When by the end of 1965 US pilots had flown over 24,000 sortie missions and wiped out 355 of North Vietnam’s ammunition dumps, why then was operation Rolling Thunder ultimately unsuccessful?
In answering this question, students should take into account the objectives for Rolling Thunder.
1. To show guaranteed support for the new anti-communist government in the South.
2. To keep US allies out of the war. To stop China and the USSR from entering the war Johnson knew he had to restrict the Air Force’s actions. For example they had to avoid a 30 mile radius of China and the largest cities of Hanoi and Haiphong.
3. To force the North Vietnamese to engage in negotiations to end the war peacefully.
So why did it fail? Ask students to work together in small groups to use the information on the influence cards to create the most satisfying explanation they can, before comparing their views with those of the experts, which you will want to provide from your existing resources.