Rolling Thunder

Operation

Dates: 

2 Mar 1965 - 31 Oct 1968

Area of Operation:

Targets in North Vietnam (Democratic Republic of Vietnam)

Allied Units:

Elements of the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps

Allied Casualties:

Specific numbers unavailable, but KIA, WIA, MIA, POW all number in the hundreds

Enemy Units:

NVA

Enemy Casualties:

Specific numbers unavailable, though number of killed estimated upwards of 52,000

Objective(s):

To interrupt the flow of supplies from north to south; to bring the DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam, or North Vietnam) to the negotiation table.

Significance/Notes:

Longest bombing campaign in US history. 990 aircraft were lost during the nearly 1,000,000 sorties flown. Largely unsuccessful due to a number of factors. The first is that civilian government officials in Washington, DC (with President Johnson at the forefront) had too much control over bombing targets and how to carry out missions. President Johnson wanted to avoid provoking Russia or China to join in the war, and so often limited actions of the military men carrying out the bombing runs. Additionally, there were many halts to the bombing meant to give the North Vietnamese a chance to come negotiate. This greatly reduced effectiveness. Second, the agrarian nature of the country made it less susceptible to the bombing of industrial centers (a tactic used with much success in WWII).

Sources:

The Vietnam Center And Archive (at Texas Tech University)

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