Operation Rolling Thunder

The Tonkin Gulf incident initially encouraged Americans to support intervention in Vietnam. President Johnson took advantage of this support to put forth new strategies. In early 1965 after the Viet Cong attacked American troops near Pleiku, Johnson sent the first bombs on North Vietnam. This series of bombi
Thunderchiefs over North Vietnam on February 8, 1966
ngs was called Operation Rolling Thunder. Although the United States claimed to only hit Viet Cong military bases, many civilian villages and churches were destroyed and village women, children, and elderly on strike were killed. By the end of the war approximately 7 million tons of bombs had been dropped on Vietnam. Johnson was hoping that this bombing campaign would show South Vietnam the commitment of the United States, that America was truly committed to ending communism. Operation Rolling Thunder ironically enough increased that number of attacks by the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. Ultimately leaving the goals of Johnson's strategy to fail. Another reason for why Operation Rolling Thunder was put in to place was to prevent the North from providing soldiers and equipment to the communists in the South. The bombings kept failing, with the North recovering at the same speed that it was being destroyed.

President Johnson had made a promise to the American people, he stated that "American boys" would be kept
President Johnson

out of Vietnam, this promise was broken in 1965. Operation Rolling Thunder was the beginning to a rise in level of the Vietnam War, it lead to the first American ground troops entrance into the war. For the first time the United States troops went to protect a base at Da Nang after General Westmoreland felt the Vietnamese did not have the ability to defend US air bases. Johnson then went on to contradict his earlier promise by stating that an increase in US military presence would help with the withdrawal of the North Vietnamese from South Vietnam. America continued to send more and more troops. In the mean time the United States continued the bombing campaign as well. The effect of this campaign was still minimal despite its grandness. The reason for this was because of inaccurate targets, and the evacuation of the North Vietnamese population. The United States failed to understand the Vietnamese region and the motivation of the communist nationalists. This intensified anti-American feelings and helped the President of North Vietnam prove his point that the United States was simply a foreign invader intervening in a war between the Vietnamese.


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