Vietnam War, Operation Rolling Thunder, 1965-1968

Essay by don_whalenUniversity, Master'sA+, March 2003

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Vietnam War, Operation Rolling Thunder, 1965-1968

Chapter 1


Operation Rolling Thunder was a frequently interrupted bombing campaign that began on February 24, 1965 and continued until the end of October 1968. During this period U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft engaged in a bombing campaign designed to force Ho chi Minh to abandon his ambition to take over South Vietnam. The operation began primarily as a diplomatic signal to impress Hanoi with America's determination. Warning the North Vietnamese that the violence would increase until Ho Chi Minh gave in. Secondly, it was intended to bolster the sagging morale of the South Vietnamese. Additionally, targets were supposedly chosen to damage the supply lines between Hanoi and their soldiers fighting in South Vietnam. This damage to the supply chain began to increase in importance as the U.S. determined that the will of the North was not being broken by this campaign.

This paper will evaluate the strategy of saturation bombing used in this campaign and intends to show that Operation Rolling Thunder was a complete and udder failure in all of its objectives and cost the lives of hundreds of American servicemen.

Chapter 2

Conflict and Campaign Background

The Vietnam conflict was the longest war America ever fought against a foreign power; the French and Indian War and the American Revolution being the only two other conflicts that were longer in duration. The U.S. began its involvement in Vietnam at the end of 1954, initialing just helping train the South Vietnamese army. The war lasted until April 1975 when South Vietnam finally collapsed. The heaviest U.S. involvement occurred from 1963 to 1973, taking the lives of some 58,000 American men and women with another 365,000 being wounded (1:15).

The main goal of the U.S. involvement in this conflict was to...