Limited war through airpower and the political exploitation of POWs



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Texas Tech University


This thesis does not examine the tactical planning and execution of the Son Tay raid; rather, it focuses on the political environment that created the need for such an operation, as well as the implications of the raid. The Nixon administration sought an honorable withdrawal from the war, yet it could not end the war until it secured the release of US POWs. The DRV was unwilling to negotiate the war's end, much less the retum of POWs, until the US and South Vietnam gave in to North Vietnamese demands. Thus, the US was held hostage as a belligerent until it capitulated to DRV demands. In other words, the US could not leave the war until it regained its POWs, and North Vietnam would not release US POWs until it received assurances that their demands would be met. Once the US agreed to withdraw from South Vietnam and abandoned its principal mihtary commitment to a free and independent South Vietnam, the DR negotiated for the remm of US POWs. Thus, US war aims ultimately were compromised in order to gain the release of our POWs.



Limited war, Prisoners of war, Vietnam War, Air power