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tv   Lectures in History Vietnam Wars Operation Rolling Thunder  CSPAN  August 23, 2018 6:06pm-7:03pm EDT

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dc, but originally, it was a vietnam war air campaign. up next, douglas kennedy of the u.s. air force academy describes the goals of the campaign, such as destroying north vietnam's transportation system. but also discusses the limitations put in place to avoid antagonizing the soviet union and china practices from our weekly lectures in history series. it is about 50 minutes. >> good to see you guys all here today. appreciate you coming today. we did a reading out of the -- to chapters. discussing rolling thunder. i had to limit how much you could read. those two chapters focusing on the latter part of rolling thunder. we will have some good context, and then discuss airpower in this operation. again, last time we talked about vietnam, this is our second of four lessons on vietnam. last time, reading our text, we
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discussed airpower in the south. primarily, this chapter is discussing the advisory role. we kind of do a chronological approach, and we have looked at that period of time from insurgency growing, north vietnamese support of that insurgency in 59, and that advisory role from 61-64. now, we are focusing on airpower against north vietnam. >> just to give some context, a lot of historians when they look at vietnam war, break down the four faces. that airpower that we studied last lesson was in that advisory phase. 56-64, the rise of the advisors watching them in the airpower role. now they are applying airpower in the south but now we are getting to the americanizing of the war. so we will look at the context of the gulf of tonkin, the understanding and the development in the planning for strategic campaign, air campaign against the war. and, how we get into the air campaign in march 1965.
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>> remember, we are at a very specific time, very chaotic time in the united states, and in south vietnam. so, as we finish up that advisory role, we have had some significant events happening. two major ones. the assassination of president kennedy in the united states. we have a new president, who has taken things over and seeing what is happening. three weeks before kennedy's assassination, sam is assassinated in south vietnam. so, there is a period of chaos, a period of uncertainty, and a reevaluation. this is the perfect time for reevaluation of what the united states is doing in vietnam. so, they are taking -- on the plane, going back to dc. so now, think about what he is facing in december 1963, going into 64, trying to get his arms
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around everything a president needs to get his or her arms around. and, there is a discussion, there is like three things that the united states could do. they could continue on this path of an advisory role, and maybe increasing an advisory role. that is what we have seen happening. get even more involved with this military, to include the introductory a -- introduction a more airpower. or, you could just disengage in south vietnam. and, there is rationale of why the path is chosen that they choose. they kind of do these in between , an advisory role and an introduction of more forces. the idea of we are going to stay engaged in south vietnam. and, when johnson is trying to make his decision, secretary of defense mcnamara says in the memo, i think is significant point in march 1964, to say, this is why we need to stay engaged. this is what we should do, and
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how we should do it. mcnamara had gone with the chief of joint -- joint chief of staff, maxwell taylor, on an advisory mission to vietnam in september 1963. things were not going well with the regime, and kennedy wanted to get a better grasp of the situation. now, mcnamara will go back to that report, and summarize it in a memo to the president. and then, offer, this is our way ahead. he pulls language from that report. in this memo. and, the president will acknowledge it all and concur with it all. he does it in a formal way. to a national security action memorandum 288. from the language of the report text, it says, what is our objective? we seek an independent, non- communist, south vietnam. one where the south vietnamese must be free, and can get
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outside assistance as required. >> also in the discussion of this report, is the idea that, in september 63, when it is being written, the administration is problematic. it is corrupt. it is focusing more on consolidating power and getting rid of enemies, then it is fighting the communists. and so, the other term that you see often when someone talks about the vietnam war and our objective, they always toe in, we seek a stable, a stable and a productive government. a stable, independent, non- communist south vietnam. they bring with them, what mcnamara, president johnson, and kennedy before brought with them was the idea that this is definitely within the cold war, you will see. it is containment. they buy into this idea of the domino theory. >> this document being
