Saturday, June 4, 2011

Vietnam -- Why Where We There?

Like many others, I've often asked, why was I there?

Seemed like no one has every really, truely said, " The reason why you are here is because....and provide a ligitmate answer.

I think I know why that was the case. Almost all of us were looking for a line in the sand -- clear cut -- purpose fpr being there. Truth was, you couldn't be told the real reason why.


For two very good reasons:
  1. The reason did not justify the casualities we recorded over the three years  -- between 1966 -1969.
  2. The reason did not require the type of manpower that was used during the conflict

So what was the real reason why we were there? In I Corp, the reason why we were there was to build Fire bases on top of hills close enough to fire 105mm and 155mm howitzers shells into the Ashau Valley and more specifically, along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

Our soldiers were supposed to build them and then transfer them to the ARVNs.

Of course, a few things happened along the way. Like the TET Offensive and Fire base Ripcord incident -- just to name a few. 

We were never there to go one on one with the NVA. We didn't have the men, equipment or logistical system to do that kind of warfare and we certainly did not have enough men in uniform to even consider such an action.

While, indeed, there were enough men available back in the the United States to provide such actions,
very few thought it wise to push a cold war into a real one. Besides, the terms the Vietnamese agreed to was the use of our military to be the role of advisers..

Because of this restriction, there was the "Only fire when fired upon" policy which made no sense if the advisory limit was not a guideline.

Further digging into the role of the US Army in Vietnam points directly back to not understanding the NVA fighting tactics and fighting the NVA on their own turf.

Going back to 12 previous years, even the French did not come to Vietnam to stage a hand to hand  one on one assault against the NVA. 

But the NVA did.

North Vietnam had over North Vietnam had a population of 16 million people assuming a similar patter of across the board demographics, that meant that over 4,000,000 people from the ages of 14 to 60 could be put to the task of serving in the NVA.

That's almost twice the total US man power commitment and on the ground for the entire time there.


Imagine an entire division of 17,000 men killed in almost one day and you'll have a good idea what happened in the Ashu Valley in 1968. Why did this happen? Because West Point Officers tainted to use conventional war tactics when up against 20 Divisions of  NVA  and got their butts waxed.

Still if this was supposed to be a surprise attack, why did we loose so many soldiers?

Simply put, it wasn't a surprise attack, it was an ambush of our American Soldiers.  To this day, I believe we should convict and execute all the ARVN Officers for treason.  Seemed like no matter what we did, the ARVN knew were were  coming.

No rank was immune to death in Vietnam. We tried using brunt force on NVA soldiers who only had to shoot bows and arrows at out helicopters and shoot them down. B-40 grenades to shoot down bigger ones and send hundreds of me to the hospital ship Sancutary, and a ton of trip wire devices to put almost every soldier into a body bag 10 times over.

I could go into a ton of example scenarios where death from five feet to zero feet could have happened but I'd rather point out that a single GI trained at fighting the way the NVA fought and smart enough to know how to become stealth around them could have easily taken out hundreds of NVA without firing a shot.

Instead, even if we did manage to land infantry into a location where they could do some damage, the noise associated with thier moment and the lack of unconventional  fighting skills only compromised the infantry soldier's ability to deliver significant damage to the NVA without losing lives.


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