VIETNAM, LESSONS LEARNED?
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana.The historian must, however, seek out an accurate past. Few, if any, times in history havespawned a more confusing, more bias-driven plethora of literature than the Vietnam War.The discerning historian will soon learn to avoid some writers.Books by reporters are almost always based on ignorance and are rarely without bias.Reporting of the Vietnam War became so biased that when accompanying units that cameunder fire the reporters would yell “
Bao Chi! Bao Chi!”
…”Journalist! Journalist!” in thehopes that the communists would not shoot someone so valuable to their cause.Books by high-level leaders, both political and military, are normally so filled withapologia and self-justification that they are of little value. Even those with the character to try to portray accuracy are often surprisingly poorly informed.Academia is steeped in bias. It is common for one of the learned ones to assemble or invent “facts” to support his pet theory. Even those striving for truth are handicapped bythe mere “closeness” of events lacking the time to sort themselves out.The “and there I was” war stories offer potential entertainment, and often fantastic flightsof fancy, but rarely any historical value. One particular branch of service seemsexceptionally gifted in this area.The historian seeking accuracy about Vietnam will most often find it in the writings of lower level Army officers whose work was done for the purpose of making the Army better and avoiding repetition of mistakes. These are normally well thought out and areoften quite caustic. ON STRATEGY by Harry G. Summers, DERELECTION OF DUTY by H. R. McMaster, and SUMMONS OF THE TRUMPET by Dave Richard Palmer arerecommended.
THE ADVISORY DECADE 1954-1964The Eisenhower legacy---
Dwight Eisenhower was elected on the promise that hewould bring an end to the Korean War. He did so. He did not want to attempt to match thecommunist forces man-for-man so he
adopted a policy of containment by massiveretaliation. As this meant primarily nuclear weapons delivered by air, Army plannerswere somewhat at loss for a purpose
The Army consequently developed, equipped, andtrained for a doctrine of canalizing enemy forces into a killzone and destroying them with