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introduced to the idea, was this before then codified? i realize you put a lot of emphasis on independent, non- communist a. was at codified? >> that is why people just kind of grasped this document on this report before him, it is more gui in the language used of what are we trying to do. and, you use a good there, -- a good word there, codified. this is what our goal is. this non-communist, independent- the language in here says stable south vietnam. so, this is, i would argue, there is a change happening at this point. and, you could say architect is the secretary of defense. mcnamara, who we discussed last time picasso in the language or, by the way, that mcnamara has of this report, they talks about a graduated military response. gradualism. this goes with the overall
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ideas of the cold war, and how they will contain communism, usually ideas of flexible response that we read about in slide 4. >> this gives you an idea of this graduated response practices all personnel. in this conflict. obviously, we have already looked at that period of advisory -- the numbers going up from 61 through 64. 62. we already have an increase in the advisory role, and not only talking about ground forces, but in those numbers, we see the graduated response and support by air forces. so, this matches their doctrine. the graduated response. again, similar concepts have already alluded to is what is affecting johnson and his decision? why does he agree with mcnamara's advice? because we cannot forget that the vietnam war, this conflict so far, is part of the overall cold war. there is a memory, it is interesting, up -- what party
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johnson is part of the democratic party pick the democratic party is still reeling a little bit, bristling at the idea that when multitone wins the civil war in china, that the democratic party gets blamed for the loss of china. >> we saw what happened in the korean war. this korean war, this korean conflict will definitely be on johnson's mind, because the thought is, we don't want to get in that situation again. when we talked about the korean war, specifically, the advanced -- up to the chinese border, and what was the response of the chinese? the americans are thinking about the korean war. especially johnson pick the idea that maybe the chinese could get involved. and then, when we had our lesson on cold war, in fact, we discussed -- crisis. this idea that the world was on the brink of exchanging nuclear weapons. of getting in that open conflict. it scared people.
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and, johnson was affected by this also. >> that gives you an idea of what he wants to try to keep inks tempered down. he does not want to get a sense of expanding the war. we will see how his operation falls into that constraint. and then, i have, again from that last lesson, specifically with the air forces, specifically with the united states air force, we will look at remember what that for structure look like. what were the people in the air force training for at this period of time? as we are increasing involvement, specifically the air involvement. and then, more context. we cannot forget that johnson has something else on his mind. he wants to advance aggressive policies that he terms the great society. reform movements. that cost a lot of political clout, and it costs a lot of
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money. this is, this would be, most historians would argue, this is his real interest. the vietnam war is important, but secondary as long as it does not go into something uglier. >> so, as we get into 1964, and there is a recognition that there is going to be more involvement by the united states, there is a discussion of, how does airpower play into this? and the air campaign. and there is development of the air campaign already going on. i have my picture up here of lemay. he will be the chief of staff of the air force through 1964. he retires and 65, taken over by john mcconnell. if we think about lemay, although this -- all the stuff we discussed about him already, he has a doctrine in mind, that fact dominated bonding doctrine. they have already got an idea of 94 different targets then. he has already got a planned
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targets. he has a plan of how long that duration would happen, to destroy north vietnam. but, that is not johnson's plan. this is more of what johnson's plan is, if you do have an air campaign. this is what is discussed amongst the advisors. what do we need to do? what would a strategic air campaign do? first and foremost, we have this problem with his insurgency in the south. we have to find ways to stop a. and one thing we have to do is stop the north vietnamese -- north vietnamese support of epic we could use bombs, power, to send a message. to persuade north vietnam to stop supporting the insurgency in the south. we want the status quo on north and south vietnam. then, that airpower campaign can show to south vietnam, and i put in here, and north
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vietnam, even to our allies, look at u.s. resolve, when we are in conflict in this cold war environment. this is our resolve against communism. >> that the more practical ideas are, we need some kind of strategic destruction of north vietnamese ability to make war. and as we got in the text. where are all-where is all the material really coming from for them to make this work? is it the north industry or not? but this is the idea, and not only a strategic to go after transportation, systems, industrial base, but also to prevent that stuff are moving around. so, that transportation line, that reason for it is, even it is coming from the outside to help prevent that in keeping north vietnam sustained. let them feel the pain of war. likewise, let's do an interdiction, and operational interdiction campaign that prevents that material from going to the north, down to the south. primarily through laos.
