Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Dr. Andrew A. Wiest

Committee Chair Department

History

Committee Member 2

Dr. Heather M. Stur

Committee Member 2 Department

History

Committee Member 3

Dr. Allison Abra

Committee Member 3 Department

History

Committee Member 4

Dr. Susannah J. Ural

Committee Member 4 Department

History

Committee Member 5

Col. Gian P. Gentile

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the meaning and execution of pacification during the Vietnam War in the Republic of Vietnam’s Phu Yen Province. Vietnam War scholarship never defined the term, an unsurprising fact given those that directed the war itself never agreed on a lasting interpretation. Void of an analysis of the word, pacification is erroneously discussed as a separate facet, rather than the foundation, of the war. When discussed, pacification is often seen solely as the developmental aspect of the war and one far removed from the battles waged by conventional armies. On the contrary, two dissimilar and tangentially related wars never transpired in the Republic of Vietnam. To create space for the Saigon government to control the population, conventional military forces needed to evict the units of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the People’s Liberation Armed Forces from the countryside. Often, construction efforts commenced before the achievement of the enemy’s destruction. In transpiring together, pacification existed as an ongoing process that lasted from the start to the end of the war. Consequently, this dissertation treats pacification as the umbrella term under which the entire war transpired.

Significant, yet fleeting, high levels of security were necessary to keep pacification on track. As the first study of Phu Yen Province, this dissertation uses the largely untapped CORDS Advisory Team 28 reports, which explain pacification at the province level like never before. A province study on Phu Yen reveals how I Field Force Vietnam’s maneuver battalions advanced pacification and how the gradual abandonment of Vietnam failed pacification at the most basic level. Years of efforts by conventional military forces to pacify Phu Yen amounted to a security situation that went from precarious to uncertain, with noteworthy enemy infrastructure remaining in Phu Yen’s densely populated Tuy Hoa Valley at the end of 1972. As a Viet Minh province during the First Indochina War, and one that Americans and South Vietnamese authorities struggled to instill a semblance of the province being pacified under Saigon’s banner, Phu Yen offers profound insight into how the Americans advanced pacification and why pacification ultimately did not work.

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