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Opinion >  Letters

No clear strategy

This was actually three related articles. It was reminiscent of reading newspapers in the 1970s.

As many my age, I served in Vietnam. I offer no great insight; I was just a soldier. Apart from the Gulf of Tonkin our involvement had much to do with the containment theory of communism. We would learn that the Vietnamese had little regard for the Chinese. Our State Department had few if any Southeast Asian experts who understood that.

We, soldiers, considered the corrupt government in South Vietnam our allies. Their military draft consisted of a road block. Military-age men were stopped and inducted on the spot unless one had money for a bribe. Many of us feared being assigned to a Vietnamese unit for lack of trust. Information we requested from the Vietnamese Intelligence Service had to submitted in a way to conceal what we actually wanted to know. We built seaports and Air Force bases that were used by us but ultimately fell to the North Vietnamese. We supplied uniforms, weapons, Jeeps and other military equipment which stayed behind. Generals like Westmoreland and Abrams led us, briefed the diplomats and met with Secretary McNamara.

I don’t know what they all discussed but the war continued. If the South Vietnamese government hadn’t fallen perhaps we would still be there. Today’s newspaper might have the same articles but with the names of multiple foreign countries. What have we learned or when will we learn it?

Thank you to all who served.

Phil Ward

Coeur d’Alene


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