1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt
On November 11, 1960, a failed coup attempt against President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was led by Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông and Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi of the Airborne Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The rebels launched the coup in response to Diệm's autocratic rule and the negative political influence of his brother Ngô Đình Nhu and his sister-in-law Madame Nhu, they bemoaned the politicisation of the military, whereby regime loyalists who were members of the Ngô family's covert Cần Lao Party were promoted ahead of more competent officers who were not insiders. Đông was supported in the conspiracy by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, whose uncle was a prominent official in a minor opposition party. The main link in the coup was Đông's commanding officer Thi; the coup caught the Ngô family off-guard, but was chaotically executed. The plotters neglected to seal the roads leading into the capital Saigon to seal off loyalist reinforcements, they hesitated after gaining the initiative.
After being trapped inside the Independence Palace, Diệm stalled the coup by holding negotiations and promising reforms, such as the inclusion of military officers in the administration. In the meantime, opposition politicians joined the fray. However, the president's real aim was to buy time for loyalist forces to enter the capital and relieve him; the coup failed when the 5th and 7th Divisions of the ARVN defeated the rebels. More than four hundred people—many of whom were civilian spectators—were killed in the ensuing battle; these included a group of anti-Diệm civilians who charged across the palace walls at Thi's urging and were cut down by loyalist gunfire. Đông and Thi fled to Cambodia, while Diệm berated the United States for a perceived lack of support during the crisis. Afterwards, Diệm ordered a crackdown, imprisoning numerous anti-government critics and former cabinet ministers; those that assisted Diệm were duly promoted. A trial for those implicated in the plot was held in 1963. Seven officers and two civilians were sentenced to death in absentia, while 14 officers and 34 civilians were jailed.
Diệm's regime accused the Americans of sending Central Intelligence Agency members to assist the failed plot. When Diệm was assassinated after a 1963 coup, those jailed after the 1960 revolt were released by the new military junta; the revolt was led by 28-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông, a northerner, who had fought with the French Union forces against the Viet Minh during the First Indochina War. Trained at Fort Leavenworth in the United States, Đông was regarded by American military advisers as a brilliant tactician and the brightest military prospect of his generation and he served in the Airborne Division. Back in Vietnam, Đông became discontented with Diệm's arbitrary rule and constant meddling in the internal affairs of the army. Diệm promoted officers on loyalty rather than skill, played senior officers against one another in order to weaken the military leadership and prevent them from challenging his rule. Years after the coup, Đông asserted that his sole objective was to force Diệm to improve the governance of the country.
Đông was clandestinely supported by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, the director of training at the Joint General Staff School, Hong's uncle Hoang Co Thuy. Thuy was a wealthy Saigon-based lawyer, had been a political activist since World War II, he was the secretary-general of a minority opposition party called the Movement of Struggle for Freedom, which had a small presence in the rubber-stamp National Assembly. Many Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers were members of other anti-communist nationalist groups that were opposed to Diệm, such as the Đại Việt Quốc dân đảng and the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, which were both established before World War II; the VNQDĐ had run a military academy in Yunnan near the Chinese border with the assistance of their nationalist Chinese counterparts, the Kuomintang. Diệm and his family had crushed all alternative anti-communist nationalists, his politicisation of the army had alienated the servicemen. Officers were promoted on the basis of political allegiance rather than competence, meaning that many VNQDĐ and Đại Việt trained officers were denied such promotions.
They felt that politically minded officers, who joined Diệm's secret Catholic-dominated Cần Lao Party, used to control South Vietnamese society, were rewarded with promotion rather than those most capable. Planning for the coup had gone on with Đông recruiting disgruntled officers; this included Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi. In 1955, Thi had fought for Diệm against the Bình Xuyên organised crime syndicate in the Battle for Saigon; this performance so impressed Diệm—a lifelong bachelor—that he thereafter referred to Thi as "my son". However, the Americans who worked with Thi were less impressed; the CIA described Thi as "an opportunist and a man lacking strong convictions". An American military advisor described Thi as "tough and fearless, but dumb". There is some dispute as to. According to some sources, Thi was still an admirer of Diệm and was forced at gunpoint by Đông and his supporters to join the coup at the last minute, having been kept unaware of the plotting. According to this story, Thi's airborne units were moved into position for the coup without his knowledge.
