tv Reel America Where We Stand in Vietnam - 1967 CSPAN3 November 11, 2017 10:00pm-10:55pm EST
thousand were killed there or died there. report frompecial 1967, "tom." it is hosted by correspondent charles collingwood did and includes a variety of field reports from vietnam and interviews with soldiers, clinical leaders, and pilots. the first of two cbs news special reports, "where we tand it in vietnam." >> it is therefore. -- it is their war. we can send men out as advisors, but they have to win it. the people of the vietnam against the communists.
] unfire events hasosion of given me ring of an anachronism. u.s. soldiers fighting on vietnam's front lawns -- lines. they are giving their lives, they are not just giving their advice. to a degree never foreseen by candidates, we hold the destiny of vietnam in our hands, and it holds hours. -- hours. -- and it holds ours. 500,000 american troops, 14,000 american dead, $50 billion american dollars later, their war is not for them to win or lose, it is ours as well. it has become the most divisive and 100 years of american history.
is it a war we are winning? efforts? can progress be measured? do the results match the efforts? these are the subjects of these broadcasts tonight. >> this special report -- "where we stand in vietnam," is brought to you by western electric, the manufacturing and supply unit of the bell system as their continuing coverage of important events. "where we stand in vietnam" is reported by the saigon bureau of cbs news, and by chief correspondent charles collingwood. charles: this is my fourth visit to vietnam in the last eight years. during that time, one has seen a
change, from a vietnamese war to one that is visibly, demonstrably american as well. there were only 773 american military advisers. now there are nearly half a million american troops in vietnam, more on the way, and, to sustain their operations, they have all of this -- acre upon endless acre of all the impertinence is upon which a modern military machine depends. some simple, some complex. some frivolous, some as deadly as sin. there are tens upon tens of thousands of trucks, jeeps, tanks, and every kind of vehicle that has a military application. we burn up fuel and lubricants in vietnam at the rate of 1,700,000,000 gallons a year. every year, our forces spread 1 million and a half drums of asphalt and cement to roll upon. and because the army is the army, it uses up more than 10 million sheets of paper every
day in vietnam. paper in duplicate, triplicate, sextuplicate, and as numerous as autumn leaves. this particular base had long been occupied as an area larger than the entire city of saigon, and all of it is stiff with the hardware of war. president johnson decided to give south vietnam this massive transfusion of american military power in 1965. there was only one deep water port in vietnam then, saigon. now, there are eight. led by the vast installation a -- at cameron bay, dredged out of the sand dunes on the pacific
at a cost of $150 million. cameron is one of the great natural harbors of the pacific is one of the spectacular of the new ports, which overnight have been carved out, up and down the coast of south vietnam. terminals of the belt that brings supplies, 15,000 miles from the factories and workshops of america. when president johnson made the fateful decision in 1965 to throw in a great weight of american power, south vietnam had only two airfields which could take a jet airplane. today, there are 10. loud with aircraft at every description. engines] narrator: 5000 aircraft, which come in 50 varieties of planes and 15 different kinds of helicopters. bases not only for offensive sorties and supplies of military hardware, but that software, which is the list precious of
commodities -- the soldier. with a one year tour of duty in vietnam, half a million come in every year, and half a million men go out again, many in planes chartered from big airlines. all of those indians require a multiplication of chiefs. to house the chiefs in proper style, a vast new office complex has sprung up in saigon for the headquarters of the u.s. military assistance command vietnam. that is its official title. naturally, it is referred to as pentagon east. pentagon east, as befits a
military headquarters, is relatively spartan. not so the new american embassy, imposing and luxurious, complete with a helicopter pad on top from which the various ambassadors can be whisked off to their responsibilities. all of these installations, all of this equipment, all of these men have been conjured up in the span of only two years, a great panoply of power to support what we once were told would be a small war to be fought by other people. but it is being fought now by americans as well. every day, the planes take home their melancholy burden of those who were lost and those who were wounded. in the inevitable arithmetic of war, more men equals more fighting equals more casualty. no wonder people wonder whether it is all worth it, and ask why, why was oldest done with all the men, all the time we have been here, we have not been able to achieve what we set out to do? one difficulty in coming to grips with the reality of vietnam is that our official properties have tended to outpace our progress. sweeping predictions have been followed by moses -- modest results, sometimes even by setbacks. at the beginning of the year, this ambassador was asked about our military prospect for 1967.