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so, you have got to stop that movement. >> the development that is happening in 1964, if we do a strategic air campaign, then there is another incident. there are a lot of small attacks. things are still happening. the insurgency is happening in the south. and then we get a situation in the gulf of tonkin, right at the salt -- shoulders of north vietnam, where patrol boats attack intelligence gathering ships there. i am not concerned about who is provoking what, i don't want to get into that discussion. here are some nice pictures of -- itself here are the vietnamese patrol boats coming off the coast that drew the attack, there were cries that there are two separate attacks. we now have the information that says, there was an attack, first attack. and that was seen as a retaliatory attack, not an aggressive attack by the north vietnamese but that second attack was supposed to happen on the fourth.
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it didn't happen. but that was some good information, this is what they used. what we like about this, besides the fact that this will lead the president to go to congress to go, i did more power to fight this thing. what he gets from this attack is, he retaliates. he retaliates against the north. so has a small operation coming off the carrier groups, off the coast, operation pierce arrow, they had the patrol boats, they had the supply and ammunition depots, down in the southern panhandle of north vietnam. so, this is a reprisal against the north, for the first time. this is of interest to me, when i was in your seat, this is where we lose our first pilot -- gray everett alvarez. he will be a p.o.w. for nine years. great real griffey. came out in the 80s. chained eagle. this is something for you to pay attention to. it taught me, i don't want to be a p.o.w. right? >> this is an attack, a reprisal. it is a different -- that has been what is going on.
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looking at that air campaign. now, it is really starting to gin up that air campaign. we have two different thoughts. we have lemay, who says i have 94 targets, 82 stationary targets. railroad targets that are moving around give me about 16 days, and i can use my big bombers to go north, and destroy this. so, this is some of the advice that is coming out. those targets have been through intelligence agencies and the cia preppies have been confirmed targets, yeah, this could have some affect to make north vietnam maybe react to what we are doing. the idea here is, we don't want to do everything -- anything too crazy in this cold war environment to get the enemy responding how we don't want them to respond. the chinese and the soviets. instead, this is where we get this idea of gradualism. let's keep ratcheting up the power, and this is what the air
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plans should do, ratchet up that power. >> before getting into rolling thunder, i want to remind us about the air were spent the last time we discussed the difficulty in the chain of command, and the command-and- control structure, and all the different air wars that we saw going on. in this case, where the bombing is happening. when we talk about rolling thunder, we are having about three quarters of 1 million, 850,000 tons of bombs. there will be another attack that's what we talk about next time. another strategic attack to the north in 1972, which will drop more bombs. but that is some pretty good tonnage dropped on north vietnam. but there are other air wars going along, and i want to make sure we don't keep forgetting these. certainly during the same period, we will have bombing laos, specifically in that [null] chi minh trail region. later in the war, and air war against cambodia, there is more tonnage of bombs.
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and south vietnam proper. our ally, the one we are supposedly supposed to sustain, that is where most of our airpower is really going. and, that is also, think about it, big b-52's loaded doing missions, close air support, tight missions down in the south. so, there is the -- all the air wars we are going to do. this is in comparison. and give us an idea of the effort being made in this conflict. long war, long campaign. so, the final thing, again, a number of attacks. a major attack on the airbase at benewah, where the sappers go in, kill americans, enter a lot of other americans, that happens three days before the 1964 campaigns. there is always talk about [null] for tat. we stop support of this insurgency in the south? >> in february 1965, there are attacks on bases around -- and pretty much in the middle of
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south vietnam, and this attack of seven february is kind of the last straw for the johnson administration. the idea that we are not going to do [null] for tat, we have got to start to initiate something specific. if you saw in my outline, there is, from this, a [null] for tat . they do an operation right after seven february. again, going against north vietnam, the southern provinces of north vietnam, with a strategic campaign. operation flaming dart. but, there was a recognition that there has got to be something more sustained. within days, there is this idea that we will do this thing, rolling thunder. think about that, rolling, kind of graduated rolling along, getting bigger, maybe, a snowball effect if we have to. but rolling thunder will be our main campaign. we will initiated by the end of february. but, that is going to be delayed for about a week.
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so as we get into this operation, rolling thunder, i want to make sure we look at the inventory. we will talk about this more. but the inventory that is used, what the aircraft looked like, we have f 100 up there in the upper left. that is 105. being dragged along with forward capabilities. we will see why that become so significant to the operation. the f4 is definitely involved in this, not only as an air superiority fighter, but as a bomb dropper, air to ground, dropping almost as much as an f105. i give you. -- to pictures, that's an f105. the thunder cheaper this is the main -- i think about with this aircraft. most importantly, right there in the middle, something we have not discussed significantly, is the role of reconnaissance. reconnaissance aircraft getting information saying, how do we measure? how are we going to do this? we are going to do it through our recon, and make sure that we pick the targets right, and make sure we hit the targets.
