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Thread: Vietnam War Collection: books plus

  1. #201
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    Default Some "fragging" sources

    Going beyond Fragging - Wiki, one might look at:

    The Hard Truth About Fragging, by Peter Brush (Vietnam Point of View, July 28, 2010):

    Since most fragging incidents did not end up in the court system, it is more difficult to establish a profile of the perpetrators themselves. However, a 1976 study conducted at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Fort Leavenworth gleaned some general characteristics of likely individuals who committed fragging. Of 850 inmates in the USDB population at the time, 28 were identified whose actions, based on their courts-martial transcripts, matched the fragging incident profile. On average, they were 20 years old and had 28 months on active duty. About 20 percent were African American, and about 7 percent were draftees. Most had enlisted in the service and supported the war. They had attained only a low level of education and were considered "loners." Most were in support units, given jobs for which they had not been trained, and reported little job satisfaction. They felt "scapegoated" and showed little or no remorse for their crimes. Almost 90 percent of these men were intoxicated on a wide assortment of substances at the time of the fragging, which mostly occurred at night. They admitted to little planning beyond talking to others, and most did nothing to avoid capture. Consistent with the command structure at the company and battery level, captains and first sergeants were their most common targets, and 75 percent of the perpetrators had been at some time involved in a verbal or physical altercation with their victims.

    In terms of motive, the victims were viewed as having somehow denied the offenders of something they desired, such as promotions or transfers. The victims were perceived as a threat to the offenders. Only two of the 28 offenders studied claimed race was a factor. According to the authors of the study, the easy access and use of drugs was an essential factor in the assaults. That conclusion was further buttressed in a 1976 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry by Thomas Bond, which claimed that illicit drug use, so much more common in Vietnam than in other wars, tended to reduce any inhibitions the offenders may have had about assaulting superiors.
    More recently (January 1, 2011), Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted Their Officers in Vietnam (by George Lepre); as reviewed at FP by Tom Ricks, Best Defense bookshelf: 'Fragging,' the Vietnam War's characteristic crime (8 Mar 2011):

    What did surprise me in this illuminating book was the basic profile of soldiers who fragged NCOs and officers (that is, tried to kill them with hand grenades). In this carefully researched study, Lepre reports that:

    --Most fragging occurred in the noncombat support units in the rear, not in front-line combat units. (p. 31)

    --The attacks often killed the wrong person: "of all the army officers who are known to have died in fragging incidents during the Vietnam War, only one was the intended target of the assault." (p. 44)

    --Four would-be fraggers were killed in their own attempts to assault others. (p. 47)

    --The last Vietnam fragger to get out of jail was William Sutton, who was released in 1999, his time extended by a parole violation. (p. 200)

    --Not all fraggers left the military. Staff Sgt. Alan G. Cornett Jr. [author of Gone Native: An NCO's Story], who was in Special Forces, fragged his unit's executive officer, Lt. Col. Donald F. Bongers, who was wounded but not killed by the grenade blast. Cornett was convicted, did a year's confinement, some of it at Fort Leavenworth's disciplinary barracks -- and then served another 17 years in the Army, retiring in 1989 as a master sergeant. (p. 82)

    --Most fraggers already had had a brush with the military justice system before committing their fragging offenses (pp. 76-77). More typical of fraggers than Cornett was PFC Richard Buckingham, a cook in the 538th Transportation Company. Lepre goes on:

    The government eventually withdrew its charge against Buckingham, which who would have faced his second court-martial in the space of a year: in June 1970 he had been tried in West Germany on charges of rape and sodomy, and was acquitted. Buckingham left the Army in 1972 but couldn't stay out of trouble: only weeks after his discharge, he strangled a seven-year-old girl to death and was sentenced to life imprisonment. A judge released him in 1999 in the belief that he "would not pose an unacceptable risk to society" but Buckingham was quick to prove him wrong: in 2002, he was sentenced to serve several more years in his native Ohio for assaulting yet another female. (p. 118)
    Regards

    Mike

  2. #202
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Default Here's my quick picks

    in no particular order and without reference to previous posters. * indicates my recommendation of what will appeal most to the average Sergeant. YMMV:

    *Street Without Joy Bernard Fall (Narrative of French involvement in Indochina)

    Dereliction of Duty H.R. McMaster (Analysis of the role of the JCS at strategic level)

    The Best and the Brightest David Halberstram (journalist’s account of American efforts in SVN)

    A Bright Shining Lie Cornelius Mahoney Neil Sheehan (similar to TB&TB, but with through the lens of the career of John Paul Vann. Good stuff on the battle of Ap Bac)

    *Dispatches Michael Herr (compilation of articles by a war correspondent)

    Honorable Warrior Lewis Sorely (bio of CSA during Vietnam by an historian of the revisionist school)

    *War comes to Long An Jeffery Rice (a micro view of insurgency and COIN in one SVN province)

    *We Were Soldiers Once and Young Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway (no explanation needed, right?)

