Advisors: Part One
The U.S. involvement in Vietnam began under President Truman, when, in September of 1950, the Military Assistance Advisory Group was set up in Saigon with the stated purpose of supervising the issuance and use of $10 million in military equipment to support the French Legionnaires in their combat of the Viet Minh. By 1953, now under President Eisenhower, this military aid to France had jumped to over $350 million on the excuse that the French needed to replace the badly worn WWII equipment they were being forced to use, due to economic devastation their own country was still suffering from that war.
For those of you who are not familiar with that bit of history, the French lost to the Viet Minh, and French forces surrendered to the communists in 1954.
The U.N. promptly stepped in and partitioned Vietnam into north and south, and the Viet Minh went, reluctantly, back up north. But not for long.
Advisors, Part Two:
President Eisenhower promised to aid South Vietnam in an effort to keep it from going communist. Direct aid to South Vietnam began in January of 1955.
American "advisors" began arriving a month later.
A warlord by the name of Diem consolidated his power by suppressing religious sects in the Mekong Delta and brutally put down unrest in Saigon. He arrested 25,000 communist sympathizers and killed 1,000 of them. In October, he was officially elected President of the Republic of Vietnam.
The communist insurgency continued. In 1957, Diem arrested another 65,000 suspected communists and killed another 2,000 of them. By 1959, sensing the time was ripe for resumption of open conflict, the Viet Minh began returning from the north.
During the period of 1950-1960, the U.S. had 750-1,500 military "advisors" in Vietnam.
Advisors, Part Three:
In 1961, the Soviet Union decided to begin aid to North Vietnam. The insurgency was getting to the crisis point. New U.S. President John F. Kennedy sent more aid to prevent a collapse of the Diem regime in South Vietnam. By December of that year, there were 3,200 American "advisors" in South Vietnam. Aid passed the $200 million mark. That wasn't chicken feed in 1961. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and CIA personnel began organizing covert resistance in the mountains.
The numbers of North Vietnamese fighters began to increase dramatically in the South and found much sympathy. President Diem reacted with more repression. He appointed his brother to concentrate on suppressing the passively protesting Buddists. In May of 1963, South Vietnamese Army troops fired into a crowd of demonstrators in Saigon. Buddhist priests began setting themselves on fire in the streets. The Soviets increased their own aid and advisors. Diem arrested 4,000 protesting students in Saigon. At about this time, disillusioned, they say, with life in the Soviet Union, an American by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald returned home with his Russian wife. He settled in Texas and got a job with a schoolbook warehouse in Dallas.
President Diem and his brother continued the repression of their own people, ferreting out communists sympathizers wherever he thought they were. The people of South Vietnam and the people around the world were outraged at Diem.
By 1963, the number of U.S. Military "advisors" in South Vietnam had grown to 16,000. The Americans were firmly identified with Diem as far as the South Vietnamese were concerned. Something had to give.
In November of 1963, Kennedy ordered Diem and Diem's brother assassinated. New Government ensued. Three weeks later, President Kennedy himself was assassinated in Dallas.
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If you know anything at all of that era, you know what happened then, and what continued for another 12 years, years that gutted the United States and changed it forever. But there is a point to all this writing today. The reason why I am writing this post is because I picked up a newspaper about an hour ago, and read this:
"UK to send military advisors to help Libya rebels"
LONDON (AP) "Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague says the U.K. is sending a team of advisors to Libya to help organize the country's haphazard opposition forces.
Hague said in a statement on Tuesday that the experienced military officers would join British diplomats already cooperating with rebel leaders in Benghazi.
Hague says the military team will help the rebels improve military organizational structures and offer help on communications and logistics.
He insists the advisors would not be involved in supplying weapons to the rebels, or assist with their attacks on Moammar Gaddafi's forces."
Ok. This is not Vietnam. Right?