THE ARMY AND VIETNAM by

THE ARMY AND VIETNAM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An indictment of the command mentality prevalent in the Army, especially as it pertained to the Vietnam era, by a former teacher of national security affairs at West Point. Krepinevich, currently a member of the Army staff, will make enemies with his criticisms, although this is meant to be a book that deplores an endemic myopia rather than individuals per se. In general, he argues, there is an Army Concept of war that shapes the way in which the Army organizes and trains its troops for battle. The two characteristics of this concept: (1) a focus on mid-intensity (conventional) war; and (2) a reliance on high volumes of firepower to minimize casualties--""in effect, the substitution of material costs at every available opportunity to avoid payment in blood."" This was fine for the world wars and, to a lesser degree, for Korea, he contends. But with a counterinsurgency like Vietnam, the concept was wholly unsuited. As was evident on the nightly news, high body-counts and dramatic displays of firepower resulted only in a continually worsening tactical situation. Krepinevich argues that there are lessons to be learned here, for he sees the future of warfare to be more or less of a counterinsurgent nature. Unfortunately, he feels that an attitude of retrenchment still prevails in modern military circles. Our defense establishment, from Weinberger down, he states, is seeking to change the nature of war back to the traditional concepts with which it's most comfortable. But, as Krepinevich wisely warns, ""America's enemies are not going to play to its military strong suits; rather, they will exploit its weak points."" Solid analysis that goes beyond the emotionalism normally accompanying the Vietnam literature.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1986
Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press