Easter Offensive-A Parable from the Vietnam War

A buzzer sounds in my head every time I use the term ‘Vietnam war’.  That terrible forty-year

Map of Southeast Asia war

Map of Southeast Asia war

conflict savaged almost every part of Southeast Asia and many in the military refer to it as SEA or the ‘Southeast Asia war’.  In my youth I received a graphic correction to my misconception and I have been stuck with the buzzer that results in the conscious use of the term ‘Vietnam war’.   The Easter Offensive is definitely a Vietnam war story.

A General Giáp special, the Easter Offensive caught both the South Vietnamese and the American commands unprepared.  The plan very nearly worked. John Malch, an historian, archivist of this era, and in-country during the offensive, writes that a military officer told him “had it not been for the vast number of

Map of the Easter Offensive

Map of the Easter Offensive

U.S. Military combat troops and the massive capability of strategic bombing by air assets from Guam and Thailand, the battle would have turned in favor for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).”  The troop strength in April 1972 was 158,000; many, many boots on the ground.

The Adversary

Võ Nguyên Giáp was an old-style Communist revolutionary and the best NVA general of the

General Võ Nguyên Giáp

General Võ Nguyên Giáp

Vietnam war era.   General Giáp was colorful, engaging and effective.  His campaigns drove France out of Vietnam.  For good measure, he fought the United States to a stalemate before ousting it as well.  Giáp was a merciless, albeit respected, adversary willing to take huge losses of life to achieve his objectives.  When he died in October 2013, the New York Times pointed out that in spite of his 102 years, “…he had not faded away. He was regarded as an elder statesman whose hard-line views had softened with the cessation of the war that unified Vietnam. He supported economic reform and closer relations with the United States while publicly warning of the spread of Chinese influence and the environmental costs of industrialization.”[1] Never forget that no matter how harmless the old man looked, General Giáp was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of American service personnel and millions of Vietnamese. Continue reading

National Security Act of 1947 – A Horse of a Different Color

A horse of a different color remains unnoticed on the streets of Emerald City

A horse of a different color remains unnoticed on the streets of Emerald City

Like L. Frank Baum’s horse of a different color parading through the streets of Emerald City in The Wonderful  Wizard of Oz, the National Security Act of 1947[1] is noticed by few.  Cited by many as a link in a logic chain going somewhere else, the Act itself was a sea change that forever altered the course of the United States’ Foreign Service business.  In addition to forming the CIA as we know and love it today, the National Security Act of 1947 gave rise to the standing military by forming the Department of Defense.  With the deftness of a magician’s misdirection, the Truman administration’s in-plain-sight side-step of the U.S. Constitution in the name of modernization was passed and heralded as a breakthrough piece of legislation.  The full force of the Tsunami created by the National Security Act of 1947 rushed through my brain’s backdoor and swamped the story I was recently researching so I’ll begin at the beginning.

In 2011, Melbourne, Australia’s Nigel Davies posted Uselessly comparing Patton and

General Montgomery and Lt. General George S. Patton meet.

General Montgomery and Lt. General George S. Patton meet.

Montgomery. It was a delightful romp through the tulips of commonly held convictions about the Patton-Montgomery feuds and their significance.  Davies’ irreverent treatment of verbal tribal custom belief systems regarding Patton and Montgomery sparked a question. How do Vietnam veterans feel about the generals that led them through that era?

I asked the members of the American Cold War Veterans Facebook page which was the best Vietnam War General and why. I also provided some names who gained notoriety during that time: GEN Maxwell Taylor, Harkins, Westmoreland, Krulak and Abrams. COL’s Olds, Starry, Summers, and George S. Patton IV (son of WWII’s George S. Patton, Jr).  Their answers were interesting.  Continue reading