Vietnamization involved the gradual unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The policy, initiated by President Eisenhower, was coupled with stepped-up training and equipping of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Ike’s intention was to give the South Vietnamese the maximum chance for survival after the departure of the Americans. At a minimum, it was to leave a “decent interval” between the American exit and whatever might befall the Vietnamese.
In the early 1970s, Vietnamization became a catchword for Richard Nixon’s policy. The expectation of the Nixon administration was that, given the proper circumstances, the Vietnamese could survive without American troops. However, as one US official said, Vietnamization simply meant “changing the color of the corpses.”
Photograph by John Rawlinson (Flickr)