    The Nightingale’s Song Robert Timberg (a neat discussion of the impact of Vietnam on American society up to and including Iran Contra told through the lives of 5 USNA grads who were active in security affairs and politics)

    The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 Rick Atkinson (follows West Points Class of ’66 through USMA to combat in Vietnam and beyond. Similar to TNS, but broader scope. Atkinson and Timberg are both journalists, but Timberg was also a Marine combat veteran of Vietnam. This informed his writing, which I preferred)

    *Fields of Fire James Webb (fiction) (Follows a Marine rifle platoon leader through his tour. Written by Senator Jim Webb while attending Georgetown Law School, as a way of dealing with PTSD after a rough year in combat and separation from the USMC. Webb’s story is told in Timberg’s book)

    *The Thirteenth Valley John Del Vecchio (fiction) (Written by a 101st veteran combat correspondent who also holds a degree from Lafayette College. This cat can write. Covers an infantry company operating in the A Shau Valley in latter part of the war. Excellent back story on characters and how their backgrounds both mesh and conflict under the strains of combat in the jungle.)
    Last edited by CR6; 06-24-2011 at 05:00 PM. Reason: grammar
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  3. #203
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    Default Ken - Thanks; CR6 - [many]

    First, Ken, thanks for your post of the other day.

    Second, CR6 et al:

    Sheehan's narrative of the Battle of Ap Bac was excellent. Yet I do think that one ought to, if possible, counterpoise it against the description of the battle in Mark Moyar, Triumph Forsaken. While not developed as in depth, Moyar is actually more convincing in the testimony that he deploys, IIRC.

    While perhaps not meriting inclusion in the Canon being compiled, I nevertheless just think that if Sorley and Fall are mentioned, then A Better War and Hell in a Very Small Place ought to be mentioned as well.

    Further, I agree that The Long Gray Line (Atkinson) and The Nightingale's Song are both great books.

    Regards
    OC

  4. #204
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up You're welcome, OC...

    Agree with you on the Moyar - Sheehan comparison but acknowledge I'm prejudiced, I believe Sheehan's book was penned as an apologia for the sloppy way they reported the war (not to say the debacle was their fault, just that most of them did not do their job very well). Sheehan's detour into Vann's childhood is bizarre at best. In any event, my take on his book was one of skepticism on several levels...

    I restricted myself to the ten requested by Sasquatch but your suggestions were on my initial long list and all are great.

  5. #205
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    Default

    Afterthought: As a former CORDS guy, I think I ought to mention the one book that is thoroughly dedicated to providing a balanced account of CORDS, Pacification, by Richard A. Hunt. Reads like a decent after action report, is detailed, and IMO objective.

    By contrast, Sheehan's biography about Vann strangely doesn't devote much time to CORDS at all (I concur in Ken's assessment), and CORDS boss Bill Colby's two autobiographies present a sadly rose colored view of "pacification." (I mean, for one example, how can you be seized--as was Colby-- with the idea that PSDF, village militia composed of males too old or too young to be drafted, organized by top-down gov't decree, in which membership was compulsory, rpt. compulsory, would evolve into a grass-roots, mass political movement--[think "The Awakening"]?)

    Cheers,
    Mike

  6. #206
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    Default Great Stuff

    Still looking for a brief (Less than 300 pages?) general overview for the person who is more familiar with the NFL draft rules....

    (Sorry, but I'm not qualified to teach High School history, my first name is not "Coach")

    Remember reading Bernard Fall way back in the day; probably should include one of his books on the final list, the idea is, the really interested soldier will seek out his other books on their own.

  7. #207
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    Default NCO Issues & Fragging

    Interesting direction of the thread, because I have a query related to the NCO issue, and don't know where to start a thread.

    On Fragging, 80 odd casualties and 1400 attempts?

    It shows how shallow institutional memory is; even in the 1980's, young soliders had not heard (learned?) that the first step was to roll the grenade into the LT's hooch without pulling the pin, in hopes he would modify his behavior.

    Or something like that, but you can figure it out.

  8. #208
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    Default New thread?

    Sasquatch,

    You asked:
    don't know where to start a thread.
    If you and others think "fragging" is worthy of a discussion a new thread can be started, perhaps best in the history arena. I can copy or move the posts here to that.
    davidbfpo

  9. #209
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    Default Fragging - Milam, "Not a Gentleman's War"

    I suppose Ron Milam's Not a Gentleman's War is arguably germane to Sasquatch's original query, although it supposedly is dedicated toward exploring the officer experience in VN. (I use "supposedly" because IMO, the book is somewhat deceptive in its title and somewhat so in its thesis as well. That is to say, does it seek to debunk the "Calley myth," describe the officer experience, both, more - e.g., to some extent, describe the Vietnam experience for all soldiers, rather than just officers - one or the other and only one or the other?, etc.) And additionally, I'm not sure whether it meets some of Sasquatch's other criteria, i.e., a book that people would actually really want to get up and read, snarky as that may sound to a piece of scholarship almost certainly composed with toil and tears. Yet it may fit into the original thread, as well as the fragging thread which may be evolving. All that said, let me proceed to the punchline: IIRC (and alas, here my recall could alas be wrong), the book does have some material on fragging, and even if the text itself may be spare on the topic, then some information may perhaps be gleaned from the footnotes.

