Tag Archives: Ulster Defence Association

Protestant March ends in battle – 3rd June 1972

Protestant March ends in battle

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Army uses water canon against protesters

A Protestant march against the creation of “no-go” areas in Londonderry has ended in a bloody battle on the Craigavon Bridge.

Image result for Craigavon Bridge. 1972

Soldiers used rubber bullets and water cannon to control the crowd when the so-called “Tartan gangs” at the tail end of the march began to throw bottles and stones at the Army.

The bridge was the centre of the trouble as it joins the Protestant side of the town to the “no-go” Roman Catholic areas of Bogside and Creggan.

Despite pleas from march organisers for the violence to stop it did not end until the Ulster Defence Association stepped in. They formed a human barrier between the protesters and the Army.

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The confrontation lasted an hour and resulted in one man being injured but no arrests.


We are no longer protesting – we are demanding action


William Craig, Vanguard Movement

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A spokesman for the Army said: “Naturally it is regretted that we have to fire rubber bullets but there we are. The only alternative is the Bogside would be invaded by the Protestant marchers.”

The biggest security operation since the start of the Troubles had been set up for the march with soldiers on every corner.

Despite the violence William Craig the leader of the Vanguard Movement, who organised the march, said the marches would go on.

“We are no longer protesting – we are demanding action” he said.

The 10,000 strong march set off from Irish Street at 1500GMT to call for an end to the ‘no-go’ areas on the east bank side of the River Foyle.

In Context
1972 became the bloodiest year of The Troubles. Some 470 people were killed that year, the overwhelming majority of them civilians.

On 31 July 1972 the then Northern Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw ordered 20,000 soldiers to dismantle IRA barricades in the no-go areas of Derry and Belfast.

Image result for The "no-go" areas, known as Free Derry

The “no-go” areas, known as Free Derry, were areas where both the IRA and Provisional IRA could openly patrol, train and open offices with widespread support and without involvement of security services.

Bogside, Creggan and Brandywell made up the area Free Derry, and it is still known by that name despite the barricades no longer being there.

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See Battle of Bogside 

See B-Specials 

 

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John “Big John” McMichael – 9 January 1948 – 22 December 1987

John “Big John” McMichael (9 January 1948 – 22 December 1987) was a leading Northern Ireland loyalist who rose to become the most prominent and charismatic figure within the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) as the Deputy Commander and leader of its South Belfast Brigade. He was also commander of the organisation’s cover name, the “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF), overseeing an assassination campaign against prominent republican figures whose details were included in a notorious “shopping list” derived from leaked security forces documents. The UDA used the UFF name when it wished to claim responsibility for attacks, thus allowing it to remain a legal paramilitary organisation until August 1992 when it was proscribed by the British Government.

John McMichael
John McMichaelPhoto.jpg

John McMichael
Born January 9, 1948
Lisburn, County Antrim
Northern Ireland, UK
Died December 22, 1987(1987-12-22) (aged 39)
Lisburn, County Antrim
Northern Ireland, UK
Cause of death Multiple injuries resulting from a car bomb explosion
Burial place New Blaris Cemetery, Lisburn
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Nationality British
Other names “Big John”
Occupation publican
Known for Ulster Defence Association brigadier
“Ulster Freedom Fighters” commander
Leader of the Ulster Democratic Party
Notable work Beyond the Religious Divide
Common Sense: Northern Ireland – An Agreed Process
Political party Ulster Democratic Party
Religion Protestant (Church of Ireland)
Spouse(s) Phyllis McMichael
Shirley McDowell
Children Gary McMichael
Saul McMichael
Parent(s) John McMichael
Annie McMichael
Military career
Allegiance  UK
Service/branch UDA (Ulster Freedom Fighters)
Years of service 1971-1987
Rank Commander/Brigadier
Unit UDA South Belfast Brigade
Conflicts The Troubles

McMichael held political office as leader of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) from 1981 until his death. He was killed outside his home by a booby-trap car bomb which was carried out by the Provisional IRA. There were allegations that members within the UDA had colluded with the IRA in his death by passing on vital information about him and his activities, enabling the IRA to target his car.

 

Ulster Defence Association

John McMichael was born in Lisburn, County Antrim on 9 January 1948, one of the children of John and Annie McMichael. He came from a working-class background,[1] and was brought up in the Church of Ireland religion.[2] He had married twice and was the father of two sons, Gary and Saul.[3]

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News footage following murder of John McMichael

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McMichael, who owned and operated the “Admiral Benbow” pub in his native Lisburn,[4] initially rose to prominence in the UDA in the 1970s as the commander of the South Belfast Brigade and a member of its Inner Council, where he became known for his belief in the unique identity of Ulster Protestants, as well as his talent as an organiser. He had taken over command of the South Belfast UDA from Sammy Murphy, who had also led the Sandy Row unit. According to McDonald and Cusack, Murphy appeared to have been a commander rather than brigadier.[5] Described as the UDA’s most “effective and strategic leader”,[6] McMichael helped establish a political think tank called the New Ulster Political Research Group in 1977, and served as its chairman.[7] He also assisted in the composition of a document entitled Beyond the Religious Divide which promoted independence for Northern Ireland along with a constitutional Bill of Rights—acceptable to both nationalists and unionists—as the “only hope of achieving a united Northern Ireland”. This was the first step on the UDA’s road to political development.[8] He was a supporter of the ideas of Ian Adamson a gynaecologist, and subsequently a Unionist politician, who self-funded a series of books and pamphlets about the alleged ancient origins of Ulster people as a separate ethnic group to the Irish.[9]

By 1979 he had emerged as the leading figure within the UDA and the organisation’s most charismatic senior member.[10] According to the Belfast Telegraph, he drew up a ‘shopping list’ of targets (mostly members of Sinn Féin and other republican groups) that he felt the UDA should eliminate. Information about the individuals had been supplied to the UDA by individuals within the security forces who leaked the information.[11] McMichael hand-picked his own squad for this task and throughout 1980 a number of the targets were assassinated.[12] The new commando unit, which was known internally in the UDA as the Ulster Defence Force, carried out four murders in 1979, three of which were from the “shopping list”.[11] McMichael then turned his attention to members of the Relatives’ Action Committee and on his orders Irish Independence Party leader John Turnly and Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) activist Miriam Daly, both prominent within this republican prisoners’ rights group, were killed.[11] Rodney McCormick, a less prominent IRSP member, was killed in Larne soon afterwards before McMichael’s team struck again, killing Ronnie Bunting and his friend Noel Lyttle at Bunting’s Ballymurphy home on 15 October 1980.[13]

However the attacks came to an end in 1981, following an ambush by the Parachute Regiment after a failed attempt by the UFF on the lives of Bernadette McAliskey and her husband, Michael, during which the three-man unit (including Ray Smallwoods who acted as the getaway driver) were captured and later imprisoned. McAliskey, who was shot seven times in front of her children at her home in Coalisland, County Tyrone on 16 January 1981 survived the attack, as did her husband who was also wounded. McMichael himself was arrested in April 1981 in the wake of a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) raid on UDA headquarters. He was brought before the court as it was alleged he and his men had organised the McAliskey shootings.[14] Raymond Murray in his book SAS in Ireland claimed that McAliskey’s shooting was planned in a room above McMichael’s “Admiral Benbow” pub.[15] Ultimately charges relating to McMichael’s involvement, as well as his possession of classified information in the form of the details of republican activists leaked to him, were dropped along with similar charges against fellow arrestees Sammy McCormick, John McClatchey, Eddie Martin and Bobby McDevitt.[16]

McMichael’s “shopping list” was published in the press soon after the failed assassination attempt on McAliskey, apparently leaked by his internal opponents within the UDA.[17] Michael Farrell was named as the next target, although he moved to Dublin before any attack could occur.[17] The IRA responded to the revelations by killing two prominent Unionist figures, James Stronge and his father Norman at their Tynan Abbey home.[17] The Irish National Liberation Army also retaliated by shooting and wounding Shankill Road UDA activist Sammy Millar, leading a series of tit-for-tat shootings involving the UDA and INLA.[18]

McMichael would return to the idea at later times, and during the mid to late 1980s had Michael Stone working directly under him as a lone gunman with a remit to kill alleged republicans.[19]

Electoral politics

McMichael depicted on a mural in the “Village” area of Donegall Road with the titles of the two documents he was involved in producing

McMichael came to support the ideas of republican Danny Morrison regarding the Armalite and ballot box strategy and felt that the UDA should also build up a political wing to this end. As a result, following the murder of Robert Bradford, he stood as the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party candidate in the by-election for Bradford’s South Belfast seat and ran the most high profile ULDP campaign ever seen, calling for a long term strategy of negotiated independence for Northern Ireland. Despite fears from mainstream unionists that McMichael might split their vote, he ultimately only captured 576 votes. McMichael’s failure to make any inroads into the popular vote led to the UDA largely abandoning electoral politics outside of the occasional local foray for over a decade.[20]

After the failure of his political strategy, McMichael returned to his work with the UDA and, after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, he co-wrote another document Common Sense: Northern Ireland – An Agreed Process, which outlined plans for a future political settlement in Northern Ireland.[21] Under the guidance of David Trimble, at the time a law lecturer in Queens University Belfast, the document attempted to set out a legal framework for a power-sharing system under British rule.[22] The paper was viewed positively by some politicians including SDLP leader John Hume and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King.[23]

McMichael and the UDA’s Supreme Commander Andy Tyrie set up an elite group of men carefully selected from within the UDA; this unit, called the ‘Ulster Defence Force’ (UDF), was formed to make the organisation capable of meeting any “Doomsday” situation (such as a civil war) that might occur as a result of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The group’s motto was Sans Peur (French for “fearless”.), and the men received training by former British soldiers.[24] McMichael was also allegedly put in charge of a UDA/UFF bombing campaign that was to be waged against the Republic of Ireland.[25] Ultimately the proposed campaign was unsuccessful. The four incendiary bombs planted in the city centre of Dublin in November 1986 failed to inflict much damage. McMichael himself put the failure down to the lack of bombing expertise in the UDA.[26]

McMichael sat on the Ulster Clubs executive and its security committee.[27] In June 1985, he instructed UDA Intelligence chief Brian Nelson to travel to South Africa to investigate the possibility of obtaining weapons by proposing an exchange of arms. Nelson, who was a British military intelligence agent recruited by the Force Research Unit, made the journey.[28] When he returned from the trip he reported his findings to McMichael, who had previously received reports regarding Nelson’s unsatisfactory conduct in South Africa.[27]

Four years earlier, McMichael had hoped to draw Catholic support for Beyond the Religious Divide, having made the following statement

“We’ll just continue what we’ve been doing during the past year. It will become more and more obvious that the UDA is taking a very steady line, that we’re not willing to fall into line behind sectarian politicians. It will take time. What people forget is that we also have to sell the idea to Protestants”.[29]

Paul Arthur, professor of politics at the University of Ulster, called him an “astute thinker”.[30] British journalist Peter Taylor, who met McMichael, described him as having been “articulate and tough”, and his son by his first marriage, Gary, said of his father:

“I think it was recognised that my father was no angel. He was a leader in a paramilitary organisation. Perhaps he’d been there and done that and bought the T-shirt. He was a well-respected person within the loyalist community and his credentials were extremely strong. People saw my father as someone who said that loyalism was at war with militant republicanism and he was unashamed about that. At that same time, he was also making a contribution to trying to push not just loyalism but everyone beyond conflict”.[4]

Killing

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Funeral of John McMichael

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McMichael’s name heads a list of South Belfast UDA on this Sandy Row plaque

McMichael was killed by a bomb attached to his car outside his Hilden Court home, in Lisburn’s loyalist Hilden estate on 22 December 1987 shortly before his fortieth birthday. He was on his way to deliver Christmas turkeys to the families of loyalist prisoners.[31] At 8.20 p.m. after he had turned on the ignition of his car and the vehicle slowly reversed down the driveway, the movement-sensitive switch in the detonating mechanism of the five pound booby-trap bomb attached to its underside was activated, and the device exploded. McMichael lost both legs in the blast and suffered grave internal injuries. He was rushed to Lagan Valley Hospital. On account of his physical strength, he managed to hold onto life for two hours and muttered a few words about his wife and children before he died.[32]

His 18-year-old son, Gary had been attending a Stiff Little Fingers concert in Belfast’s Ulster Hall at the time the bomb detonated. During the performance, a note was passed to the band’s lead singer, Jake Burns, who then made an announcement that Gary McMichael was to phone his home.[31] McMichael had initially planned to take his two-year-old son Saul with him to deliver the turkeys, but had changed his mind at the last minute.[31] McMichael’s wife, Shirley and son were inside the house at the time of the explosion. She later told the inquest into his death that he had been away from home for two weeks and had returned the day he was killed.[31]

In the hours proceeding McMichael’s funeral the UDA sealed off Dromore to enable a volley of shots to be fired into the air in the town square.[33] The funeral was attended by 5,000 people; among the mourners were many unionist politicians including Rev. Ian Paisley. Representatives from the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) were also in attendance. A large number of UDA members wearing combat uniforms marched in the procession behind the coffin which was preceded by the RUC and a bagpiper. The local Apprentice Boys of Derry formed a guard of honour with some carrying UDA wreathes as they escorted the coffin which was draped in UDA and Ulster flags.[33] The UDA’s commander Andy Tyrie was one of the pallbearers along with DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson.The family had wanted a loyalist flute band to lead the cortège but the request was rejected by the police.[34] The funeral was held at the Lambeg Parish Church.[35] At the burial service, Rev. Canon R. H. Lowry eulogised McMichael as “a man of great intelligence and ability, and a man of great kindness and one who had been working towards peace”.[31] Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland described him as having been “untiring, fresh and constructive and ready to cross the religious divide to find a solution for Northern Ireland”.[36] McMichael was buried at the New Blaris Cemetery in Lisburn.

The People newspaper later summed up his death as having been a “blow to peace hopes in Northern Ireland at the time”.[10]

Allegations

The attack was claimed by the Provisional IRA, and carried out by a unit led by Seán Savage, who would himself be shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar three months later in “Operation Flavius“.[31] At the time, however, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) hinted[citation needed] [clarification needed] that some within the UDA may have had knowledge that the assassination was about to happen. The UDA backed the killing of racketeer and UDA fund-raiser James Pratt Craig by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in 1988, claiming that he had been involved in planning the murder of McMichael.[37][38] According to author Martin Dillon, McMichael had begun an inquiry into Craig’s racketeering business, and Craig, fearing McMichael would put a stop to his lucrative protection operation, passed on information to the IRA which led to the assassination.[39]

Prior to his death, McMichael had his own personal bodyguard and changed his car every two weeks.[40] McMichael had been warned that the IRA had already made an attempt to kill him just one week before his assassination.[31] McMichael’s son, Gary is firmly convinced that Craig was involved in his father’s killing.[41] Another suspect was West Belfast brigadier Tommy Lyttle, who it was alleged helped set him up under orders by the security forces after it was rumoured McMichael was planning to carry out a bombing campaign against the Irish Republic. McMichael’s close friend and second-in-command, Jackie McDonald, who was appointed leader of the South Belfast Brigade following his death, opined that it was possible Lyttle had a hand in the killing rather than Craig. However, he added, “We just may never know”.[42] Later, it emerged that Lyttle was an RUC Special Branch informer. Lyttle in his turn placed the blame on Craig.[42]

In response to a question put to him at a press conference held after McMichael’s killing, Chief Constable of the RUC, Sir John Hermon gave the following statement:

“The murder of John McMichael, whoever caused it, or whoever orchestrated it regardless of who may have committed it, was designed to cause grievous dissention and disruption and to eliminate a threat to whosoever that threat may have existed. I would not wish to take it further than that. But think of my words very carefully.”[43]

Andy Tyrie was not convinced of Craig’s complicity in McMichael’s killing; he instead put the blame on John Hanna,[44] a prison officer in the Maze Prison, who obtained information about McMichael when the latter visited loyalist inmates and then supplied the IRA with the gathered information through Belfast Catholic actress, Rosena Brown with whom Hanna (a Protestant) was reportedly infatuated. Brown was a PIRA intelligence operative.[45] According to Tyrie, Brown was introduced to McMichael in the “Admiral Benbow”; McMichael was warned he was “being watched”.[42] Tyrie himself narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by a car bomb in March 1988. Shortly after the failed attack, Tyrie tendered his resignation as UDA commander. In an interview with Peter Taylor, Tyrie explained the IRA’s possible motive for assassinating McMichael:

“John was killed because he was the best person we had and the Republican Movement didn’t like him. I didn’t have anybody as astute in politics as he was. They also didn’t like him because he was being listened to and they knew the loss we would incur with John being killed.”[46]

Tyrie said that on another occasion, McMichael, prior to being interviewed, would practice his replies to likely questions in front of a mirror.[47]

Legacy

John McMichael Centre (Belfast South Community Resources)

McMichael’s eldest son, Gary, followed in his father’s footsteps of trying to build up the Ulster Democratic Party as a strong political wing for the UDA, but following the collapse of the party he dropped out of politics.[48]

His widow, Shirley McMichael (née McDowell) is a member of the Forum For Victims and Survivors, a group established to bring healing to those who were themselves victims or lost loved ones in The Troubles. A community engagement worker for the Northern Ireland Policing Board, she is an adherent of Contemporary Paganism and a member of the Police Pagan Association.[49]

The John McMichael Centre, a community centre in Belfast’s Sandy Row area, is named in honour of McMichael. Its principal organiser is the UDA’s incumbent leader and McMichael’s successor, Jackie McDonald, who for a period had acted as one of McMichael’s bodyguards.[50] In a 2012 interview he recalled McMichael as having been “a very, very powerful man…had a great presence and great ideas – far, far ahead of his time”.[51]

As part of a series of events organised to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his death, a John McMichael memorial debate was held in Lisburn on 25 October 2012. It was hosted by Jackie McDonald and the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG). Unionist politicians and senior republican leaders including Danny Morrison sat on the panel of guests. Among the topics discussed was McMichael’s “Common Sense” document.

See UDA Page

 

 

Vietnam War – 1st November 1955 – 30 April 1975

Vietnam War  – 1st  November 1955  – 30 April 1975

Vietnam Lost Films 1 – 6

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Battle of Hamburger Hill

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vietnam Girl 2

See pictures that changed the World

The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War,[37] and also known in Vietnam as Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was a Cold War-era proxy war[38] that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955[A 1] to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies.[43] The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People’s Army of Vietnam (also known as the North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units to battle.

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Cold Blooded US Soldier in Vietnam speaks of his Killing Ethics

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RETRANSMISSION TO RESIZE FILE--FILE--South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes a Viet Cong prisoner with a single pistol shot in the head in Saigon Feb. 1, 1968. Nguyen died Wednesday, July 15, 1998  at his home in Burke, a suburb of Washington, D.C., after a battle with cancer, said his daughter, Nguyen Anh. He was 67. This photo of Nguyen aiming a pistol point-blank at the grimacing prisoner's head became a memorable image of the Vietnam War. The photograph, by Eddie Adams, won a Pulitzer prize for The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams)
RETRANSMISSION TO RESIZE FILE–FILE–South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes a Viet Cong prisoner with a single pistol shot in the head in Saigon Feb. 1, 1968. Nguyen died Wednesday, July 15, 1998 at his home in Burke, a suburb of Washington, D.C., after a battle with cancer, said his daughter, Nguyen Anh. He was 67. This photo of Nguyen aiming a pistol point-blank at the grimacing prisoner’s head became a memorable image of the Vietnam War. The photograph, by Eddie Adams, won a Pulitzer prize for The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams)

See Pictures that changed the World

As the war continued, the part of the Viet Cong in the fighting decreased as the role of the NVA grew. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. In the course of the war, the U.S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam, and over time the North Vietnamese airspace became the most heavily defended in the world.[citation needed]

The U.S. government viewed its involvement in the war as a way to prevent a Communist takeover of South Vietnam. This was part of a wider containment policy, with the stated aim of stopping the spread of communism. The North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam under communist rule. They viewed the conflict as a colonial war, fought initially against forces from France and then America, and later against South Vietnam.[44]

Beginning in 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina.[45][A 3] U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and again in 1962.[46] U.S. involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft, which was followed by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the U.S. president authorization to increase U.S. military presence. Regular U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965. Operations crossed international borders: bordering areas of Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed by U.S. forces as American involvement in the war peaked in 1968, the same year that the communist side launched the Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive failed in its goal of overthrowing the South Vietnamese government but became the turning point in the war, as it persuaded a large segment of the United States population that its government’s claims of progress toward winning the war were illusory despite many years of massive U.S. military aid to South Vietnam.

Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began as part of “Vietnamization“, which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the Communists to the South Vietnamese themselves. Despite the Paris Peace Accord, which was signed by all parties in January 1973, the fighting continued. In the U.S. and the Western world, a large anti-Vietnam War movement developed as part of a larger counterculture. The war changed the dynamics between the Eastern and Western Blocs, and altered North-South relations.[47]

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Capture of Saigon

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Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973.[48] The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities (see Vietnam War casualties). Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 800,000[49] to 3.1 million.[29][50][51] Some 200,000–300,000 Cambodians,[34][35][36] 20,000–200,000 Laotians,[52][53][54][55][56][57] and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict.[A 2]

