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America's Military Role in Vietnam
" On April 30, 1975, Saigon and the government of South Vietnam fell to the communist regime of North Vietnam, ending -- for American military forces -- exactly twenty-five year of courageous but unavailing struggle. This is not the story of how America became embroiled in a conflict in a small country half-way around the globe, nor of why our armed forces remained there so long after the futility of our efforts became obvious to many. It is the story of what went wrong there militarily, and why. The author is a professional soldier who experienced the Vietnam war in the field and in the highest command echelons. General Palmer's insights into the key events and decisions that shaped American's military role in Vietnam are uncommonly perceptive. America's most serious error, he believes, was committing its armed forces to a war in which neither political nor military goals were ever fully articulated by our civilian leaders. Our armed forces, lacking clear objectives, failed to develop an appropriate strategy, instead relinquishing the offensive to Hanoi. Yet an achievable strategy could have been devised, Palmer believes. Moreover, our South Vietnamese allies could have been bolstered by appropriate aid but were instead overwhelmed by the massive American military presence. Compounding these errors were the flawed civilian and military chains of command. The result was defeat for America and disaster for South Vietnam. General Palmer presents here an insider's history of the war and an astute critique of America's military strengths and successes as well as its weaknesses and failures.
This fascinating narrative tells the story of a remarkable regiment at the center of Civil War history. The real-life adventure emerges from accounts of scores of soldiers who served in the 4th Michigan Infantry, gleaned from their diaries, letters, and memoirs; the reports of their officers and commanders; the stories by journalists who covered them; and the recollections of the Confederates who fought against them. The book includes tales of life in camp, portraying the Michigan soldiers as everyday people — recounting their practical jokes, illnesses, political views, personality conflicts, comradeship, and courage.
The book also tells the true story of what happened to Colonel Harrison Jeffords and the 4th Michigan when the regiment marched into John Rose's wheat field on a sweltering early July evening at Gettysburg. Beyond the myths and romanticized newspaper stories, this account presents the historical evidence of Jeffords's heroic, yet tragic, hand-to-hand struggle for his regiment's U.S. flag.
Unparalleled and Unequaled
Of all the military assignments in Vietnam, perhaps none was more challenging than the defense of the Mekong River Delta region. Operating deep within the Viet Cong–controlled Delta, the 9th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army was charged with protecting the area and its population against Communist insurgents and ensuring the success of the South Vietnamese government’s pacification program. Faced with unrelenting physical hardships, a tenacious enemy, and the region’s rugged terrain, the 9th Division established strategies and quantifiable goals for completing their mission, effectively writing a blueprint for combating guerilla warfare that influenced army tacticians for decades to come. In The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam: Unparalleled and Unequaled, Ira A. Hunt Jr. details the innovative strategies of the 9th Division in their fight to overcome the Viet Cong. Based on Hunt’s experience as colonel and division chief of staff, the volume documents how the 9th Division’s combat effectiveness peaked in 1969. A wealth of illustrative material, including photos, maps, charts, and tables, deepens understanding of the region’s hazardous environment and clarifies the circumstances of the division’s failures and successes. A welcome addition to scholarship on the Vietnam War, The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam will find an audience with enthusiasts and scholars of military history.
Reminiscences of a Field Artillery Pilot in World War II
An extraordinary memoir of an aviator’s service in the Pacific Theater
“If you’re looking for macho, fighting-man talk, you’ve picked up the wrong book. . . . This is just an honest narration of some of my experiences . . . during my service in the U.S. Army between 1940 and 1945.”<br /> —Raymond C. Kerns
The son of a Kentucky tobacco farmer, Raymond Kerns dropped out of high school after the eighth grade to help on the farm. He enlisted in the Army in 1940 and, after training as a radio operator in the artillery, was assigned to Schofield Barracks (Oahu) where he witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and participated in the ensuing battle.
In the months before Pearl Harbor, Kerns had passed the Army’s flight training admission exam with flying colors. But because he lacked a high school diploma, the Army refused to give him flying lessons. Undaunted, Private Kerns took lessons with a civilian flying school and was actually scheduled for his first solo flight on the afternoon of December 7, 1941.