    Regards
    OC

  10. #210
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch View Post
    Still looking for a brief (Less than 300 pages?) general overview for the person who is more familiar with the NFL draft rules....


    The Summons of the Trumpet
    by Dave R. Palmer comes in at 277 pages. Sub-titled "US-Vietnam in Perspective", the book provides a good overview of US involvement in SE Asia, but with the limitations inherent in covering a long and tumultuous period in a concise manner.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  11. #211
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    Default Fiction is a good guide

    Many novels provide excellent accounts of this war. You can't beat Webb's Fields of Fire or Roth's Sand in the Wind. The 13th Valley has already been mentioned. For the Montangards, try Jonathan Raban's The Barking Deer.

    David Elliot's massive (and expensive) 2 volume treatment of the war in the Mekong is definitive. Ward Just's To What End is often overlooked. I think it is every bit as good as Dispatches. The air war is not often dealt with. I like Thud Ridge, but I'm not really familiar with the literature on this aspect of the war, so others may have better suggestions.

    Finally, there were two sides in this war. The material on the US side is enormous; on the NVA side, virtually non existent. Of course, there are many reasons for this--lack of access to archives, regime control of everything,etc. but there is a huge gap to any attempt to understand this conflict.

  12. #212
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Why we lost Vietnam, revisited: event in DC

    An email landed today announcing this panel discussion sponsored by the Foreign Policy Research Institute and by the Reserve Officers Association:http://www.fpri.org/events/2013/02/w...tnam-revisited

    Thursday, February 21, 2013
    1:45 p.m. Registration; 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Program
    ROA, One Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, DC

    Free and open to the public, reservations required:events@fpri.org
    Also available via w webcast/teleconference, after registration:https://cc.readytalk.com/r/jm9ayjemevi4

    Nearly four decades after the last American soldier left Vietnam, a debate still rages concerning the cause of the American defeat in that war. An influential narrative holds that the United States could never have won in Vietnam given the nature of the war and the commitment on the part of the Vietnamese communists. But over the past 20 years, a number of observers have called this narrative into question. Some military writers have argued that the US defeat in Vietnam can be traced to a flawed national strategy, which they blame mostly on civilian policy makers. But more recently, influential analysts, both military and civilian, have indicted the military itself for the failure, blaming military leadership for adopting a defective operational strategy.

    This FPRI/ROA workshop addresses the latter argument by assessing the issue of Army generalship in Vietnam. The four panelists are well equipped to undertake this assessment. Three are soldier-scholars, combat veterans with PhDs who have grappled with this topic for many years: Lewis Sorley, Gian Gentile, and Gregory Daddis. One is a seasoned national security journalist who has spent decades observing the US military during war and peace, Tom Ricks. While the discussion will not resolve the debate, it will certainly enable reasonable observers to refine their own views.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-18-2017 at 05:24 PM. Reason: Stand alone thread with 10k views
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  13. #213
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    Default Vietnam LRRPs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5GL3cJTyUM

    Special Forces - LRRPs Vietnam

    Excellent history on the LRRPs in Vietnam and the MACV-Recondo School ran by Special Forces. Only U.S. military school where students conducted live patrols in enemy territory. Students interviewed spoke very highly of the course.

    Unfortunately, there were a couple of examples of piss poor leadership by the conventional army directed tactical operations from the rear, so some things never change.

    Interesting discussion on their transition into the 75th Rangers (pro's and con's). It increased their risk due the Rangers operating in larger size patrols (8 men versus 4), but on the other hand gave them more firepower. Then the program discussed the incurred risk during Vietnamization when Vietnamese Rangers were integrated into U.S. Ranger patrols without being able to train together and learn each others SOPs prior to fighting together.

    Overall a very well done documentary.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-18-2017 at 05:22 PM. Reason: Was a stand alone thread with 9.6k views.