ContentsNames for the warFurther information: Terminology of the Vietnam WarVarious names have been applied to the conflict. Vietnam War is the most commonly used name in English. It has also been called the Second Indochina War and the Vietnam Conflict.As there have been several conflicts in Indochina, this particular conflict is known by the names of its primary protagonists to distinguish it from others.[62] In Vietnamese, the war is generally known as Kháng chiến chống Mỹ (Resistance War Against America). It is also called Chiến tranh Việt Nam (The Vietnam War).[63]The primary military organizations involved in the war were, on one side, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the U.S. military, and, on the other side, the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) (more commonly called the North Vietnamese Army, or NVA, in English language sources), and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF, more commonly known as the Viet Cong in English language sources), a South Vietnamese communist guerrilla force.[64]Background to 1949———————————————-Vietnam War BBC News Documentary National Geographic HD 2014
———————————————-See also: History of Vietnam, Cochinchina Campaign, Cần Vương, Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, Yên Bái mutiny, Vietnam during World War II and War in Vietnam (1945–46)France began its conquest of Indochina in the late 1850s, and completed pacification by 1893.[65][66][67] The 1884 Treaty of Huế formed the basis for French colonial rule in Vietnam for the next seven decades. In spite of military resistance, most notably by the Cần Vương of Phan Đình Phùng, by 1888 the area of the current-day nations of Cambodia and Vietnam was made into the colony of French Indochina (Laos was later added to the colony).[68] Various Vietnamese opposition movements to French rule existed during this period, such as the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng who staged the failed Yên Bái mutiny in 1930, but none were ultimately as successful as the Viet Minhcommon front, which was founded in 1941, controlled by the Indochinese Communist Party, and funded by the U.S. and the Chinese Nationalist Party in its fight against Japanese occupation.[69][A 4]In 1940, during World War II, the French were defeated by the Germans. The French State (commonly known as Vichy France) was established as a client state of Nazi Germany. The French colonial authorities, in French Indochina, sided with the Vichy regime. In September 1940, Japan invaded Indochina. Following the cessation of fighting and the beginning of the Japanese occupation, the French colonial authorities collaborated with the Japanese. The French continued to run affairs in Indochina, but ultimate power resided in the hands of the Japanese.[69]The Viet Minh was founded as a league for independence from France, but also opposed Japanese occupation in 1945 for the same reason. The U.S. and Chinese Nationalist Party supported them in the fight against the Japanese.[71] However, they did not have enough power to fight actual battles at first. Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh was suspected of being a communist and jailed for a year by the Chinese Nationalist Party.[72]Double occupation by France and Japan continued until the German forces were expelled from France and the French Indochina colonial authorities started holding secret talks with the Free French. Fearing that they could no longer trust the French authorities, the Japanese army interned the French authorities and troops on 9 March 1945[73] and created the puppetEmpire of Vietnam state, under Bảo Đại instead.During 1944–1945, a deep famine struck northern Vietnam due to a combination of bad weather and French/Japanese exploitation (French Indochina had to supply grains to Japan).[74] Between 400,000 and 2 million[49] people died of starvation (out of a population of 10 million in the affected area).[75] Exploiting the administrative gap[76] that the internment of the French had created, the Viet Minh in March 1945 urged the population to ransack rice warehouses and refuse to pay their taxes.[77] Between 75 and 100 warehouses were consequently raided.[78] This rebellion against the effects of the famine and the authorities that were partially responsible for it bolstered the Viet Minh’s popularity and they recruited many members during this period.[76]On 22 August 1945, following the Japanese surrender, OSS agents Archimedes Patti and Carleton B. Swift Jr. arrived in Hanoi on a mercy mission to liberate allied POWs and were accompanied by Jean Sainteny, a French government official.[79] The Japanese forces informally surrendered (the official surrender took place on 2 September 1945 in Tokyo Bay) but being the only force capable of maintaining law and order the Japanese Imperial Army remained in power while keeping French colonial troops and Sainteny detained.[80]During August the Japanese forces remained inactive as the Viet Minh and other nationalist groups took over public buildings and weapons, which began the August Revolution. OSS officers met repeatedly with Ho Chi Minh and other Viet Minh officers during this period[81] and on 2 September 1945 Ho Chi Minh declared the independentDemocratic Republic of Vietnam before a crowd of 500,000 in Hanoi.[78] In an overture to the Americans, he began his speech by paraphrasing the United States Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal. The Creator has given us certain inviolable Rights: the right to Life, the right to be Free, and the right to achieve Happiness.”[78]The Viet Minh took power in Vietnam in the August Revolution.[78] According to Gabriel Kolko, the Viet Minh enjoyed large popular support,[82] although Arthur J. Dommen cautions against a “romanticized view” of their success: “The Viet Minh use of terror was systematic….the party had drawn up a list of those to be liquidated without delay.”[83] After their defeat in the war, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) gave weapons to the Vietnamese, and kept Vichy French officials and military officers imprisoned for a month after the surrender. The Viet Minh had recruited more than 600 Japanese soldiers and given them roles to train or command Vietnamese soldiers.[84][85] A Japanese naval officer surrenders his sword to a British Lieutenant in Saigon on 13 September 1945.However, the major allied victors of World War II, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union, all agreed the area belonged to the French.[78] As the French did not have the means to immediately retake Vietnam, the major powers came to an agreement that British troops would occupy the south while Nationalist Chinese forces would move in from the north.[78] Nationalist Chinese troops entered the country to disarm Japanese troops north of the 16th parallel on 14 September 1945.[86] When the British landed in the south, they rearmed the interned French forces as well as parts of the surrendered Japanese forces to aid them in retaking southern Vietnam, as they did not have enough troops to do this themselves.[78]On the urging of the Soviet Union, Ho Chi Minh initially attempted to negotiate with the French, who were slowly re-establishing their control across the area.[87] In January 1946, the Viet Minh won elections across central and northern Vietnam.[88] On 6 March 1946, Ho signed an agreement allowing French forces to replace Nationalist Chinese forces, in exchange for French recognition of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam as a “free” republic within the French Union, with the specifics of such recognition to be determined by future negotiation.[89][90][91] The French landed in Hanoi by March 1946 and in November of that year they ousted the Viet Minh from the city.[87] British forces departed on 26 March 1946, leaving Vietnam in the hands of the French.[92] Soon thereafter, the Viet Minh began a guerrilla war against the French Union forces, beginning the First Indochina War.The war spread to Laos and Cambodia, where communists organized the Pathet Lao and the Khmer Serei, both of which were modeled on the Viet Minh.[93] Globally, the Cold War began in earnest, which meant that the rapprochement that existed between the Western powers and the Soviet Union during World War II disintegrated. The Viet Minh fight was hampered by a lack of weapons; this situation changed by 1949 when the Chinese Communists had largely won the Chinese Civil War and were free to provide arms to their Vietnamese allies.[93]Exit of the French, 1950–54Main articles: First Indochina War, Operation Vulture and Operation Passage to FreedomIn January 1950, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union recognized the Viet Minh’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam, based in Hanoi, as the legitimate government of Vietnam. The following month the United States and Great Britain recognized the French-backed State of Vietnam in Saigon, led by former Emperor Bảo Đại, as the legitimate Vietnamese government.[94][95] The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 convinced many Washington policymakers that the war in Indochina was an example of communist expansionism directed by the Soviet Union.[96] French soldiers fight off a Viet Minh ambush in 1952.Military advisors from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) began assisting the Viet Minh in July 1950.[97] PRC weapons, expertise, and laborers transformed the Viet Minh from a guerrilla force into a regular army.[98] In September 1950, the United States created a Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG) to screen French requests for aid, advise on strategy, and train Vietnamese soldiers.[99] By 1954, the United States had supplied 300,000 small arms and spent US$1 billion in support of the French military effort, shouldering 80 percent of the cost of the war.[100]There were also talks between the French and Americans in which the possible use of three tactical nuclear weapons was considered, though reports of how seriously this was considered and by whom are even now vague and contradictory.[101][102] One version of the plan for the proposed Operation Vulture envisioned sending 60 B-29s from U.S. bases in the region, supported by as many as 150 fighters launched from U.S. Seventh Fleet carriers, to bomb Viet Minh commander Võ Nguyên Giáp’s positions. The plan included an option to use up to three atomic weapons on the Viet Minh positions. Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave this nuclear option his backing. U.S. B-29s, B-36s, and B-47s could have executed a nuclear strike, as could carrier aircraft from the Seventh Fleet.[103]U.S. carriers sailed to the Gulf of Tonkin, and reconnaissance flights over Dien Bien Phu were conducted during the negotiations. According to U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon, the plan involved the Joint Chiefs of Staff drawing up plans to use three small tactical nuclear weapons in support of the French.[101] Nixon, a so-called “hawk” on Vietnam, suggested that the United States might have to “put American boys in”.[104] U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower made American participation contingent on British support, but they were opposed to such a venture.[104] In the end, convinced that the political risks outweighed the possible benefits, Eisenhower decided against the intervention. Eisenhower was a five-star general. He was wary of getting the United States involved in a land war in Asia.[105]The Viet Minh received crucial support from the Soviet Union and PRC. PRC support in the Border Campaign of 1950 allowed supplies to come from the PRC into Vietnam. Throughout the conflict, U.S. intelligence estimates remained skeptical of French chances of success.[106]The Battle of Dien Bien Phu marked the end of French involvement in Indochina. Giap’s Viet Minh forces handed the French a stunning military defeat, and on 7 May 1954, the French Union garrison surrendered. Only 3,000 of the 12,000 French taken prisoner survived.[107] At the Geneva Conference, the French negotiated a ceasefire agreement with the Viet Minh, and independence was granted to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.Transition periodMain articles: Geneva Conference (1954), Operation Passage to Freedom, Battle of Saigon (1955), Ba Cụt, State of Vietnam referendum, 1955 and Land reform in North Vietnam The Geneva Conference, 1954Vietnam was temporarily partitioned at the 17th parallel, and under the terms of the Geneva Accords, civilians were to be given the opportunity to move freely between the two provisional states for a 300-day period. Elections throughout the country were to be held in 1956 to establish a unified government.[108] Around one million northerners, mainly minority Catholics, fled south, fearing persecution by the communists[109] following an American propaganda campaign using slogans such as “The Virgin Mary is heading south”,[110] and aided by a U.S.-funded $93 million relocation program, which included the use of the Seventh Fleet to ferry refugees.[111] As many as two million more would have left had they not been stopped by the Viet Minh.[112] The northern, mainly Catholic refugees were meant to give the later Ngô Đình Diệm regime a strong anti-communist constituency.[113] Diệm later went on to staff his administration’s key posts mostly with northern and central Catholics.In addition to the Catholics flowing south, up to 130,000 “Revolutionary Regroupees” went to the north for “regroupment”, expecting to return to the south within two years.[114] The Viet Minh left roughly 5,000 to 10,000 cadres in the south as a “politico-military substructure within the object of its irredentism.”[115] The last French soldiers were to leave Vietnam in April 1956.[98] The PRC completed its withdrawal from North Vietnam at around the same time.[97] Around 52,000 Vietnamese civilians moved from south to north.[116]Between 1953 and 1956, the North Vietnamese government instituted various agrarian reforms, including “rent reduction” and “land reform”. This was a campaign against land owners. Declassified Politburo documents confirm that 1 in 1,000 North Vietnamese (i.e., about 14,000 people) were the minimum quota targeted for execution during the earlier “rent reduction” campaign; the number killed during the multiple stages of the considerably more radical “land reform” was probably many times greater.[117] Landlords were arbitrarily estimated as 5.68% of the population, but the majority were subject to less severe punishment than execution. Official records from the time suggest that 172,008 people were executed as “landlords” during the “land reform”, of whom 123,266 (71.66%) were later found to have been wrongly classified.[118][119] A wide range of estimates were previously suggested by independent sources.[118] In 1956, leaders in Hanoi admitted to “excesses” in implementing this program and restored a large amount of the land to the original owners.[120]The south, meanwhile, constituted the State of Vietnam, with Bảo Đại as Emperor and Ngô Đình Diệm (appointed in July 1954) as his prime minister. Neither the United States government nor Ngô Đình Diệm’s State of Vietnam signed anything at the 1954 Geneva Conference. With respect to the question of reunification, the non-communist Vietnamese delegation objected strenuously to any division of Vietnam, but lost out when the French accepted the proposal of Viet Minh delegate Phạm Văn Đồng,[121] who proposed that Vietnam eventually be united by elections under the supervision of “local commissions”.[122] The United States countered with what became known as the “American Plan”, with the support of South Vietnam and the United Kingdom.[123] It provided for unification elections under the supervision of the United Nations, but was rejected by the Soviet delegation.[123] The United States said, “With respect to the statement made by the representative of the State of Vietnam, the United States reiterates its traditional position that peoples are entitled to determine their own future and that it will not join in any arrangement which would hinder this”.[124]U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote in 1954, “I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly eighty percent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bảo Đại. Indeed, the lack of leadership and drive on the part of Bảo Đại was a factor in the feeling prevalent among Vietnamese that they had nothing to fight for.”[125] According to the Pentagon Papers, however, from 1954 to 1956 “Ngô Đình Diệm really did accomplish miracles” in South Vietnam:[126] “It is almost certain that by 1956 the proportion which might have voted for Ho—in a free election against Diệm—would have been much smaller than eighty percent.”[127] In 1957, independent observers from India, Poland, and Canada representing the International Control Commission (ICC) stated that fair, unbiased elections were not possible, with the ICC reporting that neither South nor North Vietnam had honored the armistice agreement[128]From April to June 1955, Diệm eliminated any political opposition in the south by launching military operations against two religious groups: the Cao Đài and Hòa Hảo of Ba Cụt. The campaign also focused on the Bình Xuyênorganized crime group which was allied with members of the communist party secret police and had some military elements. As broad-based opposition to his harsh tactics mounted, Diệm increasingly sought to blame the communists.[22]In a referendum on the future of the State of Vietnam on 23 October 1955, Diệm rigged the poll supervised by his brother Ngô Đình Nhu and was credited with 98.2 percent of the vote, including 133% in Saigon. His American advisors had recommended a more modest winning margin of “60 to 70 percent.” Diệm, however, viewed the election as a test of authority.[129] Three days later, he declared South Vietnam to be an independent state under the name Republic of Vietnam (ROV), with himself as president.[130] Likewise, Ho Chi Minh and other communist officials always won at least 99% of the vote in North Vietnamese “elections”.[131]The domino theory, which argued that if one country fell to communism, then all of the surrounding countries would follow, was first proposed as policy by the Eisenhower administration.[132]John F. Kennedy, then a U.S. Senator, said in a speech to the American Friends of Vietnam: “Burma, Thailand, India, Japan, the Philippines and obviously Laos and Cambodia are among those whose security would be threatened if the Red Tide of Communism overflowed into Vietnam.”[133]Diệm era, 1955–63Main articles: Ngô Đình Diệm and War in Vietnam (1954–59) U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles greet president Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam in Washington, 8 May 1957.RuleSee also: Ngô Đình Diệm presidential visit to AustraliaA devout Roman Catholic, Diệm was fervently anti-communist, nationalist, and socially conservative. Historian Luu Doan Huynh notes that “Diệm represented narrow and extremist nationalism coupled with autocracy and nepotism.”[134] The majority of Vietnamese people were Buddhist, and were alarmed by actions such as Diệm’s dedication of the country to the Virgin Mary.Beginning in the summer of 1955, Diệm launched the “Denounce the Communists” campaign, during which communists and other anti-government elements were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, or executed. He instituted the death penalty against any activity deemed communist in August 1956.[135] According to Gabriel Kolko about 12,000 suspected opponents of Diệm were killed between 1955 and 1957 and by the end of 1958 an estimated 40,000 political prisoners had been jailed.[136] However, Guenter Lewy argues that such figures were exaggerated and that there were never more than 35,000 prisoners of all kinds in the whole country.[137]In May 1957, Diệm undertook a ten-day state visit to the United States. President Eisenhower pledged his continued support, and a parade was held in Diệm’s honor in New York City. Although Diệm was publicly praised, in private Secretary of State John Foster Dulles conceded that Diệm had been selected because there were no better alternatives.[138]Former Secretary of DefenseRobert McNamara wrote in Argument Without End (1999) that the new American patrons of the ROV were almost completely ignorant of Vietnamese culture. They knew little of the language or long history of the country.[94] There was a tendency to assign American motives to Vietnamese actions, and Diệm warned that it was an illusion to believe that blindly copying Western methods would solve Vietnamese problems.[94]Insurgency in the South, 1954–60————————————————————————-
Documentary on the Viet Cong Soldiers of Vietnam
Main articles: Viet Cong and War in Vietnam (1959–63) The Ho Chi Minh trail was used to supply the Viet Cong.Between 1954 and 1957 there was large-scale but disorganized dissidence in the countryside which the Diệm government succeeded in quelling. In early 1957 South Vietnam had its first peace in over a decade. However, by mid-1957 through 1959 incidents of violence increased but the government “did not construe it as a campaign, considering the disorders too diffuse to warrant committing major GVN [Government of Vietnam] resources.” By early 1959 however, Diệm considered it an organized campaign and implemented Law 10/59, which made political violence punishable by death and property confiscation.[139] There had been some division among former Viet Minh whose main goal was to hold the elections promised in the Geneva Accords, leading to “wildcat” activities separate from the other communists and anti-GVN activists.[42]In December 1960, the National Liberation Front (NLF, a.k.a. the Viet Cong) was formally created with the intent of uniting all anti-GVN activists, including non-communists. According to the Pentagon Papers, the Viet Cong “placed heavy emphasis on the withdrawal of American advisors and influence, on land reform and liberalization of the GVN, on coalition government and the neutralization of Vietnam.” Often the leaders of the organization were kept secret.[42]The reason for the continued survival of the NLF was the class relations in the countryside. The vast majority of the population lived in villages in the countryside where the key issue was land reform. The Viet Minh had reduced rents and debts; and had leased communal lands, mostly to the poorer peasants. Diem brought the landlords back to the villages. People who were farming land they held for years now had to return it to landlords and pay years of back rent. This rent collection was enforced by the South Vietnamese army. The divisions within villages reproduced those that had existed against the French: “75 percent support for the NLF, 20 percent trying to remain neutral and 5 percent firmly pro-government,”[140]North Vietnamese involvementSources disagree on whether North Vietnam played a direct role in aiding and organizing South Vietnamese rebels prior to 1960. Kahin and Lewis assert:Contrary to United States policy assumptions, all available evidence shows that the revival of the civil war in the South in 1958 was undertaken by Southerners at their own—not Hanoi’s—initiative…Insurgency activity against the Saigon government began in the South under Southern leadership not as a consequence of any dictate from Hanoi, but contrary to Hanoi’s injunctions.[42]Similarly, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. states that “it was not until September, 1960 that the Communist Party of North Vietnam bestowed its formal blessing and called for the liberation of the south from American imperialism”.[42]By contrast, Jeffery Race interviewed communist defectors who found such denials “very amusing”, and who “commented humorously that the Party had apparently been more successful than was expected in concealing its role.”[141] James Olson and Randy Roberts assert that North Vietnam authorized a low-level insurgency in December 1956.[41] To counter the accusation that North Vietnam was violating the Geneva Accord, the independence of the Viet Cong was stressed in communist propaganda.[142]In March 1956, southern communist leader Lê Duẩn presented a plan to revive the insurgency entitled “The Road to the South” to the other members of the Politburo in Hanoi, but as both China and the Soviets opposed confrontation at this time, Lê Duẩn’s plan was rejected.[142] However the North Vietnamese leadership approved tentative measures to revive the southern insurgency in December 1956.[143] Communist forces were under a single command structure set up in 1958.[144] The North Vietnamese Communist Party approved a “people’s war” on the South at a session in January 1959[145] and in May, Group 559 was established to maintain and upgrade the Ho Chi Minh trail, at this time a six-month mountain trek through Laos. About 500 of the “regroupees” of 1954 were sent south on the trail during its first year of operation.[146] The first arms delivery via the trail was completed in August 1959.[147]North Vietnam invaded Laos in 1959, and used 30,000 men to build invasion routes through Laos and Cambodia by 1961.[148] About 40,000 communist soldiers infiltrated into the south from 1961–63.[142] North Vietnam sent 10,000 troops of the North Vietnamese Army to attack the south in 1964, and this figure increased to 100,000 in 1965.[149]Kennedy years, 1961–63Main articles: Strategic Hamlet Program and Phạm Ngọc ThảoIn the 1960 U.S. presidential election, Senator John F. Kennedy defeated incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon. Although Eisenhower warned Kennedy about Laos and Vietnam, Europe and Latin America “loomed larger than Asia on his sights.”[150] In his inaugural address, Kennedy made the ambitious pledge to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.”[151] In June 1961, he bitterly disagreed with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev when they met in Vienna to discuss key U.S.–Soviet issues.The Kennedy administration remained essentially committed to the Cold War foreign policy inherited from the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. In 1961, the U.S. had 50,000 troops based in Korea, and Kennedy faced a three-part crisis – the failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and a negotiated settlement between the pro-Western government of Laos and the Pathet Lao communist movement.[152] These crises made Kennedy believe that another failure on the part of the United States to gain control and stop communist expansion would fatally damage U.S. credibility with its allies and his own reputation. Kennedy was thus determined to “draw a line in the sand” and prevent a communist victory in Vietnam. He told James Reston of The New York Times immediately after his Vienna meeting with Khrushchev, “Now we have a problem making our power credible and Vietnam looks like the place.”[153][154]In May 1961, U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Saigon and enthusiastically declared Diệm the “Winston Churchill of Asia.”[155] Asked why he had made the comment, Johnson replied, “Diệm’s the only boy we got out there.”[138] Johnson assured Diệm of more aid in molding a fighting force that could resist the communists.Kennedy’s policy toward South Vietnam rested on the assumption that Diệm and his forces had to ultimately defeat the guerrillas on their own. He was against the deployment of American combat troops and observed that “to introduce U.S. forces in large numbers there today, while it might have an initially favorable military impact, would almost certainly lead to adverse political and, in the long run, adverse military consequences.”[156] The quality of the South Vietnamese military, however, remained poor. Poor leadership, corruption, and political promotions all played a part in weakening the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN). The frequency of guerrilla attacks rose as the insurgency gathered steam. While Hanoi’s support for the Viet Cong played a role, South Vietnamese governmental incompetence was at the core of the crisis.[157] South Vietnam, Military Regions, 1967One major issue Kennedy raised was whether the Soviet space and missile programs had surpassed those of the United States. Although Kennedy stressed long-range missile parity with the Soviets, he was also interested in using special forces for counterinsurgency warfare in Third World countries threatened by communist insurgencies. Although they were originally intended for use behind front lines after a conventional Soviet invasion of Europe, Kennedy believed that the guerrilla tactics employed by special forces such as the Green Berets would be effective in a “brush fire” war in Vietnam.Kennedy advisors Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow recommended that U.S. troops be sent to South Vietnam disguised as flood relief workers. Kennedy rejected the idea but increased military assistance yet again. In April 1962, John Kenneth Galbraith warned Kennedy of the “danger we shall replace the French as a colonial force in the area and bleed as the French did.”[158] By November 1963, there were 16,000 American military personnel in South Vietnam, up from Eisenhower’s 900 advisors.[159]The Strategic Hamlet Program was initiated in late 1961. This joint U.S.-South Vietnamese program attempted to resettle the rural population into fortified camps. It was implemented in early 1962 and involved some forced relocation, village internment, and segregation of rural South Vietnamese into new communities where the peasantry would be isolated from Communist insurgents. It was hoped these new communities would provide security for the peasants and strengthen the tie between them and the central government. However, by November 1963 the program had waned, and it officially ended in 1964.[160]On 23 July 1962, fourteen nations, including China, South Vietnam, the Soviet Union, North Vietnam and the United States, signed an agreement promising to respect the neutrality of Laos.[161]Ousting and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm—————————————————————-CIA Archives: The South Vietnamese Coup Against Ngo Dinh Diem (1963)
—————————————————————-See also: Role of the United States in the Vietnam War § John F. Kennedy (1961–1963), 1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt, 1962 South Vietnamese Independence Palace bombing, Huế Phật Đản shootings and Xá Lợi Pagoda raidsMain articles: Cable 243, Arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm, Buddhist crisis, Krulak Mendenhall mission, McNamara Taylor mission, 1963 South Vietnamese coup and Reaction to the 1963 South Vietnamese coupThe inept performance of the South Vietnamese army was exemplified by failed actions such as the Battle of Ap Bac on 2 January 1963, in which a small band of Viet Cong won a battle against a much larger and better-equipped South Vietnamese force, many of whose officers seemed reluctant even to engage in combat.[162] As historian James Gibson summed up the situation:Strategic hamlets had failed…. The South Vietnamese regime was incapable of winning the peasantry because of its class base among landlords. Indeed, there was no longer a ‘regime’ in the sense of a relatively stable political alliance and functioning bureaucracy. Instead, civil government and military operations had virtually ceased. The National Liberation Front had made great progress and was close to declaring provisional revolutionary governments in large areas.[163] A US tank convoy during the Vietnam War.The ARVN were led in that battle by Diệm’s most trusted general, Huỳnh Văn Cao, commander of the IV Corps. Cao was a Catholic who had been promoted due to religion and fidelity rather than skill, and his main job was to preserve his forces to stave off coups; he had earlier vomited during a communist attack. Some policymakers in Washington began to conclude that Diệm was incapable of defeating the communists and might even make a deal with Ho Chi Minh. He seemed concerned only with fending off coups, and had become more paranoid after attempts in 1960 and 1962, which he partly attributed to U.S. encouragement. As Robert F. Kennedy noted, “Diệm wouldn’t make even the slightest concessions. He was difficult to reason with…”[164]Discontent with Diệm’s policies exploded following the Huế Phật Đản shootings of nine majority Buddhists who were protesting against the ban on the Buddhist flag on Vesak, the Buddha’s birthday. This resulted in mass protests against discriminatory policies that gave privileges to the Catholic Church and its adherents. Diệm’s elder brother Ngô Đình Thục was the Archbishop of Huế and aggressively blurred the separation between church and state. Thuc’s anniversary celebrations shortly before Vesak had been bankrolled by the government, and Vatican flags were displayed prominently. There had also been reports of Buddhist pagodas being demolished by Catholic paramilitaries throughout Diệm’s rule. Diệm refused to make concessions to the Buddhist majority or take responsibility for the deaths. On 21 August 1963, the ARVN Special Forces of Colonel Lê Quang Tung, loyal to Diệm’s younger brother Ngô Đình Nhu, raided pagodas across Vietnam, causing widespread damage and destruction and leaving a death toll estimated to range into the hundreds. Kennedy and McNamara Ngô Đình Diệm after being shot and killed in the 1963 coup.U.S. officials began discussing the possibility of a regime change during the middle of 1963. The United States Department of State was generally in favor of encouraging a coup, while the Defense Department favored Diệm. Chief among the proposed changes was the removal of Diệm’s younger brother Nhu, who controlled the secret police and special forces and was seen as the man behind the Buddhist repression and more generally the architect of the Ngô family’s rule. This proposal was conveyed to the U.S. embassy in Saigon in Cable 243.The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was in contact with generals planning to remove Diệm. They were told that the United States would not oppose such a move nor punish the generals by cutting off aid. President Diệm was overthrown and executed, along with his brother, on 2 November 1963. When he was informed, Maxwell Taylor remembered that Kennedy “rushed from the room with a look of shock and dismay on his face.”[165] He had not anticipated Diệm’s murder. The U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, invited the coup leaders to the embassy and congratulated them. Ambassador Lodge informed Kennedy that “the prospects now are for a shorter war”.[166] Kennedy wrote Lodge a letter congratulating him for “a fine job.”[167]Following the coup, chaos ensued. Hanoi took advantage of the situation and increased its support for the guerrillas. South Vietnam entered a period of extreme political instability, as one military government toppled another in quick succession. Increasingly, each new regime was viewed by the communists as a puppet of the Americans; whatever the failings of Diệm, his credentials as a nationalist (as Robert McNamara later reflected) had been impeccable.[168]U.S military advisors were embedded at every level of the South Vietnamese armed forces. They were however criticized for ignoring the political nature of the insurgency.[169] The Kennedy administration sought to refocus U.S. efforts on pacification and “winning over the hearts and minds” of the population. The military leadership in Washington, however, was hostile to any role for U.S. advisors other than conventional troop training.[170] General Paul Harkins, the commander of U.S. forces in South Vietnam, confidently predicted victory by Christmas 1963.[171] The CIA was less optimistic, however, warning that “the Viet Cong by and large retain de facto control of much of the countryside and have steadily increased the overall intensity of the effort”.[172]Paramilitary officers from the CIA’s Special Activities Division trained and led Hmong tribesmen in Laos and into Vietnam. The indigenous forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct action missions, led by paramilitary officers, against the Communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese supporters.[173] The CIA also ran the Phoenix Program and participated in Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MAC-V SOG), which was originally named the Special Operations Group, but was changed for cover purposes.[174]Johnson’s escalation, 1963–69Main article: Joint warfare in South Vietnam, 1963–69Further information: Role of United States in the Vietnam War: AmericanizationSee also: Opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, Gulf of Tonkin incident, 1964 South Vietnamese coup, September 1964 South Vietnamese coup attempt, December 1964 South Vietnamese coup and 1965 South Vietnamese coup A U.S. B-66 Destroyer and four F-105 Thunderchiefs dropping bombs on North Vietnam during Operation Rolling ThunderAt the time Lyndon B. Johnson took over the presidency after the death of Kennedy, he had not been heavily involved with policy toward Vietnam, Presidential aide Jack Valenti recalls, “Vietnam at the time was no bigger than a man’s fist on the horizon. We hardly discussed it because it was not worth discussing.”[175][176]Upon becoming president, however, Johnson immediately had to focus on Vietnam: on 24 November 1963, he said, “the battle against communism […] must be joined […] with strength and determination.”[177] The pledge came at a time when the situation in South Vietnam was deteriorating, especially in places like the Mekong Delta, because of the recent coup against Diệm.[178]The military revolutionary council, meeting in lieu of a strong South Vietnamese leader, was made up of 12 members headed by General Dương Văn Minh—whom Stanley Karnow, a journalist on the ground, later recalled as “a model of lethargy.”[179] Lodge, frustrated by the end of the year, cabled home about Minh: “Will he be strong enough to get on top of things?” His regime was overthrown in January 1964 by General Nguyễn Khánh.[180] However, there was persistent instability in the military as several coups—not all successful—occurred in a short space of time. An alleged Viet Cong activist, captured during an attack on an American outpost near the Cambodian border, is interrogated.On 2 August 1964, the USS Maddox, on an intelligence mission along North Vietnam’s coast, allegedly fired upon and damaged several torpedo boats that had been stalking it in the Gulf of Tonkin.[181] A second attack was reported two days later on the USS Turner Joy and Maddox in the same area. The circumstances of the attack were murky. Lyndon Johnson commented to Undersecretary of State George Ball that “those sailors out there may have been shooting at flying fish.”[182]The second attack led to retaliatory air strikes, prompted Congress to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on 7 August 1964,[183] signed by Johnson, and gave the president power to conduct military operations in Southeast Asia without declaring war.[184] Although Congressmen at the time denied that this was a full-scale war declaration, the Tonkin Resolution allowed the president unilateral power to launch a full-scale war if the president deemed it necessary.[184] In the same month, Johnson pledged that he was not “… committing American boys to fighting a war that I think ought to be fought by the boys of Asia to help protect their own land.”[185]An undated NSA publication declassified in 2005, however, revealed that there was no attack on 4 August.[186] It had already been called into question long before this. “Gulf of Tonkin incident”, writes Louise Gerdes, “is an oft-cited example of the way in which Johnson misled the American people to gain support for his foreign policy in Vietnam.”[187] George C. Herring argues, however, that McNamara and the Pentagon “did not knowingly lie about the alleged attacks, but they were obviously in a mood to retaliate and they seem to have selected from the evidence available to them those parts that confirmed what they wanted to believe.”[188]”From a strength of approximately 5,000 at the start of 1959 the Viet Cong’s ranks grew to about 100,000 at the end of 1964…Between 1961 and 1964 the Army’s strength rose from about 850,000 to nearly a million men.”[169] The numbers for U.S. troops deployed to Vietnam during the same period were quite different; 2,000 in 1961, rising rapidly to 16,500 in 1964.[189] By early 1965, 7,559 South Vietnamese hamlets had been destroyed by the Viet Cong.[190] A marine from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, moves an alleged Viet Cong activist to the rear during a search and clear operation held by the battalion 15 miles (24 km) west of Da Nang Air Base.The National Security Council recommended a three-stage escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam. On 2 March 1965, following an attack on a U.S. Marine barracks at Pleiku,[191]Operation Flaming Dart (initiated when Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin was on a state visit to North Vietnam), Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation Arc Light commenced.[192] The bombing campaign, which ultimately lasted three years, was intended to force North Vietnam to cease its support for the Viet Cong by threatening to destroy North Vietnam’s air defenses and industrial infrastructure. As well, it was aimed at bolstering the morale of the South Vietnamese.[193] Between March 1965 and November 1968, “Rolling Thunder” deluged the north with a million tons of missiles, rockets and bombs.[194]Bombing was not restricted to North Vietnam. Other aerial campaigns, such as Operation Commando Hunt, targeted different parts of the Viet Cong and NVA infrastructure. These included the Ho Chi Minh trail supply route, which ran through Laos and Cambodia. The objective of stopping North Vietnam and the Viet Cong was never reached. As one officer noted, “This is a political war and it calls for discriminate killing. The best weapon… would be a knife… The worst is an airplane.”[195] The Chief of Staff of the United States Air ForceCurtis LeMay, however, had long advocated saturation bombing in Vietnam and wrote of the communists that “we’re going to bomb them back into the Stone Age”.[196]Escalation and ground warPlay media Universal Newsreel film about an attack on U.S. air bases and the U.S. response. 1965 Peasants suspected of being Viet Cong under detention of U.S. army, 1966 Start of Tet Offensive as seen looking north from LZ Betty’s water tower, just south of Quang Tri City Heavily bandaged woman with a tag attached to her arm which reads ‘VNC Female’ meaning Vietnamese civilianAfter several attacks upon them, it was decided that U.S. Air Force bases needed more protection as the South Vietnamese military seemed incapable of providing security. On 8 March 1965, 3,500 U.S. Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam. This marked the beginning of the American ground war. U.S. public opinion overwhelmingly supported the deployment.[197]In a statement similar to that made to the French almost two decades earlier, Ho Chi Minh warned that if the Americans “want to make war for twenty years then we shall make war for twenty years. If they want to make peace, we shall make peace and invite them to afternoon tea.”[198] As former First Deputy Foreign Minister Tran Quang Co has noted, the primary goal of the war was to reunify Vietnam and secure its independence.[citation needed] Some have argued that the policy of North Vietnam was not to topple other non-communist governments in South East Asia.[199] However, the Pentagon Papers warned of “a dangerous period of Vietnamese expansionism….Laos and Cambodia would have been easy pickings for such a Vietnam….Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, and even Indonesia, could have been next.”[200]The Marines’ initial assignment was defensive. The first deployment of 3,500 in March 1965 was increased to nearly 200,000 by December.[201] The U.S. military had long been schooled in offensive warfare. Regardless of political policies, U.S. commanders were institutionally and psychologically unsuited to a defensive mission.[201] In December 1964, ARVN forces had suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Bình Giã,[202] in a battle that both sides viewed as a watershed. Previously, communist forces had utilized hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. However, at Binh Gia, they had defeated a strong ARVN force in a conventional battle.[203] Tellingly, South Vietnamese forces were again defeated in June 1965 at the Battle of Đồng Xoài.[204] U.S. soldiers searching a village for Viet CongDesertion rates were increasing, and morale plummeted. General William Westmoreland informed Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific forces, that the situation was critical.[201] He said, “I am convinced that U.S. troops with their energy, mobility, and firepower can successfully take the fight to the NLF [National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam a.k.a. the Viet Cong].”[205] With this recommendation, Westmoreland was advocating an aggressive departure from America’s defensive posture and the sidelining of the South Vietnamese. By ignoring ARVN units, the U.S. commitment became open-ended.[206] Westmoreland outlined a three-point plan to win the war:Phase 1. Commitment of U.S. (and other free world) forces necessary to halt the losing trend by the end of 1965.Phase 2. U.S. and allied forces mount major offensive actions to seize the initiative to destroy guerrilla and organized enemy forces. This phase would end when the enemy had been worn down, thrown on the defensive, and driven back from major populated areas.Phase 3. If the enemy persisted, a period of twelve to eighteen months following Phase 2 would be required for the final destruction of enemy forces remaining in remote base areas.[207]The plan was approved by Johnson and marked a profound departure from the previous administration’s insistence that the government of South Vietnam was responsible for defeating the guerrillas. Westmoreland predicted victory by the end of 1967.[208] Johnson did not, however, communicate this change in strategy to the media. Instead he emphasized continuity.[209] The change in U.S. policy depended on matching the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong in a contest of attrition and morale. The opponents were locked in a cycle of escalation.[210] The idea that the government of South Vietnam could manage its own affairs was shelved.[210] Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Glassboro Summit Conference where the two representatives discussed the possibilities of a peace settlement.The one-year tour of duty of American soldiers deprived units of experienced leadership. As one observer noted “we were not in Vietnam for 10 years, but for one year 10 times.”[195] As a result, training programs were shortened.South Vietnam was inundated with manufactured goods. As Stanley Karnow writes, “the main PX [Post Exchange], located in the Saigon suburb of Cholon, was only slightly smaller than the New York Bloomingdale’s…”[211] The American buildup transformed the economy and had a profound effect on South Vietnamese society. A huge surge in corruption was witnessed. The Ho Chi Minh Trail running through Laos, 1967Washington encouraged its SEATO allies to contribute troops. Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines[212] all agreed to send troops. Major allies, however, notably NATO nations Canada and the United Kingdom, declined Washington’s troop requests.[213] The U.S. and its allies mounted complex operations, such as operations Masher, Attleboro, Cedar Falls, and Junction City. However, the communist insurgents remained elusive and demonstrated great tactical flexibility.Meanwhile, the political situation in South Vietnam began to stabilize with the coming to power of prime minister Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky and figurehead Chief of State, General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, in mid-1965 at the head of a military junta. This ended a series of coups that had happened more than once a year. In 1967, Thieu became president with Ky as his deputy, after rigged elections. Although they were nominally a civilian government, Ky was supposed to maintain real power through a behind-the-scenes military body. However, Thieu outmaneuvered and sidelined Ky by filling the ranks with generals from his faction. Thieu was also accused of murdering Ky loyalists through contrived military accidents. Thieu, mistrustful and indecisive, remained president until 1975, having won a one-candidate election in 1971.[214][215]The Johnson administration employed a “policy of minimum candor”[216] in its dealings with the media. Military information officers sought to manage media coverage by emphasizing stories that portrayed progress in the war. Over time, this policy damaged the public trust in official pronouncements. As the media’s coverage of the war and that of the Pentagon diverged, a so-called credibility gap developed.[216]
