America's lack of financial support and resolve doomed Cambodia and South Vietnam to defeat.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4207-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Lists of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. 1 Nakhon Phanom
    (pp. 1-4)

    It was with great anticipation that the people of the United States heralded the “Agreement in Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam”—the so-called cease-fire agreement. Most Americans, myself included, thought that this agreement was the prelude to a stable and lasting peace. I, for one, tried to put the Vietnam War out of mind. The newspapers and television journalists would occasionally cover stories concerning the continuing conflict between the South and North Vietnamese; however, the extent of the ongoing cease-fire violations did not fully register with me. So, in the late summer of 1973 when I was...

  6. 2 South Vietnam
    (pp. 5-170)

    The U.S. military assistance objectives in the Republic of Vietnam, to be carried out by the DAO, were to “help to achieve and maintain the stable balanced conditions necessary to ensure peace in Indochina and Southeast Asia; assist in the development of an increasingly effective government responsive to the South Vietnamese people’s needs and wishes; support a balanced Republic of Vietnam armed force of sufficient size, strength, and professionalism to counter the principal threat facing South Vietnam; and contribute to the healing of the wounds of war and the postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation of South Vietnam.”⁶

    Unquestionably, these objectives were...

  7. 3 Cambodia
    (pp. 171-298)

    From its inception, the war in Cambodia was closely associated with the conflict in Vietnam. The Khmer communist insurgency began as an offshoot of the North Vietnamese Communist Party in the late 1930s. Full-scale insurgency against the French, however, did not break out until 1947. After the French evacuated Southeast Asia in 1954, the communists were permitted to function overtly and did so until the early 1960s, when Prince Sihanouk began to crack down. The French had crowned him prince in 1941, at the age of nineteen, because they believed the fun-loving playboy was more controllable than his relatives. In...

  8. 4 The Mayaguez Incident
    (pp. 299-310)

    USSAG/7AF had just completed its responsibilities for the emergency evacuations of American citizens from Cambodia and South Vietnam, and with the loss of those two countries to the communists our headquarters was due to stand down on 30 June. Personnel were enjoying the calm after the hectic days of April 1975. Shortly after noon on 13 May we received an important message from the JCS that the Cambodians had commandeered a U.S. merchant ship in the Gulf of Thailand and we were to immediately launch aircraft to locate the ship. We quickly went to the command center and directed two...

  9. 5 Thailand
    (pp. 311-316)

    Thus far, I have discussed affairs in South Vietnam and Cambodia, with only tangential references to Thailand and Laos, both of which had important roles in the wars in Southeast Asia, which were definitely regional conflicts. The common enemy operated extensively in Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam and continuously exerted pressure on northeast Thailand. The communication routes inextricably wove the four countries into a single region. For example, the Mekong River convoys, Cambodia’s lifeblood, providing more than 92 percent of its supplies, originated in Thailand, were assembled in Vietnam, and transversed the interdicted part of the river in Cambodia to...

  10. 6 Laos
    (pp. 317-320)

    On 21 February 1973, not a month after the 28 January signing of the Vietnamese cease-fire agreement, the Royal Laotian government (RLG) and the communist-inspired Lao Patriotic Front (LPF) signed an agreement on the restoration of peace and reconciliation in Laos. The agreement ushered in a period of major political and military changes in Laos.

    The most dramatic consequence was the rapid diminution of both the frequency and intensity of military hostilities.²⁸⁰ Conflicts, which had totaled 225 in the first week following the agreement, were reduced to only five per week by August. Casualties of the RLG armed forces were...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 321-322)

    I left Southeast Asia to return to the States on 4 July 1975, with very mixed feelings. On the day we Americans were celebrating the birth of our nation and our freedoms, the heavy yoke of communism had brutally suppressed the freedoms of the people in Southeast Asia. Already there were mass killings going on in Cambodia, and indoctrination camps were established in Vietnam. It appeared the American sacrifice of lives and treasure had been in vain. Had the United States continued to adequately support its allies, though, it would not have needed to end this way.

    Today’s Afghanistan situation...

  12. Glossary
    (pp. 323-326)
  13. Appendix A General Definitions and Processing Ground Rules for Combat Analyses
    (pp. 327-334)
  14. Appendix B JGS Assessments on Friendly/Enemy Activities of the Ceasefire
    (pp. 335-344)
  15. Appendix C JGS Letter to DAO on FY 75 Funding
    (pp. 345-348)
  16. Appendix D Excerpted Entries from a Mekong Convoy SITREP
    (pp. 349-356)
  17. Appendix E “ . . . Execute EAGLE PULL”
    (pp. 357-360)
    Paul Felty
  18. Sources
    (pp. 361-376)
  19. Index
    (pp. 377-400)