Home » Historical » Vietnam: Part V “This is what we do” (July to December 1967)

Vietnam: Part V “This is what we do” (July to December 1967)

This episode has three major thrusts.

The first focuses on American casualties in the Central Highlands and south of the DMZ that divided North and South Vietnam.  The DMZ was part of the Paris accords of 1954 that ended the French Indochina war. There is also a discussion of enemy body count.  The argument was that demographics argued that the North Vietnamese did not have the manpower to replace their losses.

I have also been a critic of body count as a measure of combat effectiveness and thus a measure that a side was “winning.”  Body count does not measure will to endure.  Many have argued that body count as measured in number of body bags was the US weakness that our opponents discerned coming out of the Vietnam War.  Saddam Hussein, in an attempt to deter the US from restoring Kuwait in the first Gulf War, claimed that the US should prepare for many body bags. This weakness came from the weekly body count—US and opponents—that were released by the Military Assistance Command Vietnam.

The second thrust was that body count meant that the US was winning.  This is juxtaposed against a belief that all relevant measurements showed that the US won the war before it started.

Third is a teaser for the upcoming episodes as Hanoi lays plans for a massive surprise offensive.  What the episode does not reveal is that the fights around Con Thien and the DMZ were really a test by the NVA.  The North Vietnamese leadership wanted to verify that the US would not invade North Vietnam.  Once assured by the actions along the DMZ they were free to move more than 2 divisions towards Khe Sanh for January 21st attacks there.

If the authors of this series were really interested in a strategic analysis that above would be apparent.


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