Small Wars Journal

'Clear And Hold' Showing Results 40 Years Later

'Clear And Hold' Showing Results 40 Years Later - Tom Bowman, National Public Radio, Morning Edition

It was 40 years ago, on Oct. 31, 1968, when a turning point came in the Vietnam War. President Lyndon B. Johnson went on national television.

"I have now ordered that all air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam cease as of 8 a.m. Washington time, Friday morning," Johnson said. "And I have reached [this decision] in the belief that this action can lead to progress toward a peaceful settlement of the Vietnamese war."

The bombing halt came not long after a new American commander took over in Vietnam and came up with a military strategy that echoes to this day...

Abrams saw the fight differently — in a counterinsurgency. The important thing isn't enemy body counts. It's protecting the population, training local Vietnamese forces, providing money and programs for a better life. "It's the government presence with its people all over the country, reasonable security and so on," he explained to his staff at a meeting in 1969.

For Abrams, the right strategy was not "search and destroy." He saw it as "clear and hold," words that echoed four decades later as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, President George Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates grappled and searched for a new strategy, for another insurgency, this time in Iraq...

More at Morning Edition.

* Tom Bowman and John Nagl will be discussing Vietnam, Iraq, and defense challenges for the next administration on NPR's Talk of the Nation between 3:15 and 4 PM EST tomorrow (4 November).