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we are kind of -- what kind of effects those are going to have. >> rolling thunder. it is fought within the cold war context. it sees a heavy-handed, you are going to go wait a second, heavy-handed civilian control. you will see what i mean by this. obviously, we understand the system that we have in the united states of control of the military. in this case, maybe a heavy- handed approach by the civilian patrol. to try to port that were on the ground as well as force the enemy to comply with our objectives of having a stable, independent, non-communist south vietnam. we have to remember that the tool is going to be a fact dominated air force. that is really ready in world war iii. and yet, the goodness that thompson discusses in his book, in regard to rolling thunder operations, is the adaptation
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that is being done. that is a lot to hang your hat on. we don't accomplish the objective. it doesn't win the war pickett doesn't coerce north vietnam. however, there is some goodness. maybe. okay. >> this gives us an idea of how the president saw airpower as a tool. in earl tilford's work on this, on one hand, our planes and bombs can be use as karen's for the south, pushing them to clean up the corrupt house. on the other hand, it is sticks against the north. usually when you do carrots and sticks, it's a sane individual. he talks about that too often. rolling thunder will have a carrot and stick approach to it , specifically towards the north vietnamese. >> so, rolling thunder has its first campaign , begetting
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march 2, 1965. initially, to show this gradualism, and show the context that the war is being fought in, the idea is to go in the lower region of the panhandle of north vietnam. okay, so if the 17th parallel is where north and south is dividing initially, all the bombing campaigns, after what they saw as strategic targets just south -- south of the 19th parallel. we are talking about going after ammunition zones, depots, in this case, radar sites. in modern day, because, think about it, this is what lemay was talking about, to dick. in modern day, -- as far as an air campaign goes. air superiority. what would be one of the targets we would love to go after? airbases. airbases are kind of off- limits. so, this is being done differently. it's a strategic campaign pickett, it is going against
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the normal military thinking. it is mainly -- can paper given to the north, it is an interdiction campaign of material moving around to sustain north vietnam pickett trying to send a message to them. likewise, the interdiction campaign at the -- to stop supplies from going south. >> [ inaudible ]. >> f1 11 will come in later in the rolling thunder campaign. that's why i like pictures of them. they will have a little bit more effect in the next reading when we talk about london. >> they come from higher up. we will see, i kind of had some maps. visa restrictions that are self-imposed by the administration. onto the airpower leaders. to prevent. so, restrictions,
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rules of engagements, these are all difficulties that we read about in -- chapter. on those restrictions. again, most of the stuff is below the 19th parallel, and later, soon after, in 1965, is rolling the salon. they will move into about the 20th parallel line. the restrictions are, well, we can't do anything that might upset the other enemies. the other monolithic elements of communism. the soviets are the chinese, who, are supporting the north vietnamese. so, we will not bomb along a 25 or 30 mile -- along the border with china. because, we have soldiers on the border of china that came across. the idea that you will not hit along the border. likewise, the major cities of hanoi and the port of haiphong, we will have a restricted zone.
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of attacking. and that every target is going to be chosen by the president. he is going to approve every target. we will talk about that. so, these are the three major restrictions, besides normal our oe. for example, in the text, in the trans--- the transporter that i am, comes over the target, that after target, sees a tart -- a cargo plane with a star on it. recognizes the cargo plane. target of opportunity picture to down pick that is beyond the rules of engagement. so, very restricted use of airpower. those are the restrictions because of the three main restrictions that we are talking. vesta triton not escalate this conflict. that target picking initially starts off by johnson meeting
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with a small group of advisors, specifically, in 1965, early 1965, he will start meeting with robert mac o'mara, during lunch, and also secretary of state, dean rusk. mcnamara will have a list pick this list of targets has been moved up from first and second air division that is running the show. later, second air force base we always hear about seventh air force base that will go through the sink pack, shark, dan in honolulu. it will move up to the pentagon, it will move over to state. it will kind of go back to the jcf. and, that will be in mcnamara's hands. and now they will take this list of, this is what we want to do, this is why we want to do these targets, and now, we will have a discussion among the three of them. and pretty soon, that discussion starts expanding. >> initially, those discussions were missing any type of military advisor pick this is from a laser period of time, with general wheeler, who is
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actually sitting on it. he has decided later, it is probably from 67, as we get into 68. okay? all right. where are these attacks coming from? it is a combined effort pickett is a joint effort. but it is not really a joint event. we have yankee station, the carrier group, sitting right off the coast of danang, that has usually got three carriers there. that are doing, they are the ones who did the reprisal of pierced arrow. that is the navy portion of it. also, bases in thailand. who -- we have -- and kp as thompson discusses it. those are the main areas. those are where the fighters and takers are coming out of. along with -- coming out of the main. of its way these guys are coming into the north.