Tet Offensive——————————————The Tet Offensive
——————————————Main article: Tet Offensive A US “tunnel rat” soldier prepares to enter a Viet Cong tunnel.In late 1967 the Communists lured American forces into the hinterlands at Đắk Tô and at the Marine Khe Sanh combat base in Quảng Trị Province where the United States was more than willing to fight because it could unleash its massive firepower unimpeded by civilians. However, on 31 January 1968, the NVA and the Viet Cong broke the truce that traditionally accompanied the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday by launching the largest battle of the war, the Tet Offensive, in the hope of sparking a national uprising. Over 100 cities were attacked by over 85,000 enemy troops including assaults on General Westmoreland’s headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.[217]Although the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces were initially shocked by the scale of the urban offensive, they responded quickly and effectively, decimating the ranks of the Viet Cong. In the former capital city of Huế, the combined NVA and Viet Cong troops captured the Imperial Citadel and much of the city and massacred over 3,000 unarmed Huế civilians.[218] In the following Battle of Huế American forces employed massive firepower that left 80 percent of the city in ruins.[219] Further north, at Quảng Trị City, members of the 1st Cavalry Division and 1st ARVN Infantry Division killed more than 900 NVA and Vietcong troops in and around the city.[220][221] In Saigon, 1,000 NLF fighters fought off 11,000 U.S. and ARVN troops for three weeks. U.S. Marines in Operation Allen Brook in 1968Across South Vietnam, 1,100 Americans and other allied troops, 2,100 ARVN, 14,000 civilians, and 32,000 NVA and Vietcong lay dead.[221][222]But the Tet Offensive had another, unintended consequence. General Westmoreland had become the public face of the war. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine three times and was named 1965’s Man of the Year.[223]Time described him as “the sinewy personification of the American fighting man… (who) directed the historic buildup, drew up the battle plans, and infused the… men under him with his own idealistic view of U.S. aims and responsibilities.”[223] Six weeks after the Tet Offensive began, “public approval of his overall performance dropped from 48 percent to 36 percent–and, more dramatically, endorsement for his handling of the war fell from 40 percent to 26 percent.”[224] U.S. Marines fighting in HuếIn November 1967 Westmoreland spearheaded a public relations drive for the Johnson administration to bolster flagging public support.[225] In a speech before the National Press Club he said a point in the war had been reached “where the end comes into view.”[226] Thus, the public was shocked and confused when Westmoreland’s predictions were trumped by Tet.[225] The American media, which had until then been largely supportive of U.S. efforts, turned on the Johnson administration for what had become an increasing credibility gap.Although the Tet Offensive was a significant victory for allied forces, in terms of casualties and control of territory, it was a sound defeat when evaluated from the point of view of strategic consequences: it became a turning point in America’s involvement in the Vietnam War because it had a profound impact on domestic support for the conflict. Despite the military failure for the Communist forces, the Tet Offensive became a political victory for them and ended the career of president Lyndon B. Johnson, who declined to run for re-election as his approval rating slumped from 48 to 36 percent.[225] As James Witz noted, Tet “contradicted the claims of progress… made by the Johnson administration and the military.”[225] The offensive constituted an intelligence failure on the scale of Pearl Harbor.[212][227] Journalist Peter Arnett, in a disputed article, quoted an officer he refused to identify,[228] saying of Bến Tre (laid to rubble by U.S. attacks)[229] that “it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it”.[230] Viet Cong/NVA killed by U.S. Air Force personnel during a perimeter attack of Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the Tet OffensiveWalter Cronkite said in an editorial, “To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.”[231][232] Following Cronkite’s editorial report, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”[233][234]Westmoreland became Chief of Staff of the Army in March 1968, just as all resistance was finally subdued. The move was technically a promotion. However, his position had become untenable because of the offensive and because his request for 200,000 additional troops had been leaked to the media. Westmoreland was succeeded by his deputy Creighton Abrams, a commander less inclined to public media pronouncements.[235]On 10 May 1968, despite low expectations, peace talks began between the United States and North Vietnam in Paris. Negotiations stagnated for five months, until Johnson gave orders to halt the bombing of North Vietnam.As historian Robert Dallek writes, “Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the war in Vietnam divided Americans into warring camps… cost 30,000 American lives by the time he left office, (and) destroyed Johnson’s presidency…”[236] His refusal to send more U.S. troops to Vietnam was seen as Johnson’s admission that the war was lost.[237] It can be seen that the refusal was a tacit admission that the war could not be won by escalation, at least not at a cost acceptable to the American people.[237] As Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara noted, “the dangerous illusion of victory by the United States was therefore dead.”[238]Vietnam was a major political issue during the United States presidential election in 1968. The election was won by Republican party candidate Richard Nixon.Vietnamization, 1969–72Nixon Doctrine / Vietnamization Propaganda leaflet urging the defection of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese to the side of the Republic of VietnamU.S. President Richard Nixon began troop withdrawals in 1969. His plan, called the Nixon Doctrine, was to build up the ARVN, so that they could take over the defense of South Vietnam. The policy became known as “Vietnamization”.Nixon said in 1970 in an announcement, “I am tonight announcing plans for the withdrawal of an additional 150,000 American troops to be completed during the spring of next year. This will bring a total reduction of 265,500 men in our armed forces in Vietnam below the level that existed when we took office 15 months ago.”[239]On 10 October 1969, Nixon ordered a squadron of 18 B-52s loaded with nuclear weapons to race to the border of Soviet airspace to convince the Soviet Union, in accord with the madman theory, that he was capable of anything to end the Vietnam War.Nixon also pursued negotiations. Theater commander Creighton Abrams shifted to smaller operations, aimed at communist logistics, with better use of firepower and more cooperation with the ARVN. Nixon also began to pursue détente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with China. This policy helped to decrease global tensions. Détente led to nuclear arms reduction on the part of both superpowers. But Nixon was disappointed that China and the Soviet Union continued to supply the North Vietnamese with aid. In September 1969, Ho Chi Minh died at age seventy-nine.[240]The anti-war movement was gaining strength in the United States. Nixon appealed to the “silent majority” of Americans who he said supported the war without showing it in public. But revelations of the My Lai Massacre, in which a U.S. Army platoon raped and killed civilians, and the 1969 “Green Beret Affair” where eight Special Forces soldiers, including the 5th Special Forces Group Commander, were arrested for the murder[241] of a suspected double agent[242] provoked national and international outrage.Beginning in 1970, American troops were withdrawn from border areas where most of the fighting took place, and instead redeployed along the coast and interior, which is one reason why casualties in 1970 were less than half of 1969’s totals.[239]Cambodia and LaosMain articles: Operation Menu, Operation Freedom Deal, Operation Commando Hunt, Laotian Civil War, Cambodian Civil War and Operation Lam Son 719Prince Norodom Sihanouk had proclaimed Cambodia neutral since 1955,[243] but the communists used Cambodian soil as a base and Sihanouk tolerated their presence, because he wished to avoid being drawn into a wider regional conflict. Under pressure from Washington, however, he changed this policy in 1969. The Vietnamese communists were no longer welcome. President Nixon took the opportunity to launch a massive bombing campaign, called Operation Menu, against communist sanctuaries along the Cambodia/Vietnam border. Only five high-ranking Congressional officials were informed of Operation Menu.[244]In 1970, Prince Sihanouk was deposed by his pro-American prime minister Lon Nol. North Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1970 at the request of Khmer Rouge deputy leader Nuon Chea.[245] U.S. and ARVN forces launched an invasion into Cambodia to attack NVA and Viet Cong bases.This invasion sparked nationwide U.S. protests as Nixon had promised to deescalate the American involvement. Four students were killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University during a protest in Ohio, which provoked further public outrage in the United States. The reaction to the incident by the Nixon administration was seen as callous and indifferent, providing additional impetus for the anti-war movement.[246] The U.S. Air Force continued to heavily bomb Cambodia in support of the Cambodian government as part of Operation Freedom Deal.In 1971 the Pentagon Papers were leaked to The New York Times. The top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, commissioned by the Department of Defense, detailed a long series of public deceptions on the part of the U.S. government. The Supreme Court ruled that its publication was legal.[247] M41 Walker Bulldog, the main battle tank of the ARVNHistory documentary-Operation Lam Son 719-Laos——————————–
——————————– The ARVN launched Operation Lam Son 719 in February 1971, aimed at cutting the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos.[161] The ostensibly neutral Laos had long been the scene of a civil war, pitting the Laotian government backed by the US against the Pathet Lao and its North Vietnamese allies. After meeting resistance, ARVN forces retreated in a confused rout. They fled along roads littered with their own dead. When they exhausted fuel supplies, soldiers abandoned their vehicles and attempted to barge their way on to American helicopters sent to evacuate the wounded. Many ARVN soldiers clung to helicopter skids in a desperate attempt to save themselves. U.S. aircraft had to destroy abandoned equipment, including tanks, to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Half of the ARVN troops involved in the operation were either captured or killed. The operation was a fiasco and represented a clear failure of Vietnamization. As Karnow noted “the blunders were monumental… The (South Vietnamese) government’s top officers had been tutored by the Americans for ten or fifteen years, many at training schools in the United States, yet they had learned little.”[248]In 1971 Australia and New Zealand withdrew their soldiers. The U.S. troop count was further reduced to 196,700, with a deadline to remove another 45,000 troops by February 1972. As peace protests spread across the United States, disillusionment and ill-discipline grew in the ranks[249] including increased drug use, “fragging” (the act of murdering the commander of a fighting unit) and desertions.[250]Vietnamization was again tested by the Easter Offensive of 1972, a massive conventional NVA invasion of South Vietnam. The NVA and Viet Cong quickly overran the northern provinces and in coordination with other forces attacked from Cambodia, threatening to cut the country in half. U.S. troop withdrawals continued. But American airpower came to the rescue with Operation Linebacker, and the offensive was halted. However, it became clear that without American airpower South Vietnam could not survive. The last remaining American ground troops were withdrawn by the end of March 1973; U.S. naval and air forces remained in the Gulf of Tonkin, as well as Thailand and Guam.[251]1972 election and Paris Peace AccordsThe war was the central issue of the 1972 U.S. presidential election. Nixon’s opponent, George McGovern, campaigned on a platform of withdrawal from Vietnam. Nixon’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, continued secret negotiations with North Vietnam’s Lê Đức Thọ. In October 1972, they reached an agreement. Operation Linebacker II, December 1972However, South Vietnamese president Thieu demanded massive changes to the peace accord. When North Vietnam went public with the agreement’s details, the Nixon administration claimed that the North was attempting to embarrass the president. The negotiations became deadlocked. Hanoi demanded new changes.To show his support for South Vietnam and force Hanoi back to the negotiating table, Nixon ordered Operation Linebacker II, a massive bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong 18–29 December 1972. The offensive destroyed much of the remaining economic and industrial capacity of North Vietnam. Simultaneously Nixon pressured Thieu to accept the terms of the agreement, threatening to conclude a bilateral peace deal and cut off American aid.On 15 January 1973, Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action against North Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords on “Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” were signed on 27 January 1973, officially ending direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A cease-fire was declared across North and South Vietnam. U.S. prisoners of war were released. The agreement guaranteed the territorial integrity of Vietnam and, like the Geneva Conference of 1954, called for national elections in the North and South. The Paris Peace Accords stipulated a sixty-day period for the total withdrawal of U.S. forces. “This article”, noted Peter Church, “proved… to be the only one of the Paris Agreements which was fully carried out.”[252]Opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War: 1962–1973Main article: Opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War Protests against the war in Washington, D.C. on 24 April 1971 Anti-Vietnam War demonstration, 1967.During the course of the Vietnam War a large segment of the American population came to be opposed to U.S. involvement in South Vietnam. Public opinion steadily turned against the war following 1967 and by 1970 only a third of Americans believed that the U.S. had not made a mistake by sending troops to fight in Vietnam.[253]Nearly a third of the American population were strongly against the war. It is possible to specify certain groups who led the anti-war movement and the reasons why. Many young people protested because they were the ones being drafted while others were against the war because the anti-war movement grew increasingly popular among the counterculture and drug culture in American society and its music.Some advocates within the peace movement advocated a unilateral withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam. One reason given for the withdrawal is that it would contribute to a lessening of tensions in the region and thus less human bloodshed. Early opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew its inspiration from the Geneva Conference of 1954. American support of Diệm in refusing elections was seen as thwarting the very democracy that America claimed to be supporting. John F. Kennedy, while Senator, opposed involvement in Vietnam.[189]Opposition to the Vietnam War tended to unite groups opposed to U.S. anti-communism and imperialism[254] and, for those involved with the New Left such as the Catholic Worker Movement. Others, such as Stephen Spiro opposed the war based on the theory of Just War. Some wanted to show solidarity with the people of Vietnam, such as Norman Morrison emulating the actions of Thích Quảng Đức. In a key televised debate from 15 May 1965, Eric Severeid reporting for CBS conducted a debate between McGeorge Bundy and Hans Morgenthau dealing with an acute summary of the main war concerns of the U.S. as seen at that time stating them as: “(1) What are the justifications for the American presence in Vietnam – why are we there? (2) What is the fundamental nature of this war? Is it aggression from North Vietnam or is it basically, a civil war between the peoples of South Vietnam? (3) What are the implications of this Vietnam struggle in terms of Communist China’s power and aims and future actions? And (4) What are the alternatives to our present policy in Vietnam?”[255][256]High-profile opposition to the Vietnam War turned to street protests in an effort to turn U.S. political opinion. On 15 October 1969, the Vietnam Moratorium attracted millions of Americans.[257] Riots broke out at the 1968 Democratic National Convention during protests against the war.[258] After explosive news reports of American military abuses, such as the 1968 My Lai Massacre, brought new attention and support to the anti-war movement, some veterans joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The fatal shooting of four students at Kent State University in 1970 led to nationwide university protests.[259] Anti-war protests ended with the final withdrawal of troops after the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973. South Vietnam was left to defend itself alone when the fighting resumed. Many South Vietnamese subsequently fled to the United States.[260]Exit of the Americans: 1973–75 Anti-war protestsThe United States began drastically reducing their troop support in South Vietnam during the final years of Vietnamization. Many U.S. troops were removed from the region, and on 5 March 1971, the United States returned the 5th Special Forces Group, which was the first American unit deployed to South Vietnam, to its former base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.[261][A 5]Under the Paris Peace Accords, between North Vietnamese Foreign Minister Lê Đức Thọ and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and reluctantly signed by South Vietnamese president Thiệu, U.S. military forces withdrew from South Vietnam and prisoners were exchanged. North Vietnam was allowed to continue supplying communist troops in the South, but only to the extent of replacing expended materiel. Later that year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Kissinger and Thọ, but the Vietnamese negotiator declined it saying that a true peace did not yet exist.The communist leaders had expected that the ceasefire terms would favor their side. But Saigon, bolstered by a surge of U.S. aid received just before the ceasefire went into effect, began to roll back the Viet Cong. The communists responded with a new strategy hammered out in a series of meetings in Hanoi in March 1973, according to the memoirs of Trần Văn Trà.[264]As the Viet Cong’s top commander, Tra participated in several of these meetings. With U.S. bombings suspended, work on the Ho Chi Minh trail and other logistical structures could proceed unimpeded. Logistics would be upgraded until the North was in a position to launch a massive invasion of the South, projected for the 1975–76 dry season. Tra calculated that this date would be Hanoi’s last opportunity to strike before Saigon’s army could be fully trained.[264] Calling for immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam, George McGovern’s 1972 Presidential Campaign lost 49 of 50 states to Richard Nixon.In the November 1972 Election, Democratic nominee George McGovern lost 49 of 50 states to the incumbent President Richard Nixon. On 15 March 1973, President Nixon implied that the United States would intervene militarily if the communist side violated the ceasefire. Public and congressional reaction to Nixon’s trial balloon was unfavorable and in April Nixon appointed Graham Martin as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Martin was a second stringer compared to previous U.S. ambassadors and his appointment was an early signal that Washington had given up on Vietnam.[citation needed] During his confirmation hearings in June 1973, Secretary of DefenseJames R. Schlesinger stated that he would recommend resumption of U.S. bombing in North Vietnam if North Vietnam launched a major offensive against South Vietnam. On 4 June 1973, the U.S. Senate passed the Case–Church Amendment to prohibit such intervention.[265]The oil price shock of October 1973 following the Yom Kippur War in Egypt caused significant damage to the South Vietnamese economy. The Viet Cong resumed offensive operations when the dry season began and by January 1974 it had recaptured the territory it lost during the previous dry season. After two clashes that left 55 South Vietnamese soldiers dead, President Thieu announced on 4 January that the war had restarted and that the Paris Peace Accord was no longer in effect. There had been over 25,000 South Vietnamese casualties during the ceasefire period.[266]Gerald Ford took over as U.S. president on 9 August 1974 after president Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal. At this time, Congress cut financial aid to South Vietnam from $1 billion a year to $700 million. The U.S. midterm elections in 1974 brought in a new Congress dominated by Democrats who were even more determined to confront the president on the war. Congress immediately voted in restrictions on funding and military activities to be phased in through 1975 and to culminate in a total cutoff of funding in 1976.The success of the 1973–74 dry season offensive inspired Trà to return to Hanoi in October 1974 and plead for a larger offensive in the next dry season. This time, Trà could travel on a drivable highway with regular fueling stops, a vast change from the days when the Ho Chi Minh trail was a dangerous mountain trek.[267] Giáp, the North Vietnamese defense minister, was reluctant to approve Trà’s plan. A larger offensive might provoke a U.S. reaction and interfere with the big push planned for 1976. Trà appealed over Giáp’s head to first secretary Lê Duẩn, who approved of the operation.Trà’s plan called for a limited offensive from Cambodia into Phước Long Province. The strike was designed to solve local logistical problems, gauge the reaction of South Vietnamese forces, and determine whether U.S. would return to the fray. Recently released American POWs from North Vietnamese prison camps, 1973On 13 December 1974, North Vietnamese forces attacked Route 14 in Phước Long Province. Phuoc Binh, the provincial capital, fell on 6 January 1975. Ford desperately asked Congress for funds to assist and re-supply the South before it was overrun. Congress refused. The fall of Phuoc Binh and the lack of an American response left the South Vietnamese elite demoralized.The speed of this success led the Politburo to reassess its strategy. It was decided that operations in the Central Highlands would be turned over to General Văn Tiến Dũng and that Pleiku should be seized, if possible. Before he left for the South, Dũng was addressed by Lê Duẩn: “Never have we had military and political conditions so perfect or a strategic advantage as great as we have now.”[268]At the start of 1975, the South Vietnamese had three times as much artillery and twice the number of tanks and armored cars as the opposition. They also had 1,400 aircraft and a two-to-one numerical superiority in combat troops over their Communist enemies.[269] However, the rising oil prices meant that much of this could not be used. They faced a well-organized, highly determined and well-funded North Vietnam. Much of the North’s material and financial support came from the communist bloc. Within South Vietnam, there was increasing chaos. Their abandonment by the American military had compromised an economy dependent on U.S. financial support and the presence of a large number of U.S. troops. South Vietnam suffered from the global recession that followed the Arab oil embargo.Campaign 275See also: 1975 Spring Offensive, Battle of Ban Me Thuot and Hue–Da Nang Campaign Captured U.S. armored vehiclesOn 10 March 1975, General Dung launched Campaign 275, a limited offensive into the Central Highlands, supported by tanks and heavy artillery. The target was Buôn Ma Thuột, in Đắk Lắk Province. If the town could be taken, the provincial capital of Pleiku and the road to the coast would be exposed for a planned campaign in 1976. The ARVN proved incapable of resisting the onslaught, and its forces collapsed on 11 March. Once again, Hanoi was surprised by the speed of their success. Dung now urged the Politburo to allow him to seize Pleiku immediately and then turn his attention to Kon Tum. He argued that with two months of good weather remaining until the onset of the monsoon, it would be irresponsible to not take advantage of the situation.[22]President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, a former general, was fearful that his forces would be cut off in the north by the attacking communists; Thieu ordered a retreat. The president declared this to be a “lighten the top and keep the bottom” strategy. But in what appeared to be a repeat of Operation Lam Son 719, the withdrawal soon turned into a bloody rout. While the bulk of ARVN forces attempted to flee, isolated units fought desperately. ARVN General Phu abandoned Pleiku and Kon Tum and retreated toward the coast, in what became known as the “column of tears”.[22]As the ARVN tried to disengage from the enemy, refugees mixed in with the line of retreat. The poor condition of roads and bridges, damaged by years of conflict and neglect, slowed Phu’s column. As the North Vietnamese forces approached, panic set in. Often abandoned by the officers, the soldiers and civilians were shelled incessantly. The retreat degenerated into a desperate scramble for the coast. By 1 April the “column of tears” was all but annihilated.[22]On 20 March, Thieu reversed himself and ordered Huế, Vietnam’s third-largest city, be held at all costs, and then changed his policy several times. Thieu’s contradictory orders confused and demoralized his officer corps. As the North Vietnamese launched their attack, panic set in, and ARVN resistance withered. On 22 March, the NVA opened the siege of Huế. Civilians flooded the airport and the docks hoping for any mode of escape. Some even swam out to sea to reach boats and barges anchored offshore. In the confusion, routed ARVN soldiers fired on civilians to make way for their retreat.[22]On 25 March, after a three-day battle, Huế fell. As resistance in Huế collapsed, North Vietnamese rockets rained down on Da Nang and its airport. By 28 March 35,000 VPA troops were poised to attack the suburbs. By 30 March 100,000 leaderless ARVN troops surrendered as the NVA marched victoriously through Da Nang. With the fall of the city, the defense of the Central Highlands and Northern provinces came to an end.[22]Final North Vietnamese offensive Captured USAF warplanes in North Vietnam MuseumFor more details on the final North Vietnamese offensive, see Ho Chi Minh Campaign.With the northern half of the country under their control, the Politburo ordered General Dung to launch the final offensive against Saigon. The operational plan for the Ho Chi Minh Campaign called for the capture of Saigon before 1 May. Hanoi wished to avoid the coming monsoon and prevent any redeployment of ARVN forces defending the capital. Northern forces, their morale boosted by their recent victories, rolled on, taking Nha Trang, Cam Ranh, and Da Lat.On 7 April, three North Vietnamese divisions attacked Xuân Lộc, 40 miles (64 km) east of Saigon. The North Vietnamese met fierce resistance at Xuân Lộc from the ARVN 18th Division, who were outnumbered six to one. For two bloody weeks, severe fighting raged as the ARVN defenders made a last stand to try to block the North Vietnamese advance. By 21 April, however, the exhausted garrison were ordered to withdraw towards Saigon.An embittered and tearful president Thieu resigned on the same day, declaring that the United States had betrayed South Vietnam. In a scathing attack, he suggested U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had tricked him into signing the Paris peace agreement two years ago, promising military aid that failed to materialize. Having transferred power to Trần Văn Hương, he left for Taiwan on 25 April. At the same time, North Vietnamese tanks had reached Biên Hòa and turned toward Saigon, brushing aside isolated ARVN units along the way.By the end of April, the ARVN had collapsed on all fronts except in the Mekong Delta. Thousands of refugees streamed southward, ahead of the main communist onslaught. On 27 April 100,000 North Vietnamese troops encircled Saigon. The city was defended by about 30,000 ARVN troops. To hasten a collapse and foment panic, the NVA shelled the airport and forced its closure. With the air exit closed, large numbers of civilians found that they had no way out.Fall of Saigon Victorious NVA troops at the Presidential Palace, Saigon.Main articles: Fall of Saigon and Operation Frequent WindChaos, unrest, and panic broke out as hysterical South Vietnamese officials and civilians scrambled to leave Saigon. Martial law was declared. American helicopters began evacuating South Vietnamese, U.S., and foreign nationals from various parts of the city and from the U.S. embassy compound. Operation Frequent Wind had been delayed until the last possible moment, because of U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin’s belief that Saigon could be held and that a political settlement could be reached.Schlesinger announced early in the morning of 29 April 1975 the evacuation from Saigon by helicopter of the last U.S. diplomatic, military, and civilian personnel. Frequent Wind was arguably the largest helicopter evacuation in history. It began on 29 April, in an atmosphere of desperation, as hysterical crowds of Vietnamese vied for limited space. Martin pleaded with Washington to dispatch $700 million in emergency aid to bolster the regime and help it mobilize fresh military reserves. But American public opinion had soured on this conflict.In the United States, South Vietnam was perceived as doomed. President Gerald Ford had given a televised speech on 23 April, declaring an end to the Vietnam War and all U.S. aid. Frequent Wind continued around the clock, as North Vietnamese tanks breached defenses on the outskirts of Saigon. In the early morning hours of 30 April, the last U.S. Marines evacuated the embassy by helicopter, as civilians swamped the perimeter and poured into the grounds. Many of them had been employed by the Americans and were left to their fate.On 30 April 1975, NVA troops entered the city of Saigon and quickly overcame all resistance, capturing key buildings and installations. A tank from the 324th Division crashed through the gates of the Independence Palace at 11:30 am local time and the Viet Cong flag was raised above it. President Dương Văn Minh, who had succeeded Huong two days earlier, surrendered.[270]Other countries’ involvementPro-Hanoi“2,000 years of Chinese-Vietnamese enmity and hundreds of years of Chinese and Russian mutual suspicions were suspended when they united against us in Vietnam.”— Richard Holbrooke, 1985[271]People’s Republic of ChinaIn 1950, the People’s Republic of China extended diplomatic recognition to the Viet Minh’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam and sent weapons, as well as military advisors led by Luo Guibo to assist the Viet Minh in its war with the French. The first draft of the 1954 Geneva Accords was negotiated by French prime minister Pierre Mendès France and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai who, fearing U.S. intervention, urged the Viet Minh to accept a partition at the 17th parallel.[272]In the summer of 1962, Mao Zedong agreed to supply Hanoi with 90,000 rifles and guns free of charge. Starting in 1965, China sent anti-aircraft units and engineering battalions to North Vietnam to repair the damage caused by American bombing, rebuild roads and railroads, and to perform other engineering works. This freed North Vietnamese army units for combat in the South. China sent 320,000 troops and annual arms shipments worth $180 million.[273]Sino-Soviet relations soured after the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968. In October, the Chinese demanded North Vietnam cut relations with Moscow, but Hanoi refused.[274] The Chinese began to withdraw in November 1968 in preparation for a clash with the Soviets, which occurred at Zhenbao Island in March 1969. The Chinese also began financing the Khmer Rouge as a counterweight to the Vietnamese communists at this time.China “armed and trained” the Khmer Rouge during the civil war and continued to aid them for years afterward.[275] The Khmer Rouge launched ferocious raids into Vietnam in 1975–1978. When Vietnam responded with an invasion that toppled the Khmer Rouge, China launched a brief, punitive invasion of Vietnam in 1979.Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev was the leader of the Soviet Union during the second half of the Vietnam WarSoviet ships in the South China Sea gave vital early warnings to Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam. The Soviet intelligence ships would pick up American B-52 bombers flying from Okinawa and Guam. Their airspeed and direction would be noted and then relayed to COSVN headquarters. COSVN using airspeed and direction would calculate the bombing target and tell any assets to move “perpendicularly to the attack trajectory.” These advance warning gave them time to move out of the way of the bombers, and, while the bombing runs caused extensive damage, because of the early warnings from 1968 to 1970 they did not kill a single military or civilian leader in the headquarters complexes.[276]The Soviet Union supplied North Vietnam with medical supplies, arms, tanks, planes, helicopters, artillery, anti-aircraft missiles and other military equipment. Soviet crews fired Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles at U.S. F-4 Phantoms, which were shot down over Thanh Hóa in 1965. Over a dozen Soviet citizens lost their lives in this conflict. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian officials acknowledged that the Soviet Union had stationed up to 3,000 troops in Vietnam during the war.[277]Some Russian sources give more specific numbers: Between 1953 and 1991, the hardware donated by the Soviet Union included 2,000 tanks, 1,700 APCs, 7,000 artillery guns, over 5,000 anti-aircraft guns, 158 surface-to-air missile launchers, 120 helicopters. During the war, the Soviets sent North Vietnam annual arms shipments worth $450 million.[278][279] From July 1965 to the end of 1974, fighting in Vietnam was observed by some 6,500 officers and generals, as well as more than 4,500 soldiers and sergeants of the Soviet Armed Forces. In addition, Soviet military schools and academies began training Vietnamese soldiers – in all more than 10,000 military personnel.[280]North KoreaAs a result of a decision of the Korean Workers’ Party in October 1966, in early 1967 North Korea sent a fighter squadron to North Vietnam to back up the North Vietnamese 921st and 923rd fighter squadrons defending Hanoi. They stayed through 1968, and 200 pilots were reported to have served.[281]In addition, at least two anti-aircraft artillery regiments were sent as well. North Korea also sent weapons, ammunition and two million sets of uniforms to their comrades in North Vietnam.[282]Kim Il-sung is reported to have told his pilots to “fight in the war as if the Vietnamese sky were their own”.[283]CubaThe contribution to North Vietnam by the Republic of Cuba, under Fidel Castro have been recognized several times by representatives of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.[284] Fidel Castro has mentioned in his discourses the Batallón Girón (Giron Battalion) as comprising the Cuban contingent that served as military advisors during the war.[285] In this battalion, alongside the Cubans, fought Nguyễn Thị Định, founding member of the Viet Cong, who later became the first female Major General in the North Vietnamese Army.[286] There are numerous allegations by former U.S. prisoners of war that Cuban military personnel were present at North Vietnamese prison facilities during the war and that they participated in torture activities, in what is known as the “Cuba Program”.[287][288][289][290][291] Witnesses to this include Senator John McCain, 2008 U.S. Presidential candidate and former Vietnam prisoner of war, according to his 1999 book Faith of My Fathers.[292] Benjamin Gilman, a Vietnam War POW/MIA issue advocate, claim evidence that Cuba’s military and non-military involvement may have run into the “thousands” of personnel.[293] Fidel Castro visited in person Quảng Trị province, held by North Vietnam after the Easter Offensive to show his support for the Viet Cong.[294]Pro-SaigonSouth KoreaMain article: Military history of South Korea during the Vietnam War Soldiers of the South Korean White Horse Division in Vietnam Vietnamese civilians of Phong Nhi village massacred by South Korean Blue Dragon Brigade in 1968On the anti-communist side, South Korea (a.k.a. the Republic of Korea, ROK) had the second-largest contingent of foreign troops in South Vietnam after the United States. In November 1961, Park Chung-hee proposed South Korean participation in the war to John F. Kennedy, but Kennedy disagreed.[295] On 1 May 1964 Lyndon Johnson requested South Korean participation.