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The Vietnam War - Essay Example

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THE VIETNAM WAR (A 20th Century Experience) Name of Student (author) Name of University Introduction The Vietnam War had started innocently enough, and its intent was in pursuance of the so-called domino theory during the Cold War in which democratic nations and their communist counterparts fought proxy wars in various parts of the world…
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The Vietnam War

Download file to see previous pages... It was an expensive war in terms of men, material, and armaments, with consequent long-lasting damage to the environment due to the use of defoliants to deprive the enemy of forest cover which was well-suited in guerrilla war. This was the only war that America lost. This paper is a re-examination of perhaps one of the reasons why America lost in Vietnam due to the ROE and grossly inflated body counts (Moss, 2010, p. 383). Discussion The Cold War started during the term of Pres. Dwight Eisenhower as a competition of two contrasting ideologies – democracy (and capitalism) against communism (and central planning). American involvement in Vietnam was initially kept secret and utilized military advisers without any direct fighting by American soldiers. However, things soon got out of hand and escalated to the point that thousands of American soldiers were eventually involved and fighting a war many had thought is not America's war but a war between the Vietnamese people themselves. Former Pres. John F. Kennedy was against direct American involvement, but when his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, became the president, the full-scale war began. Assumptions – one of the most controversial aspects of the Vietnam War was a concept known as rules of engagement (ROE). This particular set of rules placed several constraints on many soldiers fighting the enemy; it is like fighting a boxing match with one hand tied behind the back. In essence, the ROE required American soldiers to observe rules of conduct when fighting in order to comply with international humanitarian laws pertaining to combat. This includes the idea of avoiding collateral damage or, in plain language, civilian casualties. When this is enforced, it is a difficult job of fighting the Vietcong because these guerrilla warriors hide among the people. It frustrated a lot of American soldiers that they cannot go after their enemy hiding in the populace. Individual soldier (infantry in the field) – the ROE prevents him from pursuing enemies in the heat of battle, enemies who retreat and hide in the village. This was one source of great frustration in which an enemy could have been neutralized or captured but the ROE does not allow it. This same enemy survives for another day and could possibly be able to kill him tomorrow. The ROE put unnecessary limits when prosecuting a war that was unconventional in its nature. Battalion commander – his primary concern is carrying out his orders, which are almost always mission-specific in terms of objectives – for example, attacking an identified enemy area. This ROE ensured that discipline is always maintained despite the chaos on the battleground and kept in touch with the higher-ups in the chain of command. ROE focused the battalion commander on his mission order and nothing more than that; there was hardly any room for discretion. Division commander – the ROE reminded the commander of the larger objectives of its war in Vietnam, especially of the political aspects of the effect of warfare on the local populace. It put him on the defensive at times, because the Vietnamese people could be offended. Gen. William Westmoreland – as the direct overall commander of the entire theater of a war, it was incumbent on him to ensure victory. However, despite superiority in war materials, it was a war that was bound to be lost, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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