Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this U.S. Air Force (USAF) publication is an account of USAF activities in the Southeast Asia conflict from 1961 to 1973. It makes no pretense of being a comprehensive history of the war, or even of Air Force participation therein—not because it lacks historical authenticity (it contains only verifiable material), but simply because it is, by design, limited in scope and depth. Official, definitive histories are in progress but will not be widely available for several years. In the interim, this book can help fill a void in public knowledge of the Air Force’s experience in Southeast Asia.
That experience was marked by great frustration-frustration flowing from the lack of a clear, definable, attainable objective and means for measuring success in achieving that objective—frustration arising from constraints that could only appear unreasonable to airmen—frustration from stringent rules of engagement which tended to offset advantages in skill and technology. This, however, should not be permitted to obscure the great dedication and zeal with which the men and women of the Air Force invariably carried out the job given them in Southeast Asia—despite the fact that missions, tactics, and targets frequently seemed inconsistent with their experience, training, and doctrine. The entire episode provides eloquent testimony to the disciplined professionalism of Air Force people. This effort to chronicle and depict some of their wartime activities should contribute to a broader understanding of the Air Force role in the Vietnam War.
I. INTRODUCTION * by Carl Berger * Origins of the War * The U.S. Air Force in Indochina * Kennedy Administration Policies * II. AIR OPERATIONS IN SOUTH VIETNAM, 1962-1964 * by Dr. R. Frank Futrell * The National Campaign Plan * Effects of the Buddhist Crisis * Efforts to Revitalize Military Operations * Continuing Military Reversals * III. THE IN-COUNTRY AIR WAR, 1965-1972 * by Lt. Col. Ralph A. Rowley * The Combined Campaign Plan * The 1968 Tet Offensive * Vietnamization and Withdrawal * IV. THE AIR WAR AGAINST NORTH VIETNAM * by Jacob Van Staaveren * Rolling Thunder, 1965-1968 * The Bombing Pauses * The Communist Spring Offensive, 1972 * The 11-Day Air Campaign * V. INTERDICTION IN THE LAOTIAN PANHANDLE * by Jacob Van Staaveren * Introduction of New Tactics * Commando Hunt * Lam Son 719 * Additional Commando Hunt Campaigns * Air Power Shifts Again * VI. AIR OPERATIONS OVER NORTHERN LAOS * by Historical Staff * The Effects of Weather * The Loss of Lima Site 85 * A Major Government Victory * VII. AIR WAR IN CAMBODIA * by Carl Berger * Mr. Nixon Orders the Bombing of Cambodia * Congressional Criticism * VIII. B-52 ARC LIGHT OPERATIONS * by Dr. Robert R. Kritt * Supporting the Ground Forces * The Laotian Incursion * B-52s Over Hanoi * IX. TACTICAL AIRLIFT * by Col. Ray L. Bowers * Forces and Organization * Airlift in the Ground War * Other Applications of Tactical Airlift * X. STRATEGIC AIRLIFT * by Kenneth L. Patchin * Bases and Routes * Airlifting Troops * Return of the POW’s * XI. AERIAL REFUELING * by J. C. Hopkins * Increasing Demands for Fuel * The 1972 Surge * XII. TACTICAL RECONNAISSANCE