[295] The first South Korean troops began arriving in 1964 and large combat formations began arriving a year later. The Republic of Korea Marine Corps dispatched their 2nd Marine Brigade while the ROK Army sent the Capital Division and later the 9th Infantry Division. In August 1966 after the arrival of the 9th Division the Koreans established a corps command, the Republic of Korea Forces Vietnam Field Command, near I Field Force, Vietnam at Nha Trang.[296] The South Koreans soon developed a reputation for effectiveness, reportedly conducting counterinsurgency operations so well that American commanders felt that the South Korean area of responsibility was the safest.[297]Approximately 320,000 South Korean soldiers were sent to Vietnam,[298] each serving a one-year tour of duty. Maximum troop levels peaked at 50,000 in 1968, however all were withdrawn by 1973.[299] About 5,099 South Koreans were killed and 10,962 wounded during the war. South Korea claimed to have killed 41,000 Viet Cong fighters.[298] The United States paid South Korean soldiers 236 million dollars for their efforts in Vietnam,[298] and South Korean GNP increased five-fold during the war.[298]Australia and New Zealand An Australian soldier in VietnamMain articles: Military history of Australia during the Vietnam War and New Zealand in the Vietnam WarAustralia and New Zealand, close allies of the United States and members of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the ANZUS military co-operation treaty, sent ground troops to Vietnam. Both nations had gained experience in counterinsurgency and jungle warfare during the Malayan Emergency and World War II. Their governments subscribed to the Domino theory. Australia began by sending advisors to Vietnam in 1962, and combat troops were committed in 1965.[300] New Zealand began by sending a detachment of engineers and an artillery battery, and then started sending special forces and regular infantry which were attached to Australian formations.[301] Australia’s peak commitment was 7,672 combat troops and New Zealand’s 552. More than 60,000 Australian personnel were involved during the course of the war, of which 521 were killed and more than 3,000 wounded.[302] Approximately 3,500 New Zealanders served in Vietnam, losing 37 killed and 187 wounded.[303] Most Australians and New Zealanders served in the 1st Australian Task Force in Phước Tuy Province.[300]PhilippinesSome 10,450 Filipino troops were dispatched to South Vietnam. They were primarily engaged in medical and other civilian pacification projects. These forces operated under the designation PHLCAG-V or Philippine Civic Action Group-Vietnam. More noteworthy was the fact that the naval base in Subic Bay was used for the U.S. Seventh Fleet from 1964 till the end of the war in 1975.[304][305] The Navy base in Subic bay and the Air force base at Clark achieved maximum functionality during the war and supported an estimated 80,000 locals in allied tertiary businesses from shoe making to prostitution.[306]ThailandThai Army formations, including the “Queen’s Cobra” battalion, saw action in South Vietnam between 1965 and 1971. Thai forces saw much more action in the covert war in Laos between 1964 and 1972, though Thai regular formations there were heavily outnumbered by the irregular “volunteers” of the CIA-sponsored Police Aerial Reconnaissance Units or PARU, who carried out reconnaissance activities on the western side of the Ho Chi Minh trail.[22]Republic of China (Taiwan)Main article: Republic of China in the Vietnam WarSince November 1967, the Taiwanese government secretly operated a cargo transport detachment to assist the United States and South Vietnam. Taiwan also provided military training units for the South Vietnamese diving units, later known as the Lien Doi Nguoi Nhai (LDMN) or “Frogman unit” in English.[307] In addition to the diving trainers there were several hundred military personnel.[307] Military commandos from Taiwan were captured by communist forces three times trying to infiltrate North Vietnam.[307]Canada and the ICCMain article: Canada and the Vietnam WarCanada, India and Poland constituted the International Control Commission, which was supposed to monitor the 1954 ceasefire agreement.[308] Officially, Canada did not have partisan involvement in the Vietnam War and diplomatically it was “non-belligerent”. Victor Levant suggested otherwise in his book Quiet Complicity: Canadian Involvement in the Vietnam War (1986).[309][310] The Vietnam War entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia asserts plainly that Canada’s record on the truce commissions was a pro-Saigon partisan one.[311]United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races (FULRO)Main article: United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed RacesThe ethnic minority peoples of south Vietnam like the Christian Montagnards (Degar), Hindu and Muslim Cham and the Buddhist Khmer Krom banded together in the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races (French: Front Uni de Lutte des Races Opprimées, acronym: FULRO) to fight against the Vietnamese for autonomy or independence. FULRO fought against both the anti-Communist South Vietnamese and the Communist Viet Cong, and then FURLO proceeded to fight against the united Communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam after the fall of South Vietnam. FULRO was supported by China, the United States, Cambodia, and some French citizens.[22]During the war, the South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem began a program to settle ethnic Vietnamese Kinh on Montagnard lands in the Central Highlands region. This provoked a backlash from the Montagnards. The Cambodians under both the pro-China King Sihanouk and the pro-American Lon Nol supported their fellow co-ethnic Khmer Krom in south Vietnam, following an anti- ethnic Vietnamese policy.FULRO was formed from the amalgation of the Cham organization “Champa Liberation Front” (Front de Liberation du Champa FLC) led by the Cham Muslim officer Les Kosem who served in the Royal Cambodian Army, the Khmer Krom organization “Liberation Front of Kampuchea Krom” (Front de Liberation du Kampuchea Krom FLKK) led by Chau Dara, a former monk, and the Montagnard organizations “Central Highlands Liberation Front” (Front de Liberation des Hauts Plateaux FLHP) led by Y Bham Enuol and BAJARAKA.The leaders of FULRO were executed by the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot when he took power in Cambodia but FULRO insurgents proceeded to fight against the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia and it was not until 1992 that they finally surrendered to the United Nations in Cambodia.[22]War crimes Victims of the My Lai massacreMain articles: List of war crimes § 1954–1975: Vietnam War and Vietnam War casualtiesSee also: List of massacres in VietnamA large number of war crimes took place during the Vietnam War. War crimes were committed by both sides during the conflict and included rape, massacres of civilians, bombings of civilian targets, terrorism, the widespread use of torture and the murder of prisoners of war. Additional common crimes included theft, arson, and the destruction of property not warranted by military necessity.[312]Allied war crimesMain articles: Tiger Force and Vietnam War Crimes Working GroupWar crimes committed by US forcesIn 1968, the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group (VWCWG) was established by the Pentagontask force set up in the wake of the My Lai Massacre, to attempt to ascertain the veracity of emerging claims of war crimes by U.S. armed forces in Vietnam, during the Vietnam War period.”Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go… There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.”David H. Hackworth[313]The investigation compiled over 9,000 pages of investigative files, sworn statements by witnesses and status reports for top military officers, indicating that 320 incidents had factual basis.[314] The substantiated cases included 7 massacres between 1967 and 1971 in which at least 137 civilians were killed; seventy eight further attacks targeting non-combatants resulting in at least 57 deaths, 56 wounded and 15 sexually assaulted; one hundred and forty-one cases of US soldiers torturing civilian detainees or prisoners of war with fists, sticks, bats, water or electric shock.[314] Over 800 alleged atrocities were investigated but only 23 soldiers were ever convicted on charges and most served sentences of less than a year.[315][unreliable source?] A Los Angeles Times report on the archived files concluded that the war crimes were not confined to a few rogue units, having been uncovered in every army division that was active in Vietnam.[314]In 2003 a series of investigative reports by the Toledo Blade uncovered a large number of unreported American war crimes particularly from the Tiger Force unit.[316] Some of the most violent war criminals included men such as Sam Ybarra[317] and Sergeant Roy E. “the Bummer” Bumgarner, a soldier who served with the 1st Cavalry Division and later the 173d Airborne Brigade.[318] A Viet Cong prisoner captured in 1967 by the U.S. Army awaits interrogation. He has been placed in a stress position by tying a board between his arms.In 1971 the later U.S. presidential candidate, John Kerry, testified before the U.S. Senate and stated that over 150 U.S. veterans testified during the Winter Soldier Investigation and described war crimes committed in Southeast Asia.[22]”They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”—John Kerry testifying before the U.S. Senate in 1971[319]According to political scientist R.J. Rummel, U.S. troops murdered about 6,000 Vietnamese civilians during the war.[320] In terms of atrocities by the South Vietnamese, from 1964 to 1975, Rummel estimated 1,500 persons died during the forced relocations of 1,200,000 civilians, another 5,000 prisoners died from ill-treatment and about 30,000 suspected communists and fighters were executed by ARVN forces. 6,000 civilians died in the more extensive shellings. This totals, from a range of between 42,000 and 118,000 deaths caused by South Vietnam, excluding NLF/North Vietnamese forces killed by the ARVN in combat.[321]Nick Turse, in his 2013 book, Kill Anything that Moves, argues that a relentless drive toward higher body counts, a widespread use of free-fire zones, rules of engagement where civilians who ran from soldiers or helicopters could be viewed as Viet Cong, and a widespread disdain for Vietnamese civilians led to massive civilian casualties and endemic war crimes inflicted by U.S. troops.[322] One example cited by Turse is Operation Speedy Express, an operation by the 9th Infantry Division, which was described by John Paul Vann as, in effect, “many My Lais”.[322] In more detail,Air force captain, Brian Wilson, who carried out bomb-damage assessments in free-fire zones throughout the delta, saw the results firsthand. “It was the epitome of immorality…One of the times I counted bodies after an air strike—which always ended with two napalm bombs which would just fry everything that was left—I counted sixty-two bodies. In my report I described them as so many women between fifteen and twenty-five and so many children—usually in their mothers’ arms or very close to them—and so many old people.” When he later read the official tally of dead, he found that it listed them as 130 VC killed.[323]War crimes committed by South Korean forcesSouth Korean forces were also culpable of war crimes as well. One of the massacres was the Tây Vinh Massacre where ROK Capital Division of the South Korean Army killed 1,200 unarmed citizens between 12 February 1966 and 17 March 1966 in Bình An village, today Tây Vinh village, Tây Sơn District of Bình Định Province in South Vietnam.[324] Another example was the Gò Dài massacre where ROK Capital Division of the South Korean Army killed 380 civilians on 26 February 1966 in Gò Dài hamlet, in Bình An commune, Tây Sơn District (today Tây Vinh District) of Bình Định Province in South Vietnam.[324]North Vietnamese, Viet Cong, and Khmer Rouge war crimesMain article: Viet Cong and PAVN strategy, organization and structure § VC/NVA use of terror Victims of the Huế MassacreAccording to Guenter Lewy, Viet Cong insurgents assassinated at least 37,000 civilians in South Vietnam and routinely employed terror.[325] Ami Pedahzur has written that “the overall volume and lethality of Viet Cong terrorism rivals or exceeds all but a handful of terrorist campaigns waged over the last third of the twentieth century”.[326] Notable Viet Cong atrocities include the massacre of over 3,000 unarmed civilians at Huế during the Tet Offensive and the incineration of hundreds of civilians at the Đắk Sơn massacre with flamethrowers.[327] Up to 155,000 refugees fleeing the final North Vietnamese Spring Offensive were killed or abducted on the road to Tuy Hòa in 1975.[328] According to Rummel, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops murdered between 106,000 and 227,000 civilians in South Vietnam.[320] North Vietnam was also known for its inhumane and abusive treatment of American POWs, most notably in Hỏa Lò Prison (aka the Hanoi Hilton), where severe torture was employed to extract “confessions”.[329]Viet Cong insurgents reportedly sliced off the genitals of village chiefs and sewed them inside their bloody mouths, cut off the tongues of helpless victims, rammed bamboo lances through one ear and out the other, slashed open the wombs of pregnant women, machine gunned children, hacked men and women to pieces with machetes, and cut off the fingers of small children who dared to get an education.[190][330] According to a U.S. Senate report, squads were assigned monthly assassination quotas.[331] Peer De Silva, former head of the Saigon department of the CIA, wrote that from as early as 1963, Viet Cong units were using disembowelment and other methods of mutilation for psychological warfare.[332]Khmer Rouge insurgents also reportedly committed atrocities during the war. These include the murder of civilians and POWs by slowly sawing off their heads a little more each day,[333] the destruction of Buddhist wats and the killing of monks,[334] attacks on refugee camps involving the deliberate murder of babies and bomb threats against foreign aid workers,[335] the abduction and assassination of journalists,[336] and the shelling of Phnom Penh for more than a year.[337] Journalist accounts stated that the Khmer Rouge shelling “tortured the capital almost continuously”, inflicting “random death and mutilation” on 2 million trapped civilians.[338]The Khmer Rouge forcibly evacuated the entire city after taking it, in what has been described as a death march: François Ponchaud wrote: “I shall never forget one cripple who had neither hands nor feet, writhing along the ground like a severed worm, or a weeping father carrying his ten-year old daughter wrapped in a sheet tied around his neck like a sling, or the man with his foot dangling at the end of a leg to which it was attached by nothing but skin”;[339] John Swain recalled that the Khmer Rouge were “tipping out patients from the hospitals like garbage into the streets….In five years of war, this is the greatest caravan of human misery I have seen.”[340]Women in the Vietnam WarAmerican nurses Da Nang, South Vietnam, 1968During the Vietnam War, American women served on active duty doing a variety of jobs. Early in 1963, the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) launched Operation Nightingale, an intensive effort to recruit nurses to serve in Vietnam. Most nurses who volunteered to serve in Vietnam came from predominantly working or middle-class families with histories of military service. The majority of these women were white Catholics and Protestants.[341] Because the need for medical aid was great, many nurses underwent a concentrated four-month training program before being deployed to Vietnam in the ANC.[342] Due to the shortage of staff, nurses usually worked twelve-hour shifts, six days per week and often suffered from exhaustion. First Lieutenant Sharon Lane was the only female military nurse to be killed by enemy gunfire during the war, on 8 June 1969.[343] A nurse treats a Vietnamese child, 1967At the start of the Vietnam War, it was commonly thought that American women had no place in the military. Their traditional place had been in the domestic sphere, but with the war came opportunity for the expansion of gender roles. In Vietnam, women held a variety of jobs which included operating complex data processing equipment and serving as stenographers.[344] Although a small number of women were assigned to combat zones, they were never allowed directly in the field of battle. The women who served in the military were solely volunteers. They faced a plethora of challenges, one of which was the relatively small number of female soldiers. Living in a male-dominated environment created tensions between the sexes. While this high male to female ratio was often uncomfortable for women, many men reported that having women in the field with them boosted their morale.[345] Although this was not the women’s purpose, it was one positive result of the their service. By 1973, approximately 7,500 women had served in Vietnam in the Southeast Asian theater.[346] In that same year, the military lifted the prohibition on women entering the armed forces.American women serving in Vietnam were subject to societal stereotypes. Many Americans either considered females serving in Vietnam masculine for living under the army discipline, or judged them to be women of questionable moral character who enlisted for the sole purpose of seducing men.[347] To address this problem, the ANC released advertisements portraying women in the ANC as “proper, professional and well protected.” (26) This effort to highlight the positive aspects of a nursing career reflected the ideas of second-wave feminism that occurred during the 1960s–1970s in the United States. Although female military nurses lived in a heavily male environment, very few cases of sexual harassment were ever reported.[348]Vietnamese women Master-Sergeant and pharmacist Do Thi Trinh, part of the WAFC, supplying medication to ARVN dependentsUnlike the American women who went to Vietnam, North Vietnamese women were enlisted and fought in the combat zone as well as providing manual labor to keep the Ho Chi Minh trail open and cook for the soldiers. They also worked in the rice fields in North Vietnam and Viet Cong-held farming areas in South Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region to provide food for their families and the war effort. Women were enlisted in both the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong guerrilla insurgent force in South Vietnam. Some women also served for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong intelligence services.In South Vietnam, many women voluntarily served in the ARVN’s Women’s Armed Force Corps (WAFC) and various other Women’s corps in the military. Some, like in the WAFC, fought in combat with other soldiers. Others served as nurses and doctors in the battlefield and in military hospitals, or served in South Vietnam or America’s intelligence agencies. During Diệm’s presidency, Madame Nhu was the commander of the WAFC.[349]The war saw more than one million rural people migrate or flee the fighting in the South Vietnamese countryside to the cities, especially Saigon. Among the internal refugees were many young women who became the ubiquitous “bargirls” of wartime South Vietnam “hawking her wares – be that cigarettes, liquor, or herself” to American and allied soldiers.[350] American bases were ringed by bars and brothels.[351]8,040 Vietnamese women came to the United States as war brides between 1964 and 1975.[352] Many mixed-blood Amerasian children were left behind when their American fathers returned to the United States after their tour of duty in South Vietnam. 26,000 of them were permitted to immigrate to the United States in the 1980s and 1990s.[353]Black servicemen in Vietnam A wounded African American soldier being carried away, 1968The experience of African American military personnel during the Vietnam War has received significant attention. For example, the website “African-American Involvement in the Vietnam War” compiles examples of such coverage,[354] as does the print and broadcast work of journalist Wallace Terry.The epigraph of Terry’s book Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (1984), includes the following quote: “I have an intuitive feeling that the Negro serviceman have a better understanding than whites of what the war is about.” – General William C. Westmoreland, U.S. Army, Saigon, 1967. That book’s introduction includes observations about the impact of the war on the black community in general and on black servicemen specifically. Points he makes on the latter topic include: the higher proportion of combat casualties in Vietnam among African American servicemen than among American soldiers of other races, the shift toward and different attitudes of black military careerists versus black draftees, the discrimination encountered by black servicemen “on the battlefield in decorations, promotion and duty assignments” as well as their having to endure “the racial insults, cross-burnings and Confederate flags of their white comrades” – and the experiences faced by black soldiers stateside, during the war and after America’s withdrawal.[355] Upon the war’s completion, black casualties made up 12.5% of US combat deaths, approximately equal to percentage of draft-eligible black men, though still slightly higher than the 10% who served in the military.[356]WeaponsMain article: Weapons of the Vietnam War Marines complete construction of M101 howitzer positions at a mountain-top fire support base, 1968The communist forces were principally armed with Chinese[357] and Soviet weaponry[358] though some guerrilla units were equipped with Western infantry weapons either captured from French stocks during the First Indochina war or from ARVN units or bought on the black market.[359] The ubiquitous Soviet AK-47assault rifle was often regarded as the best rifle of the war, due to its ability to continue to function even in adverse, muddy conditions. Other weapons used by the Viet Cong included the World War II-era PPSh-41 submachine gun (both Soviet and Chinese versions), the SKS carbine, the DShK heavy machine gun and the RPG-2/B-40 grenade launcher. Bicycles carried up to 400 pounds of weight and were thus effective transport vehicles.While the Viet Cong had both amphibious tanks (such as the PT-76) and light tanks (such as the Type 62), they also used bicycles to transport munitions. The US’ heavily armored, 90 mm M48A3 Patton tank saw extensive action during the Vietnam War and over 600 were deployed with US Forces. They played an important role in infantry support.The US service rifle was initially the M14 (though some units were still using the WWII-era M1 Garand for a lack of M14s). Found to be unsuitable for jungle warfare, the M14 was replaced by M16 which was more accurate and lighter than the AK-47. For a period, the gun suffered from a jamming flaw known as “failure to extract”, which means that a spent cartridge case remained lodged in the action after a round is fired.[360] According to a congressional report, the jamming was caused primarily by a change in gunpowder which was done without adequate testing and reflected a decision for which the safety of soldiers was a secondary consideration.[361] That issue was solved in early 1968 with the issuance of the M16A1 that featured a chrome plated chamber among several other features.[362] End-user satisfaction with the M16 was high except during this episode, but the M16 still has a reputation as a gun that jams easily.The M60 machine gun GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) was the main machine gun of the US army at the time and many of them were put on helicopters, to provide suppressive fire when landing in hostile regions. The MAC-10 machine pistol was supplied to many special forces troops in the midpoint of the war. It also armed many CIA agents in the field.Two aircraft which were prominent in the war were the AC-130 “Spectre” Gunship and the UH-1 “Huey” gunship. The AC-130 was a heavily armed ground-attack aircraft variant of the C-130 Hercules transport plane; it was used to provide close air support, air interdiction and force protection. The AC-130H “Spectre” was armed with two 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons, one Bofors 40mm autocannon, and one 105 mm M102 howitzer. The Huey is a military helicopter powered by a single, turboshaft engine, with a two-bladed main rotor and tail rotor. Approximately 7,000 UH-1 aircraft saw service in Vietnam.The Claymore M18A1, an anti-personnel mine, was widely used during the war. Unlike a conventional land mine, the Claymore is command-detonated and directional, meaning it is fired by remote-control and shoots a pattern of 700 one-eighth-inch steel balls into the kill zone like a shotgun.The aircraft ordnance used during the war included precision-guided munition, cluster bombs, and napalm, a thickening/gelling agent generally mixed with petroleum or a similar fuel for use in an incendiary device, initially against buildings and later primarily as an anti-personnel weapon that sticks to skin and can burn down to the bone.[22]AftermathEvents in Southeast AsiaFurther information: Mayaguez incident and Indochina refugee crisis Vietnamese refugees fleeing Vietnam, 1984On 2 July 1976, North and South Vietnam were merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.[363] Over the decade following the end of the war, 1–2.5 million South Vietnamese were sent to reeducation camps, with an estimated 165,000 prisoners dying.[364][365][366] Jacqueline Desbarats, David T. Johnson, and Franklin E. Zimring estimate that between 65,000[364] and 250,000[367] South Vietnamese were executed. R. J. Rummel, an analyst of political killings, estimated that about 50,000 South Vietnamese deported to “New Economic Zones” died performing hard labor,[320] out of the 1 million that were sent.[364] 200,000 to 400,000 Vietnamese boat people died at sea, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[368]Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, fell to the communist Khmer Rouge on 17 April 1975. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge would eventually kill 1–3 million Cambodians in the Killing Fields, out of a population of around 8 million.[35][36][369][370] At least 1,386,734 victims of execution have been counted in mass graves, while demographic analysis suggests that the policies of the regime caused between 1.7 and 2.5 million excess deaths altogether (including disease and starvation).[370] After repeated border clashes in 1978, Vietnam invaded Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia) and ousted the Khmer Rouge, supported by China, in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. In response, China invaded Vietnam in 1979. The two countries fought a brief border war, known as the Sino-Vietnamese War. From 1978 to 1979, some 450,000 ethnic Chinese left Vietnam by boat as refugees or were expelled. The devastating impact of Khmer Rouge rule contributed to a 1979 famine in Cambodia, during which an additional 300,000 Cambodians perished.[34]Pathet Lao overthrew the royalist government of Laos in December 1975, establishing the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.[371] The conflict between Hmong rebels and the Pathet Lao continued in isolated pockets. The government of Laos has been accused of committing genocide against the Hmong in collaboration with the People’s Army of Vietnam,[372][373] with up to 100,000 killed out of a population of 400,000.[374][375] From 1975 to 1996, the United States resettled some 250,000 Lao refugees from Thailand, including 130,000 Hmong.[376]Over 3 million people left Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the Indochina refugee crisis. Most Asian countries were unwilling to accept these refugees, many of whom fled by boat and were known as boat people.[377] Between 1975 and 1998, an estimated 1.2 million refugees from Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries resettled in the United States, while Canada, Australia, and France resettled over 500,000. China accepted 250,000 people.[378] In 1988, Vietnam suffered a famine that afflicted millions.[379] Vietnam played a role in Asia similar to Cuba’s in Latin America: it supported local revolutionary groups and was a headquarters for Soviet-style communism.[380]Unexploded ordnance, mostly from U.S. bombing, continue to detonate and kill people today. The Vietnamese government claims that ordnance has killed some 42,000 people since the war officially ended.[381][382] In 2012 alone, unexploded bombs and other ordnance claimed 500 casualties in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, according to activists and government databases.[383]Agent Orange and similar chemical substances used by the U.S. have also caused a considerable number of deaths and injuries over the years, including the US Air Force crew that handled them. On 9 August 2012, the United States and Vietnam began a cooperative cleaning up of the toxic chemical on part of Danang International Airport, marking the first time Washington has been involved in cleaning up Agent Orange in Vietnam.[384]Effect on the United States Vietnam War protests at the Pentagon, October 1967In the post-war era, Americans struggled to absorb the lessons of the military intervention.[385] As General Maxwell Taylor, one of the principal architects of the war, noted, “First, we didn’t know ourselves. We thought that we were going into another Korean War, but this was a different country. Secondly, we didn’t know our South Vietnamese allies… And we knew less about North Vietnam. Who was Ho Chi Minh? Nobody really knew. So, until we know the enemy and know our allies and know ourselves, we’d better keep out of this kind of dirty business. It’s very dangerous.”[386][387] President Ronald Reagan coined the term “Vietnam Syndrome” to describe the reluctance of the American public and politicians to support further international interventions after Vietnam.Some have suggested that “the responsibility for the ultimate failure of this policy [America’s withdrawal from Vietnam] lies not with the men who fought, but with those in Congress…”[388] Alternatively, the official history of the United States Army noted that “tactics have often seemed to exist apart from larger issues, strategies, and objectives. Yet in Vietnam the Army experienced tactical success and strategic failure… The…Vietnam War…legacy may be the lesson that unique historical, political, cultural, and social factors always impinge on the military…Success rests not only on military progress but on correctly analyzing the nature of the particular conflict, understanding the enemy’s strategy, and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of allies. A new humility and a new sophistication may form the best parts of a complex heritage left to the Army by the long, bitter war in Vietnam.”[169] A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing, Da Nang, 3 August 1965U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote in a secret memo to president Gerald Ford that “in terms of military tactics, we cannot help draw the conclusion that our armed forces are not suited to this kind of war. Even the Special Forces who had been designed for it could not prevail.”[389] Even Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara concluded that “the achievement of a military victory by U.S. forces in Vietnam was indeed a dangerous illusion.”[390]Doubts surfaced as to the effectiveness of large-scale, sustained bombing. As Army Chief of StaffHarold Keith Johnson noted, “if anything came out of Vietnam, it was that air power couldn’t do the job.”[391] Even General William Westmoreland admitted that the bombing had been ineffective. As he remarked, “I still doubt that the North Vietnamese would have relented.”[391]The inability to bring Hanoi to the bargaining table by bombing also illustrated another U.S. miscalculation. The North’s leadership was composed of hardened communists who had been fighting for thirty years. They had defeated the French, and their tenacity as both nationalists and communists was formidable. Ho Chi Minh is quoted as saying, “You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours…But even at these odds you will lose and I will win.”[392] Marine gets his wounds treated during operations in Huế City, 1968The Vietnam War called into question the U.S. Army doctrine. Marine Corps General Victor H. Krulak heavily criticised Westmoreland’s attrition strategy, calling it “wasteful of American lives… with small likelihood of a successful outcome.”[391] In addition, doubts surfaced about the ability of the military to train foreign forces.Between 1965 and 1975, the United States spent $111 billion on the war ($686 billion in FY2008 dollars).[393] This resulted in a large federal budget deficit.More than 3 million Americans served in the Vietnam War, some 1.5 million of whom actually saw combat in Vietnam.[394] James E. Westheider wrote that “At the height of American involvement in 1968, for example, there were 543,000 American military personnel in Vietnam, but only 80,000 were considered combat troops.”[395]Conscription in the United States had been controlled by the president since World War II, but ended in 1973.By war’s end, 58,220 American soldiers had been killed,[A 2] more than 150,000 had been wounded, and at least 21,000 had been permanently disabled.[396] The average age of the U.S. troops killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years.[397] According to Dale Kueter, “Of those killed in combat, 86.3 percent were white, 12.5 percent were black and the remainder from other races.”[398] Approximately 830,000 Vietnam veterans suffered some degree of posttraumatic stress disorder.[396] An estimated 125,000 Americans left for Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft,[399] and approximately 50,000 American servicemen deserted.[400] In 1977, United States president Jimmy Carter granted a full and unconditional pardon to all Vietnam-era draft dodgers.[401] The Vietnam War POW/MIA issue, concerning the fate of U.S. service personnel listed as missing in action, persisted for many years after the war’s conclusion. The costs of the war loom large in American popular consciousness; a 1990 poll showed that the public incorrectly believed that more Americans lost their lives in Vietnam than in World War II.[402]As of 2013, the U.S. government is paying Vietnam veterans and their families or survivors more than 22 billion dollars a year in war-related claims.[403][404]Impact on the U.S. militaryAs the Vietnam War continued inconclusively and became more unpopular with the American public, morale declined and disciplinary problems grew among American enlisted men and junior, non-career officers. Drug use, racial tensions, and the growing incidence of fragging—attempting to kill unpopular officers and non-commissioned officers with grenades or other weapons—created severe problems for the U.S. military and impacted its capability of undertaking combat operations. By 1971, a U.S. Army colonel writing in the Armed Forces Journal declared: “By every conceivable indicator, our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non commissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near mutinous….The morale, discipline, and battleworthiness of the U.S. Armed Forces are, with a few salient exceptions, lower and worse than at any time in this century and possibly in the history of the United States.”[405] Between 1969 and 1971 the US Army recorded more than 700 attacks by troops on their own officers. Eighty-three officers were killed and almost 650 were injured.[406]Ron Milam has questioned the severity of the “breakdown” of the U.S. armed forces, especially among combat troops, as reflecting the opinions of “angry colonels” who deplored the erosion of traditional military values during the Vietnam War.[407] Although acknowledging serious problems, he questions the alleged “near mutinous” conduct of junior officers and enlisted men in combat. Investigating one combat refusal incident, a journalist declared, “A certain sense of independence, a reluctance to behave according to the military’s insistence on obedience, like pawns or puppets…The grunts [infantrymen] were determined to survive…they insisted of having something to say about the making of decisions that determined whether they might live or die.”[408]The morale and discipline problems and resistance to conscription (the draft) were important factors leading to the creation of an all-volunteer military force by the United States and the termination of conscription. The last conscript was inducted into the army in 1973.[409][410] The all-volunteer military moderated some of the coercive methods of discipline previously used to maintain order in military ranks.[411]Effects of U.S. chemical defoliation U.S. helicopter spraying chemical defoliants in the Mekong Delta, South VietnamOne of the most controversial aspects of the U.S. military effort in Southeast Asia was the widespread use of chemical defoliants between 1961 and 1971. They were used to defoliate large parts of the countryside to prevent the Viet Cong from being able to hide their weapons and encampments under the foliage. These chemicals continue to change the landscape, cause diseases and birth defects, and poison the food chain.[412][413]Early in the American military effort, it was decided that since the enemy were hiding their activities under triple-canopy jungle, a useful first step might be to defoliate certain areas. This was especially true of growth surrounding bases (both large and small) in what became known as Operation Ranch Hand. Corporations like Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto were given the task of developing herbicides for this purpose. American officials also pointed out that the British had previously used 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D (virtually identical to America’s use in Vietnam) on a large scale throughout the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s in order to destroy bushes, crops, and trees in effort to deny communist insurgents the concealment they needed to ambush passing convoys.[414] Indeed, Secretary of State Dean Rusk told President John F. Kennedy on 24 November 1961, that “[t]he use of defoliant does not violate any rule of international law concerning the conduct of chemical warfare and is an accepted tactic of war. Precedent has been established by the British during the emergency in Malaya in their use of aircraft for destroying crops by chemical spraying.”[415]The defoliants, which were distributed in drums marked with color-coded bands, included the “Rainbow Herbicides”—Agent Pink, Agent Green, Agent Purple, Agent Blue, Agent White, and, most famously, Agent Orange, which included dioxin as a by-product of its manufacture. About 12 million gallons (45,000,000 L) of Agent Orange were sprayed over Southeast Asia during the American involvement.[citation needed] A prime area of Ranch Hand operations was in the Mekong Delta, where the U.S. Navy patrol boats were vulnerable to attack from the undergrowth at the water’s edge.In 1961 and 1962, the Kennedy administration authorized the use of chemicals to destroy rice crops. Between 1961 and 1967, the U.S. Air Force sprayed 20 million U.S. gallons (75,700,000 L) of concentrated herbicides over 6 million acres (24,000 km2) of crops and trees, affecting an estimated 13% of South Vietnam’s land. In 1965, 42% of all herbicide was sprayed over food crops. Another purpose of herbicide use was to drive civilian populations into RVN-controlled areas.[416]Vietnamese victims affected by Agent Orange attempted a class action lawsuit against Dow Chemical and other US chemical manufacturers, but District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein dismissed their case.[417] They appealed, but the dismissal was cemented in February 2008 by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[418] As of 2006, the Vietnamese government estimates that there are over 4,000,000 victims of dioxin poisoning in Vietnam, although the United States government denies any conclusive scientific links between Agent Orange and the Vietnamese victims of dioxin poisoning. In some areas of southern Vietnam, dioxin levels remain at over 100 times the accepted international standard.[419]The U.S. Veterans Administration has listed prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, Diabetes mellitus type 2, B-cell lymphomas, soft-tissue sarcoma, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, and spina bifida in children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange.[420]CasualtiesSee also: Vietnam War casualtiesMilitary deaths in Vietnam War (1955–1975)YearU.S.[421]South Vietnam1956–19594n.a.196052,2231961164,0041962534,45719631225,66519642167,45719651,92811,24219666,35011,953196711,36312,716196816,89927,915196911,78021,83319706,17323,34619712,41422,738197275939,58719736827,9011974131,219197562n.a.After 19757n.a.Total58,220>254,256[422]Estimates of the number of casualties vary, with one source suggesting up to 3.8 million violent war deaths in Vietnam for the period 1955 to 2002.[423] 195,000–430,000 South Vietnamese civilians died in the war.[18][19] 50,000–65,000 North Vietnamese civilians died in the war.[18][28] The military forces of South Vietnam suffered an estimated 254,256 killed between 1960 and 1974 and additional deaths from 1954–1959 and in 1975.[424] The official US Department of Defense figure was 950,765 communist forces killed in Vietnam from 1965 to 1974. Defense Department officials believed that these body count figures need to be deflated by 30 percent. In addition, Guenter Lewy assumes that one-third of the reported “enemy” killed may have been civilians, concluding that the actual number of deaths of communist military forces was probably closer to 444,000.[18] A detailed demographic study calculated 791,000–1,141,000 war-related deaths for all of Vietnam.[49] Between 240,000[36][425] and 300,000[34] Cambodians died during the war. About 60,000 Laotians also died,[426] and 58,300 U.S. military personnel were killed.[427]Popular cultureSee also: Vietnam War in film, Vietnam War in games and War in popular cultureThe Vietnam War has been featured extensively in television, film, video games, and literature in the participant countries. In American popular culture, the “Crazy Vietnam Veteran”, who was suffering from Posttraumatic stress disorder, became a common stock character after the war.One of the first major films based on the Vietnam War was John Wayne’s pro-war film, The Green Berets (1968). Further cinematic representations were released during the 1970s and 1980s, including Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978), Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) – based on his service in the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War, Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987), Hamburger Hill (1987), and Casualties of War (1989). Later films would include We Were Soldiers (2002) and Rescue Dawn (2007).[22]The war also influenced a generation of musicians and songwriters in Vietnam and the United States, both anti-war and pro/anti-communist. The band Country Joe and the Fish recorded “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” / The “Fish” Cheer in 1965, and it became one of the most influential anti-Vietnam protest anthems.[22]See also

