Why were loudspeakers used during the Vietnam War?


I was watching a movie that took place in Vietnam War and saw that they put large loudspeakers on tanks, boats and even on helicopters. On another TV Series, Generation Kill that took place in Iraq War, they don’t have such things. Soldiers usually sing by themselves.

I’m wondering:

* what was the purpose of loudspeakers?
* why they don’t use it anymore?

In: 219

The military has spent a rather significant amount of money in Psychological Warfare (PsyOps). The idea behind all of it is that you can gain a tactical advantage by causing unease in the enemy.

In the case of Vietnam, there was a theory that helicopters and loud American music would be frightening to the enemy and project an image of a massive juggernaut to intimidate the local forces. There was a prevailing belief that most of the North Vietnamese Army were poorly educated and unfamiliar with technology and American culture. Those in charge of the program believed that by playing American music (and propaganda) they would be able to make them want to surrender or weaken their morale and resolve.

Why hasn’t it continued? It didn’t work. PsyOps and propaganda are still a huge part of war but have changed forms and tactics as the programs have evolved. Vietnam marked the beginning of “unconventional war” and a lot of lessons were learned. Iraq was another evolution of unconventional warfare and new tactics were tried. Instead of pissing off everybody within earshot, they tried instead to befriend and gain the trust of the locals. They learned in Vietnam that the average civilian in guerilla warfare can be a great asset to the forces that they support.

There are still situations where similar tactics are still used (disrupting enemy camps to try to induce sleep deprivation) but the changing face of warfare with a focus on ranged weaponry has negated a lot of the benefits.

This isn’t a new tactic, however. Scottish bagpipers have been an integral part of their armies for a long time. Leading the forces with loud music to both intimidate the enemy and boost their own army.

Well, on those boats they let people on one boat talk to people on another boat without having to get really close and turn off their engines.

One of the more unique aspects of warfare in Vietnam was how troops were dropped into the jungle and extracted by helicopter on a very regular basis. Giving pilots a way of communicating with ground troops (outside of a clunky radio) just makes sense if they need a clear LZ or have to warn them about nearby enemy movements visible from the air.

They’re also really useful for civilian crowd control and instructions.

But I also need to dispute the lack of use in more modern wars. Especially in urban warfare. Megaphones get used a ton. The equipment is just smaller and not as prominent as it is better integrated into the vehicles and equipment. Less noticeable in short.

It may not get used all the same, but it’s still out there.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I remember reading that the US would play certain things on loud speakers in an attempt to mentally affect the Vietnamese soldiers. Things like the voices of “ghosts” of dead Vietnamese soldiers who talked about how surrendering would have been better than dying and other morbid stuff like that, in reality it was just psychological warfare.

I was in Viet Nam for a year, Mecong Delta, and never saw or heard this. I guess it wasn’t a thing where I was. It would have driven ME crazy.

I think the only time it was used successfully was in Panama. When Manuel Noriega was holed up in the [Vatican Embassy](https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/30/530723028/how-the-u-s-military-used-guns-n-roses-to-make-a-dictator-give-up#:~:text=AP-,U.S.%20troops%20man%20a%20roadblock%20on%20Dec.,He%20surrendered%20on%20Jan). They played Guns N’ Roses and other rock music played continuously at teenager volume to entice his surrender. It seemed to work and he surrendered.