Many months before the coup, Đông had met Diệm's brother and adviser Ngô Đình Nhu regarded as the brains of the regi
Mỹ Tho is the capital city, center of economics and technology of Tiền Giang Province, located in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. It has a population of 169,000 in 2006 and 220,000 in 2012; the majority ethnic group is the Kinh, some of the Chinese, the Cham and the Khmer. Boat rides on the Mỹ Tho River are popular with tourists, the city is known for hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho, a type of rice noodle soup. Mỹ Tho was founded in the 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing China, when the entire country became a colony of the Manchu-led Qing Empire in 1683; the area, at the time, was once part of the former Khmer Empire and it was annexed to Vietnam in the 18th century. The city is named after the Mỹ Tho River. In Sino-Vietnamese script, the name is given as 美萩. Due to its proximity to Saigon, Mỹ Tho was the traditional gateway to the Mekong Delta. In the 17th century, the city had become one of the biggest commercial hubs in today's Southern Vietnam. In 1860s, Mỹ Tho, along with Saigon, was a major strategic city during the French colonial campaign towards Vietnam.
In 1862, France's capture of Mỹ Tho is regarded as the conclusion to the establishment of the French colony of Cochinchina, a development that inaugurated nearly a century of French colonial dominance in Vietnam. During the colonization period, the economy continued to prosper, attracting more immigrants from Teochew and Minnan. Mỹ Tho City is recognized as a grade II in October 7, 2005. Mỹ Tho is divided to 11 wards and 6 communes.6 communes: Đạo Thạnh Mỹ Phong Phước Thạnh Tân Mỹ Chánh Thới Sơn Trung An Phước Thạnh Mỹ Tho is connected to the rest of the country by National Route 1A and Tiền River. In here, people use motorcycles and boats for transportation. Mỹ Tho has the first railway route in Vietnam, one of the most modern transport means in the world linking Saigon and Mỹ Tho, put into use in 1885. However, it was destroyed in 1960s. By road, Mỹ Tho City is 70 km from Vĩnh Long Province, 70 km from Ho Chi Minh City, 103 km from Cần Thơ, 179 km from Châu Đốc, 182 km from Rạch Giá, 132 km from Long Xuyên.
Mỹ Tho and Bến Tre are connected by Rạch Miễu Bridge. By river, there are many short boat trips to various islands, Bến Tre, floating markets in the surrounding areas, it has overnight long boats to Châu Đốc and Long Xuyên. Vĩnh Tràng Temple, Cao Dai Temple, Dong Tam Snake Farm. There are four islands in the Tien River between Mỹ Tho and Bến Tre: Dragon, Tortoise and Unicorn Islands; the Mekong Delta is considered to be the "rice basket of Vietnam", contributing more than half of the nation’s rice production. Mỹ Tho is well known as floating markets, where people sell and buy things on the river, as well as Ben Tam Ngua and Mỹ Thuận market. Mỹ Tho was the first town in southern Vietnam to have a high school; the Collège de Mỹ Tho, opened in March 1879, is now called Nguyễn Đình Chiểu High School. It was one of the first schools Vietnam had, now is still known for its education quality among Southern schools. Another school called "School for Gifted Students of Tien Giang" opened in Mỹ Tho city. Though the total area is limited compared to other schools in the province, quality of education there is considered one of the best.