Ulster Defence Association ( U.D.A )

The views and opinions expressed in this page and  documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Ulster Defence Association ( U.D.A )

Men of the UDA

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is the largest[5][6] Ulster loyalist paramilitary and vigilante[7] group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 and undertook a campaign of almost twenty-four years during The Troubles. Within the UDA was a group tasked with launching paramilitary attacks; it used the covername Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) so that the UDA would not be outlawed. The United Kingdom outlawed the “UFF” in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not classified as a terrorist group until 10 August 1992.[8] The UDA/UFF is also classified as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department.[9]

The UDA were responsible for Approximately 260 deaths during The Troubles.

There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible

Loyalists in Northern Ireland – Full Documentary

The UDA’s/UFF’s declared goal was to defend Ulster Protestant loyalist areas[10] and to combat Irish republicanism, particularly the Provisional IRA. However, most of its victims were unarmed civilians.[11] The majority of them were Irish Catholics,[12][13] killed in what the group called retaliation for IRA actions or attacks on Protestants.[14][15] High-profile attacks carried out by the group include the Milltown massacre, the Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting, the Castlerock killings and the Greysteel massacre. The vast majority of its attacks were in Northern Ireland, but from 1972 onward it also carried out bombings in the Republic of Ireland. The UDA/UFF declared a ceasefire in 1994, although sporadic attacks continued until it officially ended its armed campaign in November 2007.[16]

The Very British Terrorists – Full

The UDA were often referred to by their Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) rivals as the “Wombles”,[17] derived from the furry fictional creatures, The Wombles, or “Japs”,[18] owing to their mass rallies and marches in combat clothing. Its motto is Quis Separabit, Latin for “Who will separate [us]?”.

