Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dvd "Battleground Vietnam" notes

Notes to know from the dvd, "Battleground Vietnam:"

- Cold War - US vs Russia, but an indirect war. The fighting went on through proxies (substitutes), such as in Vietnam. The US backed the South Vietnamese and the Russians (and Chinese) backed North Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh.
The US and Russia were the only nuclear bomb-equipped nations in that era.
Since our foe was Communism, we included China as a US enemy in the Cold War.

- a Hot War would have been Russia and the US firing missles at each other in direct conflict.

- Insurgents - rebels. In Vietnam, we considered the Communists the insurgents.
- counter-insurgents - those who fight against the rebels. We called ourselves the counter-insurgents.

- Japan in Southeast Asia: in the late 1930's Japan began to conquer major parts of the Far East, including
* much of China
* Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines.

In Vietnam the Japanese found that Ho Chi Minh fought them as though they were the French. And, in an ironic moment, the US aided Ho Chi MInh.
- When the Japanese surrendered to the US, the French returned to Vietnam to take over their old position as the Imperial power. This time Ho and the Viet Minh army defeated them. Not even the vaunted French Foreign Legion forces were able to best the communists under Ho.

- The US developed the Green Berets, an airborne group of highly-trained rangers, to aid the fighting in SE Asia. These commandos were trained to fight behind the enemy lines. They were taught the culture of the nation in which they were fighting. They were trained to befriend the peasants and win them over as allies.
- Regular Army, Navy and Air Force soldiers were not given cultural training and early in the war weren't even well-trained in how to deal with their guerrilla foes.

- quagmire - a inescapable swampy region.
- French Foreign Legion - elite forces, many mercenaries, who were given the toughest military jobs.
- Viet Minh - communist fighters.
- A Team: in the Green Berets an A Team was small unit in which each soldier had a specialty (demolitions, medical, etc) and which fought as a guerrilla team.
- "To win the hearts and minds of the people." Both sides realized that sheer military force was not adequate to win the war. The key to victory lay in convincing the average citizens that your plan would benefit them the most.

* Observe the fighting of the American colonists against the enormous force of the soldiers deployed by the British Empire.
* Remember the fighting of the people of India under the leadership of MK Gandhi as they struggled against the British.

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