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it is not really joint-it is joint, you have the navy during the attack, you have it -- the air force doing the attacks. but how they break it up is part of the command-and-control structure that is kind of odd. one that we are not familiar with today. last time you kind of saw brooking up and divisions, so -- lie. right and here is my 17th parallel. there are seven new package areas. you can see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. there are two week significant winds will be 6 a, 6 b, which will have the major industrial areas of north vietnam. these areas are parceled out. so, the air force, and some of the south vietnamese air force also, all the roots are going into one pick the navy gets 2, 3, 4, and 6b, and the air force
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also gets thought alice's 5 and six a. i thought that was a great example. later in the war when there is finally a recognition of this graduated response, and there is an idea of, hey, now we will allow an attack on airfields, there is this effort to go after the megs who have been having great success against u.s. formations. we will go after toucan airfield outside of hanoi. the navy wanted a part of that pickett took a lot of extra coordination to break down the barriers, and allow deacon flexion. other than that, you were kind of kept to your place. this also shows refueling tracks . it also shows some very significant, i thought the reading get -- did a good job of incorporating the search and rescue. there are some good pictures
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there is a package going in. that is e 66. that is pretty early in the work that eb 66 is jamming any kind of radar. bringing in escort an f105 bombers. there is general homeyer, the air force commander. the intellectual air force commander. he penned the book 5 years after the conflict. -- airpower in three wars pick which is a good book for us to reflect on. so, once again, we have a fact dominated air force structure. and, this would be the aircraft that you think might be carrying out these missions in total. and, f thompson informs us, this would have been too much of a show of force, as far as johnson was concerned that he would not let the b-52s go up north. in rolling thunder, the b-52s won't see action in the northern part of vietnam. it will take another campaign before we see that happen. but, these are involved in the
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south with that air interdiction platform pick not doing the strategic bartman effort. but an air interdiction effort. instead, the primary platform will be those 100 series fighters. f105, f 100. what were these designed to do? like we discussed up to korea, it was designed to participate -- wanted to participate in that big war with the soviet union. the dropping of tactic --. you have -- big engines, moving fast but these are not air to air fighters. these have one idea, and that is to get as deep as you can, drop your new, and try to get back as far as you can. one aspect of these, is how effective are they at bombing? did thompson give us a discussion of this? about the ability?
