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Thread: Vietnam War Collection: books plus

  1. #81
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good analysis.

    All good, but particularly these two:
    "The problems are within, and they are going to require a whole different set of answers - many of which exceed the capabilities of the military or the use of military force, either conventionally or in COIN.

    Steve's point re the use of North Vietnamese histories is a good one. They tend to downplay the role of the southern agents -- and their very different agendas, many of which did not include unification with the north."
    That last very important point is missed by most...

  2. #82
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    This shows quite clearly in Westmoreland's lukewarm reception of intelligence provided by SOG teams working the Trail in Laos and (later) Cambodia. The same goes for at least parts of his staff as well. SOG had the potential to deliver incredible intelligence, but it was often wasted by people who didn't have a good understanding of what they had.
    I concur to a degree. In the early days, the product delivered by OPS-35 was pretty variable, and only covered a very small AO. By 1968, B-52 strikes were being put in based on OPS-35 product.

    ...however, and I say this as a man with many friends who served in the OPS-35 Recon Teams, the role of the NSA in Laos (Angry Talker, and Polaris 2) has never really been researched. As far as I can tell, most of the targets run in 1969/70 were based on Angry Talker intercepts.

    Quote Originally Posted by AGBrina View Post
    ....Congress had allocated just a fourth of the funds lavished on the Israelis in 1974 toward the South Vietnamese instead....
    What crippled ARVN was oil prices. Giving ARVN more equipment (which was what the IDF needed to replace 1973 losses - (and US support broke the will of Jordan and Egypt to continue by military means) ARVN just lacked training and mostly combat power across the board. Giving RVN more M113s and F4E's would not have altered the military outcome.

    However, it would have saved Cambodia! - a nation truly betrayed by the US Congress and a few other people. I've never wanted to talk to Jane Fonda about Hanoi, but I would love to chat about Cambodia!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  3. #83
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Steve's point re the use of North Vietnamese histories is a good one. They tend to downplay the role of the southern agents -- and their very different agendas, many of which did not include unification with the north."


    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    All good, but particularly these two:That last very important point is missed by most...
    To echo Steve, Ken, and Sargent, in fact the regime in Hanoi actively purged surviving members of the VC infrastructure, military and political, after the collapse of Saigon in 1975. The rewrite of history to exclude the southern comrades began then and has never stopped.

    For example see:

    History of the Bulwark B2 Theatre

    In 1978 the Political General Department of the Vietnam People's Army adopted the policy of having cadres who worked and fought on the battlefields write memoirs about our nation's glorious war against the United States and recommended that I write about the B2 theater during the victorious spring of 1975: "How did the B2 theater carry out the mission assigned it by the Military Commission of the Party Central Committee?" How did it contribute to that glorious spring?"

    Along with the other battlefields throughout the nation the B2 theater, in order to fulfill its glorious mission, contributed considerably to our people's great victory. The B2 theater and its people are proud of being part of the heroic Vietnamese fatherland, of the heroic Vietnamese people. Recalling and recording the events that occurred there is an honor and a responsibility of all cadres, enlisted men, and people of B2. I accepted the recommendation...

    But what was B2? Perhaps even now there are many people who are not very clear about that. To help the reader better understand the events about which I have written, I believe that it is necessary to mention some of the features of the B2 theater.

    "B2" was the code name of the land and people in the southernmost part of the homeland during the anti-U.S. war period. Vietnam south of the 17th Parallel was divided into four theaters....

    B2 consisted of the rest of South Vietnam, from the former Gia Nghia Province (part of the present Dac Lac Province), Lam Dong, Thuan Hai, and on down to the Ca Mau Peninsula, Con Son, Ha Tien, and Phu Quoc....

    Our B2 theater accounted for about half of the land and about two-thirds of the population of South Vietnam...The people of B2 are honest and loyal and are independent in nature and their deeply patriotic ancestors came from north and central Vietnam. They always think of our beloved Uncle Ho and Hanoi, the capital and the ancient Thang Long, with an immortal sentiment..
    and in the second chapter:

    However, during Tet of 1968 we did not correctly evaluate the specific balance of forces between ourselves and the enemy, did not fully realize that the enemy still had considerable capabilities and that our capabilities were limited, and set requirements that were beyond our actual strength. In other words, we did not base ourselves on scientific calculation or a careful weighing of all factors, but in part on an illusion based on our subjective desires. For that reason, although that decision was wise, ingenious, and timely, and although its implementation was well organized and bold, there was excellent coordination on all battlefields, everyone acted very bravely, sacrificed their lives, and there was created a significant strategic turning point in Vietnam and Indochina, we suffered large sacrifices and losses with regard to manpower and materiel, especially cadres at the various echelons, which clearly weakened us. Afterwards, we were not only unable to retain the gains we had made but had to overcome a myriad of difficulties in 1969 and 1970 so that the revolution could stand firm in the storm.

