Strategy Of Attrition: Why General Westmoreland Failed In 1967
Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
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General Westmorelands strategy of attrition, in 1967, failed because it reduced security across the countryside, ostracized the people within South Vietnam, and did not affect the South Vietnamese communists. The purpose of this study is to examine the operational approach General Westmorland used in 1967 to win the war in South Vietnam. This paper examines Westmorelands strategy of attrition by looking at the buildup of troops leading into 1967 and then their utilization during four historic accounts by division level units. Offensive operations during Operation Junction City, by Task Force Oregon, the 1st Infantry Division, and The Z Division provide evidence that support failure in 1967. The study concludes that even with a half million soldiers, Westmoreland did not have enough forces to conduct offensive operations and secure the countryside. Ultimately, the year of offensive operations concluded in disappointment by Westmoreland and his staff. The lofty goal to destroy large Viet Cong formations and headquarters did not occur, leaving doubt in the minds of military leaders questioning the predicted cleanup phase of operations in 1968. The result only left the realities of the struggle that culminated in three hundred thousand wounded, 150 billion dollars spent, and more than fifty-eight thousand American names etched into a granite memorial.