Different tactics were used by the USA and the Vietcong forces in Vietnam. The Vietcong used what they had in the jungle as there main weapon and fought a very tactical war. They used Guerrilla Warfare, ambushing US patrols and setting booby traps. They mingled with the local villagers so were very difficult to detect. On the other hand the USA fought a very hi-tech. They used B52 bombers, helicopters and napalm, a newly discovered sticky substance that can burn through skin. They killed many innocent civilians and did not stop the Vietcong guerrilla.
Although at the start of the conflict both teams were using conventional pitched battles. These were what the Americans were trained at doing and what they were the best at. The Vietcong, on the other hand, were not training in conflict so they were losing considerable number of soldiers so they had to change or face an ultimate and very quick defeat. Firstly, the Vietcong decided to use the natural environment around them to their advantage. They had lived in this environment for many years so they knew all the tricks of the jungle.
They perfected the art of blending into the surroundings of the jungle and built masses of underground tunnels to get around without the Americans knowing. These tunnels were crucial to their tactics because they stretched so far that they could travel miles underground. Inside the tunnels there were special rooms dedicated for different aspects of everyday life, for example there were kitchens, hospitals, sleeping quarters and a well for clean water. It also included store rooms of ammunition as well as guard chambers just in case an American was to stumble into the tunnels.
All the entrances to the tunnels were concealed either underwater or under floorboards in houses. They also used booby traps and made their own mines. They took apart unexploded bombs and used the explosives to create their own bombs against the US. In one year, American bombers could leave 20,000 tons of unexploded bombs scattered around the Vietnamese countryside. Then on the 31st January 1968, the Vietcong troops launched a massive attack on towns and cities in South Vietnam to try and defeat the Americans with a quick attack hoping the US would be surprised and not expecting the attack.
The Americans were caught by surprise and half of the soldiers were on TeT holiday leave. This unfortunately did not go well for the Vietcong and they started fighting pitched, conventional, battles which they struggled in and the Americans thrived and effectively won the battle. It was known as the TeT Offensive. The US tactics relied quite heavily on hi-tech equipment. At first they were on top because conventional warfare was being used and this is what they were trained for.
But after the Vietcong had changed to Guerrilla tactics the Americans needed to rethink their own strategy or suffer a huge defeat. They sent out search and destroy patrols looking for the Vietcong Guerrillas, but the patrols very easily visible to the Vietcong so the patrols were often ambushed. The Americans began to become increasing frustrated and started with ‘Zippo raids’ that was when they burnt down whole villages if they believed the Vietcong was hiding in that village.
They also sent out patrols of troops who were supported by air and artillery attacks, they did this by when they thought there may be Vietcong troops in the area they would request an air-strike and quickly get out the area and back to base. A bomber would then come in and blow the area to smithereens. The Vietcong quickly caught onto this tactic and when they thought they saw an American troop and then he would disappear they would also run away. American troops soon caught on that they were being used as bait so started to get demoralised.
When the Vietcong changed their tactics at the TeT Offensive the US started to get on top again. Unfortunately, this now meant people could see the fighting happening back in the USA and they turned against the war. Although both sets of tactics were best suit to there respective armies, the Vietcong were best suited to the battlefield. The American tactics were based on hi-tech and that’s really all they had which was not an advantage in the battlefield area. Consequently, the Vietcong tactics were superior fro this war and were extremely well thought out.