The curriculum they use is modified so that students learn more of their core subjects than in other schools. For instance, students from a Math class do all the required materials like any other classes, more of Chemistry and Physics because they are in the Natural Science block, a lot more of Math. Preparation for national exams and entrance examination to the university are prioritized there. Schools in Mỹ Tho are named with famous Vietnamese writers and national heroes such as Nguyễn Trãi, Thu Khoa Huan is known as Nguyen Huu Huan, Xuân Diệu, Lê Ngọc Hân, Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Trần Hưng Đạo. Tiền Giang College which became Tiền Giang University in 2005 is located at Mỹ Tho. Today the economy is based on tourism and agricultural products such as coconuts and longans. During World War II the French Vichy government interned foreign nationals in Mỹ Tho. In May 1945, the Japanese seized control of the camps fearing an allied attack. Foreign nationals were confined throughout the war; as the regional capital Mỹ Tho is the main market dealing in all the produce from the region as well as fish and seafood from Mỹ Tho's large ocean-going fishing fleet.
The large and exuberant market is one of South Vietnam's biggest sources for dried fish and other dried seafood products such as Kho Muc. At night the market is dedicated to the dealing and sorting of Mekong River fish catfish for Hồ Chí Minh City's wholesale markets. Produce fruit and vegetables, is delivered by boat directly to markets, it is a popular starting point for tourists to take a boat trip on the Mekong River. Mỹ Tho was the subject of "The Lesson", a chapter in a memoir by Tobias Wolff, In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War, describing the events of the 1968 Tet Offensive there. In 2010, there are total 17 markets located in wards and commune in Mỹ Tho. West and North: Chợ Gạo District East: Châu Thành District, Tiền Giang South: Tiền River and Bến Tre Province Nguyễn Thị Thập - Chairman of the Women's Federation of Vietnam from 1956–1974 General Nguyễn Khánh - former Prime Minister and Ambassador of South Vietnam. General Nguyễn Hữu Hạnh - served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Madame Thiệu, the last serving First Lady of South Vietnam from 1967 to 1975 and wife of the President of South Vietnam Nguyễn Văn Thiệu.
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was a South Vietnamese politician. A former mandarin of the Nguyễn dynasty, he was named Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam by Head of State Bảo Đại in 1954. In October 1955, after winning a rigged referendum, he deposed Bảo Đại and established the first Republic of Vietnam, with himself as president, he was opposed by Buddhists. In November 1963, after constant Buddhist protests and non-violent resistance, Diệm was assassinated during a CIA-backed coup d'état, along with his brother, Ngô Đình Nhu, by Nguyễn Văn Nhung, the aide of the leader of the Army of Republic of Vietnam, General Dương Văn Minh. Diệm has been a controversial historical figure in historiography on the Vietnam War; some historians portrayed him as a tool of the U. S. policymakers, some considered him an avatar of Vietnamese tradition. Some recent studies have portrayed Diệm from a more Vietnamese-centred perspective as a competent leader with his own vision on nation building and modernisation of South Vietnam.
Ngô Đình Diệm was born in 1901 in a province in central Vietnam. His family originated in a Catholic village adjacent to Huế City, his clan had been among Vietnam's earliest Catholic converts in the 17th century. Diệm was given a saint's name at birth, Gioan Baotixita, following the custom of the Catholic Church; the Ngô-Đình family suffered under the anti-Catholic persecutions of Emperors Minh Tự Đức. In 1880, while Diệm's father, Ngô Đình Khả, was studying in British Malaya, an anti-Catholic riot led by Buddhist monks wiped out the Ngô-Đình clan. Over 100 of the Ngô clan were "burned alive in a church including Khả's parents and sisters." Note that while he is referred to as Diệm in English, his family name is Ngô. Ngô Đình Khả was educated in a Catholic school in British Malaya, where he learned English and studied the European-style curriculum, he was a devout scrapped plans to become a Roman Catholic priest in the late 1870s. He worked for the commander of the French armed forces as an interpreter and took part in campaigns against anti-colonial rebels in the mountains of Tonkin during 1880.
He rose to become a high-ranking Mandarin, the first headmaster of the National Academy in Huế and a counselor to Emperor Thành Thái under the French colonial regime. He was appointed chamberlain and keeper of the eunuchs. Despite his collaboration with the French colonizers, Khả was "motivated less by Francophilia than by certain reformist ambitions". Like Phan Châu Trinh, Khả believed that independence from France could be achieved only after changes in Vietnamese politics and culture had occurred. In 1907, after the ouster of emperor Thành Thái, Khả resigned his appointments, withdrew from the imperial court, became a farmer in the countryside. After the tragedy of his family, Khả decided to married. After his first wife died childless, Khả remarried and had nine children—six sons and three daughters—by his second wife, Phạm Thị Thân; these were Ngô Đình Khôi, Ngô Đình Thị Giao, Ngô Đình Thục, Ngô Đình Diệm, Ngô Đình Thị Hiệp, Ngô Đình Thị Hoàng, Ngô Đình Nhu, Ngô Đình Cẩn, Ngô Đình Luyện.
As a devout Roman Catholic, Khả took his entire family to Mass each morning and encouraged his sons to study for the priesthood. Having learned both Latin and classical Chinese, Khả strove to make sure his children were well educated in both Christian scriptures and Confucian classics. During his childhood, Diệm laboured in the family's rice fields while studying at a French Catholic primary school in Huế, entered a private school started by his father, where he studied French and classical Chinese. At the age of fifteen he followed his elder brother, Ngô Đình Thục, who would become Vietnam's highest-ranking Catholic bishop, into a monastery. Diệm swore himself to celibacy to prove his devotion to his faith, but found monastic life too rigorous and decided not to pursue a clerical career. According to Moyar, Diệm's personality was too independent to adhere to the discipline of the Church. Diem inherited his father's antagonism toward the French colonialists who occupied his country. At the end of his secondary schooling at Lycée Quốc học, the French lycée in Huế, Diem's outstanding examination results elicited the offer of a scholarship to study in Paris.
He declined and, in 1918, enrolled at the prestigious School of Public Administration and Law in Hanoi, a French school that prepared young Vietnamese to serve in the colonial administration. It was there that he had the only romantic relationship of his life, when he fell in love with one of his teacher's daughters. After she chose to persist with her vocation, entering a convent, he remained celibate for the rest of his life. Diệm's family background and education Catholicism and Confucianism, had influences on his life and career, on his thinking on politics and history. According to Miller, Diệm "displayed Christian piety in everything from his devotional practices to his habit of inserting references to the Bible into his speeches". After graduating at the top of his class in 1921, Diệm followed in the footsteps of his eldest brother, Ngô Đình Khôi, joining the civil service in Thừa Thiên as a junior official. Starting from the lowest rank of mandarin, Diệm rose over the next decade, he first served at the royal library in Huế, within one year was the district chief in both Thừa Thiên and nearby Quảng Trị province, presiding over
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City known by its former name of Saigon, or Prey Nokor in Khmer name, is the most populous city in Vietnam with a population of 8.4 million as of 2017. Located in southeast Vietnam, the metropolis surrounds the Saigon River and covers about 2,061 square kilometres. Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of French Indochina from 1887 to 1902 and again from 1945 to 1954. Saigon would become the capital of South Vietnam from 1955 until its fall in 1975. On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Định Province and was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh. Ho Chi Minh City is the financial centre of Vietnam and is classified as a Beta+ World City by Globalization and World Cities Research Network, it is home to the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange by total market capitalization in Vietnam and the headquarters of many national and international banks and companies. Ho Chi Minh City is the most visited city in Vietnam, with 6.3 million visitors in 2017.
Many of the city's landmarks which are well known to international visitors include the Bến Thành Market, Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, Independence Palace and the Municipal Theatre. The main passenger airport serving the metropolitan area is Tan Son Nhat International Airport, it is the busiest airport in Vietnam handling 36 million passengers in 2017. Ho Chi Minh City has gone by several different names during its history, reflecting settlement by different ethnic and political groups. In 1623, Khmer king Chey Chettha II allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh–Nguyễn War further to the north to settle in the area, which they colloquially referred to as Sài Gòn, to set up a custom house at the city known as Prey Nôkôr. In the 1690s, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyễn rulers of Huế to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the Mekong Delta and its surroundings. Control of the city and the area passed to the Vietnamese, who gave the city the official name of Gia Định.
This name remained until the time of French conquest in the 1860s, when the occupying force adopted the name Saïgon for the city, a westernized form of the traditional name, although the city was still indicated as 嘉 定 on Vietnamese maps written in Chữ Hán until at least 1891. After the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975, a provisional government renamed the city after Hồ Chí Minh, the late North Vietnamese leader. Today, the informal name of Sài Gòn/Saigon remains in daily speech both domestically and internationally among the Vietnamese diaspora. However, there is a technical difference between the two terms: Sài Gòn is used to refer to the city center in District 1 and the adjacent areas, while Ho Chi Minh City is referred more to the entire modern city with all its urban and rural districts. An etymology of Saigon is that Sài is a Sino-Vietnamese word meaning "firewood, twigs; this name may refer to the many kapok plants that the Khmer people had planted around Prey Nokor, which can still be seen at Cây Mai temple and surrounding areas.
It may refer to the dense and tall forest that once existed around the city, a forest to which the Khmer name, Prey Nokor referred. Other proposed etymologies draw parallels from Tai-Ngon, the Cantonese name of Cholon, which means "embankment", Vietnamese Sai Côn, a translation of the Khmer Prey Nokor. Prey means forest or jungle, nokor is a Khmer word of Sanskrit origin meaning city or kingdom, related to the English word'Nation' – thus, "forest city" or "forest kingdom". Truong Mealy, says that, according to a Khmer Chronicle, The Collection of the Council of the Kingdom, Prey Nokor's proper name was Preah Reach Nokor, "Royal City"; the current official name, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, abbreviated Tp. HCM, is translated as Ho Chi Minh City, abbreviated HCMC, in French as Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville, abbreviated HCMV; the name commemorates the first leader of North Vietnam. This name, though not his given name, was one he favored throughout his years, it combines a common Vietnamese surname with a given name meaning "enlightened will", in essence, meaning "light bringer".
The earliest settlement in the area was a Funan temple at the location of the current Phung Son Pagoda, founded in the 4th century AD. A settlement called; when the Cham Empire was invaded by the Khmer people, Baigaur was renamed Prey Nokor. This meant "Forest City". An alternative name was Preah Reach Nokor which, according to a Khmer Chronicle meant "Royal City", it was succeeded a small fishing village known as the area that the city now occupies was forested, was inhabited by Khmer people for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnames
1963 South Vietnamese coup
In November 1963, President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was deposed by a group of Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers who disagreed with his handling of both the Buddhist crisis and the Viet Cong threat to the regime. The Kennedy administration had been aware of the coup planning, but Cable 243 from the United States Department of State to U. S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. stated that it was U. S. policy not to try to stop it. Lucien Conein, the Central Intelligence Agency's liaison between the U. S. Embassy and the coup planners, told them that the U. S. would not intervene to stop it. Conein provided funds to the coup leaders; the coup was started on 1 November. It proceeded smoothly as many loyalist leaders were captured after being caught off-guard and casualties were light. Diệm was executed the next day along with his brother and adviser Ngô Đình Nhu. Diệm's road to political power began in July 1954, when he was appointed the Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam by former Emperor Bảo Đại, Head of State.
Bảo Đại disliked Diệm but selected him in the hopes that he would attract United States aid, but the two became embroiled in a power struggle. The issue was brought to a head when Diệm scheduled a referendum for October 1955, rigged by his brother Nhu, proclaimed himself the President of the newly created Republic of Vietnam, he proceeded to strengthen his nepotistic rule over the country. A constitution was written by a rubber stamp legislature which gave Diệm the power to create laws by decree and arbitrarily give himself emergency powers. Dissidents, both communist and nationalist, were jailed and executed in the thousands, elections were rigged. Opposition candidates were threatened with being charged for conspiring with the Vietnam People's Army, which carried the death penalty, in many areas, large numbers of ARVN troops were sent to stuff ballot boxes. Diệm kept the control of the nation within the hands of his family, promotions in the ARVN were given on the basis of loyalty rather than merit.
Two unsuccessful attempts had been made to depose Diệm. South Vietnam's Buddhist majority had long been discontented with Diệm's strong favoritism towards Roman Catholics. Public servants and army officers had long been promoted on the basis of religious preference, government contracts, US aid, business favours and tax concessions were preferentially given to Catholics; the Roman Catholic Church was the largest landowner in the country, its holdings were exempt from land reform. In the countryside, Catholics were de facto exempt from performing corvée labour and in some rural areas, it was claimed that Catholic priests led private armies against Buddhist villages. In 1957, Diệm dedicated the nation to the Virgin Mary. Discontent with Diệm and Nhu exploded into mass protest during mid-1963 when nine Buddhists died at the hand of Diệm's army and police on Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. In response, the US government was concerned about the possibility "for the Dim/Nhu government to succeed and for us to continue to support them."
The response by Ambassador Nolting was, "We should take it slow and easy and see if we can live with the Diem government." As a result of this potential inability to support the Diem/Nhu government, the United States government discussed a proposed coup. In a telegram to the American Embassy in Saigon, Mr. Hilsman expresses that at some point should we need "political liquidation" we should "urgently examine all possible alternative leadership and make detailed plans as to how we might bring about Diem's replacement if this should become necessary." In May 1963, a law against the flying of religious flags was selectively enforced. Many Buddhists defied a protest was ended when government forces opened fire. With Diệm remaining intransigent in the face of escalating Buddhist demands for religious equality, sections of society began calling for his removal from power; the key turning point came shortly after midnight on 21 August, when Nhu's Special Forces raided and vandalised Buddhist pagodas across the country, arresting thousands of monks and causing a death toll estimated to be in the hundreds.
Numerous coup plans had been explored by the army before, but the plotters intensified their activities with increased confidence after the administration of US President John F. Kennedy authorised the US embassy to explore the possibility of a leadership change through Cable 243, they felt Diệm's policies were making their allied regime in South Vietnam politically unsustainable. There were many conspiracies against Diệm in 1963, many by different cliques of military officers independent from one another. According to the historian Ellen Hammer, there were "perhaps as many as six and more" different plots, these spanned the gamut of society to include civilian politicians, union leaders, university students. In mid-1963, one group was composed of mid-level officers such as colonels and captains. Đỗ Mậu was in this group, coordinated by Trần Kim Tuyến, South Vietnam's director of intelligence. Tuyến had been a palace insider, but a rift had developed in recent years, he began plotting as early as 1962.
As South Vietnam was a police state, Tuyến had many contacts. Anothe
Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support
CORDS was a pacification program of the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War. The program was created on 9 May 1967, included military and civilian components of both governments; the objective of CORDS was to gain support for the government of South Vietnam from its rural population, under the influence or controlled by the insurgent communist forces of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam. Unlike earlier pacification programs in Vietnam, CORDS is seen by many authorities as a "successful integration of civilian and military efforts" to combat the insurgency. By 1970, 93 percent of the rural population of South Vietnam was believed by the United States to be living in "relatively secure" villages. CORDS had been extended to all 44 provinces of South Vietnam, the communist insurgency was much reduced. Critics, have described the pacification programs and CORDS in terms such as "the illusion of progress". CORDS was, in the estimation of its first leader, Robert W. Komer, "too little, too late."With the withdrawal of U.
S. military forces and many civilian personnel, CORDS was abolished in February 1973. CORDS temporary successes were eroded in the 1970s, as the war became a struggle between the conventional military forces of South and North Vietnam rather than an insurgency. North Vietnam prevailed in 1975; the continuing struggle during the Vietnam War to gain the support of the rural population for the government of South Vietnam was called pacification. To Americans, pacification programs were referred to by the phrase winning hearts and minds; the anti-communist Ngo Dinh Diem government of South Vietnam had its power base among the urban and Catholic population. The government controlled the cities and large towns but Diem's efforts to extend government power to the villages, where most of the population lived, were unsuccessful; the Viet Cong were mobilizing the peasantry to oppose the government. Between 1956 and 1960, the Viet Cong instituted a land reform program dispossessing landlords and distributing land to farmers.