  4. #84
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    Default 1st ID Lessons Learned 1 May - 31 July 1966

    1st Infantry Division Operational Report-Lessons Learned (1 May - 31 July 1966)
    During the period covered by the previous Operational Report-Lessons Learned (1 Jan - 30 Apr 66), the 1st Infantry Division began to conduct major operations outside the assigned tactical areas of responsibility (TAOR) to extend U.S. and GVI influence into previously uncontested areas. The period covered by this report was marked by even deeper penetrations into areas considered as VC dominated territory. Operations were characterized by rapid reaction to Intelligence information and deployment of the bulk of division forces over vast areas of the ll Corps Tactical Zone. There has been a significant increase in the integration of ARVN combat forces into 1st Infantry Division operations. The division initiated its first major pacification operation and results to date have been very encouraging. Operations wore also conducted within base camp TAORs to locate and destroy remaining VC forces aad installations. Three main Force Viet Corg regiments were engaged in five major battles and in each the enemy forces wore decisively defeated. The elite 272d VC Regiment was engaged in battle on two separate occasions, one of which occurred on the 49th Anniversary of the formation of the Big Red One, 3 July 1917.....
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 07:49 PM. Reason: 2,7k v before merged into main Vietnam War thread

  5. #85
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    Thanks for posting, Ted. A look at the OB reminds of the extensive network of enemy base areas (and infiltration routes) within RVN. Which illustrates the oft-discussed conundrum: Hard to see how you could succeed at sustainable pacification without first disrupting the base areas in this phase of the war.

    Cheers,
    Mike.

  6. #86
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    Default MACV Combat Experiences 5-69

    MACV Combat Experiences 5-69, 5 Jan 70
    This particular issue deals with experiences of Regional and Popular Forces (RF/PF). As part of its territorial security and pacification mission, the RF/PF play an important role in the preemption of enemy preparations for major attacks. In preparing for battle, the enemy customarily uses reconnaissance parties and small groups who prepare food and ammunition caches and build or dig command posts, aid stations and similar installations. During the battle he employs couriers, aid men and ammunition and food resupply porters. During withdrawals he employs other small groups to link and support his major units. His dependence on these techniques of employment of individuals and small groups makes him vulnerable to a programmed coverage of the countryside by RF and PF units. This can be done by the RF becoming heavily engaged in aggressive patrolling and night ambushes. Such actions can preempt surpris- attacks on populated areas and installations. Because of their knowledge of the people and the local area, the PF can be an invaluable asset in preventing acts of terrorism and sabotage by identifying infiltrators into populated areas and by simply being alert to and reporting unusual incidents. MACV Combat Experiences 5-69 highlights a few problems of the RF/PF, describes their great worth in the effort to curb aggression and hopefully will better prepare all recipients of this document to assist the RF/PF in performing their extremely valuable functions.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 07:49 PM. Reason: 2k v before merged into main Vietnam War thread

  7. #87
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default Winning hearts and minds in Vietnam

    While the BBC's pre-existing bias is well-documented, this is still worth reading.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7698055.stm

    The singer and soldier Hershel Gober returned to Vietnam in 1969 as a company commander, and knew even then that the war was lost.

    He told his men that he did not want any John Waynes in his outfit. He was wounded and sent home.

    Many years later, he became acting secretary for veterans' affairs in the Clinton administration. He changed his mind about this war and others; he opposed the war in Iraq.

    He believes that in Vietnam the Americans lost not only the war but the opportunity to learn from it.

    "Sometimes I think we didn't learn a damn thing from Vietnam," he says, "We didn't learn enough".
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  8. #88
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Winning hearts and minds anywhere is a myth...

    That's the myth that needs to be dispelled and that's a lesson we did not learn in Viet Nam. People will act in their perceived self interest and they will follow their heart -- but they will not let you win that heart. Nor do you need to...

    The reason he thinks we didn't learn a thing or enough is 'cause we have foolishly allowed DoD simply because of the money they get and the global presence they have (both of which are necessary but not wisely employed) to assume the de facto lead in our foreign policy. That transcends Viet Nam which was simply a symptom, not the problem.