Notwithstanding his lack of diploma, Kerns graduated from Officer Candidate School and then completed flight training in the L-4 Piper Cub in late 1942. He was assigned to the 33rd Infantry Division in New Guinea and saw extensive combat service there and in the Philippines. In a simple but riveting style, Kerns recalls flying multiple patrols over enemy-held territory in his light unarmored plane, calling and coordinating artillery strikes. While his most effective defense was the remarkable maneuverability and nimbleness of the L-4, he was often required to defend himself with pistols and rifles, hand grenades, and even a machine gun that he welded to his landing gear and once used to blow up an ammunition dump.
Proud of his service and convinced of the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the L-4 pilots in the Pacific and Europe, Kerns earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Silver Star.
Above the Thunder, arguably one of the best memoirs of combat action during World War II, will appeal to military historians as well as general readers.
The United States in the Persian Gulf, 1972–2005
Great powers and grand strategies. It is easy to assume that the most powerful nations pursue and employ consistent, cohesive, and decisive policies in trying to promote their interests in regions of the world. Popular theory emphasizes two such grand strategies that great powers may pursue: balance of power policy or hegemonic domination. But, as Steve A. Yetiv contends, things may not always be that cut and dried. Analyzing the evolution of the United States' foreign policy in the Persian Gulf from 1972 to 2005, Yetiv offers a provocative and panoramic view of American strategies in a region critical to the functioning of the entire global economy. Ten cases—from the policies of the Nixon administration to George W. Bush's war in Iraq—reveal shifting, improvised, and reactive policies that were responses to unanticipated and unpredictable events and threats. In fact, the distinguishing feature of the U.S. experience in the Gulf has been the absence of grand strategy. Yetiv introduces the concept of "reactive engagement" as an alternative approach to understanding the behavior of great powers in unstable regions. At a time when the effects of U.S. foreign policy are rippling across the globe, The Absence of Grand Strategy offers key insight into the nature and evolution of American foreign policy in the Gulf.
Patton as Commander in the Bulge
In the winter of 1944–1945, Hitler sought to divide Allied forces in the heavily forested Ardennes region of Luxembourg and Belgium. He deployed more than 400,000 troops in one of the last major German offensives of the war, which became known as the Battle of the Bulge, in a desperate attempt to regain the strategic initiative in the West. Hitler’s effort failed for a variety of reasons, but many historians assert that Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr.’s Third Army was ultimately responsible for securing Allied victory. Although Patton has assumed a larger-than-life reputation for his leadership in the years since World War II, scholars have paid little attention to his generalship in the Ardennes following the relief of Bastogne. In Advance and Destroy, Captain John Nelson Rickard explores the commander’s operational performance during the entire Ardennes campaign, through his “estimate of the situation,” the U.S. Army’s doctrinal approach to problem-solving. Patton’s day-by-day situational understanding of the Battle of the Bulge, as revealed through ULTRA intelligence and the influence of the other Allied generals on his decision-making, gives readers an in-depth, critical analysis of Patton’s overall effectiveness, measured in terms of mission accomplishment, his ability to gain and hold ground, and a cost-benefit analysis of his operations relative to the lives of his soldiers. The work not only debunks myths about one of America’s most controversial generals but provides new insights into his renowned military skill and colorful personality.
U.S. Tactics and Training after Vietnam
On December 18, 1972, more than one hundred U.S. B-52 bombers flew over North Vietnam to initiate Operation Linebacker II. During the next eleven days, sixteen of these planes were shot down and another four suffered heavy damage. These losses soon proved so devastating that Strategic Air Command was ordered to halt the bombing. The U.S. Air Force's poor performance in this and other operations during Vietnam was partly due to the fact that they had trained their pilots according to methods devised during World War II and the Korean War, when strategic bombers attacking targets were expected to take heavy losses. Warfare had changed by the 1960s, but the USAF had not adapted. Between 1972 and 1991, however, the Air Force dramatically changed its doctrines and began to overhaul the way it trained pilots through the introduction of a groundbreaking new training program called "Red Flag."
In The Air Force Way of War, Brian D. Laslie examines the revolution in pilot instruction that Red Flag brought about after Vietnam. The program's new instruction methods were dubbed "realistic" because they prepared pilots for real-life situations better than the simple cockpit simulations of the past, and students gained proficiency on primary and secondary missions instead of superficially training for numerous possible scenarios. In addition to discussing the program's methods, Laslie analyzes the way its graduates actually functioned in combat during the 1980s and '90s in places such as Grenada, Panama, Libya, and Iraq. Military historians have traditionally emphasized the primacy of technological developments during this period and have overlooked the vital importance of advances in training, but Laslie's unprecedented study of Red Flag addresses this oversight through its examination of the seminal program.