In the Vietnam War (1954-1975) American troops were faced with the task of defeating communism in Northern Vietnam. Though it would seem that this should be a rather easy task since both the Northern and Southern parts were relatively new, and thus not stable and technologically advanced, this was not the case, for the opposition resorted to guerrilla warfare, a form of asymmetric warfare. The Northern Vietnam soldiers, or Vietcong, were notorious for their hit and run style and quick escape through an incredible system of tunnels. However, not only were soldiers threats, civilians acted as eyes and ears to all US affairs and even did damage themselves as they understood they were fighting because of a devotion to their cause.
This civilian involvement caused the Vietnamese social structure to break down from both the Vietnamese and the American perspective. For the Vietnamese, there was somewhat of a distinction between soldier and civilian. There was a regular army who reported to a general who reported to Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the country. Also, the civilians were beginning to become immersed in Communistic practices where Ho Chi Minh was the leader as well. Civilians took it upon themselves to help their soldiers by spying and even producing small scale attacks by using hidden bombs. The Americans, in turn, saw both of these issues as a threat, for they began to understand how dangerous the Vietnamese social structure engulfed in war truly was. As this distinction between the soldiers and civilians continued disappearing, Americans, unfortunately, didn’t make an effort to distinguish between the two as there are estimates of over 580,000 Nortnern Vietnamese Civilians being killed throughout the history of the war. The social structure of a country at war definitely chages; however, it is unfortunate to see a complete loss of who should have been the target.