No amount of tactical advantage makes up for a complete lack of strategic vision. The idiots in charge decided to make the war a war of attrition (America does not fight these kinds of wars). They figured "well, we can kill ten of them for every one of ours." Which was true. But it doesn't mean you'll be able to kill enough of them. (Or that you should) Because the North chose when and where the battles would be fought. There is a famous exchange between an American and Vietnamese officer in 1975 while an American delegation was meeting in Hanoi. Col. Harry G. Summers met with a Colonel named Tu. At one point, Summers said (in reference to the war) "You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield." Tu paused then said, "That may be so. But it is also irrelevant." Of course, "never defeated us on the battlefield" may be a bit of hyperbole. While it is true that the US didn't lose any major battles in the war, there were things that I would call "tactical defeats". Many of the leaders of the North really wanted to destroy an entire US unit, even if it was only a company. They lured US units into sophisticated traps many times, but never succeeded in actually destroying a whole unit, even with numerical advantage. They did, however, force some US units to retreat and, in at least one case, abandon valuable equipment. Still, the idea of the exchange is still true. Tactically, the US was winning. And it did not matter.
Look at the Tet Offensive, for example. The Tet Offensive was a catastrophic tactical defeat for the North (the Vietcong were effectively annihilated in this battle, and were no longer a major force). But that didn't matter. Because what it succeeded in doing was convincing the American PUBLIC that the war was unwinnable. Furthermore, it showed the brutality of war as civilians were slaughtered and these pictures were broadcast in the every American family's living room. And, in the US, the military is at the mercy of politics.
Unlike the American leaders (who were too busy focusing on the Russians instead of the enemy they were actually fighting), the North Vietnamese military leaders studied the US military well. They wisely found out how to fight asymmetrically and how to prolong the war as long as possible, knowing that the already weak support for the war would fall in America. They also know there own people better than the Americans did. US leaders assumed that the promise of democracy would appeal to the average Vietnamese person. And it did to a lot of them. But not enough. You can't fight a war for another country if the people in that country aren't supporting you. And the people in the South were not supporting the US. And, really, you can't blame them. They knew that, if they gave in to the North, they would probably live. They may not like the North's government, but at least their families would remain alive. As the war continued, the people began to learn that regardless of whether or not the US military was winning, they were still being killed. Mostly by Vietcong, but also by friendly fire. I think it is summed up pretty well by a quote from the movie "Full Metal Jacket" (which is not actually a very realistic movie, but it still worth watching): "Personally, I think, uh... they don't really want to be involved in this war. You know, I mean... they sort of took away our freedom and gave it to the, to the gookers (sic), you know. But they don't want it. They'd rather be alive than free, I guess. Poor dumb bastards." -Private "Eightball".
All of that is to say: it's not really surprising or odd that tech did not win the war. That war was over before it began. Technology and tactical superiority only matter when the strategic situation is close. In the Vietnam war, the advanced training and technology of the Americans really only prolonged the war.
(I know I shouldn't feel the need to say all this, but I'm always very sensitive to history. And it's not because of the US's involvement; I'm not a nationalist by any means. But the accuracy and truth of history, which transcends nationality, is sacred to me. The reason why I feel the need to talk whenever the Vietnam War comes up is because so many have these ridiculous ideas about how it panned out that they got from Hollywood and the media (ironic, considering how instrumental the media's role was in ending America's involvement in the war). This was NOT a situation of a superpower's troops being outmatched by "peasants", as some people seem to believe. First, that is an insult to the NVA, who were capable soldiers. Second, it suggests that the US troops were "having their asses kicked" in the field, which is just simply false. The kill ratio in Vietnam (only counting military casualties) was over well over 15 to 1 in American favor. In fact, when people say that the US lost the war, they are technically incorrect. The US got the North to sign the Paris Peace Accords, which was supposed to mean both the North and the South would stop the fighting. Obviously, though, this did not exactly work out. So I actually do not think it's really accurate to even say that the US lost the war. I do think it is fair to say the North WON the war, if you count the take over of the South following the peace accords to be a part of the war. But I think it's important for people to understand why and how the North was able to get the Americans to leave and to finally win the war. It was not because the North had some mystical army that could magically defeat such a superior force. It was because of their wisdom. And their commitment. And their ability to objectively evaluate the enemy, and find a way to neutralize him whatever the cost. And their foresight to establish clear, purposeful, and obtainable objectives. )
Wow, it's very rare to see an American with a great knowledge about that war. And even more rare when the first thing you say is not "We should have won that war" or "We should have nuke them". I'm impress very much.
You was right. We never defeat US troops in any major battles (with good reasons of course). But like our uncle Hồ say "This is the war between Elephant and Tiger. The Tiger can't defeat the Elephant in morning. So it will hide, when the time is right, the Tiger will come out attack the Elephant then retreat back to his jungle. The Elephant will bleed to dead". But too bad that is not the case of US troops, they never dead, always have fresh new soldiers from the New World. Well, at least the French did.
And don't even remind me about the disaster Tết Offensive. My people has spent many years to study why we fail that day when the plan wa nearly perfect. And you know what the answer is ? It's because the freaking calendar. Seriously ? The whole campaign was fail because the goddamn calendar (the north and south use different calendar). What an Epic Fail T_T.
You know, i don't hate the American. Hell, even uncle Hồ don't hate you, we love your people and it idea about Freedom. Uncle Hồ even gave order to save American soldiers or CIA (back in WW2) when their planes get shoot by the Japanese in Indochina (the name gave to us by our "beloved" French). Even when your president (i don't remember his name) has throw away our uncle letter asking for help to free Indochina from French colony system when he still not took the name Hồ Chí Minh.
But you already know, Vietnam War is suck. Now we are friends and all happy ever after. Most Vietnamese, no matter north or south don't really like to talk about that war anymore. We lose too much, brother killing brother, mother lost their children, now we focus to build a better future for our people and the next generation. Let the past be a good lesson so we don't make the same mistake ever again (which i hope that more young American and Vietnamese will learn because clearly they don't).
Nowaday we fear about China more then anything else. Have your whole race being slaves by them for more then 1000 years is not fun at all and i rather die then see that happen to my people again.