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Westmoreland's War

General William C. Westmoreland has long been derided for his failed strategy of "attrition" in the Vietnam War. Historians have argued that Westmoreland's strategy placed a premium on high "body counts" through a "big unit war" that relied almost solely on search and destroy missions. Many believe the U.S. Army failed in Vietnam because of Westmoreland's misguided and narrow strategy In a groundbreaking reassessment of American military strategy in Vietnam, Gregory Daddis overturns conventional wisdom and shows how Westmoreland did indeed develop a comprehensive campaign which included counterinsurgency, civic action, and the importance of gaining political support from the South Vietnamese population. Exploring the realities of a large, yet not wholly unconventional environment, Daddis reinterprets the complex political and military battlefields of Vietnam. Without searching for blame, he analyzes how American civil and military leaders developed strategy and how Westmoreland attempted to implement a sweeping strategic vision. Westmoreland's War is a landmark reinterpretation of one of America's most divisive wars, outlining the multiple, interconnected aspects of American military strategy in Vietnam-combat operations, pacification, nation building, and the training of the South Vietnamese armed forces. Daddis offers a critical reassessment of one of the defining moments in American history.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface ; Introduction: A Word on War and Strategy ; 1. Conceiving Strategy for the Cold War Era ; 2. From Advice to Support to War ; 3. The Myth of Attrition in Vietnam ; 4. On Bewildering Battlefields: Implementing Westmoreland's Strategy ; 5. The Parallel War ; 6. Training an Uncertain Army ; Conclusion: When Strategy May Not Matter

About the Author

Gregory Daddis is Colonel and Professor of History, United States Military Academy.


Westmoreland's War...both rehabilitates Westmoreland's image and plants a stake in the heart of the distorted specter of him that has long haunted Vietnam War historiography. ... Backed by copious endnotes, Daddis demonstrates that contrary to legend Westmoreland developed an intelligent and comprehensive military strategy that was consistent with U.S. national policy and President Lyndon B. Johnson's larger political agenda. ... By demonstrating that the Army did try (not always successfully) to apply counterinsurgency doctrine and that this doctrine was insufficient to produce victory, Westmoreland's War directly challenges the unrealistic faith that some people have placed in counterinsurgency and nation building. * Army History Magazine *

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