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Restoring the Shield: Westmoreland and the Recovery of Military Professionalism

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Technical Report

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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During his tenure as the Armys Chief of Staff, General Westmoreland was one of the architects of the post-Vietnam Armys reforms. Westmorelands candid recognition of the debilitating effects of the Vietnam War on the Armys moral-ethical climate led to a series of internally-focused initiatives, which established the foundation for the Armys critical reforms that would lead to an overwhelming victory in the Persian Gulf in 1991. This study examines Westmorelands performance as the Chief of Staff in four parts. First, it assesses the historiography and offers insights into why soldiers and scholars have deliberately excluded Westmoreland from the post-Vietnam narrative. It then examines Westmorelands initial vision for Army reform, and why he failed to discern the looming threats to professionalism. The third part analyzes Westmorelands recognition that his initial assumptions were invalid, and his realization of the full extent of professional discontent. The remainder details Westmorelands specific actions to address the growing institutional malaise, and his initiatives to prevent the Army from surrendering its professional soul. Overall, this study illustrates that without Westmorelands contributions, the reforms of the post-Vietnam era would have lacked the human capacity necessary to capitalize on the doctrinal and technological reforms that historians already recognize.

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