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Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AFID) in Vietnam

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Research paper

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During the Vietnam conflict the United States Air Force USAF is perhaps most remembered for its bombing campaigns over North Vietnam, but it also performed a substantial amount of Aviation Foreign Internal Defense AFID. U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam conflict began with the advise and assist mission -- an activity that would be known as FID in todays vernacular -- and, though USAF actions eventually became direct and intense, the advise and assist activities continued for the duration of the conflict. The AFID efforts in Vietnam provide lessons for what types of activities should be included in AFID and what the focus of those efforts should be as they are executed. This paper argues that AFID will be an increasingly important mission area for the USAF and that the insights available from the execution of AFID in Vietnam can inform those future operations, both in scope and conduct. Perhaps the most important insight is that assistance efforts must be carefully tailored to meet the needs of the host nation, and that this tailoring may necessitate activities that are beyond the scope of traditional mission areas. The methodology used in researching this paper was to examine the actions the USAF took in Vietnam that could be characterized as advise and assist, and then look for things that went right or wrong. Three areas of effort illustrate USAF AFID activities in Vietnam. This paper will seek lessons learned in the USAF provision of training, equipment, and civic action assistance. Of these three activities in Vietnam, the first two, training the VNAF to conduct operations more effectively and providing technology to the VNAF, corresponded to traditional USAF roles. The third area of activity, USAF provision of civic or humanitarian aid, was a necessary part of the joint pacification effort conducted in Vietnam after 1967, but it did not correspond to any traditional USAF mission areas.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Aircraft Operations
  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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