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The Real Afghan Lessons From Vietnam: The 'clear and hold' strategy of Gen. Creighton Abrams was...
Wall Street Journal ^ | OCTOBER 11, 2009 | LEWIS SORLEY

Posted on 10/12/2009 3:55:39 PM PDT by neverdem

The 'clear and hold' strategy of Gen. Creighton Abrams was working in South Vietnam. Then Congress pulled the plug on funding.

More than 30 years have passed since North Vietnam, in gross violation of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, conquered South Vietnam. That outcome was partly the result of greatly increased logistical support to the North from its communist backers. It was also the result of America's failure to keep its commitments to the South.

Those commitments...


By the time of the enemy's 1972 Easter Offensive virtually all U.S. ground troops had been withdrawn. Supported by American airpower and naval gunfire, South Vietnam's armed forces gallantly turned back an invasion from the North amounting to the equivalent of some 20 divisions, or about 200,000 troops.

Critics were quick to attribute the successful defense to American airpower. Abrams would have none of it. "The Vietnamese had to stand and fight," he said. If they hadn't done that, "ten times the [air] power we've got wouldn't have stopped them."

When the last U.S. forces departed South Vietnam in March 1973 pursuant to the Paris Peace Accords, South Vietnam had a viable government and military structure that was positioned—had the U.S. kept its commitments—to sustain itself against the renewed aggression from the North that began almost immediately after the peace accords were signed. When America defaulted on those commitments, South Vietnam was doomed.

Lessons learned from the past are only as good as our understanding of the past. This is especially important to keep in mind now, as the commander in chief, his principal national security advisers, and senior military leaders contemplate the next step in Afghanistan. Analogies to the real history of Vietnam could be as useful as those based on a flawed understanding of that conflict are dangerous and misleading.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; creightonabrams; vietnam; vietnamwar
By Jun 30, 1972, 50,000 U.S. troops were left in South Vietnam including Task Force Gary Owen based on the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment near Saigon. I'm not aware of any other ground combat units left in country.

Mr. Sorley, a military historian and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, is the author of "A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam" (Harcourt, 1999).

It was on on Oct 11, 2009. It was reported that this was one of the books being read by the White House.

1 posted on 10/12/2009 3:55:39 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

The 'clear and hold' strategy of Gen. Creighton Abrams was working in South Vietnam.

Then Congress pulled the plug on funding.

2 posted on 10/12/2009 4:04:53 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Hear us, O Bama: Mmm, mmm, mmm.)
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To: Jeff Chandler
Then the Democrats in Congress pulled the plug on funding.

Defeat was conscious choice. After all those years of bad-mouthing the war and the military, you don't think they were going to let us win, do you? Obama is just as invested in defeat as his party was in 1973. U.S. defeat validates his world view. He is the most gawd-awful president in U.S. history. It's as if Jeff Davis was U.S. President in 1860. (One big difference, Jeff Davis was far too honorable a man to accept an Office under false pretenses.)

3 posted on 10/12/2009 4:17:28 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The People have abdicated our duties; ... and anxiously hope for just two things: bread and circuses)
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To: neverdem

How North Vietnam Won The War
Bui Tin Interviewed by Stephen Young
The Wall Street Journal, 3 August 1995

Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of North Vietnam’s army, received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. He later became editor of the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of Vietnam.

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi’s
A: It was essential to our strategy... Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

Q: How could the Americans have won the war?
A: Cut the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos. If Johnson had granted [Gen. William] Westmoreland’s requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war.

Q: What else?
A: We had the impression that American commanders had their hands tied by political factors. Your generals could never deploy a maximum force for greatest military effect.

4 posted on 10/12/2009 4:21:49 PM PDT by angkor (The U.S. Congress is at war with America.)
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To: neverdem

did Obama flunk history?

5 posted on 10/12/2009 4:22:54 PM PDT by dalebert
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To: Jeff Chandler

Teddie Kennedy, B.I.H.

6 posted on 10/12/2009 4:28:15 PM PDT by Travis McGee (
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To: neverdem
Critics were quick to attribute the successful defense to American airpower. Abrams would have none of it. "The Vietnamese had to stand and fight," he said. If they hadn't done that, "ten times the [air] power we've got wouldn't have stopped them."

Yeah, amazing how US Airpower got criticized for failing to deliver the goods, yet in this instance it gets all the credit for stopping the '72 Easter Offensive. No agenda at work here. Nope!

7 posted on 10/12/2009 4:34:46 PM PDT by Tallguy ("The sh- t's chess, it ain't checkers!" -- Alonzo (Denzel Washington) in "Training Day")
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To: dalebert

No, he passed history, but he was studying how America’s enemies fought the USA to learn how to help its current enemies win their wars against the USA.

8 posted on 10/12/2009 5:27:21 PM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: GreyFriar

“No, he passed history, but he was studying how America’s enemies fought the USA to learn how to help its current enemies win their wars against the USA.”

Truth in a few words.

9 posted on 10/12/2009 5:38:12 PM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon freedom, it is essential to examine principles,)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

As a veteran of the Vietnam War from August of 1969 to January of 1971, serving as an infantry squad leader in a mechanized infantry company, and with another unit as a tank commander on an M48A3 tank; I am keenly interested in the distortions, lies, and half truths perpetuated about the Vietnam war by many of those who helped to undermine the US effort there. Much of the conventional understanding of the US involvement in the South East Asian conflict indicates a general disapproval of the United States war effort, and an acceptance of the oft regurgitated leftist conventional wisdom as to it’s historical course and outcome. That is painting the American war effort in Vietnam as misguided at best and an imperialistic effort to establish SE Asian capitalistic hegemony at worst. The antiwar left is portrayed as being noble and idealistic rather than populated by a hard core that actively hoped and worked for a US defeat, the US government as destructive of basic civil liberties in its attempt to monitor their activities, and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong as nationalists who wished to preserve their unique culture against an imperialistic onslaught. The South Vietnamese government’s struggle to survive a ruthless Communist assault while engaging in an unwarranted assault on human rights .while ignoring the numerous genocidal atrocities of the Vietcong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) is also part of this narrative. The deceptive reporting of the Tet Offensive, the Communist’s worse defeat among numberless hundreds of others was probably the most grievous deceit perpetuated by the Press .

The reason that the United States opposed nationwide elections that were to be held in accordance with the 1954 Geneva accords was due to the murder and intimidation campaigns carried out by Ho Chi Minh. This fact is in Professor R. J. Runnel’s book Death by Government, in which he cites a low estimate of 15,000 and a high figure of 500,000 people in the “murder by quota” campaign directed by the North Vietnamese Communist Party Politburo that would have made the election a corrupt mockery. This campaign stipulated that 5% of the people living in each village and hamlet had to be liquidated, preferably those identified as members of the “ruling class.” All told says Runnel, between 1953 and 1956 it is likely that the Communists killed 195,000 to 865,000 North Vietnamese. These were non combatant men, women, and children, and hardly represent evidence of the moral high ground claimed by many in the antiwar movement. In 1956, high Communist official Nguyen Manh Tuong admitted that “while destroying the landowning class, we condemned numberless old people and children to a horrible death.” The same genocidal pattern became the Communists’ standard operating procedure in the South too. This was unequivocally demonstrated by the Hue Massacre, which the press did a great deal to downplay in its reporting of the Tet Offensive of 1968.

The National Liberation Front was the creation of the North Vietnamese Third Party Congress of September 1960, completely directed from North Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968 was a disastrous military defeat for the North Vietnamese and that the VC were almost wiped out by the fighting, and that it took the NVA until 1971 to reestablish a presence using North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. The North Vietnam military senior commanders repeatedly said that they counted on the U.S. antiwar movement to give them the confidence to persevere in the face of their staggering battlefield personnel losses and defeats. The antiwar movement prevented the feckless President Lyndon Johnson from granting General Westmoreland’s request to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail or end his policies of publicly announced gradualist escalation. The North Vietnamese knew cutting this trail would severely damage their ability to prosecute the war. Since the North Vietnamese could continue to use the Ho Chi Minh Trail lifeline, the war was needlessly prolonged for the U.S. and contributed significantly to the collapse of South Vietnam. The casualties sustained by the NVA and VC were horrendous, (1.5 million dead) and accorded well with Gen. Ngyuen Giap’s publicly professed disdain for the lives of individuals sacrificed for the greater cause of Communist victory. They were as thoroughly beaten as a military force can be given the absence of an invasion and occupation of their nation. The Soviets and Chinese recognized this, and they put pressure on their North Vietnamese allies to accept this reality and settle up at the Paris peace talks. Hanoi’s party newspaper Nhan Dan angrily denounced the Chinese and Soviets for “throwing a life bouy to a drowning pirate” and for being “mired on the dark and muddy road of unprincipled compromise.” The North Viets intransigent attitude toward negotiation was reversed after their air defenses were badly shattered in the wake of the devastating B-52 Linebacker II assault on North Vietnam, after which they were totally defenseless against American air attack.

To this day the anti-war movement as a whole refuses to acknowledge its part in the deaths of millions in Laos and Cambodia and in the subsequent exodus from South East Asia as people fled Communism, nor the imprisonment of thousands in Communist re-education camps and gulags.

