in this essay I will be discussing the tactics ‘booby traps’ and ‘Underground tunnels’ used by the Vietcong against the US and why they were so effective despite the fact that the US were very strong in open warfare, as well as having a huge advantage in technology such as more sophisticated weapons, aircraft and equipment. This was mainly because the Vietcong used guerrilla tactics, which were not familiar to the Americans at the time so they had the advantage, as they knew the jungles of South Vietnam, as well as being very resourceful and used to the climate, which caught the Americans out.
Some of the booby traps were called bouncing Betties, mines, punji stakes, pits, trip wires, deep man traps, bamboo whips. Point one The main reason why the booby traps were effective was the psychological impact it had on the US troops. It was demoralizing for fellow troops to watch their friends be blown to pieces with no opponent in sight. This made the US troops scared and afraid for their lives. (1) Booby traps meant US and ARVN soldiers had to move slowly and carefully, that they were always frightened and it was psychologically damaging and demoralising for soldiers to see friends blown apart with no enemy in sight.
US troops began to fall into depression due to these dreadful booby traps which lead them to take drugs to ease their anxiety. However, the drugs left them delirious and distracted. The drugs made them less aware of what they were doing and caused them to fall into or trigger the booby traps placed by the Vietcong leaving them dead or without limbs. This became a never ending circle for US troops. As a result of these traumas US and ARVN troops began using local South Vietnamese villagers as guides through the jungle pointing out booby traps or disarming them by triggering them themselves.
Point 2 As more and more South Vietnamese villagers were forced to help find the booby traps with the US troops, other villagers began to resent the US troops for causing the deaths of their friends and families. This was an effective consequence because it enabled the Vietcong to hide in their homes and gather supplies. (2)An 18 year old grunt that’s seen his buddy’s leg blown off is far more likely to waste a peasant who failed to point out the booby traps to his patrol, and any US atrocity rallied more peasants to the VCs side.
Due to this the Vietcong were able to take advantage of this by using the South Vietnamese to help them by giving them the vital supplies and also letting them hid booby traps inside their homes for the US and ARVN troops to find. Consequently, this caused the US and ARVN to become even more paranoid and frantic to search for the Vietcong and carelessly fall in to the booby traps. Some US or ARVN troops even entered the Vietcong tunnels but were rudely surprised by booby traps that were also hidden inside. This could have been one of the main reasons for the cause of the My Lia Massacre.
Point 3 + 1 Placing booby traps in the Underground tunnels was very effective because it caused a lot of casualties and deaths in the US and ARVN troops. (3)The Vietcong sometimes then rigged the underground tunnels with booby traps and left them. Unsuspecting US and ARVN troops entered these tunnels and triggered the explosives, causing many deaths and casualties. This showed that both the ‘Booby traps’ and ‘Underground tunnels’ were both very effective because Us and ARVN forces were losing troops due to the accidents inside the tunnels, without the Vietcong being involved.
This shows that the Vietcong were hidden from danger. This resulted in US troops being afraid because they could no longer see their opponent and when they went to go find them they were killed. Point 2 – The tunnels were very effective because they caused the US and ARVN psychological effects such as paranoia and depression because they couldn’t see who had shot their buddies beside them. EVIDENCE US and ARVN troops became so paranoid that they ended up shooting anybody that they saw resulting in more hatred from the South Vietnamese villagers which brought the soldiers to a standstill.
As a result of this began ‘Operation rolling thunder’ and ‘Search and Destroy’. The US forces used bombs to explode the Underground tunnels that could not be found by foot. Point 3 The Underground tunnels were effective because they were able to protect the Vietcong under enemy attack. The Vietcong lacked in firepower unlike the US forces, the tunnels saved a lot of lives. (4) The passages of the tunnels were … to zigzag… Zigzagging did make a straight line of fire inside impossible and helped deflect explosive blasts.
The Vietcong didn’t have as much weapons as the US forces but the made up for their ingenuity. The tunnels were basic sources of shelter for enemy attack and were also not easily accessible by the US troops. This made it harder for the US and ARVN to kill or even find the Vietcong. This was the main reason why the Vietcong survived. Point 1 Not On the other hand, booby traps were not very effective because they didn’t give a big enough effect on the number of US troops and wasn’t the main reason for their casualties and deaths. (5).
The main cause of deaths was Small arms, this is pistols, rifles and guns – basic military equipment shot at close range. This shows that the booby traps were less effective than the Vietcong actually approaching the US and ARVN troops and attacking them. This could be because the booby traps took a long time to construct. Point 2 not Both the booby traps and Underground tunnels took a long time to construct and were very slow methods. This was not very effective because instead of being a ‘short war’ this was the main reason it lasted over 8 years. EVIDENCE
The Vietcong ended up growing tiresome because they had been digging tunnels and creating new booby traps. This caused the Vietcong to be distracted and sometimes confused when under attack. Another reason why they could have been distracted was because of their constant itchy skin. Point 2 not As the tunnels had been dug underground tiny organism grew on the walls and ceilings of the tunnels (Half plant, half animal) physical contact even with clothed body caused these organisms to enter the body and live just under the Vietcong’s skin for 3 months causing unbearable itching.
This causes the Underground tunnels to not be effective because they themselves made the Vietcong ill and distracted them. (4) The tunnels were breeding grounds for tiny organisms, invisible to the naked eye; said to be half animal half plant, and variously called Vets or Chiggers. They bred and survived- together with squadrons of mosquitoes- on the walls and ceilings of tunnels. Upon physical contact, even with clothed body, these organisms enter the body and live just under the skin, remaining therefore about three months and causing unbearable itching.
As a result of this many Vietcong troops began to have mini creatures growing under their skin which made them itch uncontrollably, because of this some of them even committed suicide rather than go through it for three months. But this wasn’t the only thing that distracted them from what they were doing; hunger also took a vital part. Point 3 not The tunnels became very ineffective when it came to food. It was hard to transport food and other supplies to the underground tunnels without being seen making the troops starve. 4) Captain Linh recalls that the Saigon River was always a useful source for fish and prawns, but it was difficult to fish without being spotted. “As we grew short of food, we grew manioc, banana, sweet potato, and cassava to help us. The Americans were clever and knew whenever they spotted these plants that we must be nearby, but we had no choice. It was dangerous to grow these plants near the tunnels and it was just as dangerous to starve”. This caused Vietcong troops to starve stopping them from properly functioning and easy to attack. This made them an easy target to the US and ARVN forces.