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>> f105's being designed as low altitude, high-speed, tactical nuke truckers were not very good at bombing traditionally. >> so, that conventional dispersion of your conventional arms, very difficult. so, this gives us an idea of adaptation. they are using this plane that is designed to do -- to be involved in this air were. initially, these pilots have not been trained that effectively on dropping conventional munitions. so, they talk about a circular era of probability a 750 feet. that means, with a radius of 750 feet, nifty percent of the bombs dropped are in that area. only 50%. that doesn't tell us where they are going. when you are talking about trying to be precise, and hit proper targets and avoiding conflict with other enemies in some of the spices, this gives you an idea of how things might
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not be so effective. later in the conflict, with more training, more experience, tell me you think this is good, more engineers down there, it gets down to about 350, circle of error probability. >> this is just because that force is not designed to do news. but, john, i got that up for you. when you take off, you get the refuel or. you go over targets when you come up. you have to hit the refuel her and get back to base in thailand. so, incredible coordination with that also. so, there is your fleet, not really designed. the navy has got similar problems. but they do have this thompson -- the best fighter for this capability. the a6. has got radar jamming capabilities. it drops, and he goes ad nauseam later, talking about the walleye munition. the idea that this is guided, it has no
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propellant, but it is a guided munition. it is all weather. this becomes a problem. of the weather capability of not only, can you hit those targets? have you included those targets? now, can you actually see those targets? are there any secondary targets? again, graduated spots initially, johnson really keeps a control on stuff. he doesn't want things to get out of control. if you can hit the primary target, you go home. later, there are some secondary targets that you can hit. those are the aircraft that are doing it. and then, i don't want to disregard this. i think thompson does a good job for us. talking about giving us those stories of the situation of pilots who are able to get rescued. there is a package, what a package would look like, going in with a one sent helicopters to get those guys that are shot down. so, why else is this a
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significant? because, the americans are going against, at the time, one of the strongest integrated air defenses established. established by the soviet union. and, established and trained, one reason you are not going after airfields, as you have got advisors, advisors, chinese advisors at all these airfields. and more korean fighter pilots have incredible success. so, compared to some previous -our previous discussion and korea. >> they are playing some pretty good aircraft, make 17 up to the left, and then they 21. the small numbers, but -- will come in pick these are very capable fighters and very capable pilots. that have vision in the north, they have radar vision. so, they know where things are coming and going, unlike the american pilots. and, this is one aspect that will determine how you are
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going to ingress and egress your targets. at any time, these guys can jump on you. which is why, when you go in with the bombing package like that 105, like this upper right- hand picture shows you, you also are going in with escorts. air to air escorts. try merrily in the f4. >> okay? >> that is one in element of this integrated air system. the other element that is probably most successful in the war., the shows aircraft artillery primarily. some larger caliber. maybe you might consider the small arms in a sense. but certainly thrown right up in the air. all the way down to the soldiers, who are trained very well, that when they hear something, to try to go for that golden bb. >> a lot of these antiaircraft artillery, a lot of larger calories -- calibers are larger
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-- we're talking sophisticated small arms and antiaircraft artillery. you have the fighters flying around. this is the reason why you don't want to come into low. if you come into low, and these are the guys that are going to get you. but then, scarier for the pilots, you can go to high either. because, you have surface-to- air missiles. primarily -- guidelines. they would start off, having radar on, shooting off the telephone pole. that thing would come out and do -- and destroy your aircraft. there is a picture of an f105 right before it gets hit. trying to find these fields, the soviets were very good at advising the north vietnamese to movies around. to make mobile sites. to integrate the radar with it. that shows you the integrated aircraft system and a small reason that you are trying to ingress in and out of. with your fast fighter bomber. after that adaptation makes up.
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that is one that when there is a recognition that these radars were turning on, that we need to go after the sam sites. it is decided, what if we use a two-seater f 100. put a pilot in the backseat break that pilot can do signatures. we can go right down after the sites and drop bombs on them. we can do rater on the sam sites themselves but there is a great interview at there with one of the guys who first participated in this. the wild weasels. omission that we still have. -- he said, you have got to be kidding me. this shows you the involvement of this mission. we have on here, is a picture. mayor thorson -- major thorson. medal of honor winner on this mission. there role is to go in, escort another strike package. make sure it jams are could
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take out a sam site, and pave the path to the other guy. another example that is very famous, and it was effective, one significant time. done by a former -- after this job will become the, that contest year, 67. this is robin knowles. -- fire wing. and his commander, general chappie james. every time we send a strike package is it at the same time, the strike package can go the same route. they look the same, and all the initiative is for the communists . they know when and if one of five packages coming in. they will come in and jump them. in this case, they recognize there having a hard time getting air superiority. there are going to take f for's -- f 4. the other one heat
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seeker. and they are going to go in, >> [ captioners transitioning ] they are very effective. the wars will take down 7 of the ones that come up in the air. i know there is a report about nine, two >> it will later have a gun pod put on it.
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>> in question. i don't know how they felt about it. obviously they are used to this environment. flying in this environment, thinking we are going to go air to air, far off engagement with the soviet force, it makes sense. now, you are in this situation. you get these world war ii, korea war experienced pilot to go we need to look more like engaging already -- priority like great used to. then you get the gun pod and designs to say we are going to go back to the gun, and we will start training again. these are two examples of just a gap in, i have already said three, you've got to take this airframe and adapted to the situation, these packages. then, these are two specific examples of how they are trying to do their best to get bombs on target.
