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Winning the Vietnam War: Westmoreland's Approach in Two Documents

From: The Journal of Military History
Volume 68, Number 2, April 2004
pp. 553-574 | 10.1353/jmh.2004.0024


Together these late 1965 documents detail Westmoreland's theory of victory in Vietnam. The first one provides guidance to senior commanders about how he wanted them to fight the war and the second presents his evaluation of the troops' performance and recommendations for improvement. They show that he fully understood the need to provide security for the South Vietnamese so pacification and nation-building programs might succeed. Hence, they send an obvious but sometimes neglected message to policy makers and commanders today: in a counterinsurgency environment, the successful approach will contain an aggressive warfighting plan and a well thought-out nation-building/pacification program.