On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (英語) ペーパーバック – 1995/6/1
Kindle 端末は必要ありません。無料 Kindle アプリのいずれかをダウンロードすると、スマートフォン、タブレットPCで Kindle 本をお読みいただけます。
Summer's inspired analysis of America's war in Vietnam answers the most pressing questions remaining from that terrible conflict more than a decade before Robert McNamara's painful admissions.
Harry G. Summers was an infantry squad leader in the Korean War and a battalion and corps operations officer in the Vietnam War. He later served on the faculty of the Army War College and worked as the editor of Vietnam magazine and as a nationally syndicated columnist on national defense and security affairs. He died in 1999.
First published in 1982 this book makes clear that the outcome of the war had nothing to do with the fighting ability of the US military. Colonel Summers says, “On the battlefield itself, the Army was unbeatable. In engagement after engagement the forces of the Viet Cong and of the North Vietnamese Army were thrown back with terrible losses. Yet, in the end, it was North Vietnam, not the United States, that emerged victorious. How could we have succeeded so well, yet failed so miserably? That disturbing question was the reason for this book.” (p 1) The Army was attempting to come to terms with the defeat in Vietnam.
Early on in the book the author makes clear that the answer to the question is “a failure in strategic military doctrine.” (p 89) The entire book (the text, excluding the appendix, is only 194 pages) is a close examination of the principles of war and how the US Army failed to apply them. As a framework for the critical analysis of the war Colonel Summers uses the principles of war set down by Carl von Clausewitz. Colonel Summers also examines those principles as set down in the US Army field manuals, the texts used by the Army to craft strategy and tactics.
Colonel Summers’ central tenant is “We thought we were pursuing a new strategy called counterinsurgency, but actually we were pursuing a defensive strategy in pursuit of a negative aim [counterinsurgency].” (p 88) “Basic to the success of a strategic defensive in pursuit of the negative aim…is the assumption that time is on your side.” (p 89) But time was not on the side of the US. The clock would run out in 1968.
The author’s central argument is that the Communist insurgency was an economy of force tactic and not the main effort of the North Vietnamese. To support this Colonel Summers notes that after Tet the Viet Cong insurgency was all but destroyed yet the war continued. He also notes that of the three occasions when the North Vietnamese decided the time was ripe to finish the South Vietnamese Army and Government they relied on NVA formations. Of course only one of those efforts was successful, the one in 1975.
This is a very brief overview of what Colonel Summers has to say about the war. He has much more to offer and it is all extremely compelling and very readable. Anyone interested in what the hell happened in Vietnam should read this book. Although it is not necessary I think the reader would get the most form this book if the reader has a working knowledge of the War.
The following are quotes from the book which should give you some idea how fair and objective Colonel Summers was. So, if you're trying to understand the Vietnam War (as I am), buying this book is an absolute requirement. And, ironically, it does not matter whether you were for or against this war. It's not one of those books where the ideology driven people will get all bent out of shape trying to defend the positions they took 30 or so years ago. Read the quotes; I think you'll agree that Summers was fair.
"In failing to press their military advice they [the military leadership] allowed the US to pursue a strategic policy that was faulty from the start."
Colonel Lung, Army of the Rrepublic of Vietnam: "The Americans had designed a purely defensive strategy for Vietnam. It was a strategy that was based on the attrition of the enemy through a prolonged defense and made no allowance for decisive offensove action."
"The confusion over [our political and military] objectives detailed above had a devastating effect on our ability to conduct the war."
"Our new "strategy" of counterinsurgency blinded us to the fact that the guerrilla war was tactical and not strategic."
"And the critics were right. It was a different. All of America's previous wars were fought in the heat of passion. Vietnam was fought in cold blood, and that was intolerable to the American people."