In 1959, Diem revived the agroville program of the French era with the objective of moving peasants into new agricultural settlements which contained schools, medical clinics, other facilities supported by the government. The program failed due to peasant resistance, poor management, disruption by the Viet Cong using guerrilla and terrorist tactics. In 1961, the government embarked on the Strategic Hamlet Program, designed by Robert Thompson, a British counter-insurgency expert; the idea was to move rural dwellers into fortified villages in which they would participate in self-defense forces for their protection and isolation from the guerrillas. The American Ambassador to South Vietnam Frederick Nolting and CIA official William Colby supported the program. General Lionel C. McGarr, chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in South Vietnam, opposed it, favoring instead a mobile, professional South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam undertaking what would be called Search and Destroy missions rather than defending villages and territory.
The program was implemented far too and coercively, by 1964, many of the 2,600 strategic hamlets had fallen under Viet Cong control. The next iteration of the pacification program came in 1964 with, for the first time, the direct participation in planning by the American Embassy and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam; the Chien Thang pacification program was less ambitious than the Strategic Hamlet program, envisioning a gradual expansion, like an "oil spot" from government-controlled to communist controlled areas, by providing security and services to rural areas. Along with the Chien Thang program was the related Hop Tac program, directly involving the U. S. military in pacification for the first time. Hop Tac envisioned a gradual expansion outward from Saigon of areas under South Vietnamese government control; these programs failed as the ARVN was unable to provide adequate security and safety to rural residents in disputed areas. In 1965, both the United States and North Vietnam increased the numbers of their soldiers in South Vietnam.
Communist forces totaled 221,000 including 55 PAVN battalions. American soldiers in Vietnam totaled 175,000 by the end of the year, the South Vietnamese army numbered more than 600,000. Commanding General William Westmoreland rejected the use of the U. S. army to pacify rural areas, instead utilizing U. S. superiority in firepower to find and combat Viet Cong and PAVN units. Intensification of the conflict caused many peasants and rural dwellers to flee to the cities for safety; the number of internal refugees increased from about 500,000 in 1964 to one million in 1966. By December 1966, South Vietnam could only claim—optimistically in the U. S.'s view—to control 4,700 of the country's 12,000 hamlets and 10 of its 16 million people In February 1966, President Lyndon Johnson at a meeting with South Vietnamese and American leaders in Hawaii promoted the concept of pacification to "get the gospel of pacification carved into the hearts and minds of all concerned." Shortly after that he appointed CIA official and National Security Council member Robert W. Komer as his special assistant for supervising pacification.
Komer's challenge was to unite the U. S. government agencies—the military, Department of State, CIA, the Agency for International Development—involved in pacification projects into a unified effort. Komer recommended the responsibility for pacification be vested in MACV, headed by General Westmoreland, through a civili
South Vietnam Air Force
The South Vietnam Air Force the Republic of Vietnam Air Force was the aerial branch of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, the official military of the Republic of Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. The VNAF began with a few hand-picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era, it grew into the world's sixth largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974. It is an neglected chapter of the history of the Vietnam War as they operated in the shadow of the United States Air Force, it was dissolved in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon. In March 1949, Emperor Bảo Đại requested that the French help set up a Vietnamese military air arm. Pressure was maintained with the assistance of Lt. Col. Nguyễn Văn Hinh, who had flown the B-26 Marauder with the French Air Force during the Second World War. In March 1952, a training school was set up at Nha Trang, the following year two army co-operation squadrons began missions flying the Morane-Saulnier MS.500 Criquet light aircraft.
