The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973

By Shelby L. Stanton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6.
THE AREA WAR

1. 1966 Campaign Strategy

The battlefield of Vietnam was far different from the continuous fronts of both world wars and the Korea War. Traditional military doctrine, based on seizing and holding a series of successive terrain objectives, was largely inapplicable. The multidirectional, nonlinear nature of military operations in Vietnam was being given a new label, "area warfare." Since Army dogma and training were still oriented toward conventional warfare, Army strategy had to be redefined. Exactly how area warfare would be fought was still evolving, and additional tactics and techniques were being assiduously developed. Goals were redefined and inevitable setbacks experienced. Such directional changes were questioned by civilian government policy interpreters, who frequently cited operational failures. In actual fact Army strategists were simply trying to adjust to the conflicting demands and novel principles of area warfare.

Army combat commands arrived in Vietnam eager for open confrontation with the VC and the NVA. They wanted to bring superior American firepower and new airmobile flexibility to bear on the open battlefield, winning a decision in the classic sense where they could "find, fix, and finish" the enemy. The frustration of warfare in Vietnam stemmed from the inherent difficulties posed by antipartisan warfare. While Americans looked to French and British experiences in subduing native revolt, the war of liberation in Vietnam was no longer a squabble between

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The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Foreword x
  • Introduction xv
  • Part 1 1965 1
  • Chapter 1. Advisors and Special Forces 3
  • Chapter 2. an Army Girds for Battle 18
  • Chapter 3. Marines at War 29
  • Chapter 4. an Army Goes to War 45
  • Part 2 1966 63
  • Chapter 5. the Build-Up 65
  • Chapter 6. the Area War 81
  • Chapter 7. the Central Front 97
  • Chapter 8. the Northern Front 117
  • Part3 1967 131
  • Chapter 9. the Year of the Big Battles 142
  • Chapter 11. Battle for the Highlands 157
  • Chapter 12. Holding the Line 179
  • Chapter 13. Battle for the Coast 191
  • Part 4 1968 203
  • Chapter 14. Year of Crises 205
  • Chapter 15. the Battles of Tet-68 219
  • Chapter 16. Siege and Breakthrough 247
  • Chapter 17. Counteroffensive 260
  • Part 5 1969 281
  • Chapter 18. One War 283
  • Chapter 19. One War in the Northern Provinces 295
  • Chapter 20. One War in the Southern Provinces 308
  • Part 6 333
  • Chapter 21 335
  • Chapter 22. an Army Departs the War 350
  • Guide to Unit Organization and Terms 369
  • Sources and Bibliography 371
  • Index 395
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