Jonathan Schell accompanied the operation from its beginning to its successful but dismal end, and reports it in depth as he saw it. This time no one slipped away. The story of the bewildering task of separating the V.C. from ordinary villagers is the dramatic core of the first part of this book.
The 3,500 villagers were moved to a refugee camp in Phu Loi, a barren, treeless “safe” area, with only what possessions they could carry. The bulldozers went to work and flattened every building. For security reasons no advance preparations had been made, and the move became a human and administrative nightmare. The people of Ben Suc were farmers, and there was nothing for them to do at Phu Loi, Mr. Schell offers vivid portraits of one individual after another—women, children, old men—as they are pacified and sink into apathy and despair.
Here is an overwhelmingly affective narrative of American skill and good intentions squandered in a cause made hopeless by misunderstanding, by resistant traditions, and by cultural gaps not only between ourselves and the villagers, but between them and the Saigon government. Mr. Schell’s report is devastating.
Last Stand at Khe Sanh is the vivid, fast-paced account of the dramatic confrontation as experienced by the men who were there: Marine riflemen and grenadiers, artillery and air observers, platoon leaders and company commanders, Navy corpsmen and helicopter pilots, and a plucky band of US Army Special Forces. Based on extensive archival research and more than 100 interviews with participants, Last Stand at Khe Sanh captures the courage and camaraderie of the defenders and delivers the fullest account yet of this epic battle.
CORPS LEVEL OPERATIONAL ART IN VIETNAM: A STUDY OF II FIELD FORCE COMMANDERS DURING MAJOR NAMED OPERATIONS
This monograph explores two major U.S. operations and the reaction to one enemy offensive, in order to explore evidence of U.S. operational art in Vietnam. For the purpose of this study, the operational level is identified as the corps headquarters responsible for nesting Military Assistance Command–Vietnam’s ( MACV) military guidance, the strategic direction issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the national government’s aims with the tactical maneuver of subordinate divisions and battalions. During the Vietnam War, the Field Force served as the equivalent of the corps headquarters. The three case studies analyzed are all drawn from II Field Force during the period 1967 to 1971. These case studies are OPERATION CEDAR FALLS/JUNCTION CITY (1967), the 1970 U.S. incursion into Cambodia under OPERATION TOAN THANG, and II Field Force’s reaction to the Tet offensive (1968). Through the analysis of the case studies, the question of operational art existing at the corps level during the Vietnam War is addressed, as is the identification of successful or unsuccessful leadership and staff practices faced in an asymmetric conflict.
This monograph analyzes the synchronization of field force operations in Vietnam from 1965 to 1967. Although the terminology of operational art did not yet exist in doctrine, operations during the period of rapid force escalation demonstrate the success at which MACV and the field force headquarters and commanders coordinated and synchronized actions in time, space and purpose. This synchronized coordination did not occur without challenges. As Carl von Clausewitz described through his paradoxical trinity, the necessary link between a clearly defined political endstate and a military strategy was absent. To highlight this tension from the US field force perspective, this monograph is divided into four parts. First, the introduction includes a literature review of impactful Vietnam War works accumulated and analyzed over time. The second part describes the national narrative leading up to and during the rapid force escalation period. The second part further provides a contemporary definition of the term strategy in the proper doctrinal context to ensure a common understanding. The third part is a campaign analysis that depicts the field force commanders, the command and control situation, and in depth views of four specific major operations. Although the period of rapid force escalation in South Vietnam is historically considered a campaign, in reality this period was a series of major operations that did not achieve the political endstate. This monograph concludes with an assessment of the degree to which the failures to synchronize a total campaign was the key problem for the US in Vietnam.
This monograph utilizes select elements of operational art from ADRP 3-0 to examine how General Lewis Walt employed operational art as the III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) commander in Vietnam from June 1965-June 1967. This study addresses a significant shortfall in literature focused on Corps-level operational commanders during the Vietnam War. In combat, III MAF faced a hybrid threat of North Vietnamese regular forces and entrenched Viet Cong main force and guerrilla units. Apart from the significant challenges of combat operations, General Walt found himself confronted by vague and restricting U.S. policy, ineffective U.S. and South Vietnamese civilian and governmental agencies, a complex South Vietnamese civilian and military operating environment, and competing warfighting strategies and interservice rivalries between his U.S. Army combat chain-of-command and internal Marine Corps leadership. Despite these challenges, Walt developed and executed an effective operational approach which addressed substantial enemy threats while supporting the government of South Vietnam and its military forces.