In 1954, the French allocated a number of Dassault MD.315 Flamant armed light transports to the inventory of this Vietnamese air arm. Vietnamese pilot trainees began to be sent to France for more advanced training. In May 1954, with the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the position of France changed, on January 31, 1955, the Vietnam Air Force was inaugurated; the RVNAF consisted of 58 aircraft and about 1,300 personnel. Aircraft consisted of C-47 Skytrains, Grumman F8F Bearcats. French instructors for pilots and mechanics remained until late 1956, transferred 69 F8F Bearcat aircraft to the VNAF, which throughout the late 1950s were the main strike aircraft. In May 1956, by agreement with the South Vietnamese government, the United States Air Force assumed some training and administrative roles of the RVNAF. Teams from Clark Air Force Base began in 1957 to organize the RVNAF into a model of the USAF when the French training contracts expired. Unlike the ARVN, the VNAF was an all-volunteer service, remaining so until its demise in 1975.
The VNAF recruiting center was located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Recruits were given a screening test, followed by a physical examination. Basic requirements for service in the VNAF was to be a Vietnamese citizen. S. 9th grade education for airmen. If a volunteer met all the qualifications, the recruit was sent to basic training at the ARVN training base at Lam Song. Non-commissioned officer training was held at Bien Hoa Air Base. After two months of training, or four months for aviation cadets, the recruit was given an aptitude test and progressed to specialized technical training. From there, he was sent to one of the ARVN wings for journeymen training. Aviation cadets pursued three additional months of specialized training after completing their initial four-month training course; some were sent to the United States for advanced pilot training while non-rated officers pursued training in South Vietnam for their non-flying assignments. This training lasted about nine months, whereupon a cadet served in an operational unit for about a year before receiving a commission as a second lieutenant.
Women served in the VNAF. The Women's Armed Forces Corps was formed to fill non-combat duties beginning in December 1965. Women were assigned to VNAF wings, the Air Logistics Wing, performing duties as personnel specialists and other administrative roles. During the final 1975 offensive, it was not a case of a massive collapse; the ARVN forces in Long Khánh were fighting to the death. A cooperative effort between the ARVN and the VNAF enabled ARVN troops there to hold on. CH-47 helicopters brought in 193 tons of artillery ammunition over two days. A-1 Skyraiders flew in and C-130 Hercules transports dropped massive 15,000-pound daisy cutter bombs on enemy positions. Flying against intense antiaircraft fire, they took a heavy toll on the NVA divisions around Xuân Lộc. On 28 April at 18:06 three A-37 Dragonflys piloted by former VNAF pilots who had defected to the Vietnamese People's Air Force at the fall of Danang, dropped 6 Mk81 250 lb bombs on the VNAF flightline at Tan Son Nhut Air Base destroying several aircraft.
VNAF Northrop F-5s were unable to intercept the A-37s. At dawn on 29 April the VNAF began to haphazardly depart Tan Son Nhut Air Base as A-37s, F-5s, C-7s, C-119s and C-130s departed for Thailand while UH-1s took off in search of the ships of the U. S. Task Force 76 offshore. At 08:00 Lieutenant General Trần Văn Minh, commander of the VNAF, 30 of his staff arrived at the American DAO Compound, demanding evacuation; this signified the complete loss of command and control of the VNAF. Some VNAF aircraft did stay to continue to fight the advancing NVA however. One AC-119K gunship from the 821st Attack Squadron had spent the night of 28/29 April dropping flares and firing on the approaching NVA. At dawn on 29 April two A-1 Skyraiders began patrolling the perimeter of Tan Son Nhut at 2500 feet until Maj. Trương Phùng, one of the two Skyraider pilots was shot down by an SA-7. At 07:00 the AC-119K "Tinh Long" flew by Lt. Trang van Thanh was firing on NVA to the east of Tan Son Nhut when it was hit by a SA-7 missile, fell in flames to the ground.
Sgt. Son, one of the AC-119K gunners tried to escape but his chute tangled in the tail of the airplane. Despite sporadic artillery and rocket fire, Binh Thuy Air Base remained operational throughout 29 April and on the morning of