    Congress is mostly to blame; they, after all, are the ones that overfund (for campaign contribution and vote reasons) and micromanage (because they're ignorant) DoD and underfund and do not adequately supervise State (or the Intel community, another story. Both again due to ignorance...).

    Gobel, by the way, was slow, took him until '69 to get real. I -- and others -- were saying in '66 that we were going to spend $50B, get 100K US troops killed and give Uncle Ho ten airfields. In the event, we reversed the math, Ho died and the number of airfields rose to 15 or 16...

  9. #89
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Winning hearts and minds is a myth

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    That's the myth that needs to be dispelled and that's a lesson we did not learn in Viet Nam. .
    Dam straight. We need to drop this Hearts and Minds BS once and for all. Templer said that the conflict in Malaya would be won in the "hearts and minds" or the Malayan people. Eventually enough people felt in their hearts and knew in their minds, they could never eject the British by military means. Same deal in Northern Ireland.

    Personally, I think anyone who bands about the the words hearts and minds, has the credibility of someone who says "Cho Cho train" when discussing public transport. We need to stop using these words. They are no longer useful.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  10. #90
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Dam straight. We need to drop this Hearts and Minds BS once and for all. Templer said that the conflict in Malaya would be won in the "hearts and minds" or the Malayan people. Eventually enough people felt in their hearts and knew in their minds, they could never eject the British by military means. Same deal in Northern Ireland.

    Personally, I think anyone who bands about the the words hearts and minds, has the credibility of someone who says "Cho Cho train" when discussing public transport. We need to stop using these words. They are no longer useful.
    Very true, but what sound-bite must we replace it with now? I worry that at this time it is not feasible politically to discard them. I would agree they are not accurate or appropriate anymore, on the other hand I feel they are still very useful. That is, in a PR capacity. The public doesn't repsond well to non-fuzzified language. In many ways the term "hearts and minds" is an absolutely brilliant PR catch phrase. Nobody can say winning "hearts and minds" is a bad idea. Some may feel we should do it without weapons, but the goal is still a "good one." You're 100% correct Wilf. Unfortunately I don't think that will ever happen

    Adam L

  11. #91
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    Default Semantics is the root of all evil - again

    as I said on another thread.

    What do we call this kind of war - LIC, OOTW, COIN, SASO, MOOTW, CT, or the other hundred names? Each has its partisans and its critics and both have good reasons for their positions. Templar coined a phrase that had real utility at the time but was more simplistic than what the Brits actually did. In fact, they won the hearts and minds of the Malay majority by promising and granting independence, which allowed them to to go after the Chinese insurgents. One might argue that the Brits followed a pop centric strategy toward the non-insurgent population (including many if not most of the Chinese) with the necessary enemy centric components against the insurgents. Thus, perhaps, the term to replace "hearts and minds" when describing a Small Wars or COIN strategy might be Pop Centric. Of course, its critics will attack it on semantic grounds as well.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  12. #92
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Replace "Hearts & Minds" with?

    I'd suggest, on a quick thought, that loyalty is a suitable replacement word.

    "Hearts & Minds" creeps into UK CT, sometimes in official documents and is quite inappropriate.

    davidbfpo

  13. #93
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not only semantics but misperceptions...

    Actually, in Malaya the British -- correctly -- first went after the CTs and removed their ability to terrorize minds; then they terrorized the Malays and the Chinese civilians not playing CT by virtually eliminating Civil Rights and moving the majority of them into 'New Villages.' There was no winning of hearts and the minds involved were coerced, not coaxed.

    The 'hearts and minds' tag line was introduced but the iron fist behind that velvet glove was what 'won' the COIN war. About 40K Commonwealth Troops and over half that number of British and Malay Police plus the concentration camps that were the New Villages fighting a max of 6-8K CTs and killing well over half of them from 1951 until late 1956 swung it -- hearts and minds were little if any involved.

    The Malays were the people who wanted independence. Yet they were not involved in the insurgency to almost any extent. The Chinese were making money so mostly, they weren't big on independence. Few of them followed the CT line.