History

Beginning

The Ulster Defence Association emerged from a series of meetings during the summer of 1971 of loyalistvigilante” groups called “defence associations”.[19] The largest of these were the Shankill and Woodvale Defence Associations,[20] with other groups based in East Belfast, the Hammer and Roden Street.[21] The first meeting was chaired by Billy Hull, with Alan Moon as its vice-chair. Moon was quickly replaced by Jim Anderson and had left the organisation by the time of its formal launch in September.[22]

By this point, Charles Harding Smith had become the group’s leader, with former British soldier Davy Fogel as his second-in-command, who trained the new recruits in military tactics, the use of guns, and unarmed combat. Its most prominent early spokesperson was Tommy Herron,[19] however Andy Tyrie would emerge as leader soon after.[23] Its original motto was Cedenta Arma Togae (“Law before violence”) and it was a legal organisation until it was banned by the British Government on 10 August 1992.[19]

UDA members marching through Belfast city centre in a massive show of strength, summer 1972

At its peak of strength it held around forty thousand members, mostly part-time.[24][25] During this period of legality, the UDA committed a large number of attacks using the name Ulster Freedom Fighters,[26][27] including the assassination of Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politician Paddy Wilson in 1973.[28] The UDA was involved in the successful Ulster Workers Council Strike in 1974, which brought down the Sunningdale Agreement—an agreement which some unionists thought conceded too much to nationalist demands. The UDA enforced this general strike through widespread intimidation across Northern Ireland. The strike was led by VUPP Assemblyman and UDA member, Glenn Barr.[29]

The UDA were often referred to as “Wombles” by their rivals, mainly the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The name is derived from the furry fictional creatures The Wombles, and was given to the UDA because many of its members wore fur-trimmed parkas.[17] Its headquarters is in Gawn Street, off the Newtownards Road in east Belfast,[30] and its current motto is Quis Separabit, which is Latin for “Who will separate us?”

Women’s units

The UDA had several women’s units, which acted independent of each other.[31][32] Although they occasionally helped man roadblocks, the women’s units were typically involved in local community work and responsible for the assembly and delivery of food parcels to UDA prisoners. This was a source of pride for the UDA.[33] The first women’s unit was founded on the Shankill Road by Wendy “Bucket” Millar, whose sons Herbie and James “Sham” Millar would later become prominent UDA members.[34] The UDA women’s department was headed by Jean Moore, who also came from the Shankill Road. She had also served as the president of the women’s auxiliary of the Loyalist Association of Workers. Her brother Ingram “Jock” Beckett, one of the UDA’s founding members, had been killed in March 1972 by a rival UDA faction in an internal dispute.[35] Moore was succeeded by Hester Dunn of east Belfast, who also ran the public relations and administration section at the UDA headquarters.[36] Wendy Millar’s Shankill Road group was a particularly active women’s unit, and another was based in Sandy Row, south Belfast, a traditional UDA stronghold. The latter was commanded by Elizabeth “Lily” Douglas.[37] Her teenaged daughter, Elizabeth was one of the members.[38]

The Sandy Row women’s UDA unit was disbanded after it carried out a vicious “romper room” punishment beating on 24 July 1974 which left 32-year-old Ann Ogilby dead. The body of Ogilby, a Protestant single mother who had an affair with the husband of one of the unit’s members, was found in a ditch five days later.[39] The day of the fatal beating Ogilby was abducted and forced upstairs to the first floor of a disused bakery in Sandy Row that had been converted into a UDA club. Two teenage girls, Henrietta Cowan and Christine Smith,[40] acting under Elizabeth Douglas’ orders to give Ogilby a “good rompering”,[41] punched, kicked, then battered her to death with bricks and sticks; the autopsy later revealed that Ogilby had suffered 24 blows to the head and body. The killing, which was carried out within earshot of Ogilby’s six-year-old daughter, caused widespread revulsion throughout Northern Ireland and was condemned by the UDA prisoners serving inside the Maze Prison. None of the other UDA women’s units had consented to or been aware of the fatal punishment beating until it was reported in the news.[32] Douglas, Cowan, and Smith were convicted of the murder and sentenced to imprisonment at Armagh Women’s Jail. Seven other members of the women’s unit and a UDA man were also convicted for their part in the murder.[41][38] The UDA “romper rooms”, named after the children’s television programme, were places where victims were beaten and tortured prior to being killed. This was known as a “rompering”. The “romper rooms” were normally located in disused buildings, lock-up garages, warehouses, and rooms above pubs and drinking clubs.[42] The use of the “romper rooms” was a more common practise among male members of the UDA than their female counterparts.[32]

Paramilitary campaign

Masked and armed UDA/UFF members at a show of strength in Belfast

The flag of the “Ulster Freedom Fighters” with a clenched fist representing the Red Hand of Ulster and the Latin motto Feriens tego, meaning “striking I defend”

Throughout the majority of its period of legality, the UDA’s attacks were carried out under the name “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF). The UDA’s campaign of violence began in 1972. In May of that year, the UDA’s pressured leader Tommy Herron decided that responsibility for acts of violence committed by the UDA would be claimed by the “UFF”. Its first public statements came one month later.[43]

The UDA’s official position during the Troubles was that if the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) called off its campaign of violence, then it would do the same. However, if the British government announced that it was withdrawing from Northern Ireland, then the UDA would act as “the IRA in reverse.”[44]

Ulster Defence Association – Hunting The IRA (Documentary)

Active throughout the Troubles, its armed campaign gained prominence in the early 1990s through Johnny Adair‘s ruthless leadership of the Lower Shankill 2nd Battalion, C. Company, which resulted in a greater degree of tactical independence for the UFF.[45] C. Company’s hit squad, led by Stephen McKeag, became notorious for a campaign of random murders of Catholic civilians in the first half of the 1990s.[46]

They benefited, along with the Ulster Volunteer Force, and a group called Ulster Resistance (set up by the Democratic Unionist Party), from a shipment of arms imported from Lebanon in 1988.[47] The weapons landed included rocket launchers, 200 rifles, 90 pistols and over 400 grenades.[48] Although almost two–thirds of these weapons were later recovered by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), they enabled the UDA to launch an assassination campaign against their perceived enemies.

A UFF mural in the Kilcooley estate near Bangor

A UFF mural in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast

North Belfast UDA brigadier Davy Payne was arrested after his “scout” car had been stopped at a RUC checkpoint and large caches of the weaponry were discovered in the boots of his associates’ cars. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

In 1992 Brian Nelson, a prominent UDA member convicted of sectarian killings, revealed that he was also a British Army agent. This led to allegations that the British Army and RUC were helping the UDA to target Irish republican activists. UDA members have since confirmed that they received intelligence files on republicans from British Army and RUC intelligence sources.[49]

One of the most high profile UDA attacks came in October 1993, when three masked men attacked a restaurant called the Rising Sun in the predominantly Catholic village of Greysteel, County Londonderry, where two hundred people were celebrating Halloween. The two men entered and opened fire. Eight people, including six Catholics and two Protestants were killed and nineteen wounded in what became known as the Greysteel massacre. The UFF claimed the attack was in retaliation to the IRA’s Shankill Road bombing which killed nine, seven days earlier.

The Shankill Bombing

The Greysteel shootings

According to the Sutton database of deaths at the University of Ulster‘s CAIN project,[50] the UDA/UFF was responsible for 259 killings during the Troubles. 208 of its victims were civilians (predominantly Catholics), 12 were civilian political activists (mainly members of Sinn Fein), 37 were other loyalist paramilitaries (including 30 of its own members), three were members of the security forces and 11 were republican paramilitaries. A number of these attacks were carried out with the assistance or complicity of the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or both, according to the Stevens Enquiry, although the exact number of people killed as a result of collusion has not been revealed. The preferred modus operandi of the UDA was individual killings of select civilian targets in nationalist areas, rather than large-scale bomb or mortar attacks.

The UDA employed various codewords whenever they claimed their attacks. These included: “The Crucible”, “Titanic”, and “Ulster Troubles”. The UFF used the codename of “Captain Black”.

Post-ceasefire activities

Its ceasefire was welcomed by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Paul Murphy and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde.

A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast

A UFF flag in Finvoy,a rural area of County Antrim

Since the ceasefire, the UDA has been accused of taking vigilante action against alleged drug dealers, including tarring and feathering a man on the Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast.[51][52] It has also been involved in several feuds with the UVF, which led to many killings. The UDA has also been riddled by its own internecine warfare, with self-styled “brigadiers” and former figures of power and influence, such as Johnny Adair and Jim Gray (themselves bitter rivals), falling rapidly in and out of favour with the rest of the leadership. Gray and John Gregg are amongst those to have been killed during the internal strife. On 22 February 2003, the UDA announced a “12-month period of military inactivity”.[53] It said it would review its ceasefire every three months. The UPRG’s Frankie Gallagher has since taken a leading role in ending the association between the UDA and drug dealing.[54]

Following an August 2005 Sunday World article that poked fun at the gambling losses of one of its leaders, the UDA banned the sale of the newspaper from shops in areas it controls. Shops that defy the ban have suffered arson attacks, and at least one newsagent was threatened with death.[55] The Police Service of Northern Ireland began accompanying the paper’s delivery vans.[56][57] The UDA was also considered to have played an instrumental role in loyalist riots in Belfast in September 2005.[58]

On 13 November 2005 the UDA announced that it would “consider its future”, in the wake of the standing down of the Provisional IRA and Loyalist Volunteer Force.[59]

In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported UDA involvement in organised crime, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, extortion, money laundering and robbery.[60]

A UDA/UFF mural in Bangor

On 20 June 2006, the UDA expelled Andre Shoukri and his brother Ihab, two of its senior members who were heavily involved in crime. Some see this as a sign that the UDA is slowly coming away from crime.[61] The move did see the southeast Antrim brigade of the UDA, which had been at loggerheads with the leadership for some time, support Shoukri and break away under former UPRG spokesman Tommy Kirkham.[62] Other senior members met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for talks on 13 July in the same year.[63]

On 11 November 2007 the UDA announced that the Ulster Freedom Fighters would be stood down from midnight of the same day,[64] with its weapons “being put beyond use” although it stressed that these would not be decommissioned.[65]

Although the group expressed a willingness to move from criminal activity to “community development,” the IMC said it saw little evidence of this move because of the views of its members and the lack of coherence in the group’s leadership as a result of a loose structure. While the report indicated the leadership intends to follow on its stated goals, factionalism hindered this change. Factionalism was, in fact, said to be the strongest hindrance to progress. The report also said the main non-splintered faction remained active, though it was considerably smaller than the resulting party. Individuals within the group, however, took their own initiative to criminal activity. Although loyalist actions were curtailed, most of the loyalist activity did come from the UDA.

The IMC report concluded that the leadership’s willingness to change has resulted in community tension and the group would continue to be monitored, although “the mainstream UDA still has some way to go.” Furthermore, the IMC warned the group to “recognise that the organisation’s time as a paramilitary group has passed and that decommissioning is inevitable.” Decommissioning was said to be the “biggest outstanding issue for loyalist leaders, although not the only one.”[66]

A UDA/UFF South-East Antrim Brigade mural in Newtownabbey

On 6 January 2010, the UDA announced that it had put its weapons “verifiably beyond use”.[67] The decommissioning was completed five weeks before a government amnesty deadline beyond which any weapons found could have been used as evidence for a prosecution.[67] The decommissioning was confirmed by Canadian General John de Chastelain, chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, as well as Lord Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh and Sir George Quigley, former top civil servant.[68]

Chastelain stated that the decommissioning included arms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices and the UDA stated that the arms “constitute the totality of those under their control”.[67] Following the decommissioning the Ulster Political Research Group, the UDA’s political representatives, stated that the “Ulster Defence Association was formed to defend our communities; we state quite clearly and categorically that this responsibility now rests with the Government and its institutions where legitimacy resides”.[68] UDA representative Frankie Gallagher also stated that the group now regretted being responsible for the killing of more than 400 people.[69]

Shaun Woodward, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that this “is a major act of leadership by the UDA and further comprehensive evidence of the success of politics over violence in Northern Ireland” and the act was also welcomed by Sinn Féin and DUP politicians.[70] The President of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese, described the decommissioning as “a very positive milestone on the journey of peace”.[71] US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also welcomed the move as a step towards lasting peace in Northern Ireland.[72]

South East Antrim breakaway group

The breakaway faction continues to use the “UDA” title in its name, although it too expressed willingness to move towards “community development.” Though serious crime is not prevalent among the members, some who were arrested for drug peddling and extortion were exiled by the Brigade. Although a clear distinction between the factions was not available in the 20th IMC report, as this was the first report to differentiate between the two, future reports would tackle the differences.[66]

Politics

Some UDA leaders supported an independent Northern Ireland in the mid–late 1970s

In the 1970s the group favoured Northern Ireland independence, but they have retreated from this position.[73]

The New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG) was initially the political wing of the UDA, founded in 1978, which then evolved into the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party in 1981 under the leadership of John McMichael, a prominent UDA member killed by the IRA in 1987, amid suspicion that he was set up to be killed by some of his UDA colleagues.

Funeral of John McMichael

In 1987, the UDA’s deputy commander John McMichael (who was then the leader of the UFF) promoted a document titled “Common Sense”, which promoted a consensual end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, while maintaining the Union. The document advocated a power sharing assembly, involving both Nationalists and Unionists, an agreed constitution and new Bill of Rights. It is not clear however, whether this programme was adopted by the UDA as their official policy.[48] However the killing of McMichael that same year and the subsequent removal of Tyrie from the leadership and his replacement with an Inner Council saw the UDA concentrate on stockpiling weapons rather than political ideas.[74]

In 1989, the ULDP changed its name to the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and finally dissolved itself in 2001 following very limited electoral success. Gary McMichael, son of John McMichael, was the last leader of the UDP, which supported the signing of the Good Friday Agreement but had poor electoral success and internal difficulties. The Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) was subsequently formed to give political analysis to the UDA and act as community workers in loyalist areas. It is currently represented on the Belfast City Council.

In early January 1994, the UDA released a document calling for ethnic cleansing and repartition, with the goal of making Northern Ireland wholly Protestant.[75] The plan was to be implemented should the British Army withdraw from Northern Ireland. The vastly Catholic and nationalist areas would be handed over to the Republic, and those left stranded in the “Protestant state” would be “expelled, nullified, or interned”.[75] The story was printed in The Sunday Independent newspaper on 16 January.[76] The “doomsday plan” was based on the work of Dr Liam Kennedy, a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast.[75] In 1986 he had published a book called Two Ulsters: A Case for Repartition; though it did not call for ethnic cleansing. The UDP’s Raymond Smallwoods said “I wasn’t consulted but the scenario set out is a perfectly plausible one”.[75] The DUP’s Sammy Wilson stated that the plan “shows that some loyalist paramilitaries are looking ahead and contemplating what needs to be done to maintain our separate Ulster identity”.[75]

Links with other groups

In his book Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke claimed that the UDA had links with Neo-Nazi groups in Britain—specifically Combat 18[77] (formed in 1991) and the British National Socialist Movement[78] (formed in 1985). He claims that members of these groups helped to smuggle weapons for the UDA/UFF. Ian S Wood‘s book Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA claims that the UDA has received backing from Combat 18, the British National Front and the British National Party.[79] In 2006, the BBC also reported that the group has links with Combat 18.[80] It is unknown whether these links still exist. The links may not have been politically motivated, but mutually beneficial arms deals. On one occasion the UDA sent Louis Scott, one of a few black members of the UDA, to make the transaction.[81]

The Red Hand Defenders is a cover name used by breakaway factions of the UDA/UFF and the LVF.[1] The term was originally coined in 1997 when members of the LVF carried out attacks on behalf of Johnny Adair‘s “UFF 2nd Battalion, ‘C’ Company (Shankill Road)” and vice versa.[1] The relationship between the UDA/UFF (specifically Adair’s unit, not the wider leadership of the UDA) was initially formed after the death of Billy Wright, the previous leader of the LVF, and Adair’s personal friendship with Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton, the organisations new chief.

The necessity for a cover name resulted from the need to avoid tensions between the UDA and the UVF, the organisation from which the LVF had broken away. It was perceived that any open co-operation between the UDA and the LVF would anger the UVF, something which proved to be the case in following years and resulted in the infamous ‘Loyalist Feud’.[1] There has been debate as to whether or not the Red Hand Defenders have become an entity in their own right[82] made up of dissident factions from both the UDA and the LVF (both of which have now declared ceasefires whilst the RHD has not), though much intelligence has been based on the claims of responsibility which, as has been suggested,[1] are frequently misleading.

Structure and leadership

The UDA is made up of:

  • the Inner Council
  • the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)—whose role was to carry out attacks on republican and nationalist targets. However, many regard the UFF as merely a covername used when the UDA wished to claim responsibility for attacks.[83]
  • the Ulster Defence Force (UDF)—whose role was to give “specialist military training” to a select group of UDA members. The UDF was initiated by John McMichael[84] (the then UDA/UFF commander) in 1985 as a response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The UDF operated training camps in rural parts of Northern Ireland that young loyalists such as Johnny Adair claim to have attended.[84] One reported ‘survival’ training technique was to leave trainees stranded in Dublin with only £1.[84] Some of the training was given by former British Army soldiers and officers. It was described by the UDA as “the nucleus of a new loyalist army at the ready”.[85]
  • the Ulster Young Militants (UYM)—the “youth wing” of the group. Formed in 1973.[86]
  • the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG)—the UDA’s “political advisory body”. Formed in 1978.[87]

The UDA operated a devolved structure of leadership, each with a brigadier representing one of its six “brigade areas”.[84] Currently, it is not entirely clear whether or not this structure has been maintained in the UDA’s post cease-fire state. The UDA’s six “brigade areas” were:

  • North Belfast
  • East Belfast
  • South Belfast, the UDA’s largest brigade area, covering all of South Belfast down to Lisburn and operating as far away as South County Down, Lurgan and Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh.[88]
  • West Belfast
  • Southeast [County] Antrim
  • North County Antrim & County Londonderry

A wall sign in Dervock showing support for the North Antrim and Londonderry brigade.

In addition to these six core brigades two others may have existed. A seventh Mid-Ulster Brigade is mentioned by Steve Bruce as having existed for part of the UDA’s history[89] although Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack characterise this as a “battalion” rather than a brigade and suggest that its rural location prevented it from fully developing.[90] In the late 1970s a Scottish Brigade was established under the command of Roddy McDonald but this proved short-lived. The security forces infiltrated this brigade almost immediately and in 1979 arrested almost its entire membership, ninety people in all. Six members received particularly lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in UDA activities in Perth and the Scottish Brigade quietly disappeared.[91]

Some of the notable past brigadiers include:

Jackie McDonald

South Belfast (~1980s-present)[92] Resident of the Taughmonagh estate in South Belfast.[92] McDonald was a cautious supporter of the UDA’s ceasefire and a harsh critic of Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair during his final years of membership of the organisation.[92] McDonald remains the only brigadier who did not have a commonly used nickname.

Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair—West Belfast (1990–2002)[84] An active figure in the UDA/UFF, Adair rose to notoriety in the early 1990s when he led the 2nd Battalion, C Company unit in West Belfast which was responsible for one of the bloodiest killing sprees of the Troubles.[84]

Jim ‘Doris Day’ Gray

East Belfast (1992–2005)[84][93] An unlikely figure in Northern Ireland loyalism, the openly bi-sexual[84] Gray was a controversial figure in the organisation until his death on 4 October 2005. Always flamboyantly dressed, Gray was a key figure in the UDA’s negotiations with Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid. It is widely believed that Gray received his nickname from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch.[84]

Jimbo ‘Bacardi Brigadier’ Simpson—North Belfast (Unknown–2002)[84] Simpson is believed to have been an alcoholic, hence his nickname. He was leader of the UDA in the volatile North Belfast area, an interface between Catholics and Protestants in the New Lodge and Tiger’s Bay neighbourhoods.[84]

Billy ‘The Mexican’ McFarland—North Antrim and Londonderry (Unknown–2013)[84] He Earned his nickname because of his moustache and swarthy appearance, and had overall command of the UDA’s North Antrim and Derry brigade at the time of the Good Friday Agreement. He supported the leadership against Johnny Adair and has been associated with the magazine ‘Warrior’, which makes the case for Ulster Independence

Andre ‘The Egyptian’ Shoukri[84]

North Belfast (2002–2005)[84] Initially a close ally of Johnny Adair, Shoukri and his brother Ihab became involved with the UDA in his native North Belfast. The son of an Egyptian father and a Northern Irish mother, he was expelled from the UDA in 2005 following allegations of criminality.

John ‘Grug’ Gregg

South East Antrim (c.1993[94]–2003) John ‘Grug’ Gregg was a man with a fearsome reputation within the loyalist movement, known as a “Hawk” in loyalist circles, and controlled the streets of south east Antrim. On 14 March 1984, he severely wounded Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an assassination attempt for which he was jailed. When asked by the BBC in prison if he regretted anything about the shooting, his reply was “only that I didn’t succeed.” He was killed on Belfast’s Nelson Street, along with another UDA member (Rab Carson), while travelling in a taxi from the docks in 2003, and the murder was blamed on supporters of Johnny Adair, who had recently been expelled from the UDA in 2002.

Deaths as a result of activity

UDA South Belfast Brigade memorial plaque in Sandy Row

According to Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland (part of the CAIN database), the UDA/UFF was responsible for at least 260 killings during the Troubles, between 1969 and 2001. There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible.[95]

Of those killed by the UDA/UFF:[11]

  • 209 (~80%) were civilians, 12 of whom were civilian political activists
  • 11 (~4%) were members or former members of republican paramilitary groups
  • 37 (~14%) were members or former members of loyalist paramilitary groups
  • 3 (~1%) were members of the British security forces

There were also 91 UDA members and four former members killed in the conflict.[96]

See also

UDA – UVF – Loyalists in Northern Ireland – Full Documentary

Loyalists in Northern Ireland – Full Documentary

UDA (Ulster Defence Association)

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this post and page are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors

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Belfast Shankill Loyalist Bands

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The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is the largest[5][6] Ulster loyalist paramilitary and vigilante[7] group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 and undertook a campaign of almost twenty-four years during The Troubles. Within the UDA was a group tasked with launching paramilitary attacks; it used the covername Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) so that the UDA would not be outlawed. The United Kingdom outlawed the “UFF” in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not classified as a terrorist group until 10 August 1992.[8] The UDA/UFF is also classified as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department.[9]

The UDA’s/UFF’s declared goal was to defend Ulster Protestant loyalist areas[10] and to combat Irish republicanism, particularly the Provisional IRA. However, most of its victims were unarmed civilians.[11] The majority of them were Irish Catholics,[12][13] killed in what the group called retaliation for IRA actions or attacks on Protestants.[14][15] High-profile attacks carried out by the group include the Milltown massacre, the Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting, the Castlerock killings and the Greysteel massacre. The vast majority of its attacks were in Northern Ireland, but from 1972 onward it also carried out bombings in the Republic of Ireland. The UDA/UFF declared a ceasefire in 1994, although sporadic attacks continued until it officially ended its armed campaign in November 2007.[16]

The UDA were often referred to by their Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) rivals as the “Wombles”,[17] derived from the furry fictional creatures, The Wombles, or “Japs”,[18] owing to their mass rallies and marches in combat clothing. Its motto is Quis Separabit, Latin for “Who will separate [us]?”.

History

Beginning

The Ulster Defence Association emerged from a series of meetings during the summer of 1971 of loyalistvigilante” groups called “defence associations”.[19] The largest of these were the Shankill and Woodvale Defence Associations,[20] with other groups based in East Belfast, the Hammer and Roden Street.[21] The first meeting was chaired by Billy Hull, with Alan Moon as its vice-chair. Moon was quickly replaced by Jim Anderson and had left the organisation by the time of its formal launch in September.[22]

By this point, Charles Harding Smith had become the group’s leader, with former British soldier Davy Fogel as his second-in-command, who trained the new recruits in military tactics, the use of guns, and unarmed combat. Its most prominent early spokesperson was Tommy Herron,[19] however Andy Tyrie would emerge as leader soon after.[23] Its original motto was Cedenta Arma Togae (“Law before violence”) and it was a legal organisation until it was banned by the British Government on 10 August 1992.[19]

UDA members marching through Belfast city centre in a massive show of strength, summer 1972

At its peak of strength it held around forty thousand members, mostly part-time.[24][25] During this period of legality, the UDA committed a large number of attacks using the name Ulster Freedom Fighters,[26][27] including the assassination of Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politician Paddy Wilson in 1973.[28] The UDA was involved in the successful Ulster Workers Council Strike in 1974, which brought down the Sunningdale Agreement—an agreement which some unionists thought conceded too much to nationalist demands. The UDA enforced this general strike through widespread intimidation across Northern Ireland. The strike was led by VUPP Assemblyman and UDA member, Glenn Barr.[29]

The UDA were often referred to as “Wombles” by their rivals, mainly the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The name is derived from the furry fictional creatures The Wombles, and was given to the UDA because many of its members wore fur-trimmed parkas.[17] Its headquarters is in Gawn Street, off the Newtownards Road in east Belfast,[30] and its current motto is Quis Separabit, which is Latin for “Who will separate us?”

