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A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 06 Jul 2018, 21:16
by awsome
I've been watching a documentary series on the Vietnam war and it has raised the question for me of how modern technology would effect a similar conflict. I understand that there were many things that decided the outcome in Vietnam and most were not technology or even military related at all. However, what difference would things like persistent surveillance and modern sensors have had on the military side of a similar conflict.

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 06 Jul 2018, 21:40
by southernphantom
That is a very good question. I think that our current array of PGMs came about as a direct result of Vietnam.

Persistent surveillance and multispectral sensors would make interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh trail far easier, with downstream effects on frontline communist troops. Really, modern sensors and PGMs would dramatically improve the efficiency of US airpower.

Hopefully Gums will chime in with his experience.

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2018, 05:51
by madrat
You improve the body count without altering the outcome. Wars of ideology aren't won with body counts.

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2018, 14:50
by basher54321
Just look at 1991 Gulf war for the big changes in technology that allowed far better situational awareness in A-A alongside better radar and missiles. Guided bombs and missiles improved things where they were used although the first guided weapons came about the end of Vietnam.

Taking out ground targets sounded a nightmare in Vietnam - probably an extreme example was Dragons Jaw (Thanh Hoa) bridge which took 871 sorties over 7 years (11 Jets lost) and eventually was taken out by F-4s with LGBs in 1972. Then needed further A-7 attacks a few months later with Walleye dropping the thing.

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 06 Aug 2018, 05:53
by ford2go
Just my feelings on the subject, but I thought that Vietnam was probably a great example of how not to fight a war.
- LBJ was apparently afraid that the Red Chinese would enter, so he tried to fight a 'low profile ' war.
- The limitations on attack areas were real -- I was in Ubon (66-67) and they sometimes showed us the areas that they were allowed to attack.
- The reasons for the war were never clear and the public was fairly skeptical
- Secretary of Defense Mcnamara had many regrets ... etnam.html

I have long thought that we only got any degree of bargaining to end the war was because Nixon brought in the B-52s and actually did some damage. Unfortunately, I think that support for the war was pretty low by that time, and Nixon had problems of his own. So, he probably ended things at the earliest possible time. I later heard that had he been able to keep it up for a month or two longer, they might have surrendered. (But, maybe not, they certainly made short work of the Chinese invasion ).

It would seem that military capability is only part of winning a war. Schwartzkopf's autobiography has some good descriptions of things that he had to do keep Desert Storm on track.

Just my .02

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 06 Aug 2018, 08:42
by element1loop
ford2go wrote:Just my feelings on the subject, but I thought that Vietnam was probably a great example of how not to fight a war. ..

I have a different take on that, perhaps due to proximity.

The premise sold before the war ramped up was the domino-theory of communist conquest of Indochina and South East Asia as a progressively expanding bloc.

If that was the actual intent, at a strategic level, it worked.

South East Asia rejected communism and open market economy took off from the mid-1970s, becoming the prosperous 'Asian Tiger' economies. No one wanted Maoist insurgency or revolution as they were the poor miserable damaged countries. Perceptually, very unattractive, 'boat people' streaming out for years.

The combination of a vile war and economic contrast beside it, worked to limit the Maoist motivation and progressively robbed it of credibility. There are many ugly contradictions and nuances beyond that generalization. The war was a cluster, yet the cold war and regional strategy was a major success, a decade on.

another 2c

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 06 Aug 2018, 16:34
by zero-one
My take would be, well I want to understand the question first. There are 2 ways I can interpret it.

Are you saying

1. How would a modern C4ISR system affect a Vietnam style war.

-Well there aren't many jungle wars going around these days, but perhaps one prime example would be the ongoing engagement between several terrorist groups in the southern Philippines and Filipino forces.

The Philippines started a massive modernization program beginning in 2013 and is scheduled to end in 2028. This is
due to the aggressive behavior of the PLAN in the south china sea. The goal is to bring the Philippine armed forces on par with her South East Asian neighbors like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

So they are only beginning to build their C4ISR system. but even in its incomplete state the effects on insurgents have become devastating. In 2012 with nothing more than drones and JDAMs, they killed an estimated 15 insurgents including high ranking officials in a single sortie. The jungle canopy is no longer a safe heaven for enemy ground units like they were in Vietnam.

In 2017, smart munitions guided by drones and recon teams on the ground were pivotal in crushing ISIS linked insurgents in a 5 month siege. The leader of the insurgents were reportedly killed by remote controlled weapons systems with thermal imaging sights.

Now the Philippine military maybe the most experienced military force in Jungle warfare (Vietnam's army has considerably less experience as of late as well as her other neighbors) but they are nowhere near the US in terms of technological prowess and are relative new comers on the high end C4ISR world.

The US would more than make up for the difference in experience in jungle warfare by being exponentially better equipped, with far more smart munitions, ISR assets and equipment that are still in Philippine military's modernization wish list.

2. How would Vietnam look like if it happened today. North Vietnam would be supported by Modern day China and Russia while South Vietnam would be supported by modern day US.

