Operation rolling thunder essay

By the beginning ofit was stood upon its head—it was believed that without further American action the Saigon government could not survive.

Operation rolling thunder essay

Intelligence tackles an old problem in Operation rolling thunder essay new form. Fuller, Bruce Smith, and Merle Atkins The program known as Rolling Thunder, a systematic but restrained air offensive against selected economic and military targets in North Vietnam, began on 2 March The basic objectives of Rolling Thunder were to reduce the ability of North Vietnam to support the Communist insurgencies in South Vietnam and Laos; to increase progressively the pressure on North Vietnam to the point where the regime would decide it was too costly to continue directing and supporting the insurgency in the south; and to bolster the confidence and morale of the South Vietnamese.

As the days of the air campaign over North Vietnam stretched into months, the requirement developed in Washington and particularly in the White House for independent assessments of the results.

Operation rolling thunder essay

As a consequence, CIA was asked to make its own assessment of the bombing campaign as well as to join the Defense Intelligence Agency DIA in the preparation of an analysis for the Secretary of Defense.

The work on bomb damage to bridges, which is discussed in this paper, is one example of the reporting on the Rolling Thunder program. Although the extent of damage and the cost of repair are the principal topics discussed here, the White House was equally concerned to find out how much time would be needed to restore lines of communication LOCs.

Background North Vietnam's major contributions to the war in the south have been its military manpower, its function as the control center for Operation rolling thunder essay insurgency, and its function as the logistics funnel through which materiel, mostly from the USSR and Communist China, has moved into South Vietnam.

Consequently the attainment of the first objective of Rolling Thunder hinged almost entirely on the ability to impede or stop the flow of men and supplies from North Vietnam to South Vietnam.

Although a number of different target systems were taken under attack, the Rolling Thunder campaign was essentially and at times almost exclusively an interdiction program.

A standard bombing strategy to achieve such a goal was to stop or slow military traffic in rear areas by interdicting critical choke points along heavily used LOC's.

Bridges of course qualify as such, and during Rolling Thunder more attack sorties were flown against bridge targets than against any other fixed target system. As the bombing campaign progressed, policy-makers and high-level Presidential advisors started asking the intelligence community to assess the effectiveness of the effort.

Among the questions posed were those on the status of damaged bridges and North Vietnamese countermeasures to bypass the bridges. The Secretary of Defense specifically wanted to know the number of bridges damaged, the estimated cost of repairing the damage, whether or not the flow of traffic south was being effectively impeded, how quickly the bridges could be restored, and the net impact on logistics capabilities.

Answering these questions proved to be a knotty problem.

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Number of Damaged Bridges In one of his columns inArt Buchwald pointed out that available statistics suggested that the US apparently had destroyed all of the bridges in North Vietnam many times over.

He concluded that we must be "dropping our own bridges on North Vietnam and then bombing them. During the early months of the bombing campaign, depending on the sources being used and the degree of discrimination exercised, one could get an extraordinary variety of estimates of the total number of destroyed bridges in North Vietnam, ranging from as low as to as high as 7, When total "bridge-kills" began approaching these incredible numbers, it became apparent that a new basis of intelligence assessment was in order.

Before we could get at the matter of the true extent and nature of the damage and the impact of the program on the enemy's logistic activities, however, there were fundamental problems to be resolved including such basic questions as when is a bridge a bridge.

Analysts from OER, in consultation with DIA, discovered that early estimates of destroyed bridges were compiled almost exclusively from pilot reports.

Now it is very difficult for a pilot to assess accurately the results of a strike while traveling at high speed and when the target area is obscured by smoke and dust. To narrow the credibility gap concerning the number of bridges damaged, OER analysts decided that the only reliable method was to use "hard" evidence provided through the eye of a camera rather than the fleeting evidence provided through the eye of a pilot.

This intensive search, completed in Marchrevealed that bridges actually had been destroyed during the first year of the interdiction campaign, compared with in what were at that time the currently most conservative assessments.

The figure rose to a high of destroyed bridges by the end of the bombing program in October Each bridge crossing was measured and cataloged, and a photograph of each was prepared for later analysis by OER.

During the three years of bombing, personnel in the Construction Branch analyzed and filed over 2, prints covering some bridges. These photographs provided the basic input for answering many questions posed by the Department of Defense and the White House on the effectiveness of the interdiction campaign.

Conceptual Problems Before an accurate bridge count could be attempted, a number of conceptual problems had to be solved. One such problem was how to define precisely what constituted a bridge. It appeared somewhat irrational to place a 10 or 20 foot water crossing in the same category as the 1, foot bridge at Viet Tri or the mile-long Paul Doumer bridge crossing the Red River near Hanoi.

Many of the smaller crossings could more accurately be described as culverts, causeways, or simply improved fords, and thus were excluded from the bridge count. Another problem that arose concerned the definition of a "destroyed" or "damaged" bridge.

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Mere cratering of bridge approaches or "near misses" in adjacent rice paddies could not be counted as damage serious enough to interdict a water crossing. An SDO was defined as damage sufficiently severe to deny a crossing to users until a significant amount of repairs had been performed, requiring considerable time, materials, and labor.through Operation Rolling Thunder, this paper illustrates how an unwavering commitment to existing The Drew Papers are award-winning master’s theses selected for publica-tion by the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

This series of papers commemorates the distinguished career. The Controversy The controversy that surrounded the subject was massive people protested in huge numbers to tell the government that the war was wrong and we needed to bring the solders back home.

In response to the successful prosecutions in Operation Rolling Thunder, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter said, "I have to commend the investigators with the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Smith for his excellent work in this case.

Rolling Thunder was a symptom, not the cause, of the US failing to achieve its strategic goals in Vietnam (which is a longer way of saying ‘losing’, though the Harry Summers Jr. quote is relevant - the US won most of the battles yet still didn’t succeed, the North Vietnamese took a lot of severe kickings yet achieved their war goals).

"rolling thunder" and bomb damage to bridges Kenneth C. Fuller, Bruce Smith, and Merle Atkins The program known as Rolling Thunder, a systematic but restrained air offensive against selected economic and military targets in North Vietnam, began on 2 March Aug 03,  · Compilation of air power during the Vietnam war.

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Operation Rolling Thunder - HISTORY