A Man Promoted Above his Ability September 12, 2011
I grew up during the Vietnam War. I was seven years old when General William Westmoreland was sent to Vietnam by LBJ to take charge of things there. I was eleven when he lost his job and by then, had lost us the war. Vietnam was in the news the entire time, on TV, in the paper, in Time Magazine – as was Westmoreland’s iconic chin. Being the son of military parents I’d early gotten the history bug and I was fascinated by what was taking place over in Southeast Asia, even if I didn’t understand it well. As I grew older, and things over there grew worse, I began to wonder how we could possibly lose such a war (as I thought it was) against such a small country.
Lewis Sorely’s “Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam” will tell you how. Sorely has the credentials for this book. He is himself a graduate of West Point. He served in Vietnam. He even served in the office of the Army Chief of Staff, General William C. Westmoreland, and taught at West Point. This isn’t just a book by some journalist trying to get at the bottom of things. Sorely has been “at the bottom of things” and he has done the leg work over a period of years, talking to 175 people in his search for the events he here recounts.
Sorely makes a point of stating at the outset his premise: that we need to understand Westmoreland in order to understand what happened in Vietnam. And so he begins at the beginning, with Westmoreland’s childhood and early experiences, his pre-war service in the field artillery at Fort Sill, then Hawaii, and finally with the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg. He then follows the aggressive young officer through his WWII service in North Africa, Sicily, and Europe and important early connections he made with such important figures at General Maxwell, “who rose to far greater prominence,” writes Sorely, “and became Westmoreland’s principal mentor and patron.”
After the war, Westmoreland shifted to Airborne duty and served under General James Gavin in the 82nd Airborne Division, first as regimental commander and then division chie of staff. Two years into the Korean War Westmoreland was made Commanding Officer of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team and was promoted to brigadier general. Apparently, this was Westmoreland’s niche. Worely writes that Westermoreland “would describe command of the 187th as ‘the most satisfying experience of my military service.'” It was apparently also the position for which he was most qualified. After the war, he served briefly in the Pentagon before being given divisional command – the 101st Airborne Division.
From reading Worely’s book, you could (and should) walk away with the conviction that had Westmoreland remained a divisional commander he would be differently remembered today. But he was made Superintendent of West Point, a posting for which he was manifestly unqualified, before being selected by LBJ from a list of four officers to take command of U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. In the end, Maxwell Taylor, his old protege, got Westmoreland the job. One general tried to stop it. Brigadier General Amos “Joe” Jordan, who knew Westmoreland well and said it would be a “grave mistake” to appoint him. “He is spit and polish, two up and one back. This is a counterinsurgency war, and he would have no idea of how to deal with it.”
And he didn’t, but he got the job anyway.
Incredibly, nobody apparently had any idea how to deal with it. Worse, he met with General Douglas MacArthur, who gave some terrible advice that Westmoreland took to heart: treat the South Vietnamese officers you will be advising “as you did your cadets” (!) and “Do not overlook the possibility that in order to defeat the guerrilla you may have to resort to a scorched earth policy.”
You can probably see where this is all going already. Westmoreland, writes Sorely, “Surprisingly, or perhaps not…did not meet with Lyndon Johnson before heading out to Vietnam.”
I almost wept reading that. And you will likely feel like doing a lot of weeping as you read on. I won’t try to recount Westmoreland’s Vietnam service here. Suffice it to say that he comes out as a man entirely out of his depth, lacking imagination, unable to think outside the box – and remember, we’re talking a counterinsurgency war here, not the Normandy beaches. You wonder how Westmoreland kept his job for so long as you read. And you begin to have your questions about how we could lose the war answered in ways you probably would not prefer.
Westmoreland seems by the end a sad and pathetic figure, but worse is the untold suffering caused in a war that was mismanaged from the very beginning. The blame falls squarely on General William C. Westmoreland. The American people were deceived; the Vietnamese people were betrayed, and both deserved better. But if Westmoreland was to blame, how much more to blame the U.S. government and military who perpetuated a system that allowed an utter incompetent to rise to high command and remain there long enough to lose a war.
“Westmoreland” is a sobering read, and a very good one. Highly recommended.
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Not a Clue,May 8, 2012
General William Childs Westmoreland (Westy) had not been ill prepared for the job of Commanding General. Nor was he at all ignorant about the many facets of guerrilla warfare and the politics involved. Smart, brave, and conscientious to a fault, he exemplified the image of what an American commander should look and act like. The rumor around Saigon was that he could impress the warts off of a frog. His command presence was so overwhelming to those who had met him that they would walk away believing in whatever he wanted them to believe. As an alumnus of West Point and the Harvard Graduate School of Business, he had been trained as the country’s new type of commander. Schooled in corporate management, fiscal outlays, and bureaucratic procedures, he knew how to manage a modern army and deal with the Washington politicians as well. Although he wasn’t as sophisticated as a Douglas MacArthur or as outspoken as a “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, he still possessed the qualities needed to be a successful combat commander.
Under different circumstances, he might have left a legacy as one of America’s finest generals, but it was not to be. The Vietnam War would have ruined any commander’s reputation, including Eisenhower’s, Patton’s, Pershing’s, or even Robert E. Lee’s. Over the past couple of decades, Westmoreland has been highly criticized for the part he played during the Vietnam War. Some of the criticisms leveled against him were valid enough, but many of them have been unfair. For he, along with the rest of the American armed forces had been put in a hopeless situation, brought about by the politics of a young nation suddenly finding itself as a world power.
Unlike the combat in the Second World War and in the Korean War, the U.S. ground forces in Vietnam were unable to consistently engage the enemy on any large scale. Though Westy had ordered his troops to find them, fix them, and finish them, it was all for naught. Possessing the advantages of inaccessible terrain, nearby sanctuaries, and a supportive population, the North Vietnamese weren’t about to throw it all away by openly engaging us. After establishing their supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and through the Cambodian ports, their main units preferred to bide their time in the jungles. With the elements of time and space on their side, they didn’t see any need to gamble everything upon the outcome of a single battle.
In essence, the enemy in Vietnam drove our commanders crazy with their penny-ante, hit-and-run delaying tactics. From the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta to the forests of the Central Highlands, they would suddenly appear out of nowhere and attack our positions, only to vanish at the first sign of reinforcements. For Westmoreland and the other American officers, it was all extremely frustrating. Here they were in the middle of a career-building war and the enemy wouldn’t come out and fight.
With a combination of economic assistance and rural pacification programs, it looked as if Westy had covered all of his bases. Our soldiers and Marines had begun patrolling the countryside, our civilian agencies were doling out money and technology, and our government bureaucrats were teaching the South Vietnamese officials the art of “nation building.” But in addition to these many programs, Westy was also striving to eliminate the numerous restrictive rules of engagement which had burdened his command. With every new enemy action, he would press the politicians back in Washington for more troops and fewer rules. Since there were a lot of enemy attacks, it didn’t take long before he was able to amass a very formidable force.
Throughout the early years, Westy never could get the green light to go into Laos, Cambodia, or North Vietnam, as he so desired. Much like General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War, he really wasn’t concerned about the political and economic ramifications of widening the war, if that’s what it would take to win the conflict. Following the tradition of Ulysses S. Grant, the father of American military doctrine, Westy had been trained to believe the solution to any military problem could be found in pure and simple attrition. Within the hallways of our military establishments, his ideas about how to conduct the war were not out of the ordinary. They had been rooted in our history and in our traditions. Unfortunately though, this strategy is almost completely useless when fighting a low intensity, guerrilla war.
Thus after several years of conducting meaningless patrols, fruitless operations, and amassing as many troops as possible, Westmoreland believed that he was finally ready to expand the war into the enemy’s sanctuaries and confront them on his own terms. With the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he intended to cut the NVA’s main supply line at its weakest point and isolate South Vietnam from its northern brothers. It was a very bold and gutsy plan, a gamble of the highest stakes. It was pure Westy.
In the November of 1967, Westy began secretly transferring his Army units from the southern provinces into I Corps. Code named Operation Checkers, the idea was to slowly transfer a brigade and a couple of divisions (101st Airborne & the 1st Air Cav) from around Saigon and the Central Highlands without the enemy becoming aware of it. Then once his forces had been assembled and the monsoon season had ended, it was his intention to use the Khe Sanh Combat Base as a staging area for invading Laos and possibly the southern panhandle of North Vietnam.
Referred to as Operation Plan El Paso, Westy believed that if he could sever the Ho Chi Minh Trail by invading Laos with several U.S. divisions; then he could choke the enemy’s lifeline leading into the southern provinces and thus destroy the NVA’s ability to continue the war. As plans go, it seemed like a good idea at the time, considering his other options. However by moving many of his combat units to I Corps, he had intentionally weakened the defenses around the populated areas. Gambling that he could strike the enemy’s supply line before they realized what had hit them, he rolled the dice.
Unfortunately, it must have come as a real shock to Westy and the other officers at MACV when their dice came up snake eyes. For as his combat units were right in the middle of moving up north, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong commanders decided to launch the Tet Offensive of 1968.
Was it a mere coincidence? I think not.
In the early hours of January 31, 1968, the combined forces of the North Vietnamese Army and their Viet Cong allies violated the annual New Year’s truce and attacked almost every major city, military installation, and provincial capital in South Vietnam. Even though Westmoreland and his chief of staff Gen. William DePuy claim that they had been previously aware of the high probability of the enemy’s offensive occurring, the suddenness and the ferocity of the attacks caught the American forces by complete surprise. Within hours of the attack, Viet Cong sappers had infiltrated the American embassy in Saigon and held it for eight hours, before they were finally killed. From the northern province of Quang Tri all the way down to the Mekong Delta, the battles raged in and around the rice paddies, villages, outposts, and the cities, until the enemy was officially overcome by the end of February. However, the intensity of the combat would continue to be heavy throughout the rest of the country until the October.
After three years of attempting to convince the American public and our politicians back in Washington that we were winning the war in Vietnam, the roof suddenly caved in around our military establishment. While proclaiming a great military victory over the enemy, which it certainly was, the Pentagon’s Joint Chief of Staff’s Chairman, General Earle Wheeler, incredibly asked for another two hundred and six thousand American troops to be sent to Vietnam in the hopes of eventually implementing Westmoreland’s long desired plans of invading North Vietnam and Laos. This obvious contradiction between our military leaders’ proclaimed victory and then their sudden demand for even more troops was just too much for the American people to swallow.
Ironically though, the Tet Offensive was a great military victory for the American and South Vietnamese forces. Yet after several years of submitting optimistic reports, exaggerated successes, and inflated body counts, the politics of attrition had finally caught up with Westy. The American public did not see a resonating victory emanating from their television sets. Instead, they only saw our government’s perceived lies and misinformation of the past.
In a very real sense, the Tet Offensive was the turning point of the war. From that time on the direction of the war would literally be taken over by the White House. Instead of accepting the Pentagon’s estimate that they could see the light at the end of the tunnel, President Richard Nixon began the program of Vietnamization, while slowly withdrawing our troops and negotiating a peace with honor.
Much has been written about the circumstances surrounding the Tet Offensive. Some of it has been accurate, while most of it has been pure balderdash. Even the North Vietnamese have never been completely forthcoming about what they intended to accomplish. In the past, they have only revealed just tidbits of information.
From our own government’s official point of view, the purpose behind the unexpected enemy’s attack was threefold. Initially, the enemy wanted to pressure U.S. public opinion against the war in Southeast Asia by demonstrating their ability to attack in mass and thus assist the anti-war movement. But as we now know through their own commanders’ memoirs and interviews, the North Vietnamese High Command was as surprised as everyone else by the intensity of the political backlash the Tet Offensive had created back in the United States. Initially, they had hoped to put a wedge between the U.S. and the South Vietnamese government. At the time, the influencing of the American public’s opinion was only vaguely considered.
Secondly, the NVA forces intended to eliminate the political opposition in the south through the use of assassination, while they were attacking the cities and villages. Generally speaking, the NVA commanders have never admitted that this was one of their objectives. However once the smoke had cleared and the civilian casualties had been counted, it was pretty obvious to all that during Tet Offensive, there had been an overwhelming number of political assassinations committed. In fact, the Viet Cong had prepared lists of their victims, long before the attack had started. Now whether or not this was a purely Viet Cong objective, without the NVA’s approval or knowledge, has never been ascertained. But the fact remains that many local leaders and South Vietnamese government officials had been executed.
And finally and most incredibly, it is alleged by almost everyone involved that the enemy wanted to overrun the major cities throughout the south in order to encourage the peasants to rebel against their westernized South Vietnamese regime. In one huge wave of zealous fervor, the general population was supposed to rise up out of their fields and reclaim their independence by pushing the American troops and their South Vietnamese cronies into the sea. Of course, this official scenario, which both sides have proclaimed as true, completely contradicts the military situation at the time.
Besides having well over a half of million South Vietnamese troops and sixty two thousand allied soldiers (South Korean and Australian) at his disposal, Westy also commanded another half of million American soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen. Due to the fact that the enemy had only committed an estimated 80,000 troops to the actual fighting, with the majority of them being the Viet Cong, they never had a chance of permanently holding a position after their initial onslaught. Therefore, just in terms of the lack of their sheer numbers, logistics, and firepower, the enemy’s combined forces couldn’t have possibly run us out of Vietnam. Moreover, the whole idea of the peasants suddenly rising up and participating in a full-blown rebellion against our overwhelming firepower was ludicrous at best. The average peasant was more concerned with eking out a meager living for his family, than he was with rising up against the American forces and throwing us out of their villages. Considering the presence of our immense naval and air forces, the enemy might have possessed enough manpower and resources to make things difficult for us for awhile, but they certainly didn’t possess the military capacity to suddenly throw us out of the country.
Thus the North Vietnamese official statements concerning the great offensive have always created more questions than answers. For instance, why did the North Vietnamese Army hold back their main battle units and let the Viet Cong sustain most of the causalities? And why did the enemy’s political leaders go along with such a plan, knowing full well that they didn’t stand a chance of militarily succeeding against us?
On a tactical level, the enemy had coordinated their plans for the offensive in order to have a maximum effect. The North Vietnamese would commit their units to attacking Saigon and Hue City, while pinning down our forces at Khe Sanh. At the same time, the Viet Cong were attempting to capture the provincial and district capitals, along with many other cities and our isolated outposts. The fighting was harsh and sometimes bitter. The enemy’s objectives were temporarily overrun, our casualties were high, and the innocent civilians were caught in the middle as the U.S. media had a field day. Yet to the casual observer, it didn’t appear as if the enemy had militarily accomplished anything of value. At the conclusion of the offensive, the enemy ended up back in their tunnels and sanctuaries, licking their wounds and counting their dead. Therefore to the average serviceman and woman who were there and to our people back at home, the offensive just didn’t make any military sense.
Contrary to popular belief, these attacks had nothing to do with pushing us into the sea or overrunning the combat base at Khe Sanh as MACV and Westmoreland had constantly declared. In fact, the North Vietnamese commander, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, had been reinforcing the DMZ for months in preparation of an expected American invasion.
It is my sincere belief that the NVA had become aware of Westy’s plans (Operation El Paso) with the help of the Soviet intelligence network here in the United States. After being informed of our intentions to invade Laos and disrupt their all-important supply line, the NVA and VC had no choice but to come up with a plan of their own. The very future success of the war depended upon it. By attacking almost every major city and military installation in the south, it was the enemy’s intention to threaten the southern provinces, so that Westy would be forced to cancel Operation El Paso and recall his troops in order to protect them. From a strategic standpoint, the NVA had initiated the Tet Offensive in the hopes of forestalling Westy’s efforts to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, their lifeline to the south.
Thus once the enemy had successfully attacked a hundred different cities and villages, there was no way Westy could have justified going into Laos, while the South Vietnamese government was being threatened in its own hamlets. During the entire offensive, Westy incorrectly believed that the attacks on the populated areas were just a feint in order to distract us from their real target, Khe Sanh. However, the North Vietnamese had no intention to losing thousands upon thousands of their best soldiers on a worthless piece of real estate, while undercutting their primary goal. The overrunning of the Khe Sanh Combat Base would have temporarily made some great press as a Dien Bien Phu comparison, but it would not have produced the desired result of shifting our tactical attention back to the populated areas and away from their precious supply line. While engaging in a month-long struggle for Hue and encouraging the Viet Cong to attack the other cities, the North Vietnamese had brilliantly moved the focus of the conflict away from their southern border.
Furthermore, I believe the North Vietnamese had another goal in mind for conducting the offensive. It was essentially a political goal that would have a tremendous impact upon war and the future of a unified Vietnam. During the planning stage of the operation, the NVA High Command had intentionally deceived their southern comrades into believing that they were going to fully support the Viet Cong attacks. Since the VC were hell-bent upon running our troops out of the country, the NVA had schemed to eliminate the VCs military strength and political influence within the southern provinces by encouraging them to openly confront American firepower.
As the battles raged throughout the country, it became apparent to the American commanders that the NVA had not fully committed their troops. With the exception of the heavy fighting in Hue, Pleiku, Kontum, and Saigon, the Viet Cong units were doing most of the fighting. Not understanding the political motives behind the attack, MACV had mistakenly assumed they were saving their troops for Khe Sanh. But apparently, the NVA had unexpectedly stepped back from their obligation to support the VC attacks so that they would be soundly defeated. In doing so, the NVA wanted to create a power vacuum in the south, a vacuum that they had every intention of filling.
Before the Tet Offensive, the NVA was well aware of the fact that they were going to have to form a national government with the south’s National Liberation Front, once the American troops had gone home. The idea of sharing their post-war power with the Viet Cong (NLF) was not very appealing to them. They sought to control the entire country in order to establish a true independent socialist government, free from any foreign and Western influences. Thus after the VC had lost a significant number of their soldiers and cadres in fruitlessly attacking the American and South Vietnamese installations, they were not in any position to make demands upon Hanoi. Consequently, the North Vietnamese were able to eventually replace the Viet Cong with their own units, and thus completely dominate the post-war government.
Unknown to most Americans, the North Vietnamese and their brothers in the south have never trusted each other anymore than they trusted the foreigners around them. Their long history has been one of internal strife over which of their sections was going to control the entire country. When they weren’t fighting the Chinese, the French, or the Japanese, the Vietnamese have always fought among themselves because of their sectional cultural and economic differences. Due to the substantial resources in the Mekong Delta and along their coastline, the South Vietnamese have always been looked upon by the north as being less disciplined, ethically soft, and susceptible to foreign influences. So the idea of the North Vietnamese ruthlessly sacrificing the Viet Cong in the south for their own political purposes is not as far-fetched as it might appear.
On the political side, the most significant factor was our inability to find a South Vietnamese regime which was willing to institute a program of land reforms for the peasants, refrain itself from stealing everything that wasn’t tied down, and allow the Buddhists to share the political power with the ruling Catholics. To everyone’s frustration, these internal issues would constantly plague our attempts to create a legitimate government. Yet in the final analysis, the biggest political problem was that the majority of the South Vietnamese people, who happened to be Buddhist, weren’t at all interested in being ruled by a minority of Westernized Catholics. And they certainly weren’t interested in having their country divided and becoming dependent upon the American government, as in the case of South Korea. They loved our American dollars, but they definitely didn’t like us being in their front yards.
Regrettably, the political problems in Vietnam were much more complex than we ever imagined. Despite our best efforts, the South Vietnamese leaders didn’t trust their own generals anymore than they trusted us. Throughout the whole war, they would employ their best units in such a way as to protect the existing regime from any attempted coups d’état. This created a situation where their most loyal military commanders were rarely free to go after the enemy with any degree of intensity. Thus the ARVNs’ best units were mostly used in a defensive posture around the country’s strategic locations, while their less trained units and commanders were supposed to win the war. So it’s not that the average South Vietnamese soldier was incapable of defeating their northern brothers. Most of the time, they were ordered to keep out of the enemy’s way. When it came down to it, the country’s political leaders were more involved in retaining their political power, than they were with defeating the north.
These political factors alone probably doomed us to failure. Still, we should have made a better military showing with all the resources and people we committed. After the Tet Offensive, the primary military opposition to Thieu’s government was coming mainly from the north. Along with the help of the controversial *Phoenix Program, which was set up as a way of eliminating the local VC leadership cells through identification and assassination, the Viet Cong had virtually been eliminated as an effective fighting force by 1969. So then, why couldn’t we defeat the North Vietnamese Army after the Tet Offensive?
The Tet Offensive will go down as probably the biggest American military intelligence failure, since the Chinese abruptly entered the Korean War in the winter of 1950. In fact, it ranks right up there with the Battle of the Bulge fiasco, where the German Army was able to amass several armies along a fairly wide front, and unexpectedly surprise our troops. Even though many of our intelligence personnel predicted a possible large scale attack could occur, the MACV higher ups didn’t believe the timing was right for such as offensive. Thus we were completely humiliated by the NVA and VC’s ability to launch a massive attack right under our very noses. Much like the internal political problems we faced in Vietnam, our intelligence failures ran much deeper than our inability to predict Tet. In fact, we couldn’t predict anything about the enemy’s movements or their intentions. They seemed to come and go through each province as they pleased. And the only time we ever did get to kill a large number of them was only after they had attacked our positions.
In essence, it is my contention that what we failed to realize or even to acknowledge was that several Soviet moles had compromised our intelligence agencies. By constantly feeding the moles’ information to the North Vietnamese, the Soviets were able to keep them abreast of every major American movement and intention. They even knew where and when our B-52 air strikes were going to be dropped, and where we intended to launch our next major ground operations.
Throughout my entire combat experience, we were never able to surprise the NVA to the point where we held the tactical initiative. The overwhelming majority of the time, our patrols troops would either walk around for days on end or run across one of their abandoned camps. In fact, ninety percent of the contact made with the enemy soldiers in Vietnam occurred only after we had walked into their ambushes. This makes one wonder, why didn’t it eventually dawn on someone in high command that something was terribly wrong. Prisoner after NVA prisoner would inform our intelligence interrogators of the prior warnings they had received about our next land and air attacks.
In due course, we were able to ambush small groups of the enemy around the populated areas, while they were coming and going from their villages. But it was usually out of dumb luck if we happened to surprise one of their larger units. At the time, I kept asking my officers, “Why don’t we ever ambush them, the way they always do us?” The officers would usually shake their heads in bewilderment, because they were as in the dark as everyone else. Almost every night our intelligence people would tell us what the NVA were going to do next. And almost every night, like clockwork, they were dead wrong.
Thanks to the well known traitorous efforts of the U.S. Navy’s John W. Walker Jr. gang, along with dozens of unpublicized others, the Soviets possessed our communication codes and no telling what other type of intelligence data.
Much like the French, we arrogantly assumed that our communications were secure and that theirs were not. However, the North Vietnamese weren’t complete amateurs to conflict, so they were aware of our ability to electronically monitor and decode their communications. Thus it was an easy matter for them to feed us what information they wanted us to have by creating bogus communications between their units. Surely, if an organization knows that it’s being bugged, the people within that organization aren’t going to continue to seriously communicate to each other on that line. As any security expert will testify, it isn’t very difficult for an intelligence organization to set up a series of routine dummy conversations (misinformation) between its various branches, while communicating their real messages and intentions by a totally different means. In fact, the more sophisticated intelligence organizations in the world today will overload their communications systems with more than one bogus communiqué, pertaining to their different command directives.
To this day, the different strategies we used in Vietnam have been highly criticized and misunderstood. The ideas were sound enough, especially after the Tet Offensive. Unfortunately though, we were never able to successfully implement them, because I believe our communications had been compromised. Thus any initiative that we hoped to achieve on the battlefield was lost as soon as the orders were send down the chain of command. Similar to the Allies’ successful efforts in decoding the Axis’ messages (e.g. Ultra, Purple, and Magic) during the Second World War, we weren’t the only ones who could eavesdrop on someone else’s communications or create misinformation.
But I guess the most inexcusable aspect about the whole affair was that it never seemed to have occurred to anyone in Washington or Saigon that there were traitors among us. Day after day, year after year, and ambush after ambush, our leaders kept telling themselves that we just weren’t interpreting the information correctly.
Undoubtedly, our intelligence agencies will not agree with my assessment, because they like to consider themselves as being in the know. Over the years, I have talked too many of them and have even read their different accounts. With great pride and fierce loyalty, they will explain how our technological marvels had kept constant track of the enemy’s movements and communications, and that they knew every order coming out of Hanoi even before their commanders did. Some of them have even shifted the blame to the South Vietnamese officials for any leaks that might have occurred, while knowing full well that we also used them to provide us with information about the North Vietnamese.
But the fact of the matter remains the same. Out on the battlefield, the enemy was able to maintain the initiative by anticipating our every move, while effectively concealing their own intentions. Therefore, it is my conviction that our intelligence agencies had been completely compromised and thus unable to secure their own communications. Or on the other hand, they were the most incompetent human beings that ever walked this planet, which I find very difficult to accept.
Phi Beta Iota: One can never forget that Henry Kissinger murdered 20,000 US troops by sabotaging the Paris Peace Talks, or that John Kennedy was planning to withdraw from Viet-Nam, one reason he was assassinated. Westmoreland is best viewed as good man trapped in a bad system–he is the poster child for INTEGRITY LOST.