Did General William Westmoreland Actually Have a Logical Strategy in Vietnam?

Attrition was an essential a part of Gen. William Westmoreland’s strategy, however by no means to the exclusion of different strategies. Some have portrayed the 1964-68 chief of Navy Help Command, Vietnam as an unimaginative officer who failed to know the complexities of the battle. They are saying Westmoreland fixated on enemy physique counts and did not pursue various methods that will have produced higher outcomes. Having researched and written concerning the Vietnam Struggle for greater than 20 years, I’m satisfied that Westmoreland pursued essentially the most logical and complex technique that he or every other U.S. commander may observe given the inherent limitations on his authority.

In navy affairs, attrition is certainly one of a number of fundamental approaches nations or leaders can make use of to defeat their enemy. In its most simple kind, attrition is the method employed to degrade the enemy’s preventing power, normally by killing troops or destroying navy tools. Commanders may also maneuver their forces to take key terrain, thereby slicing enemy provide strains, capturing essential logistical or political facilities, and gaining management over folks and pure sources.

A 3rd strategy is to make use of persuasion—reminiscent of psychological warfare and propaganda—to reduce the enemy’s resolve, encourage the give up of opposing troops, and construct fashionable help for one’s personal aspect. Final, combatants can kind alliances to safe further navy sources from pleasant nations, exert diplomatic stress on the enemy and acquire new intelligence sources.

Throughout the battle, Westmoreland employed all 4 strategies—attrition, maneuver, persuasion and alliances—in various proportions, primarily based on the sources accessible and the altering navy state of affairs in South Vietnam throughout his time as MACV commander. Attrition performed the dominant position in Westmoreland’s technique out of necessity.

Earlier than the South Vietnamese authorities may root out Viet Cong insurgents on the hamlet degree, a course of generally known as pacification, Westmoreland needed to include and degrade the communist fundamental power items of full-time fighters that will have overwhelmed the South Vietnamese military. On the identical time, the MACV commander maneuvered to disrupt communist provide strains and defend key belongings like roads and cities. Had he been given permission, Westmoreland would have minimize the Ho Chi Minh Path in Laos and invaded communist sanctuaries in Cambodia.

Within the propaganda realm, he supported a sturdy psychological warfare program to induce enemy defections and supported pacification applications to win the “hearts and minds” of villagers. Westmoreland was additionally a talented diplomat and alliance builder who maintained wonderful relations with the South Vietnamese and the opposite nations preventing alongside the People. He dedicated vital sources to coaching, upgrading and increasing the South Vietnamese armed forces as shortly because the Saigon authorities may deal with the expansion and as quickly as tools turned accessible.

Given the hand he was dealt, Westmoreland pursued essentially the most applicable technique any MACV commander may devise between 1964 and 1968.


Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings