Indochina 1945-1960: It Started Not With a Bang, but a Whimper

  • Colonel Christopher J. Cardoni

The long, bloody, and expensive conflicts in Vietnam beginning in 1946 with France and ending in 1975 with the North Vietnamese unification of the country, still have much to teach students of strategy and policy making. These conflicts not only provide military lessons learned, but also lessons on policy and strategy formulation in the complex world that was post World War II. This paper will provide a case study on French policy making, strategy, and experiences in Indochina, and how they subsequently shaped the American theater strategy in building South Vietnamese military capability.