>> this is a dangerous business for public officials to get into, but it is a very good question. i would expect that the percentage rate of american casualties would go down in 1967. i would expect a conventional military war to achieve a very sensational results in 1967. >> however the future looked in january, the fact is in 1967, a number of u.s. troops killed in vietnam has nearly doubled, and the percentage rate of casualties has not gone down. the military result that 1967 has been somewhat less than sensational. one of the reasons that
forecasts about vietnam are dangerous is that you can always find evidence to support what you want to believe on either side. without taking sides, it is the observation of this reporter that militarily, things are better than when i was in vietnam six months ago. better than they were one year ago. progress has not been sensational, it is painful, it is spotty, but it is visible. we may even be, as is officially claimed again, on the verge of much more rapid progress. now, this is not a military map. it is more important. it is a population map. these symbols represent the hamlets of south vietnam and who
controls them, but what the war is really about. they range from these, which are completely under government control, to those that are under vc control. there are more relatively secure hamlets within vc hamlets, one side of progress. the biggest concentration of viet cong hamlets is in this populated delta, the fourth core area of vietnam. this is almost an entirely south vietnamese army show. than's never been more there,rican brigade down put in.ore may be the the south vietnamese army is mounting larger operations in the delta and reporting diminished effectiveness, but they have made slow headway in winning back the populated areas. in some only modest progress down here so far, things have gone somewhat better in the third tour, which includes the capital of saigon. three u.s. divisions and the u.s. per gauge, plus three south
vietnamese divisions have been busy here. the threat to saigon itself has measurably decreased. more population has been brought under government control, and u.s. commanders think we are poised for even better things. however, the first division has had a bloody encounter with the revised viet cong 271st regiment, which shows the enemy is by no means ill-equipped. the most solid games of all have been made in the second core area. here, our big unit actions in the wide-open bases of two corps have, for the time being, at least, gains the upper hand. take this big province, one year ago, only 25% of its one million inhabitants were under government control. now, 70% are. good progress in two corps.
but in the first corps, what we call i corps in vietnam, the picture is different. the enemy was operating on short lines of communication, and has been able to pin down the u.s. marines and the u.s. army and south vietnamese army units rushed up to help them. casualties have been heavy, and pacification has ground to a halt. fighting has been severe throughout the whole of the core, but what has caught our attention is the conventional warfare south of his emc -- the dmz. >> i have about 25, 30 incoming heavy artillery rounds. that area seems to be really covered. i will go ahead and get these people out and inform you when i have done so. >> roger that, go ahead and fire. make sure your own troops are
out of the way and let the tigers do their business. charles: this has become a focal point for more than a year of heavy fighting along the dmz. a lightning rod for more north vietnamese artillery across the border, and the closest the vietnam war has come to being conventional. the marines are holding a half dozen outposts and base camps outside of the dmz. from near the the south and the north of what is called leatherneck square. they provide the marines with observation posts overlooking the narrow mountain valleys and coastal plains the north vietnamese used to move their troops south. they are also staging bases for patrols and operations. these cities are connected by a six mile strip of bulldozed land, cleared to give the marines a better view, and intended to become part of a longer, more elaborate barrier from the south china sea, 40
miles to the laotian border. work has stopped on the strip. vegetation is growing back, and it does not appear possible to resume the job without many more marines to protect the engineers. above the river, the north vietnamese introduced heavy artillery this summer, pounding several cities with 150 millimeter shells as often as a thousand a day. a marine who was there in the month of september had a 50-50 chance of being hit. there were 600 casualties among the 1200 men there. the marines took a terrible pounding, but they held their ground gallantly. >> how do you feel about this kind of war? >> it is what we trained for. and we will, we will prevail. we will win. >> did you think war was like this war? >> i did not. i thought it was a big joke before i came here. serious business
isn't it? >> it is real serious. i thought it was a joke before i came over, but now i realize it is no joke. >> we cannot reach those big guns and they keep dropping in. there is nothing you can do. you just sit there, waiting. you can be lucky, that's it. >> since the marines cannot seize the enemy artillery positions in the north, it has been suggested that they withdraw and lore the north vietnamese guns into the south, where they can be attacked by ground forces. the marine commander in vietnam, robert cushman, does not like the idea. >> i would like to point out, first, that those cities, while we have no emotional attachment to her stubbornness about it, do constitute the commanding terrain for miles around. from these two points, one can see all the way up into here in north vietnam. consequently, if you give these
positions up, and i say these positions, i am also referring to the maneuvering forces in these areas, you give up dongguan, cam low, this whole route, and caisson in the end. in addition, you have exposed the provincial capital to greatly increased pressure from the enemy. i might also mention that in this general area, there are some 50,000 friendly people who would either have to be evacuated or abandoned. >> you do not intend to abandon them? >> no, i do not. charles: the only present alternative for the marines is to sit out the shelling, take the casualties, and hope that american air and artillery strikes are hurting the enemy more. there is no way to tell. such a defensive position along the dmz is not a tactic the
marines prefer, but the officers say they can live with it. whether it is due to the enemy's clever tactics are the bad fighting conditions, weather, or terrain, it seems clear that the american military offensive along the dmz has bogged down like the marines in the mud. john lawrence, cbs news, --. charles: it is no longer at all an offensive we are engaged in, it is a stubborn defense, by definition uncongenial to the assault minded marines, brought on a battlefield particularly favorful to the enemy. and while this is not what they feared, this is hardly the situation they describe. there is much question aimed by professional military opinion of the wisdom of establishing the marines where they cannot maneuver northward without invading north vietnam, but where they are within enemy artillery range. to pull them back would be to give the enemy a prestige victory and, as the general
says, to possibly expose the northernmost part of south vietnam to concentrated assault. neither is considered acceptable. it is not a pretty picture. it is a part of the war that is going least well. apart from the gallantry of the marines, the best thing you can say about this is it is not typical of the rest of the war. elsewhere, and its ponderous way, the u.s. military machine is grinding ahead. nothing is more typical of the frustration of the war in vietnam or better illustrates the enormous effort that the american way of fighting a guerrilla war requires than the so-called search and destroy operations. these are missions against the viet cong base areas designed not to occupy the ground, but to make it less useful to the enemy. don webster went out on one that is still underway, about 30 miles from saigon.
>> the 25th division is getting to know these was pretty well. this is the 10th time in 18 months they have been in here, and each time the story is the same. they find the enemy, find they just missed him, and then they leave in the viacom comeback. and these hobo woods represent many of the following in the united states central part of vietnam. >> [indiscernible] charles: most of these places are worthless pieces of land, except for the fact that the enemy lives here -- or at least used to -- and probably will again once the americans leave. [gunfire]
charles: the americans never sneak into the jungle quietly and unobtrusively. the enemy always knows they are there or on their way. [helicopter blades whirring] [gunfire] charles: airstrikes like this and artillery are used for preparing an area before the americans enter. the idea is to keep the viet cong busy, ducking more hiding, to prevent them from setting up ambushes or booby-traps. it also warns them and it's them -- and tells them it is time to get away.
they usually do. nine times out of 10, sweets like this results in finding enemy bunkers, base camps, equipment, or rice, but very few enemies. most of the battles in vietnam are at the time and place of the enemy's choosing. if he does not want them, he does not have to. but supply routes falter, short of men, weapons, and ammunition. he disappears into the jungle and waits. the americans have to wait, too. invariably, the americans find enemy hiding places. this hole in the ground might not look impressive, but it leads to several hundred yards of underground tunnels, where the viet cong live and hide from american firepower. the invasion of the hobo woods is different from the preceding ones.
the americans are in the process of methodically knocking down the entire woods. using these giant machines, these woods are being eliminated. the project is taking six weeks, and 12,000 acres of jungle will be flattened. knocking down the woods may eliminate one of the enemy's favorite hiding places, but you cannot flatten entire country. in the past, the viet cong have been well organized, adaptable, and resourceful, and there is little doubt while the americans are busy knocking down trees, the viet cong are thinking up new tactics. this is don webster in the hobo woods. charles: the test of the effectiveness of operations like this is whether the new tactics that the enemy has to think of to answer them are as good as the ones that we have forced into abandon. american commanders are convinced that our surgeon
-- search and destroy operations have been successful enough to make the enemy's job more difficult. each time, it is more difficult for him to establish himself. it has hampered his operations and cost him not only sanctuary, but supplies he cannot afford to lose. a company of the ninth divisions stumbled upon a huge tunnel complex and one of the bay areas. we talked to the company commander. >> for four days, they have been pulling weapons out of these tunnels, which extend as much as 500, 600 meters under the ground and are big enough that i can stand up in the passageway and walk. so that they pulled out over 100 machine guns, over 500 rifles,
5 75 millimeter reconnaissance rifles, 10 82 millimeter mortars. >> one of the most popular misconceptions about this war is that the vc and north vietnamese are noble savages, wise in the ways of the jungle but armed only with a humble slingshot against the mechanized goliath of the united states. well, that is not quite true. except for our air and artillery, in the field of personal weapons, the enemies equipment is quite comparable with ours. this is the soviet model ak-47 rifle. chinese communist manufactured. it is the standard equipment of the main force vc and north vietnamese. it is a very effective weapon. a match most american soldiers say, for our m-16s. gas operated, air cooled, automatic and semi automatic at
a rate of 350 rounds a minute. now, there was a time when the vc did rely more on ingenuity and homemade stuff. when the third brigrade of the first division which maintains this war museum of captured weapons first came here, they were finding stuff like this, a homemade rifle made out of a piece of pipe. they were finding things like these steel bars. nasty and unpleasant, but not deadly, or the sharpened bamboo sticks. they set those in ditches for the unwary soldier to step on. they will pierce a boot. and, booby-traps and hand grenades, homemade out of american beer cans or coca-cola cans. condensed milk cans. now we are finding more sophisticated things.
the claymore mine, which carries a deadly load of shrapnel, steel, iron that they find. these mines account for 47% of american casualties in vietnam. this is a sophisticated weapon, chinese made, for a russian antitank grenade launcher. this will pierce 11 inches of steel. they have other things. this soviet heavy machine gun, 57 millimeter recoilless rifle. this is their favorite mortar weapon. the soviet 82 millimeter mortar. you could say it is the enemy's main artillery south of the demilitarized zone. it is an effective weapon which
he handles with great accuracy. only a few weeks ago, all the windows in this museum were blown out when the post came under attack. they were lucky it was not the new soviet 122 millimeter rocket. those soviet rockets have not come down this far south yet. they have had plenty of them at danang. >> the surprising thing is not that it happens, but that it is does not happen more often. this was da nang air base the night of the 15th of july. the first rocket hit at 10 minutes after midnight. 22 aircraft were in flames, eight men were dead, 140 marines and airmen injured. 13 barracks were destroyed. damage was estimated between $25
million and $50 million. it was the most costly of the many attacks the communists have launched against american installations in vietnam. the trouble is we build such juicy targets. -- dahat denying complex nang complex for example. drop a rocket anywhere within several square miles down there, you're bound to hit an airplane, a warehouse, a barracks, an ammunition dump, or a ship during an american general admits it is still easy for a couple of gorillas to cause $15 million worth of damage. the best defense is still an old-fashioned one, the infantry patrol. elements of three marine regiments spend all their time trying to prevent an attack. the attacks have not been stopped. a recent one was launched near a village, the location of so much controversy when the marines burned it in 1965. the villagers have been moved out and the communists have used
it as a launching site twice, almost certainly for symbolic reasons. we discussed the rocket problem with the captain of the first marine division. >> you cannot even see the da nang airbase, yet they did a pretty good job. >> how do they know just where they are? >> they would have had to survey this area. this vicinity has been in viet cong territory for a long time. it has only become less so in the last of years since we operated here. so, it might've been surveyed at any time, or it might have been done fairly recently. >> how they get all this equipment in here? through the patrols that go on? >> it is probable they brought these in quite a long time ago. they used this site two different times. this general area once in march and once recently. it is possible the weapons were put in plastic and buried in the river.
down in the mud on the bottom. >> once the attack has been launched, escape is fairly easy for the viet cong. they can melt into the population or hide in the jungle areas just a few miles away. the number of bridges the communists have blown in the da each day a convoy heads out. it carries supplies, ammunition, food. another convoy heads north. this one empty. faster before the
viet cong destroyed all the bridges. it has been replaced by a temporary bridge but each bridge that goes down called a bottleneck. -- causes a bottleneck. butbridges being her place for now, the convoys have to be varied across. there is generally a delay of several hours while waiting for the tide to come up. convoy,trucks in this dark will come before the crossing can be completed. cane is only one man who stop this from happening. he watches the attacks and give them warning. if he can be convinced that our war is his war, these attacks would stop almost overnight.
>> the continued ability of the viet cong to mount these attacks on our most important bases shows that however well we are doing in large unit actions, we are making much slower progress against guerrillas and terrorists. they can and do still stage incidents and kidnap or murder local officials in the outskirts of saigon itself. american military commanders say you can never completely stop that sort of thing anymore than you can completely stop muggings and bank robberies in the united states. it is still true that someone knows where the vietcong guerrillas and terrorists are and does not want to tell us or finds it safer or more politic not to. we have been talking only about the ground war in vietnam. we will look at the air war next.
charles: the entire path of our involvement in vietnam is strewn with predictions gone astray. in 1964, before the decision to commit american troops, we were urging a greater effort on the part of the south vietnamese. i asked secretary of defense mcnamara whether that did not inevitably mean an increase in american personnel. >> it may increase certain categories of american personnel but i doubt there will be any increase. the south vietnamese are willing to carry on their own fight. we all recognize that the war must be won by the effort they are taking. we are providing training. we are not carrying the brunt of the fighting. charles: we are now carrying a great deal of the fight, on the ground and in the air war, except for an insignificant south vietnamese force, it is almost entirely an american show.
airpower is the one thing we most conspicuously have and the enemy has not. we have the entire range of supersonic jets to helicopters that can land on a dime. the use of air power is crucial to the kinds of waramericans fight. we use the airplane against the very trees of the jungle itself. sometimes we use it against friend instead of foe. because our superiority is so overwhelming, it has created problems as well as solving them. >> more than 1/5 of all the americans in vietnam are assigned to fight in or support the air war. the accomplishments can be impressive.
transport by air has made our forces more mobile. the air force estimates that transports within vietnam in the first months of 1967 carried half a million tons of cargo, 2 million passengers. americans are called on for strange and novel missions. the dragon ship, actually an old world war ii transport converted into a flying gun platform for nighttime assault. it's many guns capable of spewing out 900 bullets every second. and in the daytime, the armed helicopter, the gunship, with grenade launchers and six machine guns, one of the more notable innovations in aerial warfare developed in vietnam.
the heavy weapon in the air war in the south is still the strike by jet warplanes. these are jets that can exceed the speed of sound, designed to carry atomic bombs, they are now assigned to blasting holes in the vietnamese jungle. they move too fast for the pilots to see what they're doing. the pilot just aims at the smoke. too often, from the pilots point of view, the target is elusive or uncertain. it must be frustrating as pilots, when you fly so much you do not know what you're doing. it seems impersonal to me. is it that to you?
>> it definitely is from our standpoint. also frustrating when you cannot see what you are doing, what the damage you are doing. to me, the good missions are where you are supporting the troops in combat. when you have troops that are painted down and you're doing them good, you also feel good. those are the best. >> it seems to be an impersonal war. you're dumping the lethal weapons on people. are you conscience of this or it -- or is it just finding your target and pressing the button? are you aware you are fighting people?
