Small Wars Journal

Vietnam War

The Loss of South Vietnam and the Coming Loss of Afghanistan

Unlike conventional wars, which in Vietnam we called the “War of the Big Battalions”, small wars, or what back then we called “the other war”, integrate the military with the cultural and the political. Thus, small wars are hard to win with kinetic engagements and firepower alone. The complex reality of small wars also implies that they can be lost for cultural or political reasons even if single military engagements are won handily again and again.

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The Spatial Dimension: Population-centric COIN at the Expense of Abandoning Territory Overdone to a Reductio ad Absurdum - A Vietnam Case

In the final, 1975 onslaught, ARVN with RF lacked the capacity to react to multiple diversionary assaults by enemy local forces and to deploy the necessary concentration of force on multiple fronts to halt PAVN advances toward the capital.[v] Overstretched ARVN, further weakened by US Congressional reduction, with a vengeance, of POL, ammunition and equipment re-supply to a trickle, was simply overwhelmed.

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A Vietnam War Misconception

Flatly erroneous to the point of calumny is the currently widely held belief, even among the allegedly well-informed, that the VN conflict was lost because the US military insisted on pursuing an enemy-centric strategy, the centerpiece of which was pursuit of enemy main force units. In fact, this attrition-based strategy was responsible for the 1970-71 low point in enemy activity that some (Sorely, inter alia) have labelled the point at which the US and its allies won the war.

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Vietnam War History: Orthodox Versus Revisionist

The dispute between orthodox and revisionist historians of the Second Indochina War is not about debating points, but about permanent differences of basic value systems and perceptions of historical reality. The epistemological dispute between their opposing concepts of historical truth -- objective truth versus subjective "truthiness" -- may be endlessly analyzed, but probably never fully resolved.

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Great Power Failure in the ‘Hot Wars’ of the Cold War: A Strategic Theory Analysis

This uses different theories to analyze why great powers were unsuccessful in the ‘hot wars’ of the Cold War, using the Soviet-Afghan War and Vietnam War as primary case studies. In both instances, the great powers were unable to overcome the paradoxes of asymmetric warfare.

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Historically and Factually Accurate?

With the exception of the very few, most Vietnam veterans are proud of their service (~91%) and most of these seem to be “revisionist” versus “orthodox,” as the distinction seems to be currently drawn. I’m surprised that primary sources (i.e., those who were in Vietnam) don’t seem to be as important as secondary ones are for historians today. Just a brief survey of what is now being taught in colleges about Vietnam, including (surprisingly) military ones, and you’ll find it is now a seldom offered course by itself and it seems consigned to being only a chapter in history books.

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How Did We Really Lose the Vietnam War?

In his State of the Union Address, President Trump sought to legitimate his negotiations with the Taliban over the future of Afghanistan with the argument that the Taliban were happy to negotiate with him. Of course, they are happy to do so. Through negotiations they will finally be in a position to take over Afghanistan - just as the North Vietnamese finally won the Vietnam War thanks to their private negotiations with Henry Kissinger – when there were no South Vietnamese present to prevent him from selling them out.

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Why Can’t America Win its Wars?

The record of American disappointments is indeed impressive for money spent and results obtained: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, the War on Terror. Further, an inability to obtain a favorable balance of power can be seen in the South China Sea, Yemen, Libya, the Ukraine, North Korea, and the Middle East. Today, near insurgent conditions in much of Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras negatively impact American domestic tranquility through drug sales and illegal migration.

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