Military strategy & conflicts Essay


This research paper explores the effectiveness of modern tactical and strategic methods in the conflicts with specific examples from Korea war and Vietnam War I and II. This paper discusses the effectiveness of conventional and guerilla war tactics. It compares and contrasts the use of different tactics such as air power, armory, guerilla and Special Forces in regions such as mountains, jungles and rough terrain. It also discusses the war campaigns as used in the Korea War of 1950-53, Indochina war of 1946 to 1954 and Vietnam War of 1964 to 1973. In summary each strategy employed in a given war conflict its effectiveness depends on the circumstances of the environment and military training.

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Conventional war strategy is used where military personnel use standardized training to fight its foes. It is based on training, availability of resources such as firepower and artillery. Conventional strategy relies on the offensive nature in which it targets to destroy the opponent, weaken its facilities, resources and coerce the individuals to surrender and concede defeat. Guerrilla war strategy relies on unconventional method where it indirectly fights the enemy through use of time. It is inferior to conventional strategy with respect to resources and training.

The Korean War which was fought from 1950 to 1953 between the Chinese forces and UN forces in Korea used both conventional and guerilla warfare. The Chinese conventional method of using people’s masses was defeated by the superior capability of UN forces.

On the other hand the Vietnam War was won by North Vietnamese army because of their long experience in fighting since 10th century. The US conventional method that used search and destroy plus attrition was destructive to human life. The US forces military lost four of the fights although it had sophisticated and superior equipments. North Vietnam leaders found that they could not fight directly, they changed their tactics and engaged their forces both directly and indirectly with US military.

Since guerilla war depends on time as a major asset, the NVA used this to ensure that their opponent lost vigor to fight and they launched the Tet offensive strategy that gave them victory.


Cold war from 1953 and 1960 was advanced by the tension between the capitalist and communist. It involved countries such as Russia and china on the communist side while Unites Sates, France and Britain on the other side.  There were internal conflicts in USSR and US with varied reasons. In USSR political leaders who were deemed anticommunist were executed and in the US, pro-communist were executed. This was passed as a law and prominent republican Senator Julius Rosenberg advocated for anti communist rule which required elimination of procommunist followers of which he later became arrogant and lost popularity (Gary, 2002).

The US military commander General LeMay was developed a troop that was ready to combat counter attack from USSR but this could not happen until in 1956 when USSR agreed to cooperate with USA on open skies proposal. Iran had financial difficulty but the Prime Minister was hostile to Britain who wanted to extract oil from Iran. Then the Iranian Prime Minster was overthrown by help of Britain and US intelligence service and returned royal rule. This enabled companies from America, Britain and Dutch to extract oil and share profits with Iran. This prompted strong protest from Russia that caused Iran to join the Baghdad pact.

During Vietnam fight with the French, the communist got support from China and showed victory over the French. However US wanted to intervene with help from its allies but failed to get their support and France was defeated (Gary, 2002).

In 1955 an international conference dubbed peaceful coexistence was convened in which elections for Korea was proposed and agreement between France and Vietnam signed. This did not occur because US refused to be involved. USA also wanted to bomb China’s cities but was opposed by US Democrats leader and US public supported by Canada and Australia.

USSR plus its satellites regimes signed Warsaw pact that defined its defense against aggression from other states. By the time cold war ended several opinions were debated about the involvement of each country.


Armor tactics and airpower are two methods that are used by military operation in war time. They are superior in nature because of heavy hardware that goes with it. Armory tactics employ use of heavy artillery in which thee soldiers are trained to fight the foe offensively. It is very effective when used against weak and technologically inferior opponent. It has huge destruction on particular target. For instance the conventional strategy used during the Korean War by UN forces against Chinese forces gave them sweet victory against them because the Chinese used people’s war as the conventional strategy but were taught a lesson by the professional superiority of the US military forces (Yufan & Zhihai, 1990).

