Maneuver Company Commanders and Their Battalion Commanders in Vietnam: No Shared Value
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Much has been written about command climate during the Vietnam war. Criticisms abound regarding the one-year rotation policy and the six-month command tour. Moreover, the officer corps has been attacked by many for a careerist, selfish approach to Vietnam service. Notwithstanding, first-hand accounts of command climate experiences and attitudes from officers who served as combat company commanders are rare. This account is drawn from 300 extensive interviews with majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels who, as young officers, had served in combat in Vietnam. The interviews were conducted over a four-month period while these officers were students at the United States Army Command and General Staff College USACGSC and the United States Army War College USAWC. The principal focus of this paper is on the command climate relationship which existed between 72 maneuver company commanders interviewed and their battalion commanders. Based on a review of these interviews and secondary sources, it is the authors contention that far too many maneuver battalion commanders in Vietnam had failed in their professional duty to their subordinate company commanders to establish and share with them fully and selflessly a common bond in the prosecution of the war. In the sixteen years since the last American forces were withdrawn from Vietnam, the Army has done much to rectify the kinds of senior leadership failures described in this paper. Much, however, still must be done.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics