VIIETNAM

Vietnam: Search and Destroy Patrols

Vietnam: Search and Destroy Patrols

GCSE History Revision - Search and Destroy Patrols, Vietnam

These were sent out to find guerrilla groups and kill them. The problem was that the guerrillas were often able to outsmart them, and the patrols ended up being ambushed. Some patrols became extremely twitchy as a result of this, and started to massacre innocent peasants who they came across in the jungle, fearing that they were guerrilla groups. The most notorious example of this was the My Lai Massacre of March 1968, when an American patrol murdered around 500 peasants, many of whom were women and children. How do you think the general public reacted to that when they found out?

You might think this all sounds a bit like the Americans were happy to kill innocent people. But at the same time all this was happening, they also operated a hearts and minds strategy, the goal of which was to win over the local population and turn them against the Viet Cong. They did this by offering them protection and supplies such as foods and medicine. But the pressure of dealing with the guerrillas was too much, and the heavy-handed tactics they used against them meant hearts and minds was pretty unworkable.