Accession Number:



Why Military Leaders Must Study Military History

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Research Paper]

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Colin Powell once said that There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure. This statement raises a valid point that studying military history, our blunders, as well as our successes, is what makes us successful as an organization. Our military history is a mix of success stories and dramatic failures, all of which add to our wealth of knowledge. Many of our military operations, which could be perceived as blunders, proved invaluable to us in future operations. The worst mistakes, if nothing else, should be used as teaching points for the future, in this way we are not doomed to remake these same mistakes. In the Vietnam War for example, the United States entered the war to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam as part of a wider strategy called containment. The Vietnam War which took place in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1959 until April 30, 1975, exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities, including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. Soldiers. The overarching goal of the Vietnam War was part of a wider strategy called containment which was a policy created in response to a series of moves by the Soviet Union to expand communist influence in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The Vietnamese War has been viewed by some as a major loss of the United States Armed Forces, however, our knowledge of warfare in the post Vietnam era has grown substantially, as a military force we learned some of our hardest lessons, and have made improvements in both our tactics and our military equipment since the end of the Vietnam War.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]