South Vietnam was NOT defeated by a local popular insurgency. The final victorious North Vietnamese offensive was a multidivisional, combined arms effort lavishly equipped with Soviet and Chinese supplied tanks, self-propelled artillery, and aircraft. It was the type of blitzkrieg that Panzer General Heinz Guederian would have easily recognized. I didn’t recall seeing any barefoot, pajama-clad guerrillas jumping out of those tanks in the newsreel footage that showed them crashing through the gates of the presidential palace in Saigon. This spectacle was prompted by the pusillanimous withdrawal of Congressional support for the South Vietnamese government in the wake of the Watergate scandal, which particularly undermined this aspect of President Nixon’s foreign policy. It should be noted that a similar Communist offensive in the spring of 1972 was smashed, largely by US air power; with relatively few US ground troops in place. At the Paris Accords in 1973, the Soviet Union had agreed to reduce aid in offensive arms to North Vietnam in exchange for trade concessions from the US, effectively ending North Vietnams hopes for a military victory in the south. With the return of cold war hostilities in the wake of the Yom Kippur war after Congress revoked the Soviet’s MFN trading status, the Reds poured money and offensive military equipment into North Vietnam. South Vietnam would still be a viable nation today were it not for this nation’s refusal to live up to it’s treaty obligations to the South Vietnamese, most important to reintervene should they invade South Vietnam.

There is one primary similarity to Vietnam. A seditious near traitorous core of anti-war protesters is trying to undermine U.S. efforts there with half-truths, lies, and distortions. In that respect, the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam are very similar. A significant difference is that thus far the current anti-war movement has not succeeded in manifesting contempt for the American military on the part of the general U.S. public as it did in the Vietnam era.

When I was in Vietnam, I recall many discussions with my fellow soldiers about the course of the war in Vietnam and their feelings about it. Many, if not most felt that “We Gotta Get Outta this Place,” to cite a popular song of the time by Eric Burden and the Animals, but for the most part they felt we should do it by fighting the war in a manner calculated to win it. I do not recall anyone ever saying that they felt the North Vietnamese could possibly defeat us on the battlefield, but to a man they were mystified by the U.S. Government’s refusal to fight in a manner that would assure military victory. Even though there was much resentment for the antiwar movement, and some (resentment) toward career professional soldiers, I never saw anyone who did not do his basic duty and many did FAR MORE THAN THAT as a soldier. Nineteen of my friends have their names on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington DC. They deserve to have the full truth told about the effort for which they gave their young lives. The U.S. public is not well served by half-truths and lies by omission about such a significant period in our history, particularly with their relevance toward our present fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

10 posted on 10/12/2009 6:55:28 PM PDT by DMZFrank
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
Don't miss comment# 10 on this "Lessons" thread.

Weapons failed US troops during Afghan firefight

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley: Climate Myths and National Security

Obama and the end of white guilt

A Conversation about Race Long, but provocative video

Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

11 posted on 10/12/2009 8:54:13 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

Thanks for the ping!

12 posted on 10/12/2009 9:09:08 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: neverdem

That is the way I remember it, although I returned to
CONUS a few months after Tet and only watched the
news version of the end but filtered by my own
experience, was able to see the difference between
reality and the view expressed by the liberal press.

The congress did a great diservice to the Vietnamese
people and to the American servicemen who were asked
to serve there. Never before, but many times since
have I seen this scenario play itself out. Thus we must
hold Obama’s feet to the fire and prevent the same end
result happening in Afghanistan.

I can only hope the obviously successful effort in Iraq
is not destroyed by the intemperate withdrawal of our
forces by this administration, much the same as Nam.

RVN 1966-69.

13 posted on 10/13/2009 1:32:42 AM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: dalebert

We have no idea. For many, the birth certificate issue is a surrogate for a raft of other unreleased documents, including those of his academic history.

14 posted on 10/13/2009 2:48:43 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (No Representation without Taxation!)
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To: DMZFrank
They deserve to have the full truth told about the effort for which they gave their young lives.

Thank you for an informative post. What you wrote will be an utter waste unless these lessons are disseminated broadly across the American population.

Unless you home school the chances of an American high school or college student knowing any of this is maybe 1/80.

The best thing anyone reading this thread can do is get this information out across your email lists, but especially to our young people. We should not tolerate the loss of our youth, the hope of America, in wars our politicians won't let us win.

Long after we are gone these same young people will have to depend on the real history to guide their futures. No one else will do it. It is up to us to get the truth out.

15 posted on 10/13/2009 3:55:22 AM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: neverdem
Thanks neverdem. I enjoy all your stuff.

The money quote from the article: Security for the South Vietnamese became the new measure of merit.

Security for the Afghan people is the only measure. We'll not buy them off or get them to quit growing opium through money. Confidence is the name of the game. They have to believe in a Taliban-free future; an Afghan government that is real and works.

16 posted on 10/13/2009 4:01:46 AM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: DMZFrank; river rat

Great post at 10, thanks.

17 posted on 10/13/2009 4:16:28 AM PDT by Travis McGee (
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; ...

Weapons failed US troops during Afghan firefight
Associated Press | Oct 11, 2009 | RICHARD LARDNER
Posted on 10/11/2009 6:14:33 AM PDT by decimon

18 posted on 10/13/2009 6:53:10 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: DMZFrank

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you make that post before, and I love it every time. The lies we’ve been told about Vietnam are myriad. BIH Walter Cronkite.

Thank you for your service.

19 posted on 10/14/2009 4:29:50 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (No Representation without Taxation!)
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