The Fall of South Vietnam

Statements by Vietnamese Military and Civilian Leaders

by Stephen T. Hosmer, Konrad Kellen, Brian Michael Jenkins


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A summary of extensive oral and written statements by twenty-seven former high-ranking South Vietnamese military officers and civilians on their perceptions of the causes of the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. The causes cited were many and interwoven — shortcomings in South Vietnam's political and military leadership, planning, and organization — but all were tied to what the interviewees saw as the overarching cause for the collapse: the American role in Vietnam. They viewed the withdrawal of American troops, the loss of U.S. manpower, and the reduction of aid after the Paris Agreements as making defeat inevitable. Other factors included irresolution and reversals of strategy by Vietnamese leaders, and failure of commanders to stay with their units in battle. Finally, some of the respondents saw the events as part of the fundamental struggle between East and West, in which Communism, in their view, had the advantage. Most seem to agree on one point — that the U.S.-South Vietnamese interaction was largely a failure.

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