Women’s units

The UDA had several women’s units, which acted independent of each other.[31][32] Although they occasionally helped man roadblocks, the women’s units were typically involved in local community work and responsible for the assembly and delivery of food parcels to UDA prisoners. This was a source of pride for the UDA.[33] The first women’s unit was founded on the Shankill Road by Wendy “Bucket” Millar (b. 1944), whose sons Herbie and James “Sham” Millar would later become prominent UDA members.[34] The UDA women’s department was headed by Jean Moore, who also came from the Shankill Road. She had also served as the president of the women’s auxiliary Loyalist Association of Workers. Her brother Ingram “Jock” Beckett, one of the UDA’s founding members, had been killed in March 1972 by a rival UDA faction in an internal dispute.[35] Moore was succeeded by Hester Dunn of east Belfast, who also ran the Public Relations and administration section at the UDA headquarters.[36] Wendy Millar’s Shankill Road group was a particularly active women’s unit, and another was based in Sandy Row, south Belfast – a traditional UDA stronghold. The latter was commanded by Elizabeth “Lily” Douglas.[37] Her teenaged daughter, Elizabeth was one of the members.[38]

The Sandy Row women’s UDA unit was disbanded after it carried out a vicious “romper room” punishment beating on 24 July 1974 which left 32-year-old Ann Ogilby dead. The body of Ogilby, a Protestant single mother who had an affair with the husband of one of the unit’s members, was found in a ditch five days later.[39] The day of the fatal beating Ogilby was abducted and forced upstairs to the first floor of a disused bakery in Sandy Row that had been converted into a UDA club. Two teenage girls, Henrietta Cowan and Christine Smith,[40] acting under Elizabeth Douglas’ orders to give Ogilby a “good rompering”,[41] punched, kicked, then battered her to death with bricks and sticks; the autopsy later revealed that Ogilby had suffered 24 blows to the head and body. The killing, which was carried out within earshot of Ogilby’s six-year-old daughter, caused widespread revulsion throughout Northern Ireland and was condemned by the UDA prisoners serving inside the Maze Prison. None of the other UDA women’s units had consented to or been aware of the fatal punishment beating until it was reported in the news.[32] Douglas, Cowan, and Smith were convicted of the murder and sentenced to imprisonment at Armagh Women’s Jail. Seven other members of the women’s unit and a UDA man were also convicted for their part in the murder.[41][38] At the time of the murder the Sandy Row commander was Sammy Murphy, who also ran the South Belfast UDA. He had engaged in successful talks with the British Army to defuse a potential confrontation during the UWC strike over the erection of street barricades in the Sandy Row area.[42][43] The UDA “romper rooms”, named after the children’s television programme, were places where victims were beaten and tortured prior to being killed. This was known as a “rompering”. The “romper rooms” were normally located in disused buildings, lock-up garages, warehouses, and rooms above pubs and drinking clubs.[44] The use of the “romper rooms” was a more common practise among male members of the UDA than their female counterparts.[32]

Paramilitary campaign

Masked and armed UDA/UFF members at a show of strength in Belfast

The flag of the “Ulster Freedom Fighters” with a clenched fist representing the Red Hand of Ulster and the Latin motto Feriens tego, meaning “striking I defend”

Throughout the majority of its period of legality, the UDA’s attacks were carried out under the name “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF). The UDA’s campaign of violence began in 1972. In May of that year, the UDA’s pressured leader Tommy Herron decided that responsibility for acts of violence committed by the UDA would be claimed by the “UFF”. Its first public statements came one month later.[45]

The UDA’s official position during the Troubles was that if the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) called off its campaign of violence, then it would do the same. However, if the British government announced that it was withdrawing from Northern Ireland, then the UDA would act as “the IRA in reverse.”[46]

Active throughout the Troubles, its armed campaign gained prominence in the early 1990s through Johnny Adair‘s ruthless leadership of the Lower Shankill 2nd Battalion, C. Company, which resulted in a greater degree of tactical independence for the UFF.[47] C. Company’s hit squad, led by Stephen McKeag, became notorious for a campaign of random murders of Catholic civilians in the first half of the 1990s.[48]

They benefited, along with the Ulster Volunteer Force, and a group called Ulster Resistance (set up by the Democratic Unionist Party), from a shipment of arms imported from Lebanon in 1988.[49] The weapons landed included rocket launchers, 200 rifles, 90 pistols and over 400 grenades.[50] Although almost two–thirds of these weapons were later recovered by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), they enabled the UDA to launch an assassination campaign against their perceived enemies.

A UFF mural in the Kilcooley estate near Bangor

A UFF mural in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast

North Belfast UDA brigadier Davy Payne was arrested after his “scout” car had been stopped at a RUC checkpoint and large caches of the weaponry were discovered in the boots of his associates’ cars. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

In 1992 Brian Nelson, a prominent UDA member convicted of sectarian killings, revealed that he was also a British Army agent. This led to allegations that the British Army and RUC were helping the UDA to target Irish republican activists. UDA members have since confirmed that they received intelligence files on republicans from British Army and RUC intelligence sources.[51]

One of the most high profile UDA attacks came in October 1993, when three masked men attacked a restaurant called the Rising Sun in the predominantly Catholic village of Greysteel, County Londonderry, where two hundred people were celebrating Halloween. The two men entered and opened fire. Eight people, including six Catholics and two Protestants were killed and nineteen wounded in what became known as the Greysteel massacre. The UFF claimed the attack was in retaliation to the IRA’s Shankill Road bombing which killed nine, seven days earlier.

According to the Sutton database of deaths at the University of Ulster‘s CAIN project,[52] the UDA/UFF was responsible for 259 killings during the Troubles. 208 of its victims were civilians (predominantly Catholics), 12 were civilian political activists (mainly members of Sinn Fein), 37 were other loyalist paramilitaries (including 30 of its own members), three were members of the security forces and 11 were republican paramilitaries. A number of these attacks were carried out with the assistance or complicity of the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or both, according to the Stevens Enquiry, although the exact number of people killed as a result of collusion has not been revealed. The preferred modus operandi of the UDA was individual killings of select civilian targets in nationalist areas, rather than large-scale bomb or mortar attacks.

The UDA employed various codewords whenever they claimed their attacks. These included: “The Crucible”, “Titanic”, and “Ulster Troubles”. The UFF used the codename of “Captain Black”.

Post-ceasefire activities

Its ceasefire was welcomed by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Paul Murphy and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde.

A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast

A UFF flag in Finvoy,a rural area of County Antrim

Since the ceasefire, the UDA has been accused of taking vigilante action against alleged drug dealers, including tarring and feathering a man on the Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast.[53][54] It has also been involved in several feuds with the UVF, which led to many killings. The UDA has also been riddled by its own internecine warfare, with self-styled “brigadiers” and former figures of power and influence, such as Johnny Adair and Jim Gray (themselves bitter rivals), falling rapidly in and out of favour with the rest of the leadership. Gray and John Gregg are amongst those to have been killed during the internal strife. On 22 February 2003, the UDA announced a “12-month period of military inactivity”.[55] It said it would review its ceasefire every three months. The UPRG’s Frankie Gallagher has since taken a leading role in ending the association between the UDA and drug dealing.[56]

Following an August 2005 Sunday World article that poked fun at the gambling losses of one of its leaders, the UDA banned the sale of the newspaper from shops in areas it controls. Shops that defy the ban have suffered arson attacks, and at least one newsagent was threatened with death.[57] The Police Service of Northern Ireland began accompanying the paper’s delivery vans.[58][59] The UDA was also considered to have played an instrumental role in loyalist riots in Belfast in September 2005.[60]

On 13 November 2005 the UDA announced that it would “consider its future”, in the wake of the standing down of the Provisional IRA and Loyalist Volunteer Force.[61]

In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported UDA involvement in organised crime, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, extortion, money laundering and robbery.[62]

A UDA/UFF mural in Bangor

On 20 June 2006, the UDA expelled Andre Shoukri and his brother Ihab, two of its senior members who were heavily involved in crime. Some see this as a sign that the UDA is slowly coming away from crime.[63] The move did see the southeast Antrim brigade of the UDA, which had been at loggerheads with the leadership for some time, support Shoukri and break away under former UPRG spokesman Tommy Kirkham.[64] Other senior members met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for talks on 13 July in the same year.[65]

On 11 November 2007 the UDA announced that the Ulster Freedom Fighters would be stood down from midnight of the same day,[66] with its weapons “being put beyond use” although it stressed that these would not be decommissioned.[67]

Although the group expressed a willingness to move from criminal activity to “community development,” the IMC said it saw little evidence of this move because of the views of its members and the lack of coherence in the group’s leadership as a result of a loose structure. While the report indicated the leadership intends to follow on its stated goals, factionalism hindered this change. Factionalism was, in fact, said to be the strongest hindrance to progress. The report also said the main non-splintered faction remained active, though it was considerably smaller than the resulting party. Individuals within the group, however, took their own initiative to criminal activity. Although loyalist actions were curtailed, most of the loyalist activity did come from the UDA.

The IMC report concluded that the leadership’s willingness to change has resulted in community tension and the group would continue to be monitored, although “the mainstream UDA still has some way to go.” Furthermore, the IMC warned the group to “recognise that the organisation’s time as a paramilitary group has passed and that decommissioning is inevitable.” Decommissioning was said to be the “biggest outstanding issue for loyalist leaders, although not the only one.”[68]

A UDA/UFF South-East Antrim Brigade mural in Newtownabbey

On 6 January 2010, the UDA announced that it had put its weapons “verifiably beyond use”.[69] The decommissioning was completed five weeks before a government amnesty deadline beyond which any weapons found could have been used as evidence for a prosecution.[69] The decommissioning was confirmed by Canadian General John de Chastelain, chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, as well as Lord Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh and Sir George Quigley, former top civil servant.[70]

Chastelain stated that the decommissioning included arms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices and the UDA stated that the arms “constitute the totality of those under their control”.[69] Following the decommissioning the Ulster Political Research Group, the UDA’s political representatives, stated that the “Ulster Defence Association was formed to defend our communities; we state quite clearly and categorically that this responsibility now rests with the Government and its institutions where legitimacy resides”.[70] UDA representative Frankie Gallagher also stated that the group now regretted being responsible for the killing of more than 400 people.[71]

Shaun Woodward, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that this “is a major act of leadership by the UDA and further comprehensive evidence of the success of politics over violence in Northern Ireland” and the act was also welcomed by Sinn Féin and DUP politicians.[72] The President of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese, described the decommissioning as “a very positive milestone on the journey of peace”.[73] US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also welcomed the move as a step towards lasting peace in Northern Ireland.[74]

South East Antrim breakaway group

The breakaway faction continues to use the “UDA” title in its name, although it too expressed willingness to move towards “community development.” Though serious crime is not prevalent among the members, some who were arrested for drug peddling and extortion were exiled by the Brigade. Although a clear distinction between the factions was not available in the 20th IMC report, as this was the first report to differentiate between the two, future reports would tackle the differences.[68]

Politics

Some UDA leaders supported an independent Northern Ireland in the mid–late 1970s

In the 1970s the group favoured Northern Ireland independence, but they have retreated from this position.[75]

The New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG) was initially the political wing of the UDA, founded in 1978, which then evolved into the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party in 1981 under the leadership of John McMichael, a prominent UDA member killed by the IRA in 1987, amid suspicion that he was set up to be killed by some of his UDA colleagues.

In 1987, the UDA’s deputy commander John McMichael (who was then the leader of the UFF) promoted a document titled “Common Sense”, which promoted a consensual end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, while maintaining the Union. The document advocated a power sharing assembly, involving both Nationalists and Unionists, an agreed constitution and new Bill of Rights. It is not clear however, whether this programme was adopted by the UDA as their official policy.[50] However the killing of McMichael that same year and the subsequent removal of Tyrie from the leadership and his replacement with an Inner Council saw the UDA concentrate on stockpiling weapons rather than political ideas.[76]

In 1989, the ULDP changed its name to the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and finally dissolved itself in 2001 following very limited electoral success. Gary McMichael, son of John McMichael, was the last leader of the UDP, which supported the signing of the Good Friday Agreement but had poor electoral success and internal difficulties. The Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) was subsequently formed to give political analysis to the UDA and act as community workers in loyalist areas. It is currently represented on the Belfast City Council.

In early January 1994, the UDA released a document calling for ethnic cleansing and repartition, with the goal of making Northern Ireland wholly Protestant.[77] The plan was to be implemented should the British Army withdraw from Northern Ireland. The vastly Catholic and nationalist areas would be handed over to the Republic, and those left stranded in the “Protestant state” would be “expelled, nullified, or interned”.[77] The story was printed in The Sunday Independent newspaper on 16 January.[78] The “doomsday plan” was based on the work of Dr Liam Kennedy, a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast.[77] In 1986 he had published a book called Two Ulsters: A Case for Repartition; though it did not call for ethnic cleansing. The UDP’s Raymond Smallwoods said “I wasn’t consulted but the scenario set out is a perfectly plausible one”.[77] The DUP’s Sammy Wilson stated that the plan “shows that some loyalist paramilitaries are looking ahead and contemplating what needs to be done to maintain our separate Ulster identity”.[77]

Links with other groups

In his book Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke claimed that the UDA had links with Neo-Nazi groups in Britain—specifically Combat 18[79] (formed in 1991) and the British National Socialist Movement[80] (formed in 1985). He claims that members of these groups helped to smuggle weapons for the UDA/UFF. Ian S Wood‘s book Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA claims that the UDA has received backing from Combat 18, the British National Front and the British National Party.[81] In 2006, the BBC also reported that the group has links with Combat 18.[82] It is unknown whether these links still exist. The links may not have been politically motivated, but mutually beneficial arms deals. On one occasion the UDA sent Louis Scott, one of a few black members of the UDA, to make the transaction.[83]

The Red Hand Defenders is a cover name used by breakaway factions of the UDA/UFF and the LVF.[1] The term was originally coined in 1997 when members of the LVF carried out attacks on behalf of Johnny Adair‘s “UFF 2nd Battalion, ‘C’ Company (Shankill Road)” and vice versa.[1] The relationship between the UDA/UFF (specifically Adair’s unit, not the wider leadership of the UDA) was initially formed after the death of Billy Wright, the previous leader of the LVF, and Adair’s personal friendship with Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton, the organisations new chief.

The necessity for a cover name resulted from the need to avoid tensions between the UDA and the UVF, the organisation from which the LVF had broken away. It was perceived that any open co-operation between the UDA and the LVF would anger the UVF, something which proved to be the case in following years and resulted in the infamous ‘Loyalist Feud’.[1] There has been debate as to whether or not the Red Hand Defenders have become an entity in their own right[84] made up of dissident factions from both the UDA and the LVF (both of which have now declared ceasefires whilst the RHD has not), though much intelligence has been based on the claims of responsibility which, as has been suggested,[1] are frequently misleading.

Structure and leadership

The UDA is made up of:

  • the Inner Council
  • the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)—whose role was to carry out attacks on republican and nationalist targets. However, many regard the UFF as merely a covername used when the UDA wished to claim responsibility for attacks.[85]
  • the Ulster Defence Force (UDF)—whose role was to give “specialist military training” to a select group of UDA members. The UDF was initiated by John McMichael[86] (the then UDA/UFF commander) in 1985 as a response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The UDF operated training camps in rural parts of Northern Ireland that young loyalists such as Johnny Adair claim to have attended.[86] One reported ‘survival’ training technique was to leave trainees stranded in Dublin with only £1.[86] Some of the training was given by former British Army soldiers and officers. It was described by the UDA as “the nucleus of a new loyalist army at the ready”.[87]
  • the Ulster Young Militants (UYM)—the “youth wing” of the group. Formed in 1973.[88]
  • the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG)—the UDA’s “political advisory body”. Formed in 1978.[89]

The UDA operated a devolved structure of leadership, each with a brigadier representing one of its six “brigade areas”.[86] Currently, it is not entirely clear whether or not this structure has been maintained in the UDA’s post cease-fire state. The UDA’s six “brigade areas” were:

  • North Belfast
  • East Belfast
  • South Belfast, the UDA’s largest brigade area, covering all of South Belfast down to Lisburn and operating as far away as South County Down, Lurgan and Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh.[90]
  • West Belfast
  • Southeast [County] Antrim
  • North County Antrim & County Londonderry

A wall sign in Dervock showing support for the North Antrim and Londonderry brigade.

In addition to these six core brigades two others may have existed. A seventh Mid-Ulster Brigade is mentioned by Steve Bruce as having existed for part of the UDA’s history[91] although Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack characterise this as a “battalion” rather than a brigade and suggest that its rural location prevented it from fully developing.[92] In the late 1970s a Scottish Brigade was established under the command of Roddy McDonald but this proved short-lived. The security forces infiltrated this brigade almost immediately and in 1979 arrested almost its entire membership, ninety people in all. Six members received particularly lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in UDA activities in Perth and the Scottish Brigade quietly disappeared.[93]

Some of the notable past brigadiers include:

Jackie McDonald—South Belfast (~1980s-present)[94] Resident of the Taughmonagh estate in South Belfast.[94] McDonald was a cautious supporter of the UDA’s ceasefire and a harsh critic of Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair during his final years of membership of the organisation.[94] McDonald remains the only brigadier who did not have a commonly used nickname.

Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair—West Belfast (1990–2002)[86] An active figure in the UDA/UFF, Adair rose to notoriety in the early 1990s when he led the 2nd Battalion, C Company unit in West Belfast which was responsible for one of the bloodiest killing sprees of the Troubles.[86]

Jim ‘Doris Day’ Gray—East Belfast (1992–2005)[86][95] An unlikely figure in Northern Ireland loyalism, the openly bi-sexual[86] Gray was a controversial figure in the organisation until his death on 4 October 2005. Always flamboyantly dressed, Gray was a key figure in the UDA’s negotiations with Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid. It is widely believed that Gray received his nickname from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch.[86]

Jimbo ‘Bacardi Brigadier’ Simpson—North Belfast (Unknown–2002)[86] Simpson is believed to have been an alcoholic, hence his nickname. He was leader of the UDA in the volatile North Belfast area, an interface between Catholics and Protestants in the New Lodge and Tiger’s Bay neighbourhoods.[86]

Billy ‘The Mexican’ McFarland—North Antrim and Londonderry (Unknown–2013)[86] He Earned his nickname because of his moustache and swarthy appearance, and had overall command of the UDA’s North Antrim and Derry brigade at the time of the Good Friday Agreement. He supported the leadership against Johnny Adair and has been associated with the magazine ‘Warrior’, which makes the case for Ulster Independence

Andre ‘The Egyptian’ Shoukri[86]—North Belfast (2002–2005)[86] Initially a close ally of Johnny Adair, Shoukri and his brother Ihab became involved with the UDA in his native North Belfast. The son of an Egyptian father and a Northern Irish mother, he was expelled from the UDA in 2005 following allegations of criminality.

John ‘Grug’ Gregg—South East Antrim (c.1993[96]–2003) John ‘Grug’ Gregg was a man with a fearsome reputation within the loyalist movement, known as a “Hawk” in loyalist circles, and controlled the streets of south east Antrim. On 14 March 1984, he severely wounded Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an assassination attempt for which he was jailed. When asked by the BBC in prison if he regretted anything about the shooting, his reply was “only that I didn’t succeed.” He was killed on Belfast’s Nelson Street, along with another UDA member (Rab Carson), while travelling in a taxi from the docks in 2003, and the murder was blamed on supporters of Johnny Adair, who had recently been expelled from the UDA in 2002.

Deaths as a result of activity

UDA South Belfast Brigade memorial plaque in Sandy Row

According to Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland (part of the CAIN database), the UDA/UFF was responsible for at least 260 killings during the Troubles, between 1969 and 2001. There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible.[97]

Of those killed by the UDA/UFF:[11]

  • 209 (~80%) were civilians, 12 of whom were civilian political activists
  • 11 (~4%) were members or former members of republican paramilitary groups
  • 37 (~14%) were members or former members of loyalist paramilitary groups
  • 3 (~1%) were members of the British security forces

There were also 91 UDA members and four former members killed in the conflict.[98]

UVF ( Ulster Volunteer Force )

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It emerged in 1966 and is named after the original UVF of the early 20th century. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. The group undertook an armed campaign of almost thirty years during the Troubles. It declared a ceasefire in 1994 and officially ended its campaign in 2007, although some of its members have continued to engage in violence. The group is classified as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom,[1] Republic of Ireland and United States.[2]

Until recent years,[3] it was noted for secrecy and a policy of limited, selective membership.[4][5][6][7][8] The UVF’s declared goals were to combat Irish republicanism – particularly the Irish Republican Army – and to maintain Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom. It was responsible for at least 500 deaths, the vast majority (more than two-thirds)[9][10] of whom were Irish Catholic civilians. During the conflict, its deadliest attack in Northern Ireland was the 1971 McGurk’s Bar bombing, which killed fifteen civilians. The group also carried out attacks in the Republic of Ireland from 1969 onward. The biggest of these was the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which killed 33 civilians, making it the deadliest terrorist attack of the conflict. The no-warning car bombings had been carried out by units from the Belfast and Mid-Ulster brigades. The Mid-Ulster Brigade was also responsible for the 1975 Miami Showband killings, in which three members of the popular Irish cabaret band were shot dead at a bogus military checkpoint by gunmen in British Army uniforms. Two UVF men were accidentally blown up in this attack. The UVF’s last major attack was the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, in which its members shot dead six Catholic civilians in a rural pub.

Since the ceasefire, the UVF has been involved in rioting, organized crime, vigilantism and feuds with other loyalist groups.[11] Some members have also been orchestrating a series of racist attacks.[12]

Aim and strategy

A UVF publicity photo showing masked and armed UVF members

The UVF’s stated goal was to combat Irish republicanism – particularly the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) – and maintain Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom.[13] The vast majority of its victims were Irish Catholic civilians, who were often killed at random.[14] Whenever it claimed responsibility for its attacks, the UVF usually claimed that those targeted were IRA members or were giving help to the IRA.[15] Other times, attacks on Catholic civilians were claimed as “retaliation” for IRA actions, since the IRA drew most of its support from the Catholic community. Such retaliation was seen as both collective punishment and an attempt to weaken the IRA’s support; it was thought that terrorizing the Catholic community and inflicting such a death toll on it would force the IRA to end its campaign.[16] Many retaliatory attacks on Catholics were claimed using the covername “Protestant Action Force” (PAF), which first appeared in Autumn 1974.[17] They always signed their statements with the fictitious name “Captain William Johnston”.[18]

Like the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the UVF’s modus operandi involved assassinations, mass shootings, bombings and kidnappings. It used sub machine-guns, assault rifles, pistols, grenades (including homemade grenades), incendiary bombs, booby trap bombs and car bombs. Referring to its activity in the early and mid-1970s, journalist Ed Moloney described no-warning pub bombings as the UVF’s “forte”.[19] Members were trained in bomb-making and it developed home-made explosives.[20] In the late summer and autumn of 1973 the UVF detonated more bombs than the UDA and IRA combined,[21] and by the time of the group’s temporary ceasefire in late November it had been responsible for over 200 explosions that year.[22] However, from 1977 bombs largely disappeared from the UVF’s arsenal owing to a lack of explosives and bomb-makers, plus a conscious decision to abandon their use in favour of more contained methods.[23][24] The UVF did not return to regular bombings until the early 1990s when it obtained a quantity of the mining explosive Powergel.[25][26]

History

The 1960s

Since 1964, there had been a growing civil rights campaign in Northern Ireland. The civil rights movement sought to end discrimination against Catholics by the Protestant and Unionist-dominated government of Northern Ireland.[27] In March and April 1966, Irish republicans held parades throughout Ireland to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. On 8 March, a group of ex-Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers planted a bomb that destroyed Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin. At the time, the IRA was weak and not engaged in armed action, but some unionists and loyalists warned that it was about to be revived and launch another campaign against Northern Ireland.[27] In April, loyalists led by Ian Paisley, a Protestant fundamentalist preacher, founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC). It set up a paramilitary-style wing called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV).[27] The ‘Paisleyites’ set out to stymie the civil rights movement and oust Terence O’Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Although O’Neill was a unionist, they saw him as being too ‘soft’ on the civil rights movement and too friendly with the Republic of Ireland. There was much overlap in membership between the UCDC/UPV and the UVF.[28]

A UVF mural on the Shankill Road

An old UVF mural on Shankill Road, where the group was formed

A UVF flag in Glenarm, County Antrim

On 7 May, loyalists petrol bombed a Catholic-owned pub in the loyalist Shankill area of Belfast. Fire engulfed the house next door, badly burning the elderly Protestant widow who lived there. She died of her injuries on 27 June.[27] The group called itself the “Ulster Volunteer Force” (UVF), after the original UVF of the early 20th century. It was led by Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. Spence claimed that he was approached in 1965 by two men, one of whom was an Ulster Unionist Party MP, who told him that the UVF was to be re-established and that he was to have responsibility for the Shankill.[29] On 21 May, the group issued a statement:

From this day, we declare war against the Irish Republican Army and its splinter groups. Known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation. Less extreme measures will be taken against anyone sheltering or helping them, but if they persist in giving them aid, then more extreme methods will be adopted… we solemnly warn the authorities to make no more speeches of appeasement. We are heavily armed Protestants dedicated to this cause.[30]

On 27 May, Spence sent four UVF members to kill IRA volunteer Leo Martin, who lived in Belfast. Unable to find their target, the men drove around the Falls district in search of a Catholic. They shot John Scullion, a Catholic civilian, as he walked home.[31] He died of his wounds on 11 June.[27] Spence later wrote “At the time, the attitude was that if you couldn’t get an IRA man you should shoot a Taig, he’s your last resort”.[31]

On 26 June, the group shot dead a Catholic civilian and wounded two others as they left a pub on Malvern Street, Belfast.[27] Two days later, the Government of Northern Ireland declared the UVF illegal.[27] The shootings led to Spence being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum sentence of twenty years.[32] Spence appointed Samuel McClelland as UVF Chief of Staff in his stead.[33]

By 1969, the Catholic civil rights movement had escalted its protest campaign, and O’Neill had promised them some concessions. In March and April that year, UVF and UPV members bombed water and electricity installations in Northern Ireland, blaming them on the dormant IRA and elements of the civil rights movement. Some of them left much of Belfast without power and water.[34] The loyalists “intended to force a crisis which would so undermine confidence in O’Neill’s ability to maintain law and order that he would be obliged to resign”.[35] There were bombings on 30 March, 4 April, 20 April, 24 April and 26 April. All were widely blamed on the IRA, and British soldiers were sent to guard installations.[34] Unionist support for O’Neill waned, and on 28 April he resigned as Prime Minister.[34]