>> when you first start out you might have a feeling that it is personal. after a while, it become so routine and becomes so impersonal that it is just a matter of putting ordinance where you are directed to put it. >> an arsenal of specialized destruction is being developed for the air assault on the vietcong. 10 types of bombs, rockets, and shells. a weapons officer of the third tactical fighter wing -- >> here you see a mighty mouse rocket that are used primarily as an anti-personnel weapon. we can carry 42 of these in the aircraft. here you see what we call the cbu dispenser. this large dispenser fills with approximately 400 smaller bombs that way three pounds each.
this particular item is not dispensed from the aircraft like a bomb does. it distributes the smaller bomblettes that are contained behind it. this bomb, the general-purpose high explosive, is very effective. it penetrates about eight to 10 feet in the ground and makes a tremendous crater. this particular bomb is about 50 feet across. it will -- any of the enemy bunkers or heavily defended areas. this is the napalm bomb we use effectively because it does get down into some of the bunkers. it is a firebomb. on any given day, the command post for the air war, the tactical air control center near saigon, dispatches an average of 450 planes on bombing runs in south vietnam.
the marine corps flies another 200. every plane that flies is controlled from this one room. the general who directs the daily air war in south vietnam -- >> we are using sophisticated airplanes capable of carrying nuclear weapons. are these the right kind of weapons for these kinds of counterinsurgency war? >> i do not think there's any question about this. we have planes we use, the f-100, the f-4. we have other aircraft. an airplane that you must have is an airplane that can survive. we cannot afford to take an airplane and procure them in large numbers that cannot survive across the border. although it may seem like sometimes we are taking a ball bat to kill a mosquito, we have to be prepared to use the ball bat if we need to destroy a target that requires a ball bat.
>> there has been criticism of using baseball bats to kill mosquitoes in south vietnam. criticism and shock at the killing of civilians and nonmilitary property that results in highly lethal ordinances delivered from supersonic planes against a practically invisible enemy. nevertheless, no critics have proposed that u.s. troops be denied the close air support that has meant the difference between success and slaughter.
the evidence -- the aerial bombing, indiscriminate as it is, has hit the enemy's jungle hideouts. thus with all their aspects of overkill, our air operations in the south have never been as controversial as the american bombing of north vietnam. bombing the north was controversial before it began, debated in the inner circles as far back as 1961. it was not a decision the johnson administration reached easily. the president himself set forth the case against it in the campaign of 1964. >> when i start throwing bombs around and involving american boys in a war in asia with the chinese. for the moment, i have not thought that we were ready, our american boys, to do the fighting for the asian boys. what i've been trying to do was to get the boys in vietnam to do their own fighting with our advice and our equipment.
that is the course we are following. we are not going north to drop bombs at this stage of the game. >> that stage of the game was soon passed. the first american bombs to follow north vietnam were dropped as isolated reprisal, first after the tonkin gulf incident. by 1965, we had announced a policy of continuous bombing of the north. it has increased in intensity and in the range of targets selected. they have been getting closer to the center of hanoi, and the border with red china. the north vietnamese have met our bombing with the most powerful ground to air defense ever encountered in warfare, greater even than world war ii. based on soviet and chinese weapons and devices and now with soviet built planes in the air, a heavy loss.
u.s. pilots have flown more than 600,000 sorties against the north, about half from carriers offshore, the other half mainly from thailand and some from south vietnam. the rate of loss in this war is less than in either world war ii or korea. what is most controversial about the bombing of north vietnam is not the cost in pilots and planes, but whether the bombing has achieved or ever could achieve its purposes. the reason for the bombing, besides the morale of the south, was originally two fold. to interdict the enemy supply routes to the south, thus impairing his ability to sustain his operations. this kind of bombing has certainly made it more difficult for him, but we have him on no less authority than that of secretary of defense robert mcnamara that it is not
significantly diminished his efforts to resupply. the second purpose was to strike so hard at the basic economy of north vietnam to make the price of continuing the war so high that their will to continue would be weakend. hase is no evidence it done so. the north vietnamese do not like to be bombed, as is shown by their propaganda effort to get us to stop, but they have shown no increased willingness to come to the conference table as a result. american airmen are proud of the accuracy of their bombing, but in the nature of things not all bombs hit only their targets. the north vietnamese and their friends regularly supplied pictures of damage done to nonmilitary installations. this adds fuel to the
