How America Abandoned Southeast Asia
Publication Year: 2013
In the early 1970s, as U.S. combat forces began to withdraw from Southeast Asia, South Vietnamese and Cambodian forces continued the fight against the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), more commonly known as the Viet Cong. Despite the evacuation of its ground troops, the United States promised to materially support its allies' struggle against communist aggression. Over time, however, the American government drastically reduced its funding of the conflict, placing immense strain on the Cambodian and South Vietnamese armed forces, which were fighting well-supplied enemies. In Losing Vietnam, Major General Ira A. Hunt Jr. chronicles the efforts of U.S. military and State Department officials who argued that severe congressional budget reductions ultimately would lead to the defeat of both Cambodia and South Vietnam. Hunt details the catastrophic effects of reduced funding and of conducting "wars by budget." As deputy commander of the United States Support Activities Group Headquarters (USAAG) in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, Hunt received all Southeast Asia operational reports, reconnaissance information, and electronic intercepts, placing him at the forefront of military intelligence and analysis in the area. He also met frequently with senior military leaders of Cambodia and South Vietnam, contacts who shared their insights and gave him personal accounts of the ground wars raging in the region. This detailed and fascinating work highlights how analytical studies provided to commanders and staff agencies improved decision making in military operations. By assessing allied capabilities and the strength of enemy operations, Hunt effectively demonstrates that America's lack of financial support and resolve doomed Cambodia and South Vietnam to defeat.
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Series: Battles and Campaigns
List of Illustrations
As a prelude to the signing of the Vietnamese cease-fire agreement the United States agreed to build up the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) and to continue to supply them with essential military supplies and equipment. To supervise that effort and to maintain liaison with the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff (JGS), the U.S. Support Activities Group (USSAG), a major headquarters, was established in northeast Thailand. ...
1. Nakhon Phanom
It was with great anticipation that the people of the United States heralded the “Agreement in Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam”—the so-called cease-fire agreement. Most Americans, myself included, thought that this agreement was the prelude to a stable and lasting peace. I, for one, tried to put the Vietnam War out of mind. ...
2. South Vietnam
The U.S. military assistance objectives in the Republic of Vietnam, to be carried out by the DAO, were to “help to achieve and maintain the stable balanced conditions necessary to ensure peace in Indochina and Southeast Asia; assist in the development of an increasingly effective government responsive to the South Vietnamese people’s needs and wishes; ...
From its inception, the war in Cambodia was closely associated with the conflict in Vietnam. The Khmer communist insurgency began as an offshoot of the North Vietnamese Communist Party in the late 1930s. Full-scale insurgency against the French, however, did not break out until 1947. ...
4. The Mayaguez Incident
USSAG/7AF had just completed its responsibilities for the emergency evacuations of American citizens from Cambodia and South Vietnam, and with the loss of those two countries to the communists our headquarters was due to stand down on 30 June. Personnel were enjoying the calm after the hectic days of April 1975. ...
Thus far, I have discussed affairs in South Vietnam and Cambodia, with only tangential references to Thailand and Laos, both of which had important roles in the wars in Southeast Asia, which were definitely regional conflicts. The common enemy operated extensively in Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam and continuously exerted pressure on northeast Thailand. ...
On 21 February 1973, not a month after the 28 January signing of the Vietnamese cease-fire agreement, the Royal Laotian government (RLG) and the communist-inspired Lao Patriotic Front (LPF) signed an agreement on the restoration of peace and reconciliation in Laos. The agreement ushered in a period of major political and military changes in Laos. ...
I left Southeast Asia to return to the States on 4 July 1975, with very mixed feelings. On the day we Americans were celebrating the birth of our nation and our freedoms, the heavy yoke of communism had brutally suppressed the freedoms of the people in Southeast Asia. ...