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already, you know, one of the issues with the campaign is it is a carrot stick, and the idea of how do we get the north vietnamese, how do we chorus them. one idea is that you bomb them, and then we do a pause and we say hey, we need to have a powwow, let's negotiate and talk about this. this becomes a back and forth. there is a number of bombs, eight major bomb problems. in 1965, they start this march. there is discussion of bombing pods in may. at the end of 65, there will be a month-long bombing pause to try to get the north vietnamese to course and to stop supporting -- in the main architect of all of this, even within five months of this campaign beginning, certainly by 1966 he does not think this campaign is
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working. he will start saying, maybe we should stop this campaign and focus on what's happening in the south. johnson keeps in on for well over a year. whether you say he voluntarily leaves, or he has let loose by the president, which is the more typical situation, that does not happen until 1968. here is an idea that says maybe this is not working. then, we get the ultimate, the idea that 1966 was been resolved, 1967, maybe this is working, the military is optimistic about this campaign and how it is working great them, you have in january 1968, a major attack along all south vietnam, this is mainly led by the nlf, the vietcong veteran south, certainly supported and supplied by north vietnam on --
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this demonstrates that even at the operational level of infiltration hasn't worked, and certainly you have not enticed north vietnam in any way to stop what they're doing to --. the tet offensive is a turning point for the air campaign in the north. so much so, that this campaign is going to slowly but surely come to a close. it is a 44 month on and off, like i said eight bombing pauses, all the pauses that you have for whether, but you still fly 300 thousand authorities. that campaign up in the north and the pows that come with that, which we will spend more time discussing in the next lesson.
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that is not telling you of effects. it is going to be something that comes out. the air force starts kind of going in, like who cares how much we do, what effect does it have in the end. that becomes an issue. we flew these many scenes, we drop this many bombs, it is a number you put your eyes around, when you're damaging stuff, the transportation -- to transportation allies you go after bridges. how fast do they repair it, or how do they not even need it, how do they find other ways across the river, besides this major bridge that was built during the french colonial.. -- period. this because an issue with gradualism as a whole, not only what you're doing in the air campaign, but what you are doing in the south. how do you measure this. as i mentioned, the president has approval rating drops.
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support for the war has been in a downward spiral in 67, another is an idea that there is not much support, even support now for bombing the north, and johnson will, in march 1968 say i am not going to run for president. i am just going to concentrate on the vietnam war, and i'm looking to stop this bombing campaign against the north. and there is dancing around the issues of trying to get the north vietnamese to agree to negotiation. finally, when there is a sense of that happening, it halts in november 1968. and, the big thing is it is a failure. it felt to hollow the support for the south, or the ability for north vietnam to continue. we can look at that and say, it is not a normal strategic bombing campaign, who is
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supporting north vietnam? where are they getting all of their stuff? toward the end of the conflict, we are using b-52s, we are using all of this fire -- firepower, is it having an effect? and what does this guy need to carry out the conflict? what does this guy need to move stuff down to the south? i am using a bicycle. i've got my bag for food and subsidence, i am picking down a few bombs. how effective and how difficult is it to stop that? so, it gives us a sense. the significance of all of this, we are not done talking about airpower in vietnam, we will talk about linebacker missions, and another strategic bombing campaign, that is four years after the strategic bombing campaign, but, this quote i mentioned earlier, this is why you are here. you are here to develop your character as an officer,
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speaking of reporting correctly and doing the right thing, but even more, you are the architecture that people are supposed to understand. i know you guys are going to be great at understanding tactical level of airpower, but can you have a better understanding of how it fits into the bigger picture, and can you articulate it to your civilian overseers? i think it is a pretty nice quote. are there any questions? >> when i was going through the reading, what stood out to me was when the author said that about a year before rolling thunder entered, at a meeting with his closest advisors on august 18, 1967, johnson complained that the united states cannot win without parades, songs, and bond -- bomb drives. johnson was not to be called behind doors at his meetings, but it seems like you try to