controversy over the bombing of the north. a less controversial reason for some of the bombing has recently been added -- to support the u.s. marines in their struggle south of the demilitarized zone. 90% of our b-52 strikes are directed against against the north vietnamese donations ranged against the marines. a giant b-52 was never designed for close support operations. when it strikes, it chews up the landscape in what must be a terrifying way. few americans would wish to july the marines the benefit of air the marines the benefit of air support. the wider controversy over the bombing continues. however, that bombing, unlike so inlike so many things
vietnam, was a great deal easier to start than it is to stop. in a recent news conference, the secretary of state put the case for not stopping the bombing now. >> for us to say it will stop, you go right ahead with your war, you live there safely and comfortably without being disturbed while using your men at arms into the south vietnam for the next 50 years. where would be the incentive for peace? we are interested in peace, not a sanctuary which will let them carry on these operations against south vietnam for eternity while they sit there in a sanctuary, taking their own time, pay no price, trying to seize our neighbors by force. >> such vehemence has not
silenced the critics, who say it would be mature statesmanship to abandon tactic -- still, the dilemma of bombing the north is a real one. one suggestion to avoid the horns of the dilemma in the absence of a signal from hanoi that it is willing to negotiate is to suspend the deep bombing of the heartland of north vietnam while continuing to attack enemy supply lines and routes in the panhandle and the concentration against the marines. secretary mcnamara has testified that idea is not dead. meanwhile, the inconclusive results of the bombing of north vietnam parallels the inconclusive miss of the war itself. it raises the most perplexing questions about the war. it is our efforts commensurate with the results we achieve? are we equipped to wage this kind of war. where do we stand in vietnam? we will try to answer those questions in a moment.
charles: in the last hour, we have quoted a number of authorities whose optimistic prophecies about vietnam have been confounded by events. an advocate can prove any point he wants to make, from the contradictory evidence generated by this contradictory war. this is not an advocate's report. these are the conclusions of this reporter -- the united states has begun to make military progress on the ground in south vietnam although the end is not yet in sight. we are more successful in large unit actions against organized formations that we are against the viet cong guerrilla and terrorist. the enemy, although hurt, is still very much in the field and increasingly well armed by his allies. our use of air power in south vietnam has been militarily of
effective when employed directly in battle, less so when used against the enemy bases and hideouts, where besides hitting them and also causes civilian destruction. the bombing of north vietnam has not done what the u.s. hoped it would do. it must have hurt the enemy, it has not decisively influenced his ability to infiltrate and fight or his ability to resist our invitations to negotiate. we are trapped by our own power. the american way of war is most successful when pitted against something like itself. in vietnam it is not. this is not to say it does not produce results -- it does, though a heavy cost to us and to the south vietnamese we seek to help. it has become a race between the success of our rescue operation and the damage it does to those we wish to rescue.
a minimum objective has already been achieved. if we stay in vietnam, the war cannot be lost. it is still not clear whether it will be won. that is not entirely in the hands of the american military. it is not even depending on the willingness of the american public at home, a willingness of reporter who works abroad cannot freely assess. winning the war, if we continue military progress, still depends on the south vietnamese. in that context, the words of john f. kennedy with which we began this broadcast are as true now as they were then. >> i do not think that unless a greater effort is made to the government to win popular support the war can be won. in the final analysis, it is their war. we can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisors, but they have to win it, the people of vietnam against the communist.
charles: four years after kennedy said that, it remains clear it is still a war for the south vietnamese to win if victory is to have any meaning. we can destroy the enemy if we go at it long enough, but only the south vietnamese can build a society that will survive our departure. four years and eight saigon governments later, there has been little progress toward that goal. in our next broadcast, we will look at the progress and the problems that south vietnam faces as it and we go about the process of trying to build a nation in the middle of a war. this is charles collingwood, cbs news. good night. >> this has been a cbs news special report. "where we stand in vietnam."
weekend, american history tv looks back 50 years to the vietnam war with 48 hours of coverage. we are showing first-person accounts from vietnam war veterans and antiwar protest. -- protesters. this is american history tv. all we can, every weekend only on c-span3. announcer: all weekend, american history tv is looking back 50 years to the vietnam war. the national archives in washington dc just opened its first ever exhibit on the war hueyas three helicopters. we talked to them about vietnam. >> we are live at the national archives