What effects did the US tactic of "search and destroy" have on the Vietnam War? 

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The whole strategy of search and destroy had negative impacts on everyone from the Vietnamese people to the American soldiers.  It also had a negative impact on America’s ability to win the war.

Search and destroy was hard on soldiers.  It forced them to try to distinguish between normal civilians and guerrillas.  It forced them to go in and destroy people’s homes if they thought those people were the enemy.  It required them to make very difficult decisions and to live with the effects.  The strategy hurt the Vietnamese as well.  Homes and farms were destroyed.  People were made into refugees. 

Overall, this harmed the war effort.  It drained morale, particularly since it was hard to see any gains as soldiers would go into an area but would then withdraw, only to see the enemy move back in.  It turned many Vietnamese against the Americans.  All of this hurt the war effort.

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