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Somalia and Vietnam. Deja Vu All Over Again
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
Pagination or Media Count:
During the recent involvement in Somalia U.S. leadership likely repeated mistakes that were made by senior leaders during the Vietnam conflict. This article uses the questions posed by Philip A. Crowl in his Harmon Memorial Lecture presented to the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1977 as a basis to compare the two conflicts and show areas where we did not apply lessons of the Vietnam conflict to Somalia. Besides illustrating general similarities of the two conflicts, the article discusses in detail how military strategy did not support national objectives in each conflict. Additionally, the article states that future conflicts in the post Cold War world are likely to resemble the Somalian scenario where cultural friction exists. In such crises, it is critical to establish national objectives that present viable exit options and design military strategy that is not so limited that achieving objectives is impossible. Finally, the article suggests that it is impossible to directly apply lessons learned in one conflict to future crises. Rather, knowing the lessons of past conflicts allows one to selectively apply these lessons when facing new challenges.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE