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A Study of Strategic Lessons Learned in Vietnam. Omnibus Executive Summary

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Basically, as far as Vietnam is concerned, we won practically all the battles but, by any sensible definition of strategic objectives, we lost the war. Any study of such magnitude, complexity and sensitivity as is this one would be quite difficult to summarize without perpetrators of both omission and commission. Therefore, this omnibus portion of the executive summary focuses on several of the most significant themes emerging from the study which are likely to concern todays and tomorrows leaders and strategists. The executive summaries for the eight volumes of the study are included, with minor editing. The judgement of the study team is that the cardinal blame for our ultimate failure can not be placed on any single individual or institution there is sufficient credit and blame to share. The authors concluded that The System Worked perhaps so, but it certainly did not work very quickly, painlessly, or efficiently and in the end, we lost. Another principal by-product of the study effort was the building of sincere respect and admiration for the soldiers in the generic sense of all major participants in the conflict. It was recognized that there were incompetents and opportunists in all units, but they were totally overshadowed by uncounted acts of valor and self-sacrifice which became the norm. The American soldier, in particular, had very little to gain and so much to lose, especially towards the end. Very few of them had any influence on why they were there, what they were asked to do, or even if they were to live or die. The veterans of that war deserve -- and earned -- far more than they received and are still receiving since their return.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Unconventional Warfare

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