Small Wars Journal

Vietnam War

Dulce bellum inexpertis – “War is Sweet to Those Who Have Never Experienced It” SWJED Sun, 03/29/2020 - 1:26pm
While March 29th is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, the “official” federal remembrance day (August 18th in Australia and New Zealand), each of us who went to war will probably remember not only the date we left the United States and the date we returned, but also certain events in-between that occurred in the land which President Reagan called “…100 rice paddies and jungles in a place called Vietnam.”
Army Intel, Navy Gunfire, and Marine Mission Execution Saved Many SWJED Mon, 09/30/2019 - 2:26pm
On March 30, 1972, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) invaded South Vietnam and the Easter Offensive of 1972 in I Corps/First Regional Assistance Command (FRAC) area began, flouting their 1968 promise to “respect the DMZ.” Though seldom acknowledged or known by many, the priority objective of North Vietnam’s invasion was northern South Vietnam. Eventually, six NVA divisions, two tank regiments, and three-four independent infantry regiments would strike through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Laos catching United States and South Vietnamese command elements completely dumbfounded and slow to respond.
An Assessment of Air Force Advising Concepts in Small Wars, “Paper Falcons” SWJED Mon, 09/09/2019 - 5:10am
Andrew Krepinevich’s “Army Concept” provides a useful model for understanding the mindset military organizations take towards advising operations, which subsequently shapes outcomes, including the U.S. Air Force’s advising efforts in small wars. Efforts to advise the South Vietnamese Air Force and Afghan Air Force demonstrate that U.S. Air Force advising concepts have been poorly suited towards irregular conflicts, creating counterproductive effects.
The Loss of South Vietnam and the Coming Loss of Afghanistan SWJED Wed, 08/21/2019 - 6:09am
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.
The Spatial Dimension: Population-centric COIN at the Expense of Abandoning Territory Overdone to a Reductio ad Absurdum - A Vietnam Case SWJED Mon, 05/06/2019 - 2:11pm
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.
A Vietnam War Misconception SWJED Thu, 03/21/2019 - 12:58am
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.
Vietnam War History: Orthodox Versus Revisionist SWJED Sat, 03/09/2019 - 7:56am
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.
Great Power Failure in the ‘Hot Wars’ of the Cold War: A Strategic Theory Analysis SWJED Wed, 03/06/2019 - 12:35am
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.
Look Who Has Been Entrusted With Vietnam Military History SWJED Thu, 02/21/2019 - 12:22am
Franklin C. Annis’ recent article (SWJ, February 16, 2019) “Who is to be Trusted with Military History?” is a good start, but it fails to address a number of items and takes a slap (intended or not) at Vietnam veterans.
Historically and Factually Accurate? SWJED Fri, 02/08/2019 - 5:07am
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.