Vietnam was a country that was far removed from the American
people until their history and ours became forever interlinked in what
has come to be known as the Vietnam conflict. It is a classic story
of good guys versus bad, communism versus freedom, and a constant
struggle for stability. Americas attempt to aid the cause of freedom
was a valid one, but one that ended up with South Vietnam being
dependent upon us for its very life as a nation. "Vietnamization" was
the name for the plan to allow South Vietnam to stand on its own, and
ended in leaving a country totally on its own, unable to stand and
fight.

Vietnam was a French territory until the Viet Minh insurgency of
the late 1940\'s and through 1954. Although regarding this uprising as
part of a larger Communist conspiracy, Americans were not
unsympathetic to Vietnamese aspirations for national independence.

The ensueing defeat of the French brought an end to the first stage of
what was to be a thirty year struggle. The Indochina ceasefire
agreement (Geneva Accords) of July 21, 1954 led to the creation of
seperate states in Laos and Cambodia, and the artificial division of

Vietnam into two republics. In the North the Communist Viet Minh
established the democratic of Vietnam, and in the south a random
collection of non - Communist factions, led by Ngo Dinh Diem, formed
the Republic of Vietnam. The general elections provided for by the
agreement never took place, and the two states quickly drew apart.

The United States immediatly threw its support behind the southern
regime and extended military aid through a Military Assistance

Advisory Group (MAAG) under the command of Lt. General John W.

O\'Daniel.

American objectives in South Vietnam were reletively simple and
remained so -- the establishment and preservation of a non - Communist
government in South Vietnam. Initally, the most pressing problem
was the weakness of the Saigon government and the danger of cival war
between South Vietnam\'s armed religious and political factions. Diem,
however, acting as a kind of benevolent dictator, managed to put a
working government together, and O\'Daniel\'s advisory group, about
three or four hundred people, went to work creating a national army.

Slowly, under the direction of O\'Daniel and his successor in October

1955, Lt. General Samuel T. Williams, the new army took shape. The
primary mission of this 150,000 man force was to repel a North

Vietnamese invasion across the Demilitarised zone that seperated North
and South Vietnam. Diem and his American advisors thus organised and
trained the new army for a Korean - style conflict, rather than
for the unconventional guerrilla warfare that had characterised the
earlier French - Viet Minh struggle. President Minh also maintained a
substantial paramilitary force almost as large as the regular army.

This force\'s primary task was to maintain internal security, but also
acted as a counter weight to the army, whose officers often had
political ambitions that were sometimes incompatible with those of

Diem. From the beginning, such tensions weakened the Saigon
government and severly hampered its ability to deal with South

Vietnam\'s social and ecenomic problems.

At the beginning of 1968 the military strength of the Saigon
government was, on paper, impressive. The regular armed forces
consisted of about 250,000 men, organised into a conventional army,
navy, air force, and marine corps, well equipped with tanks,
artillary, ships and aircraft, Behind the regulars was a similar -
size militia - like organization, the Territorial forces. Although
consisting mainly of small rifle units, the territorials had begun to
recieve modern radios, vehicles, and small arms during the early

1960\'s, and their capabilities had increased considerably. The
organization of the armed forces mirrored most Western nations; a
civialian Ministry of Defence directed a military general staff which
headed a heirarchy of operational commands and various support and
training facilities. The Territorial Forces, a formal part of the
armed forcse since 1964, was apportioned amon the forty - four
province cheifs, the principle administrators of Vietnam. In
comparison, the Viet Cong army looked pertty weak. With some

80,000 lightly equipped regulars, back by about 80,000 - 100,000 part
- time geuirillas and supported by a few thousand North Vietnamese
troops and a fragile supply line hundreds of miles long, it was hardly
an imposing force. Nevertheless, this force had inflicted a series of
defeats on the South Vietnamese troops, all but throwing then out of
the copuntryside and back into the cities and towns. Vietnamization

In the spring of 1969 Presiden Richard M. Nixon initiated his
new policy of "Vietnamization." Vietnamization had two distinct
elements: first, the unilateral withdraawl of American troops from

South Vietnam; and, second, the assumptionof greater military
responsibilities by the South