On this day 1 November Vietnam

Drone_pilot

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1964 Military and political situation in South Vietnam deteriorates


One year after the overthrow and assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem, the situation in South Vietnam is deteriorating in both the military and political spheres.

Following two months of extreme political turmoil, the High National Council confirmed the appointment of Tran Van Huong as South Vietnam's premier. Though he promised to wage total war against the communists while separating religion and politics, he proved to be only the latest in a line of ineffectual leaders that attempted to fill the void left by Diem's death.

The military situation was no better. On this date, Viet Cong raiders infiltrated the U.S. air base at Bien Hoa, 12 miles north of Saigon, and launched a heavy mortar attack that caught the U.S. and South Vietnamese off guard. Before the Viet Cong withdrew, they killed five U.S. servicemen and two South Vietnamese soldiers, wounded 76, destroyed two B-57 bombers, and damaged another 20 U.S. and South Vietnamese aircraft. A lengthy search of the area around Bien Hoa failed to locate any of the Viet Cong. Word of the attack reached Washington early in the morning, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for "a prompt and strong response" against North Vietnam. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor called for a more limited response, but also advocated bombing in retaliation. President Lyndon Johnson, concerned with the presidential election that was only 48 hours away, decided to do nothing except order the immediate replacement of destroyed and damaged planes.

1968 Two new programs initiated in South Vietnam

The U.S. mission in Saigon initiates two operations designed to bolster rural security and development efforts.

The Le Loi program was an intensified civic action campaign intended to repair the damage done by the enemy's offensives earlier in the year and to return control of the rural population to the Saigon government.

The other operation was the Phuong Hoang (Phoenix) program, a hamlet security initiative run by the Central Intelligence Agency that relied on centralized, computerized intelligence gathering to identify and eliminate the Viet Cong infrastructure--the upper echelon of the National Liberation Front political cadres and party members. This program became one of the most controversial operations undertaken by U.S. personnel in South Vietnam.

Critics charged that American-led South Vietnamese "hit teams" indiscriminately arrested and murdered many communist suspects on flimsy pretexts. Despite these charges, the program was acknowledged by top-level U.S. government officials, as well as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese leaders after the war, to have been very effective in reducing the power of the local communist cadres in the South Vietnamese countryside.

According to available sources, from 1968 to 1972, the Phoenix program resulted in the capture of 34,000 Viet Cong political cadre, while an additional 26,000 were killed. The program also convinced 22,000 communists to change their loyalties and support the South Vietnamese government.

1966: Viet Cong bombs Saigon

At least eight people have been killed and several wounded after Viet Cong artillery shelled the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon.
Altogether about 30 shells were fired into the city centre.

The first round came as troops and spectators were getting ready to watch a parade to mark National Day, the third anniversary of the overthrow and assassination of former Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem.

There was a lull and then a second round of shells exploded as Prime Minister Nguyen Kao Ky was saluting his troops.

American officer killed


There was chaos as crowds tried to find cover on foot or by motor scooter.

Many found their way blocked by American and South Vietnamese armoured vehicles coming from the opposite direction.

One shell hit the Chapel of Saint Anthony of Padua in the cathedral.

And another exploded just outside the cathedral killing an American officer.

Five other Americans were wounded and at least two Vietnamese killed when a shell hit the crowded central market.

The Viet Cong were firing from bases at the edge of the jungle some three and half miles away from Saigon and amazed military observers with their accuracy.

They also sank an American minesweeper in the Saigon River with a mine later in the day, killing several crew members.

Call for more US troops

So far US armed helicopters and South Vietnamese ground forces have failed to track down any Viet Cong bases.

Yesterday, former US President General Dwight D Eisenhower called for more troops to be sent to Vietnam to bring about a swift end to the conflict.

He told the US News and World Report that the war had been "going on too long" and said America should be "putting in the kind of military strength we need to win" as soon as possible.
 

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