From Steve in Arizona...
A good read about the political mindset that probably caused the Vietnam War to go on much longer than it needed to. Also shows the distrust that politicians have for the military professionals who advise them. Think General Stanley McCrystal and the "arrogant one". When political motivations trump military reality, we all lose. People die. Deaths caused by arrogant, powerful men for political gain.
Lt. Gen. Charles Cooper, USMC (Ret.) is the author of "Cheers and Tears: A Marine's Story of Combat in Peace and War" (2002), from which this article is excerpted. The article recently drew national attention after it was posted on MILINET. It is reprinted with the author's permission.
"The President will see you at two o'clock."
It was a beautiful fall day in November of 1965; early in the Vietnam War-too beautiful a day to be what many of us, anticipating it, had been calling "the day of reckoning." We didn't know how accurate that label would be.
The Pentagon is a busy place. Its workday starts early-especially if, as the expression goes, "there's a war on." By seven o'clock, the staff of Admiral David L. McDonald, the Navy's senior admiral and Chief of Naval Operations, had started to work. Shortly after seven, Admiral McDonald arrived and began making final preparations for a meeting with President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The Vietnam War was in its first year, and its uncertain direction troubled Admiral McDonald and the other service chiefs. They'd had a number of disagreements with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara about strategy, and had finally requested a private meeting with the Commander in Chief-a perfectly legitimate procedure. Now, after many delays, the Joint Chiefs were finally to have that meeting. They hoped it would determine whether the US military would continue its seemingly directionless buildup to fight a protracted ground war, or take bold measures that would bring the war to an early and victorious end. The bold measures they would propose were to apply massive air power to the head of the enemy, Hanoi, and to close North Vietnam's harbors by mining them.
Read it all here.
Some things never change. We involve ourselves in wars that we lack the willingness and fortitude to fight to their proper conclusions. (assuming that we fight wars with the intention of winning them) Politics always trumps common sense. We may start out with the best of intentions but we quickly lose our way. Before you know it ten years have passed and we no longer remember what our goals or reason for being were.