Strategic Hamlet Program

Beginning in 1962, the Strategic Hamlet Program was the United States and South Vietnam's answer to the Viet Cong's guerrilla attacks.  The logic behind the program was to gather all local villagers in one strategic location that could be fortified against attacks.  The villages also doubled as a way to disrupt support for the Viet Cong and deprive them of places to hide amongst the populace. 

The Program ended up having a myriad of problems.  It uprooted local farmers from their plots of land, forcing them to travel at times miles to their farm.  Corruption among officials meant the hamlets did not receive the appropriate funding when they needed it.  The villages were often completely ineffective at stopping Communist insurgents and actually sometimes became places for recruitment among the Viet Cong. The biggest shortcoming was the lack of actual security.  The hamlets became isolated targets for the Viet Cong, with no support from other nearby villages or cities.  ARVN forces also were extremely unreliable at answering calls for help from the villages, particularly at night.

In the end, The Strategic Hamlet Program was a classic example of the United States commiting to the war in Vietnam in an odd way.  The U.S. government attempted to solve the problem without examining the culture of Vietnam.  It failed to realize how the program could potentially drive Vietnamese farmers into the arms of the Viet Cong.  The US threw money at a problem instead of examining it and figuring out the best way to implement a solution.

The Strategic Hamlet Program's failure contributed to the cascading problems in Vietnam.  After Diem was removed from power, the program was cancelled, and all of the people who had been corralled into the hamlets either left them to return to their old homes or fled to cities, contributing to an internal refugee crisis in South Vietnam as people fled warzones.