On 12 August 1969, the “Battle of the Bogside” began in Derry. This was a large, three-day riot between Irish nationalists and the police (RUC). In response to events in Derry, nationalists held protests throughout Northern Ireland, some of which became violent. In Belfast, loyalists responded by attacking nationalist districts. Eight people were shot dead and hundreds were injured. Scores of houses and businesses were burnt-out, most of them owned by Catholics. The British Army were deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland. The Irish Army also set up field hospitals near the border. Thousands of families, mostly Catholics, were forced to flee their homes and refugee camps were set up in the Republic of Ireland.[34]

On 12 October, a loyalist protest in the Shankill became violent. During the riot, UVF members shot dead RUC officer Victor Arbuckle. He was the first RUC officer to be killed during the Troubles.[36]

The UVF had launched its first attack in the Republic of Ireland on 5 August 1969, when it bombed the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin.[37][38] There were further attacks in the Republic between October and December 1969. In October, UVF and UPV member Thomas McDowell was killed by the bomb he was planting at Ballyshannon power station. The UVF stated that the attempted attack was a protest against the Irish Army units “still massed on the border in County Donegal“.[39] In December the UVF detonated a car bomb near the Garda central detective bureau and telephone exchange headquarters in Dublin.[40]

The early to mid-1970s

A UVF mural on Shankill Road, Belfast

In January 1970, the UVF began bombing Catholic-owned businesses in Protestant areas of Belfast. It issued a statement vowing to “remove republican elements from loyalist areas” and stop them “reaping financial benefit therefrom”. During 1970, 42 Catholic-owned licensed premises in Protestant areas were bombed.[41] Catholic churches were also attacked. In February it began to target critics of militant loyalism – the homes of MPs Austin Currie, Sheelagh Murnaghan, Richard Ferguson and Anne Dickson were attacked with improvised bombs.[41] It also continued its attacks in the Republic of Ireland, bombing the Dublin-Belfast railway line, an electricity substation, a radio mast, and Irish nationalist monuments.[42]

In December 1969 the IRA had split into the Provisional IRA and Official IRA. In early 1971 they began a concerted campaign against the British Army and RUC. The first British soldier to die in the conflict was killed by the Provisional IRA in February 1971. That year, a string of tit-for-tat pub bombings began in Belfast.[43] This came to a climax on 4 December, when the UVF bombed McGurk’s Bar, a Catholic-owned pub in Belfast. Fifteen Catholic civilians were killed and seventeen wounded. It was the UVF’s deadliest attack in Northern Ireland, and the deadliest attack in Belfast during the Troubles.[44]

The following year, 1972, was the most violent of the Troubles. Along with the newly formed Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the UVF began carrying out gun attacks on random Catholic civilians and using car bombs to attack Catholic-owned pubs. It would continue these tactics for the rest of its campaign. On 23 October 1972, the UVF carried out an armed raid against King’s Park camp, a UDR/Territorial Army depot in Lurgan. They managed to procure a large cache of weapons and ammunition including self-loading rifles, Browning pistols, and Sterling submachine guns. Twenty tons of ammonium nitrate was also stolen from the Belfast docks.[45]

The UVF launched further attacks in the Republic of Ireland during December 1972 and January 1973, when it detonated three car bombs in Dublin and one in Belturbet, killing five civilians. It would attack the Republic again in May 1974, during the two-week Ulster Workers’ Council strike. This was a general strike in protest against the Sunningdale Agreement, which meant sharing political power with Irish nationalists and the Republic having more involvement in Northern Ireland. Along with the UDA, it helped to enforce the strike by blocking roads, intimidating workers, and shutting any businesses that opened.[46] On 17 May, two UVF units from the Belfast and Mid-Ulster brigades detonated four car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan. Thirty-three people were killed and almost 300 injured. It was the deadliest attack of the Troubles. There are various credible allegations that elements of the British security forces colluded with the UVF in the bombings. The Irish parliament‘s Joint Committee on Justice called the bombings an act of “international terrorism” involving the British security forces.[47] Both the UVF and the British Government have denied the claims.

The UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade was founded in 1972 in Lurgan by Billy Hanna, a sergeant in the UDR and a member of the Brigade Staff, who served as the brigade’s commander until his shooting death in July 1975. From that time until the early 1990s, the Mid-Ulster Brigade was led by Robin “the Jackal” Jackson, who then passed the leadership to Billy Wright. Hanna and Jackson have both been implicated by journalist Joe Tiernan, and RUC Special Patrol Group (SPG) officer John Weir as having led one of the units that bombed Dublin.[48] Jackson was allegedly the hitman who shot Hanna dead outside his home in Lurgan, and subsequently took over his command.[49]

The brigade formed part of the Glenanne gang, a loose alliance of loyalist assassins which the Pat Finucane Centre has linked to 87 killings in the 1970s. The gang comprised, in addition to the UVF, rogue elements of the UDR, RUC, SPG, and the regular Army, all acting allegedly under the direction of British Military Intelligence and/or RUC Special Branch.[50]

Mid to late-1970s

UVF mural in the Shankill Road, where the Brigade Staff is based

In 1974, hardliners staged a coup and took over the Brigade Staff.[51] This resulted in a lethal upsweep of sectarian killings and internecine feuding with both the UDA and within the UVF itself.[51] Some of the new Brigade Staff members bore nicknames such as “Big Dog” and “Smudger”.[52] Beginning in 1975, recruitment to the UVF, which until then had been solely by invitation, was now left to the discretion of local units.[53]

The UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade carried out further attacks during this same period. These included the Miami Showband killings of 31 July 1975 – when three members of the popular showband from the Republic of Ireland were killed having been stopped at a fake British Army checkpoint outside of Newry in County Down. Two members of the group survived the attack and later testified against those responsible. Two UVF members, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, were accidentally killed by their own bomb while carrying out this attack. Two of those later convicted (James McDowell and Thomas Crozier) were also serving members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), a part-time, locally recruited regiment of the British Army.

From late 1975 to mid-1977, a unit of the UVF dubbed the Shankill Butchers (a group of UVF men based on Belfast’s Shankill Road) carried out a series of sectarian murders of Catholic civilians. Six of the victims were abducted at random, then beaten and tortured before having their throats slashed. This gang was led by Lenny Murphy. He was shot dead by the IRA in November 1982, four months after his release from the Maze Prison.

The group had been proscribed in July 1966, but this ban was lifted on 4 April 1974 by Merlyn Rees, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in an effort to bring the UVF into the democratic process.[54] A political wing was formed in June 1974, the Volunteer Political Party led by UVF Chief of Staff Ken Gibson, which contested West Belfast in the October 1974 General Election, polling 2,690 votes (6%). The UVF spurned the government efforts however and continued killing. Colin Wallace, part of the intelligence apparatus of the British Army, asserted in an internal memo in 1975 that MI6 and RUC Special Branch formed a pseudo-gang within the UVF, designed to engage in violence and to subvert moves of the UVF towards the political process. Captain Robert Nairac of 14 Intelligence Company was alleged to have been involved in many acts of UVF violence.[55] The UVF was banned again on 3 October 1975 and two days later twenty-six suspected UVF members were arrested in a series of raids. The men were tried and in March 1977 were sentenced to an average of twenty-five years each.[56][57]

In October 1975, after staging a counter-coup, the Brigade Staff acquired a new leadership of moderates with Tommy West serving as the Chief of Staff.[58] These men had overthrown the “hawkish” officers, who had called for a “big push”, which meant an increase in violent attacks, earlier in the same month.[59] In fact, the UVF was behind the deaths of seven civilians in a series of attacks on 2 October.[60] The hawks had been ousted by those in the UVF who were unhappy with their political and military strategy. The new Brigade Staff’s aim was to carry out attacks against known republicans rather than Catholic civilians.[59] This had been thoroughly endorsed by Gusty Spence who issued a statement asking all UVF volunteers to support the new regime.[61] The UVF’s activities in the last years of the decade were increasingly being curtailed by the number of UVF members who were sent to prison.[59] Indeed, the number of killings in Northern Ireland had decreased from 300 per year during the period between 1973 and 1976 to just under 100 in the years 1977–1981.[62] In 1976, Tommy West was replaced with “Mr. F” who is alleged to be John “Bunter” Graham and remains the incumbent Chief of Staff to date.[63][64] West died in 1980.

On 17 February 1979, the UVF carried out its only major attack in Scotland, when its members bombed two pubs in Glasgow frequented by Catholics. Both pubs were wrecked and a number of people were wounded. It claimed the pubs were used for republican fundraising. In June, nine UVF members were convicted of the attacks.[65]

The early to mid-1980s

In the 1980s, the UVF was greatly reduced by a series of police informers. The damage from security service informers started in 1983 with “supergrass” Joseph Bennett’s information which led to the arrest of fourteen senior figures. In 1984, they attempted to kill the northern editor of the Sunday World, Jim Campbell after he had exposed the paramilitary activities of Mid-Ulster brigadier Robin Jackson. By the mid-1980s, a Loyalist paramilitary-style organisation called Ulster Resistance was formed on 10 November 1986. The initial aim of Ulster Resistance was to bring an end to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Loyalists were successful in importing arms into Northern Ireland. The weapons were Palestine Liberation Organisation arms captured by the Israelis, sold to Armscor, the South African state-owned company which, in defiance of the 1977 United Nations arms embargo, set about making South Africa self-sufficient in military hardware.[citation needed] The arms were divided between the UVF, the UDA (the largest loyalist group) and Ulster Resistance.[66]

The UVF received large numbers of Sa vz. 58 assault rifles in the 1980s

The arms are thought to have consisted of:

  • 200 Czechoslovak Sa vz. 58 assault rifles,
  • 90 Browning pistols,
  • 500 RGD-5 fragmentation grenades,
  • 30,000 rounds of ammunition and
  • 12 RPG-7 rocket launchers and 150 warheads.

The UVF used this new infusion of arms to escalate their campaign of sectarian assassinations. This era also saw a more widespread targeting on the UVF’s part of IRA and Sinn Féin members, beginning with the killing of senior IRA member Larry Marley[67] and a failed attempt on the life of a leading republican which left three Catholic civilians dead.[68]

The late 1980s and early 1990s

The UVF also attacked republican paramilitaries and their political activists. These attacks were stepped up in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The largest death toll was on 3 March 1991 when the UVF killed IRA members John Quinn, Dwayne O’Donnell and Malcolm Nugent, and civilian Thomas Armstrong in the car park next to Boyle’s Bar, Cappagh.[69] Republicans had responded to the attacks by assassinating UVF leaders, including John Bingham, William “Frenchie” Marchant, Trevor King[70] and, allegedly, Leslie Dallas.[71] The UVF also killed republicans James Burns, Liam Ryan and Larry Marley.[72] According to Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN), the UVF killed 17 active and four former republican paramilitaries. CAIN also states that Republicans killed 13 UVF members.[73]

According to journalist and author Ed Moloney the UVF campaign in Mid Ulster in this period “indisputably shattered Republican morale”, and put the leadership of the republican movement under intense pressure to “do something”.[74]

1994 ceasefire

A UVF mural referencing the ceasefire

In 1990 the UVF joined the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) and indicated its acceptance of moves towards peace. However, the year leading up to the loyalist ceasefire, which took place shortly after the Provisional IRA ceasefire, saw some of the worst sectarian killings carried out by loyalists during the Troubles. On 18 June 1994, UVF members machine-gunned a pub in Loughinisland, County Down on the basis that its customers were watching the Republic of Ireland national football team playing in the World Cup on television and were therefore assumed to be Catholics. The gunmen shot dead six people and injured five.

The UVF agreed to a ceasefire in October 1994.

Post-ceasefire activities

More militant members of the UVF, led by Billy Wright who disagreed with the ceasefire, broke away to form the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). This development came soon after the UVF’s Brigade Staff in Belfast had stood down Wright and the Portadown unit of the Mid-Ulster Brigade, on 2 August 1996, for the killing of a Catholic taxi driver near Lurgan during Drumcree disturbances.[75]

A UVF mural in Carrickfergus

There followed years of violence between the two organisations. In January 2000 UVF Mid-Ulster brigadier Richard Jameson was shot dead by a LVF gunman which led to an escalation of the UVF/LVF feud. The UVF was also clashing with the UDA in the summer of 2000. The feud with the UDA ended in December following seven deaths. Veteran anti-UVF campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son, Raymond Jr., a Protestant, was beaten to death by UVF men in 1997, estimates the UVF has killed more than thirty people since its 1994 ceasefire, most of them Protestants.[citation needed] The feud between the UVF and the LVF erupted again in the summer of 2005. The UVF killed four men in Belfast and trouble ended only when the LVF announced that it was disbanding in October of that year.[76]

On 14 September 2005, following serious loyalist rioting during which dozens of shots were fired at riot police, the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain announced that the British government no longer recognised the UVF ceasefire.[77]

On 12 February 2006, The Observer reported that the UVF was to disband by the end of 2006. The newspaper also reported that the group refused to decommission its weapons.[78]

On 2 September 2006, BBC News reported the UVF may be intending to re-enter dialogue with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, with a view to decommissioning of their weapons. This move comes as the organisation holds high level discussions about their future.[79]

On 3 May 2007, following recent negotiations between the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and with Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, the UVF made a statement that they would transform to a “non-military, civilianised” organisation.[80] This was to take effect from midnight. They also stated that they would retain their weaponry but put them beyond reach of normal volunteers. Their weapons stock-piles are to be retained under the watch of the UVF leadership.[81][82][83]

In January 2008, the UVF was accused of involvement in vigilante action against alleged criminals in Belfast.[84]

In 2008, a loyalist splinter group calling itself the “Real UVF” emerged briefly to make threats against Sinn Féin in Co. Fermanagh.[85]

In the twentieth IMC report, the group was said to be continuing to put its weapons “beyond reach”, (in the group’s own words) to downsize, and reduce the criminality of the group. The report added that individuals, some current and some former members, in the group have, without the orders from above, continued to “localised recruitment”, and although some continued to try and acquire weapons, including a senior member, most forms of crime had fallen, including shootings and assaults. The group concluded a general acceptance of the need to decommission, though there was no conclusive proof of moves towards this end.[86]

In June 2009 the UVF formally decommissioned their weapons in front of independent witnesses as a formal statement of decommissioning was read by Dawn Purvis and Billy Hutchinson.[87] The IICD confirmed that “substantial quantities of firearms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices” had been decommissioned and that for the UVF and RHC, decommissioning had been completed.[88] On 30 May 2010, however, the UVF was believed to have carried out the shotgun killing of expelled RHC member Bobby Moffett on the Shankill Road in broad daylight. The shooting raised questions over the future of the PUP.

On 25–26 October 2010, the UVF was involved in rioting and disturbances in the Rathcoole area of Newtownabbey with UVF gunmen seen on the streets at the time.[89][90]

On 28 May 2010, the UVF was severely criticised over the murder of Moffett. The Independent Monitoring Commission was highly critical of the leadership for having condoned and even sanctioned the attack, in contrast to praise bestowed on the Brigade Staff for a moderating influence during the marching season. The Progressive Unionist Party‘s condemnation, and Dawn Purvis and other leaders’ resignations as a response to the Moffett shooting, were also noted. Eleven months later, a 40-year-old man was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of the UVF’s alleged second-in-command Harry Stockman, described by the media as a “senior Loyalist figure”. Fifty-year-old Stockman was stabbed more than 15 times in a supermarket in the Greater Shankill area; the attack was believed to have been linked to the Moffett killing. However, public opinion suggests that the stabbing was a personal vendetta and any connection being made to the Moffett case was simply a fictitious tale of revenge.[91]

On the night of 20 June 2011, riots involving 500 people erupted in the Short Strand area of East Belfast. They were blamed by the PSNI on members of the UVF, who also said UVF guns had been used to try to kill police officers.[92] The UVF leader in East Belfast, who is popularly known as the “Beast of the East” and “Ugly Doris” also known as by real name Stephen Matthews, ordered the attack on Catholic homes and a church in the Catholic enclave of the Short Strand. This was in retaliation for attacks on Loyalist homes the previous weekend and after a young girl was hit in the face with a brick by Republicans.[92][93] A dissident Republican was arrested for “the attempted murder of police officers in east Belfast” after shots were fired upon the police.[94]

In July 2011 a UVF flag flying in Limavady was deemed legal by the PSNI after the police had received complaints about the flag from nationalist politicians.[95]

During the Belfast City Hall flag protests of 2012 – 2013, senior UVF members were confirmed to have actively been involved in orchestrating violence and rioting against the PSNI and the Alliance Party throughout Northern Ireland during the weeks of disorder.[96] Much of the UVF’s orchestration was carried out by its senior members in East Belfast, where many attacks on the PSNI and on residents of the Short Strand enclave took place.[97] There were also reports that UVF members fired shots at police lines during a protest.[98] The high levels of orchestration by the leadership of the East Belfast UVF, and the alleged ignored orders from the main leaders of the UVF to stop the violence has led to fears that the East Belfast UVF has now become a separate loyalist paramilitary grouping which doesn’t abide by the UVF ceasefire or the Northern Ireland Peace Process.[99][100]

In October 2013, the policing board announced that the UVF was still heavily involved in gangsterism despite its ceasefire. Assistant chief constable Drew Harris in a statement said “The UVF are subject to an organized crime investigation as an organized crime group. The UVF very clearly have involvement in drug dealing, all forms of gangsterism, serious assaults, intimidation of the community.” [11]

In November 2013, after a series of shootings and acts of intimidation by the UVF. Police Federation Chairman, Terry Spence declared that the UVF ceasefire was no longer active. Spence told Radio Ulster that the UVF had been “engaged in murder, attempted murder of civilians, attempted murder of police officers. They have been engaged in orchestrating violence on our streets, and it’s very clear to me that they are engaged in an array of mafia-style activities.”They are holding local communities to ransom. On the basis of that, we as a federation have called for the respecification of the UVF [stating that its ceasefire is over].”[101]

Leadership

Brigade Staff

Masked UVF Brigade Staff members at a press conference in October 1974. They are wearing part of the UVF uniform which earned them their nickname “Blacknecks”

The UVF’s leadership is based in Belfast and known as the Brigade Staff. It comprises high-ranking officers under a Chief of Staff or Brigadier-General. With a few exceptions, such as Mid-Ulster brigadier Billy Hanna (a native of Lurgan), the Brigade Staff members have been from the Shankill Road or the neighbouring Woodvale area to the west.[102] The Brigade Staff’s former headquarters were situated in rooms above “The Eagle” chip shop located on the Shankill Road at its junction with Spier’s Place. The chip shop has since been closed down.

In 1972, the UVF’s imprisoned leader Gusty Spence was at liberty for four months following a staged kidnapping by UVF volunteers. During this time he restructured the organisation into brigades, battalions, companies, platoons and sections.[45] These were all subordinate to the Brigade Staff. The incumbent Chief of Staff, is alleged to be John “Bunter” Graham, referred to by Martin Dillon as “Mr. F”.[63][64][103] Graham has held the position since he assumed office in 1976.[63]

The UVF’s nickname is “Blacknecks”, derived from their uniform of black polo neck jumper, black trousers, black leather jacket, black forage cap, along with the UVF badge and belt.[104][105] This uniform, based on those of the original UVF, was introduced in the early 1970s.[106]

Chiefs of Staff

  • Gusty Spence (1966–1966). Whilst remaining de jure UVF leader after he was jailed for murder, he no longer acted as the Chief of Staff
  • Sam “Bo” McClelland (1966–1973)[33] Described as a “tough disciplinarian”, he was personally appointed by Spence to succeed him as Chief of Staff, due to his having served in the Korean War with Spence’s former regiment, the Royal Ulster Rifles. He was interned in late 1973, although by that stage the de facto Chief of Staff was his successor, Jim Hanna.[33][107]
  • Jim Hanna (1973 – April 1974)[107] Hanna was allegedly shot dead by the UVF as a suspected informer.[107]
  • Ken Gibson (1974)[108] Gibson was the Chief of Staff during the Ulster Workers’ Council Strike in May 1974.[108]
  • Unnamed Chief of Staff (1974 – October 1975). Leader of the Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV), the youth wing of the UVF. Assumed command after a coup by hardliners in 1974. He, along with the other hawkish Brigade Staff members were overthrown by Tommy West and a new Brigade Staff of “moderates” in a counter-coup supported by Gusty Spence. He left Northern Ireland after his removal from power.[61][109]
  • Tommy West (October 1975 – 1976)[58] A former British Army soldier, West was already the Chief of Staff at the time UVF volunteer Noel “Nogi” Shaw was killed by Lenny Murphy in November 1975 as part of an internal feud.[58]
  • John “Bunter” Graham, also referred to as “Mr. F” (1976–present)[63][64][103]

Strength, finance and support

The strength of the UVF is uncertain. The first Independent Monitoring Commission report in April 2004 described the UVF/RHC as “relatively small” with “a few hundred” active members “based mainly in the Belfast and immediately adjacent areas”.[110] Historically, the number of active UVF members in July 1971 was stated by one source to be no more than 20.[111] Later, in September 1972, Gusty Spence said in an interview that the organisation had a strength of 1,500.[112] A British Army report released in 2006 estimated a peak membership of 1,000.[113] Information regarding the role of women in the UVF is limited. One study focusing in part on female members of the UVF and Red Hand Commando noted that it “seem[ed] to have been reasonably unusual” for women to be officially asked to join the UVF.[114] Another estimates that over a 30-year period women accounted for just 2% of UVF membership at most.[115]

Prior to and after the onset of the Troubles the UVF carried out armed robberies.[116][117] This activity has been described as its preferred source of funds in the early 1970s,[118] and it continued into the 2000s with the UVF in Co Londonderry being active.[110] Members were disciplined after they carried out an unsanctioned theft of £8 million of paintings from an estate in Co Wicklow in April 1974.[119] Like the IRA, the UVF also operated black taxi services,[120][121][122] a scheme believed to have generated £100,000 annually for the organisation.[116] The UVF has also been involved in the extortion of legitimate businesses, although to a lesser extent than the UDA,[123] and was described in the fifth IMC report as being involved in organised crime.[124] In 2002 the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee estimated the UVF’s annual running costs at £1–2 million per year, against an annual fundraising capability of £1.5 million.[125]

In contrast to the IRA, overseas support for loyalist paramilitaries including the UVF has been limited.[126] Its main benefactors have been in central Scotland,[127] Liverpool,[128] Preston[128] and the Toronto area of Canada.[129] Supporters in Scotland have helped supply explosives and guns.[130][131] Although Scottish support for loyalist paramilitaries has been hindered by the strong disapproval of the mainstream Orange Order in that country,[132][133] it is estimated that the UVF nevertheless received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to its Loyalist Prisoners Welfare Association.[134]

Drug dealing

The UVF have been implicated in drug dealing in areas from where they draw their support. Recently it has emerged from the Police Ombudsman that senior North Belfast UVF member and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch informant Mark Haddock has been involved in drug dealing. According to the Belfast Telegraph, “…70 separate police intelligence reports implicating the north Belfast UVF man in dealing cannabis, Ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine.”[135]

According to Alan McQuillan, the assistant director of the Assets Recovery Agency in 2005, “In the loyalist community, drug dealing is run by the paramilitaries and it is generally run for personal gain by a large number of people.” When the Assets Recovery Agency won a High Court order to seize luxury homes belonging to ex-policeman Colin Robert Armstrong and his partner Geraldine Mallon in 2005, Alan McQuillan said “We have further alleged Armstrong has had links with the UVF and then the LVF following the split between those organisations.” It was alleged that Colin Armstrong had links to both drugs and loyalist terrorists.[136]

Billy Wright, the commander of the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade, is believed to have started dealing drugs in 1991 [137] as a lucrative sideline to paramilitary murder. Wright is believed to have dealt mainly in Ecstasy tablets in the early 90s.[138] It was around this time that Sunday World journalists Martin O’Hagan and Jim Campbell coined the term “rat pack” for the UVF’s murderous mid-Ulster unit and, unable to identify Wright by name for legal reasons, they christened him “King Rat.” An article published by the newspaper fingered Wright as a drug lord and sectarian murderer. Wright was apparently enraged by the nickname and made numerous threats to O’Hagan and Campbell. The Sunday World’s offices were also firebombed. Mark Davenport from the BBC has stated that he spoke to a drug dealer who told him that he paid Billy Wright protection money.[139] Loyalists in Portadown such as Bobby Jameson have stated that the LVF (the Mid-Ulster Brigade that broke away from the main UVF – and led by Billy Wright) was not a ‘loyalist organisation but a drugs organisation causing misery in Portadown.’[140]

The UVF’s satellite organisation, the Red Hand Commando, was described by the IMC in 2004 as “heavily involved” in drug dealing.[110]

Affiliated groups

  • The Red Hand Commando (RHC) is an organisation that was established in 1972 and is closely linked with the UVF.
  • The Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV) is the youth section of the UVF. It was initially a youth group akin to the Scouts, but became the youth wing of the UVF during the Home Rule crisis.

Deaths as a result of activity

The UVF has killed more people than any other loyalist paramilitary group. According to the University of Ulster‘s Sutton database, the UVF and RHC was responsible for at least 485 killings during the Troubles, between 1969 and 2001. This includes killings claimed by the “Protestant Action Force” and “Protestant Action Group”. There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible.[9]

Of those killed by the UVF and RHC:[143]

  • 414 (~85%) were civilians, 11 of whom were civilian political activists
  • 21 (~4%) were members or former members of republican paramilitary groups
  • 44 (~9%) were members or former members of loyalist paramilitary groups
  • 6 (~1%) were members of the British security forces

There were also 66 UVF/RHC members and four former members killed in the conflict.[144]

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