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throw some shade of the ability of the united states at this time to win a limited war. what context do you think that the image of bombs, or driving parades, >> another reason and significance of this lesson is how do we apply airpower in this current environment. what effects can you have with airpower? even more appointment, what i think he is getting at in 1967 is, in his idea of gradualism, this air campaign of rolling thunder seemed like a nice panacea. i don't have to cross the border of the 17th parallel, instead, i can send my message using airpower, this guy has an idea that we would now deem it may be incorrect of what eric -- airpower can do. that is -- more significant of
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the quote is this is his frustration. i am a massive country, i've got this massive tool, and why is this not working? you want to put it on a bigger idea, this is something we have to grapple with. can airpower alone, no. but, can airpower influence, sure. >> you mentioned previously on the slides, we talked briefly on president johnson's great society, and then the vietnam war, would you say they are trying to do both? that is a take of many historians, trying to balance these two things. as i was trying to allude to the idea that his domestic agenda, his previous role as a senator, and vice president, not as a president, his domestic agenda, definitely was on the high list of his attention. trying to do both, well, you know, he did a to try to do it
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on the cheap, in the sense that he did not want to call of the military reserves. he -- if he is going to do all of the spending, he wanted to do it through deficit spending, not for increased taxation. so, there is a lot of discussion that this was a lot to try to put onto the country at one time. in another book, that historians take is in an attempt to try to do both, he failed at both. any other questions? next reading, two chapters out of this, talking about linebacker. let's bring with us what we are coming out of this discussion with, and bring it to our linebacker discussion. this will be the ultimate question, this is what thompson is a leading to, a point of view that is heavily out there, and that is, if we only used
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airpower in 1965, like we used it in 1972, we would have had a change. you need to see how johnson deals with this. that will be the point of our discussion next time. i appreciate your attention, and look forward to seeing you next time. thank you, bye. you have a lot of lectures in history, a weekly series on american history tv, saturday night at 8 pm and midnight, eastern. you can also find the lectures on c-span library. if you miss any of this week's american history tv programs, you can find them anytime online in the cspan video library, at american history tv weekdays will continue until labor day. on friday, the fight for civil rights in the u.s., from the zoot suit riots to the women's movement. we are spending next week on
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the presidency. monday, we take you to visit museums on george washington, harry truman and george four. tuesday, a former white house chef, and a look at designers and stonemasons who worked on the white house. wednesday, how presidents have dealt with the media and press coverage. this sunday on oral histories, we continue our series on women in congress with former republican congresswoman helen bentley. >> i know i had to do well, because i could not afford not to. i just kept plugging, and working hard. it is not a playpen. a campaign is tough work. i admire anybody who goes into it. >> in the weeks ahead, we will hear from bob racanelli, nancy johnson, and lynn woolsey. watch oral histories, sunday at 10 am eastern on american history tv on cspan3.
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the cease and -- cspan bus is from across the country on our capitals tour. the buses in honolulu, asking folks what is the most important issue in hawaii. >> you see with me of the young girls in hawaii. one of the big issues is, will they have a place to live? will they be able to afford to stay in the home of their birth? we have a huge homeless situation that is going on right now. we are looking for ways to take them off of the street. i think the problem is that it is going to get worse if we don't take care of it now. >> i am liz, and i am from honolulu, hawaii, born and raised here. one of the important issues i feel we are facing here is trying to manage a work life balance.
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i work full time, my husband works full-time, plus a part- time job, and we have three young children, and we are trying to take care of everyone. >> right now more than ever for hawaii, we need to continue to promote below high spirit, which is in itself a life form. aloha means kindness. if we can all promote and live with in this aloha spirit as a state of hawaii, we can all be in a better place here across the nation. >> be sure to join us october 6 and seven, when we will feature our visit to hawaii. what hawaii weekend on c-span,, or listen on the cspan radio app.
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on september 15, 2014, president barack obama awarded the congressional medal of honor to benny akin, for his actions during combat in vietnam 48 years earlier in march 1966., benny atkins talks about his experiences during the war with the co-offer of his book, a tiger among us, the story of valor. sergeant atkins describes how he and 16 of his berets were attacked by a large force of vietnamese and troops from march 9 and march 12, 1966. he also tells the story of a tiger who saved his life during the battle. the national archive posted this hour-long event. >> i ask all vietnam veterans or united states veterans who served in active-duty at any time during a period of november 1, 1955, to may 15 of 1975


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