Now that would be interesting. But its safe to say that it wouldn't be much different from Syria.
Because modern ISR systems have basically rendered the jungle canopy less relevant, hiding in the jungle and hiding in the desert will not be as different as it used to be.

The air war will be interesting with the Mig-29 replacing the Mig-17 and Su-27s replacing the Mig-21. But they'll be going up against, Eagle, Viper and Raptor pilots with 2000 hr flight times.

Even if you applied Vissual confiramtion ROEs I'd bet they'll be massacred

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 07 Aug 2018, 04:37
by Gums

Sorry to join the fray late, but real life comes first.

TNX mad and Element, for I have a different slant than many folks here that did not see the whole situation as I did for 2 and a half tours there and over two more years helping Vee pilots learn to fly the A-37.

Technology was not a factor from early 60's until the end. Even the LGB did not have a major effect upon the overall conduct of the war by North and South.

The "domino theory" played a big role getting the U.S. plus others involved, and the afttermath of the Viet Minh victory versus the French was handled poorly by the Western countries.


This thread should be in some "political" venue, and I stand by my feeling expressed above.

The equipment and tactics and such can be discussed WRT a specific battle or mission, but the big lessons from that debacle were at the international strategic and political level.

The biggest lesson I came away with was a variation of a famous saying......

The folks you are trying to help must be successful winning your heart and mind!! If they are not 120% dedicated to preserving their own country/way of life, then we are p!ssing into the wind trying to "help". The Vee I worked with were dedicated, patriotic and they sacrificed much. But the masses on the streets were not threatened with a drastic new way of life to be imposed by the Communists. Just see what happened in 10 years or so.

I will not defend the North's communist institutions or actions, I just feel that most southerners did not feel a great threat to their way of life. The southern pols and even some of the military were a different matter. They were like the "swamp" that the current U.S. administration is trying to drain.

Gums pontificates...

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 09 Aug 2018, 16:45
by mixelflick
Gums, your contributions here are legendary. Thank you for the perspective.

You've had such an interesting career. The A-37, the A-7, the F-16. I think I read recently you flew Voodoo's? That's quite a resume. I hope you're enjoying a nice fat pension somewhere warm, because you're a true American hero. I wasn't born until 1970, but saw how VIetnam Vets were treated when returning home in documentaries and personal anecdotes from my friend's fathers. That's why I went up to the local AFRB here as often as I could to welcome the Desert Storm vets back. And it's why I thank every veteran I come across for their service (and teach my son to do the same). To a person, they say something like "It's my privilege sir". I don't know what they do to instill such humility in you, but everyone should get that training. If they did, this country would be a better place.

It still infuriates me to learn how our gov't (the VA etc) makes life so difficult for you, and these idiots who refuse to stand for the flag make me even angrier.

Thank you for your perspectives and your service sir. If my son grows up to accomplish half of what you did in your career, I'll consider myself a good Dad...

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 10 Aug 2018, 04:11
by Gums

@ mixel

No kissing up!

Seems the member data by our avatars doesn't have my interview, which is my basic bio.

That should have a list of the planes I flew and more.....

I may have to clarify my opinion about the effects of high tech weaponry and systems during the Vietnam debacle.

One of the biggest effects I saw was on collateral damage - it was greatly reduced due to LGB's and then the computed bomb systems we had such as in the 'vaark and SLUF.

We also saw more effective interdiction along the Trail, but too late to have a measureable effect on the overall outcome. The Spectres did great work, and in northern Laos the Pve Nails done good on various targets.

The other biggie was the nav systems at the "first end of the war" in early 1973, especially in the 'vaark and Sluf, but mainly the Sluf. Good grief! We had two complete systems - inertial and doppler. Then the projected map and a cosmic radar for nav and bombing in bad wx. So we could make a ToT within seconds and easily mark a route for getting the Jolly in and out on CSAR missions.

Secondly, many here and elsewhere have analyzed the strategic and tactical errors made by the U.S. and SEATO allies. This venue should be moved if we care to go into detail. That being said, my personal view was then ( second tour) and is now that politics ruled over military doctrine and tactics.

The vets of Vietnam gained flag rank, and refused to prosecute Desert Storm as they did in Vietnam. We also had a combat vet as POTUS, and he and his staff let the military do the military stuff with few restrictions.

Lastly, the Coalition was not hampered by urban fighting ROE, and things were easy to see, target and destroy compared to the terrain and weatherI flew in so long ago.

Gums pontificates...

Re: A modern Vietnam

Unread postPosted: 10 Aug 2018, 14:31
by mixelflick
That was a great interview, you've had an amazing career...

I'm glad you followed through on your dream. I always wanted to be a fighter pilot, but my parents discouraged it because it was "dangerous". I didn't have the courage to follow through, so I'm not going to make that mistake with my son.

You got to fly some of the hottest hot rods of the time. If you had a choice though, what other aircraft would you have flown? I understand the F-15 was in service before the F-16.

Did you put in for that, or was the F-15 not to your liking??