  14. #214
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    Default Malcolm Gladwell on listening to the enemy

    The actual title of this BBC article is 'Viewpoint: Could one man have shortened the Vietnam War?', but I fear having Vietnam in the title may put (American) readers off:
    Konrad Kellen was an unknown defence analyst who might have changed the course of the Vietnam War if only people had listened to him....in the early 1960s, he joined the Rand Corporation, .... And there he faced the greatest challenge of his career - the Vietnam Motivation and Morale Project.
    How often do we read and learn this happens?
    ..the Pentagon didn't know anything about the North Vietnamese. They knew nothing about Vietnamese culture, Vietnamese history, Vietnamese language. It was just this little speck in the world, in their view.
    Listening is hard because the more you listen, the more unsettling the world becomes. It's a lot easier just to place your hands over your ears and not listen at all......Kellen said that the Vietcong were not giving up and were not demoralised. It was not, he said, a battle the US could win - not today, not tomorrow and not the day after tomorrow.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23037957
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 07:41 PM. Reason: 7,025v before merged into main Vietnam War thread
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  15. #215
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    Default Moderator at work

    I have just merged nine threads on the history of Vietnam's wars, that specifically cover books, not aspects or incidents in the conflicts. Plus a new title.
    davidbfpo

  16. #216
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    Default The French connection

    A short review of a 2012 book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall, that:
    ...traces the history of America's involvement in Vietnam. The book provides a sweeping narrative that starts with World War I and French colonialism and ends with direct U.S. intervention starting in the late 1950s.
    Link:http://www.pri.org/stories/arts-ente...war-11194.html

    Amazon has dozens of v.good reviews, order via SWJ link! See:http://smallwarsjournal.com/content/support

    Reviews:http://www.amazon.com/Embers-War-Emp.../dp/0375504427
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-02-2013 at 08:30 PM.
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  17. #217
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    Default What if Ho Chi Minh had been killed in 1947?

    Not a counter-factual, rather a short introduction to a French offensive in northern Vietnam against the Viet Minh, from the newly discovered Defence in Depth, a Kings Defence Studies blogsite:http://defenceindepth.co/2014/11/27/...indochina-war/



    The author cites Bernard Fall on Operation Lea:
    a wild gamble at finishing the war in one single master stroke.
    It is worth reading Fall's commentary on an operation at the same time. minus aircraft, tanks etc that actually had an effect and was led by two local infantry battalions - in the T'ai Highlands (see pg.30):http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=G...page&q&f=false

    There is an old thread dedicated to Bernard Fall, after his wife published her own book:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=269

    The author, Michael Finch, has a book on French COIN 1885-1900:http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/vie...ilqH5&result=1

    Defence in Depth has irregular postings on such battles / operations:
    Forgotten Battles is a feature on Defence-in-Depth designed to bring long-lost battles back from the depths of history. Our authors have chosen these engagements because they believe that their significance has been overlooked or overshadowed by better-remembered battles in history. The significance of the chosen battles may have been strategic and influenced greatly a particular war or campaign or may be based on other factors, such as social or cultural impact or the way in which a battle shaped the thinking of future leaders.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 07:38 PM. Reason: 12,742v before merged into main Vietnam War thread
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  18. #218
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    Default Pacification then, Nation-building now

    Another Defence in Depth piece: 'Nation building a forgotten aspect of the Vietnam War' and asks why study this now?

    Simple:
    ..both historians and theorists of nation-building have neglected one of the most comprehensive attempts at strengthening a foreign government ever undertaken by the United States.....a new generation of Vietnam War scholars is beginning to challenge this endless search for blame and to look at the conflict in a wider historical and theoretical perspective.
    Link:http://defenceindepth.co/2014/12/08/...e-vietnam-war/

    Alas the first link, a book review is beind a paywall; the second pair of links only take you to author bios, well at least there are starting points for reading identified.
    davidbfpo

  19. #219
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Another Defence in Depth piece: 'Nation building a forgotten aspect of the Vietnam War' and asks why study this now?

    Simple:

    Link:http://defenceindepth.co/2014/12/08/...e-vietnam-war/

    Alas the first link, a book review is beind a paywall; the second pair of links only take you to author bios, well at least there are starting points for reading identified.
    Of course there were good tactical programs and operations in Vietnam. Likewise in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there is no value in celebrating these meaningless successes unless one does so in the context of the larger issue of the fundamentally flawed strategic context in which we viewed and framed these conflicts, and the infeasible policies we shaped our goals within.

    Bottom line, when one creates an impossible problem and defines it in inaccurate terms - no amount of good tactical action, military or otherwise, is going to meet the basic measures of acceptable, suitable, feasible and complete.

    At some point the US must step back and be objectively honest about how we have exaggerated our need to intervene in the governance of others in the name of our own security; and have equally assumed that the goodness of the nature of the governance we offered to others would somehow overcome the fundamentally illegitimate character of how that governance was imposed.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 07:39 PM. Reason: 2 of 2 posts before merged into main Vietnam War thread
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Default Stories of Grief, Love and Penance Live Among What’s Left at the Vietnam Wall

    Stories of Grief, Love and Penance Live Among What’s Left at the Vietnam Wall

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

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