    Chin Peng just used 'independence' as an excuse and in an attempt to replace impending, promised and on schedule independent but majority Malay rule with a Communist government headed by Chinese. Thus to say that the British won Malay hearts and minds when the Chinese were the insurgents is an obvious misnomer

    The British and Malays then offered an amnesty to the CTs -- and a pretty sweeping one at that --and by late '56, the insurgency was pretty well whipped. Independence, proposed and effectively promised in 1948 at the formation of the Federation of Malaya and to be effective in 10 years finally came on 31 Aug 57, a year early but Malaysia as it exists today wasn't really formed until 1963.

    I said it before and I'll say it again:

    ""Winning hearts and minds anywhere is a myth...That's the myth that needs to be dispelled and that's a lesson we did not learn in Viet Nam.""

    ""People will act in their perceived self interest and they will follow their heart -- but they will not let you win that heart. Nor do you need to...""

    That opinion by me does not of course preclude others from using whatever terminology they wish. Even if they are wrong. Nor does that opinion obviate COIN techniques as espoused by most; it merely suggests that the effort be viewed realistically and not through idealistic prisms that can distort actions. That's the semantics part of it...

    Words are important.

  14. #94
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I'd suggest, on a quick thought, that loyalty is a suitable replacement word.

    "Hearts & Minds" creeps into UK CT, sometimes in official documents and is quite inappropriate.

    davidbfpo
    Yes, at times we may be looking for "loyalty," but a more accurate word would be obedience. The problem with loyalty is that it is a bit transparent given how concrete and narrow its definition is. "Hearts and Minds" is very amorphous. "Obedience" would be a PR nightmare. I remind everyone that the material we discuss in this forum, including this thread, is very open to the public. The openness and publicity of COIN development is certainly interesting and possibly beneficial to the area. On the other hand, perhaps the language, at the cost of accuracy, has to be made more suitable to the public's, especially the media's, taste.

    Adam L

  15. #95
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post

    What do we call this kind of war - LIC, OOTW, COIN, SASO, MOOTW, CT, or the other hundred names?
    Security Operations? - there are Combat Operations and Security Operations. Security Operations may involve some combat and vice versa. - Would that help?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  16. #96
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Good points, Adam

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    ...On the other hand, perhaps the language, at the cost of accuracy, has to be made more suitable to the public's, especially the media's, taste.

    Adam L
    You're totally correct in my view. I don't really have any problem at all with the media and the general public using the 'hearts and minds' tag; my concern is that working professionals and those actually involved in a COIN operation do not succumb to an amorphous concept that is not a plan and that is almost certain to fail.

    One cannot bribe one's way to success in such conflicts (simplistic, I know but most will understand...).

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    Default Interdicting Ho Chi Minh trail Vietnam

    Around 1968 the US stopped trying to deter the North Vietnamese from infiltrating the south by bombing the north. Instead they implemented a plan where they dropped thousands and thousands of sensors on the Ho Chi Minh trail in order to detect when the North Vietnamese were sending supplies and personnel south along the trail. When movement was detected this information was sent to patrolling F-4s who bombed the heck out of the area where the movement was detected. Ultimately the whole plan was a failure as it didn't do a whole lot to prevent the NV from infiltrating the south. Instead of providing a specific alternative possibility wherein the US could have better interdicted the movement south along the trail, I'm curious if anyone can provide a scenario where the US could have better interdicted the movement south. Could the sensor-shooter loop have been better implemented? Could some other plan have better worked? Was McNamara just too enthusiastic about throwing something hi-tech at the problem? Any thoughts? What are the implications of this situation for today?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 07:48 PM. Reason: 4,738v with 12 posts before merged into main Vietnam War thread

  18. #98
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    Default

    I think you may find the answer by looking for historical examples of conflict changing interdiction.
    Reed
    Hint: I have found none at this point in time, perhaps the council will provide an example I have missed
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  19. #99
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    Default Lam Son 719

    Inter alia, Ending the Vietnam War, Kissinger's effort (Simon and Schuster, 2003) to coalesce material from his other memoirs, posits that Op Lam Son 719 was originally planned as a US led op--until the realities of US domestic politics intervened...

    Cheers,
    Mike.

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    Love that last line, Ken.....Far away and long ago, lots of hamlets in various provinces where economic prosperity seemed almost incongruous (indicators include power tillers having replaced buffalo, proliferation of well-built, new stucco houses, etc. )--Yet they remained insecure to the GVN...VCI ran the hamlets, usually in tandem with the menacing effect of a nearby enemy base area. (one example, southern panhandle of my first province, Tay Ninh, with NVA base area across the border in Svay Rieng)...

    Cheers,
    Mike.

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