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The Biggest Mistakes of the Vietnam War (and others) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Scruggs   
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 00:00

Demonstrating Lack of Resolve, Misguided Negotiation Expectations, and Limited Strategic Outlook - Part 8 (Mistakes 9, 10, and 11 of 13)

From early 1965 through early 1968, there were six major confrontations between Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and the Pacific Area Commander (CINCPAC) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).  These involved a number of Johnson-McNamara policies and strategies that CINCPAC Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp and the JCS believed severely hindered the defeat of Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. After the war and his retirement, Admiral Sharp even wrote a book titled Strategies for Defeat: Vietnam in Perspective, first published in 1978. It was Sharp who characterized Johnson’s Operation Rolling Thunder as “powder-puff air warfare.” A major issue with Sharp and the JCS was the Johnson-McNamara policy of  highly restricted bombing of strategic targets in North Vietnam, leaving huge enemy sanctuaries around the most strategic North Vietnamese military and logistical targets critical to their invasion of South Vietnam. President Nixon eventually reversed this costly and absurd policy.

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The Early Returns Are Promising PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Thompson   
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 00:00

Donald John Trump (DJT)  is now the 45th President of the United States (POTUS). Since many people apparently won’t accept that the campaign is over, I allude to election results by calling this column, “The Early Returns are Promising.” We can now make the clear distinction between what DJT said, and what he now does as POTUS.

As I write this, DJT is finishing his first week in office. In a flurry of actions, that included 12 Executive Orders (EO’s), he has rescinded the ACA, approved the XL Pipeline, stopped funding abortions done abroad, rescinded NAFTA and announced there will be an honest DOJ investigation of voter fraud in California.

Many people did not realize that Obama had rescinded a Reagan EO stopping the practice of taxpayer money being used to pay for abortions outside the US…Trump put Reagan’s EO back in place. The North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), involves Mexico, Canada and the USA. Trump and private sector unions agree it caused American jobs to leave the country. Trump articulated his goal throughout the campaign; he wants to renegotiate a new NAFTA, one that puts “America first.”

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The Biggest Mistakes of the Vietnam War (and others) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Scruggs   
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 00:00

Failure to Mobilize the Support and Will of the People - Part 7

Prussian General and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) insisted that any successful theory of warfare had to balance what he called “the trinity of war.” This concerned the motivation and morale affecting the people, the government, and the Army. The support and will of all three had to be mobilized to accomplish strategic objectives and victory. Moreover, successful military strategies should undermine the morale of the enemy’s people, government, and Army.

The French did not withdraw from Indo-China solely because of their defeat at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. They withdrew because the French people were war weary from World War II and Algeria, and the Communists had been relentless in exploiting this war weariness by undermining the morale of the French people and Parliament. It is a significant footnote in history that Marx, Engels, and Lenin had studied Clausewitz’s 1831 unfinished work: On War, and incorporated many of his principles, including “the trinity of war” in Communist political and military doctrine. Mao also studied Clausewitz.

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The Biggest Mistakes of the Vietnam War PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Scruggs   
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 00:00

Not Knowing the True Nature of the Enemy - Part 6 (An Even Bigger Problem Today)

The most famous quote of Sun Tzu, the Chinese general and philosopher (circa 544 to 496 BC) and author of The Art of War, is:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

Sun Tzu (Master Sun), whose birth name was Sun Wu, must have considered this vitally important , because he said it at least four different times with slight variations.

He also emphasized the importance of the intelligence function in warfare.  This seems to include a much broader outlook than simply the military strength, weapons, and positions of the enemy. It is of utmost importance to know what motivates the enemy and what our own motivations are. We must be honest about our own motivations and predispositions to believe what is most comfortable to us rather than the hard facts of reality.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn once wrote: “We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.”  Military Intelligence is most useful, when as far as humanly possible; it conforms to the reality of the enemy’s strength, morale, ideology, and motivation. It is useless, when it conforms to wishful thinking, political pressures, self-deception, or humanist fantasies about human nature.  

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Major Mistakes in the Vietnam War PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Scruggs   
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 00:00

Micromanaging and Ignoring Military Chiefs - Part 5

A sixth prominent mistake in the Vietnam War was that President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara continually refused to listen to the experience and accumulated wisdom of military chiefs and micromanaged military operations. This was an exacerbating factor in the first five mistakes covered in this series: appeasement, allowing enemy sanctuaries, a U.S. media-driven South Vietnamese regime change, the disastrous military doctrine of “gradualism,”and failure to utilize our strategic supremacy in Air and Naval power. Not listening to military experience and advice was also an important debilitating factor in providing effective political leadership in war. Some crucial leadership mistakes will be covered in another article in this series.

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Leading from Behind PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Thompson   
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 00:00

Barack Obama will forever be remembered not just in America, but all over the world. When trying to nail down a single word to describe Obama’s foreign policies, the sure winner is: feckless. It is defined as being “weak; ineffective.” By golly, that is perfect.

Obama himself defined his leadership style as “leading from behind.” That is stunning because it articulates in his own words that he had no clue what it is to be a leader. He certainly didn’t provide any leadership either at home or abroad. Let’s review a few of the more memorable failures in leadership of Barack Obama as President of the United States (POTUS).

Recently Obama put the capstone on his tenure as POTUS by betraying Israel at the United Nations. There is little doubt that Obama sees the resolution he pushed through the UN Security Council denouncing Jewish settlements as a demonstration of his leadership. As his former Professor at Harvard Law Alan Dershowitz said, “Obama deceived me, he said he would have Israel’s back and instead he stuck a knife in it.” The US abstained from the vote that Obama engineered, thus allowing it to pass.

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Major U.S. Mistakes in the Vietnam War PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Scruggs   
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 00:00

Failure to Fully Utilize Air and Naval Superiority - Part 4

The fifth big mistake in Vietnam was failure to utilize our most powerful military assets—our overwhelming superiority in Air and Naval Power—early in the conflict. Pacific Area Commander (CinCPAC), Admiral Grant Sharp, believed this was the greatest mistake in the war.   This mistake was closely related to and overlapped the fourth big mistake, which was the Johnson-McNamara doctrine of gradualism discussed in part 4 of this series.

On April 20, 1965, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara held a conference in Honolulu to inform General Wheeler, the Chairman of the JCS and his top commanders in the Pacific of the Johnson-McNamara strategy to prevent the fall of South Vietnam to the Communist regime in Hanoi. Also attending this meeting were Admiral Sharp; General Westmoreland, Commander of the Military Advisory Command in Vietnam (MACV); and retired General Maxwell Taylor, the U.S. Ambassador in Saigon. McNamara brought with him his most influential advisor, Assistant Secretary of Defense, John McNaughton, and National Security Advisor Walt Rostow. This was a mere seven weeks following the commencement of Operation “Rolling Thunder,” Johnson’s plan to bring Hanoi to the negotiating table by a gradually escalating campaign of bombing targets in North Vietnam.

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