This week I focused my research on the months leading up to the collapse of Saigon. I felt I had adequate information on the years prior, and am now working my way to the events that occurred closer in time to the Fall of Saigon.
President Gerald Ford was pushing for a last major effort to help the South Vietnamese. He believed that if the U.S. could fund a three year program, it would save America’s reputation in the world, along with sustaining their commitment to the South Vietnamese. In spite of Ford’s attempts, the U.S. Congressional visit to South Vietnam was in most aspects viewed as a disaster. Later, Ford would make one last push for his three year plan that allocated 6-7 billion dollars to South Vietnam, with two-thirds of that money going to military aid. Congress would eventually reject this plan, in spite of many members being torn on a decision. The lessening support of South Vietnam was becoming more evident.
The Battle of Ban Me Thuot was also discussed to a great extent in my most recent readings. By January, 1975, the Military Affairs Committee completed its campaign plans that determined how other areas would carry out their actions. In order for this attack by the South Vietnamese to be successful, it was believed that deception must be a critical element. By March 11th, 1975, the South had lost control over Ban Me Thuot. According to journalist Pham Huan, the South Vietnamese were “determined to get back into Ban Me Thuot at any price”, and it was said that the forces still had a high morale in spite of their loss. This would later be proved inaccurate, as soldiers showed signs of lessening commitment. Many soldiers began sneaking away to search for loved ones, and officers left their posts in attempts to track down their families. This would be the first sign that Vietnam would see of what would be called “the family syndrome”.
This week’s research will be used to describe the time period before the events leading up to the Fall of Saigon. Ban Me Thuot was a very critical location, as it is located in the central highlands. This marked the beginning of North Vietnam’s spring offensive, which I plan to discuss in next week’s blog post.