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Conditions of the Vietnam War Essay

When fighting in a war, the brave soldiers are not only up against their enemy, but also against the chaotic obstacles born on the battlefield. The constant noise of slaughter, the gut-wrenching weather and the omnipresent fear of death were all elements of war that the soldiers had to coexist with. The odds of walking home after a war are extremely rare and those who were lucky enough to survive were unlucky enough to have had witnessed indescribable scenes of blood and murder. Those who have confronted the wrath of war are left psychologically traumatised and mentally unstable.

The fighting conditions during the Vietnam War were excruciatingly tough. The Australian and American troops were forced to fight in a variety of weathers, including the tropical rains and blazing heat. Fighting in environments and conditions they were not yet accustomed to, they were drained of their energy and were demanded high levels of endurance. For some soldiers, the dry season was particularly difficult to fight in. they were required to fight through a haze of dust that penetrated their clothing, filled their pores and worked its way through their eyes and ears, resulting in conjunctivitis and ear infections.

One soldier stated, “It can be a test of human endeavour inside a noisy metal box all day in forty degree heat, with eighty per cent relative humidity and no one has showered for a week.” Soldiers fought with damages to their bodies such as blisters, sunburn and dehydration, making it very difficult to move around and fight to the best of their ability. Other difficulties they faced were the threat of diseases such as malaria and dysentery which is caused by lack of sanitation and dehydration. Spiders, poisonous centipedes, snakes and leeches were some of the deadly creatures the soldiers tried their hardest to avoid.

Proper food and clean water was very difficult to obtain as well. Soldiers ate from used cans and drank from dirt covered drink bottles. In a land where the ground explodes and it rains bullets, death is inevitable. Soldiers would be knee-deep in massacre and the vicinity would be infested with the body parts of comrade soldiers. War does not give time for soldiers to grieve and is constantly tainting the earth in the colour of red.

Witnessing the death of a comrade is one thing, but to have to crawl, walk and run knowing that you may die a gruesome death at any moment is just as painfully terrifying. Soldiers who survived the Vietnam war were diagnosed with permanent paranoia and insanity. Whilst fighting an enemy on the battlefield, soldiers must simultaneously fight fear in their minds.

Guerrilla Warfare

During the Vietnam War, Guerrilla tactics were being put into action. Guerrilla Warfare consisted of small surprise attacks and ambushes instead of operating in major gunfire battles. Setting up booby-traps and tripwires were the preferred option as well as digging up complicated systems of underground tunnels in and around small villages. The Vietcong had the home field advantage, they used the rough terrain, thick forests and uneven landscape to their advantage against the American soldiers as they were unfamiliar to such difficult landforms. The Vietcong used their intelligence and stealth to outsmart the Americans and win the war. They did not wear any uniform so the Americans only saw them as ‘villagers with guns’.

The Vietcong would also hide behind innocent civilians and use them as a shield against their enemy. They would also dig up American land mines and use the explosives as bombs of their own. Hit-and-run attacks were common and very effective in the fight against the Americans. With dangerous deft, the Vietcong would stealthy attack the Americans and leave before risking capture- incorporating the element of surprise. The Vietcong would escape through a complex network of underground tunnels, oblivious to the Americans. At the start of the war, the American soldiers had no idea of the tunnels’ existence and their unawareness produced great advantage to the Vietcong.

The most extensive of the tunnel system laid in the ‘Iron Triangle’ in the Cu Chi distract, which covered approximately 400 kilometres. The Americans highly relied on their helicopters to combat the Vietcong’s skilfully hidden death traps. However, the Vietcong turned to heavy machinery as a form of retaliation against the American’s aerial attacks. The Vietcong would set up multiple booby-traps, hidden among the jungle floor of the forests. Majority of the booby-traps were covered in poison and venom which will increase the risk of infection. Some booby traps that were crafted and handmade by the Vietnamese villagers included: * The Bear Trap- when stepped on would fiercely clutch one’s foot by impaling it with sharp claws

* Grenade Traps- a grenade strapped to a tripwire which will instantly explode, leaving no time to escape when triggered * ‘Bouncing Betty’- designed to cut someone in half, when stepped on would result in either paralysis or the complete amputation of a limb * Foot Trap- a hole that was dug knee deep and planted with stakes coated in poison pointing downwards, making it unescapable * Tiger Pit/ Punji Spike Pit- a hole approximately 5-6 feet deep, with the bottom covered in piercing, venomous stakes.

It also has a grenade lying in await to ambush those who try to escape The fighting conditions in the Vietnam war were inhumane for both parties. Soldiers put their bodies through irritatingly uncomfortable situations and fought in fearsome scenarios, all whilst trying to keep their limbs intact. Battles arose within battles, whether it be the vicious weather or the unshakable fear of death, soldiers endured an admirable amount of physical and mental struggle. The rage of the Vietnam War claimed many courageous lives and defiled the minds of those who were able to walk away with the luxury of breath.

Bibliography

* http://vietnamawbb.weebly.com/guerrilla-warfare-and-war-of-attrition.html * http://history1900s.about.com/od/vietnamwar/a/vietnamwar.htm * http://www.pbs.org/battlefieldvietnam/guerrilla/index.html * http://www.vietnam-war.0catch.com/vietnam_war_nature.htm * http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/combat/viet-cong-tunnels.php * http://www.securenet.net/3rdbn5th/mike35/booby.htm

* http://www.echo23marines6569.org/BoobyTraps.html
* http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/armour/conditions.php * https://session.wikispaces.com/1/auth/auth?authToken=03a2e4971076358d2188756c8108eb2b5

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