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Vietnam War I. (7x foto)
Vietnam War II. (7x foto)
Vietnam War III. (6x foto)
Vietnam War IV. (7x foto)
Vietnam War V. (7x foto)
Vietnam War VI. (7x foto)

Vietnam War IV.

The individual services, for the most part, controlled their own air arms. The Army maintained control of its large helicopter fleet as organic air assets. Marines followed their traditional organizational path of assigning an Air Wing to each Marine division. The Navy maintained complete control of its air assets and Admiral Sharp, as Commander in Chief of Pacific Command (CINCPAC), implemented the Route Pack system for all air operations over North Vietnam. General Clay, the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) commander, was assigned coordinating authority for deconflicting air operations, but he felt that the existing command arrangements (route packaging and assigning the air component only coordinating authority) did not provide a sound means to control the overall air effort.

The Route Pack system divided responsibility within North Vietnam into seven different geographic areas, with the Air Force and the Navy each receiving responsibility for portions of the route packs. Commander in Chief of Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT), the naval component of Pacific Command (PACOM), maintained control of carrier air assets. Even within the Air Force there was no single air commander. Seventh Air Force was responsible for Air Force air operations in Vietnam, while Thirteenth Air Force was responsible for Thailand, and Strategic Air Command (SAC) never relinquished command or control of its B-52 bombers.

The targeting process further complicated this patchwork of responsibility. Targets were selected in Washington by a small team on the joint staff and approved only at the presidential level. The result was a major misuse of air power. Air power application came to be simply the servicing of targets, with little regard for whether or not they were the "right" targets, and without an air campaign plan. Service parochialism dominated the air effort. Lacking a single responsible air commander, a clear set of objectives, and a common concept of operations, even the most skilled operations of the separate components tended to work at cross-purposes and give respite to the enemy.

Initially, most Americans backed Washington's Vietnam policy. A dangerous situation seemed to be developing, one which the US government referred to as the "domino theory" -- if South Vietnam were allowed to fall to communism, so eventually would the rest of Southeast Asia. But as the war dragged on and a military victory appeared more and more elusive, public opposition became more vocal.

President Johnson believed that the United States had to support South Vietnam. Many other Americans agreed. They believed that without American help, South Vietnam would become communist. Then, all of Southeast Asia would become Communist, too. As Johnson's term began, his military advisers told him the Communists were losing the war. They told him that north Vietnamese troops and Viet. cong forces would soon stop fighting. On February sixth, however, the Viet Cong attacked American camps at Pleiku and Qui Nhon. The Johnson administration immediately ordered air attacks against military targets in the north.

Some observers in the United States questioned the administration's policy. For example, a leading newspaper writer, James Reston, said President Johnson was carrying out an undeclared and unexplained war in Vietnam. Johnson defended his policies. He said withdrawal would not bring an end to the conflict. He said the battle would continue in one country, and then another.

In March 1965 the first American ground troops arrived in south Vietnam. Congress supported the president's actions at that time. However, the number of Americans who opposed the war began to grow. These people said the war was a civil war. They said the United States had no right, or reason, to intervene. For six days in May, the United States halted air attacks on North Vietnam. The administration hoped this would help get the North Vietnamese government to begin negotiations. The North refused. And the United States began to build up its forces in the South. By July, one-hundred twenty-five thousand Americans were fighting in Vietnam.
Ssgt.Beckett
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