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by Rufus Phillips, Small Wars Journal Retrospective
In April 1962, I participated in a RAND Symposium on Counterinsurgency held in Washington, D.C, along with my old boss from the 1954--56 days in South Vietnam, General Edward G. Lansdale, and a number of others. Lansdale had been the key advisor to Ramon Magsaysay in the successful campaign against the communist Huks in the Philippines and then in the successful birth of the Republic of South Vietnam in 1954--56. I had worked under him advising the Vietnamese Army in its occupation and pacification of large areas in South Vietnam previously controlled by the communist controlled Vietminh (predecessors to the Vietcong), and I had moved on to Laos to try to help that government counter Pathet Lao subversion in the villages through civic action.
I did not participate in the first few symposium sessions, but heard from Lansdale that there was a very unusual French officer named David Galula present, who had a lot of good ideas that sounded very much like our own. As I got involved in discussions with Col. Galula, I discovered he wasn't anything like the vast majority of the French officers I had tried to work with as part of a joint American-French military advisory mission (called TRIM) in the 1954--55 days in Vietnam. Most had a colonial attitude toward the Vietnamese and saw them as lesser beings. Col. Galula, however, was different. He didn't maintain an attitude of superiority. Rather, his mission involved trying to help the local Algerian population as their friend, and he imbued his troops with that attitude.