However the use of armory and air power is limited to search and destroy or use of attrition because in the war of Vietnam, conventional use of armory and air power did not give them victory over the guerilla war tactics. This is similar to the fight of Vietnamese against the French which they won. Guerilla tactics use is favored in places of abundant unoccupied space which gives the guerillas opportunity to build underground shelters and tunnels.  In Vietnam for example 80 percent of the area was forested giving guerillas the due advantage for building underground caves used for protection as well as shelter (Carland, 2004).

Guerilla tactics are also advantageous over the air or armory tactic where political support is provided such that it unites them for a common cause as in the case of the Vietnam where Ho Chi Minh’s was unifying factor. Political support also enables fighters to get new supplies and replenish its force such as the boundary between Laos and Cambodia was effective in Vietnam War. Guerilla war is also supported by civilians who provide intelligence report such as position of the enemy and reinforcement when necessary. In addition as was seen in Vietnam War time is a crucial factor by which guerilla succeed. When all the conventional methods seem too wary and consumed its resources guerrillas can attack unexpectedly like the Tet offensive rendering the conventional strategy ineffective (Yufan & Zhihai, 1990).

However airpower and armory is more advanced and effective in the use at urban and open places because of its superiority. This is where infrastructure like bridges, military airfields and logistics centers can easily be rendered unsuitable when destroyed hence incapacitating the opponent (Carland, 2004).

Professional military tactics use also coercive and psychological tactics to instill fear to the opponent’s civilians and leadership terming that without surrendering peace cannot prevail. This is common in the essence that both may be equivalent in resource power. The public can also be intimidated by use of exaggerated numbers that show death figures (Gartner & Myers, 1995).

Special Forces use in the military operations is effective in gathering of intelligence data and transmitted to other units. The combination of airpower, armory tactics and Special Forces through an advanced technological communication and sharing of information gives it the effective advantage over all other tactics used.  Special Forces from America gave out assistance to French military in form of aid, advisory services and strategic tactics but failed to win the war because of the French inability to rally loyalty from the Vietnamese people. While special forces from China gave a lot of support to the Vietnamese fighters through the border point route (Carland, 2004).


The campaign war in Korea started through an offensive approach in which the North Korea who was ruled by the USSR wanted to capture the Korean Peninsula after it was divided after the World War 2. The objective of the North Korea army was to unite the peninsula again. So they invaded the South Korea getting the ill equipped and weakly trained South Korean off guard. The US military forces had been reduced to weaker point. However, the US administration managed to send a small contingent of strategic air command under General Douglas MacArthur (Gartner & Myers, 1995).  Within three days after invasion of South Korea they managed to launch air attacks on the military base and   cut of their supplies.  Previously, the small forces of UN and South ‘Korea could not repulse the North Korea army hence unfortunate decision was commanded in which many civilians died because of the north Korea army had disguised as civilians and caused havoc to the south Korean soldiers (Yufan & Zhihai, 1990).

So the North Korean army was able to reach the capital Seoul within a very short time. However, reinforcement of the US contingents was brought in the next coming days which included the Far East Air Forces (FEAF) and Close Air Support of Ground Troops. These groups used several strategies that include strategic bombing, bombing restrictions and bridge bombing (Gary, 2002).
The reinforcement of strategic air command made it possible for the US forces to launch air strikes and bombarded several cities and stories in North Korea. Reports show that within a few weeks of the operation over 30,000 bombs were released to over 4000 stories in North Korea. The devastation was high and within one area over 40,000 soldiers were killed. Soviet Union also sent their jet fighters which also attacked American jets resulting to airborne fights


This is also referred to as the Indochina French campaign that began as a controversy over who triggered the first shot. The French wanted to recover its colonies from the enemies and internal resistance. Vietnam was characterized with rough terrain where steep valleys, caves and rough weather made it difficult for the French soldiers. The Vietnamese under Ho Chi Minh had become more organized and received overwhelming support from the population and the guerillas had captured state resources (Yufan & Zhihai, 1990).

In1946 the guerilla fighters were repulsed to Vietbac a region that is rough and inaccessible. In 1947 French commander General Valluy did a first offense called the LEA operation with little success. The Vietnamese leadership was able to adapt to the terrain and the following two years French campaign was punctuated with small fights and poor decisions making by the commanders. This followed several changes in the leadership that saw every year anew commander was received (Carland, 2004).

For example in 11948 General Valluy was replaced by Roger Blaizert, who was replaced by Marcel Charpentier and Giaps in 1950. Giap second offensive in 1951 was repulsed within three months and was replaced by other commanders like De Lattre and Raoul Salan. General Salan had little victory in Nasan in November 1952. Giap also enjoyed some advantage at Black river that was able to outshine the Vietnam resource capacity (Gary, 2002).

The Laotian campaign gave Vietnam victory when General Navarre began to plot for bargaining in the peace process. Although he believed he had upper hand he was shocked when actual war broke that he lost miserably and the French airfields and artillery were squashed by the Vietnamese forces and their victory crowned in May 7, 1954 at Geneva.


Vietnam War campaign started when the communist group from North Vietnam wanted to reunite South and North Vietnam. The South Vietnam was under authority of US while North Vietnam was an ally of Soviet Union. The situation is South Vietnam was deteriorating and on August 2, 1964 the USS Madoxx naval ship was patrolling at the coast of Vietnam when it fired provocatively at targets on North Vietnam. This prompted retaliation from North Vietnam forces on May 2, 1965 and the then president of US Lyndon Johnson sought permission from congress to attack North Vietnam terming it an attack to US.  Congress gave him the authority and command unit was send which bombed several urban centers and infrastructure in North Vietnam for 3 successive years (Gary, 2002).

From 1965 to 1968 thousands of bombs were released, additional US forces of about 200,000 were brought in and US commanders seemed to progress well in the war. However the South Vietnamese forces suffered huge losses that they started to desert and lose morale. The US commanders decided to take front offensive campaign. However, the North Vietnam forces decided to engage in the guerilla war at the south where they reorganized themselves (Gartner & Myers, 1995).

As the US commanders took charge of media information released to the public the enemy struck unexpectedly through the Tet offensive. This caused a lot of suffering to the South Vietnamese soldiers and bad image for US army. President Johnson later admitted that the war was lost and initiated talks to stop the war and eventually withdrew its troops from Vietnam.

In 1968 the next US administration under President Nixon wanted complete ceasefire but was annoyed by continued supply of assistance by Soviet Union to Communist forces. He secretly ordered   commandos to Vietnam who killed several civilians called the My Lai Massacre together with reports of innocent civilians killed. It led to uproar from citizens and the war was halted in 1973 (Gartner & Myers, 1995).


General Douglas MacArthur is known as the student of military history from childhood. He was involved in World War 1, World War 2, Korea war and Vietnam War. His leadership skill is characterized with charisma and genius aptitude.  During the war engagement from1945 to 1964 he was seen as one who has gave strong moral and ethical support to his juniors. He had strong character that was combined with strategic thinking that gave him edge over others in giving direction and initiative able to achieve desired objectives during military operations (Gartner & Myers, 1995).

He became and expert in politics and geography of the Far East at the beginning of World War 2, he was inspiring outrageous and shy at same time.


In summary modern techniques in war conflict has to be used strategically depending on the situation and environment. Otherwise it may not be effective but destructive. However, a combination of all gives better results.


Carland, J. M. (2004). Wining the war. Military History .68,2, 553 -573.

Gartner, S. S., & Myers, M. E. (1995). Vietnam and Korean War. Interdisiplinary history. 25, 3, 377-395.

Gary, H. R. (2002).Origins of Vietnam War. Cold war studies. 4, 3, 119 -121

Yufan, H., & Zhihai, Z. (1990). China & korea war. China quarterly.121,94-115.

(Carland, 2004).