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Old 05-10-2019, 01:22 PM
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Sith Sith is offline
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I did some work on the origins of the Vietnam war when I was in grad school. Could it have been avoided? Probably not for political inertia reasons. The first advisers actually deployed to South Vietnam shortly after its creation in the mid-fifties, it wasn't until Kennedy that the deployment became "official" though.

At the time the Soviet politicians were emphasizing the spread of communism through insurgency. This factored heavily into Kennedy's decision making around strategy. He wanted to show the Soviets that the United States could stop at the counter-insurgency level, hence, the creation of the Special Forces. Sort of a "whatever you got, we got better" kind of an approach. The US Army, however, had a different vision though. At the time they did not see counter-insurgency as we see it today, they simply viewed it as a "smaller conventional war" and that is how they approached it. So when Truman became President their recommendations were along conventional lines. Truman also suffered from a sort of "little man" syndrome as well. He never really took well to being surrounded by Kennedy's "Best and Brightest" Cabinet Secretaries and advisers. Some say that this played a part in him escalating the war, he needed to show that he was tough.

As far as Kennedy's thinking about ending the war and any action Truman may have taken is still a mystery. There are interesting arguments on both sides around that, not sure if we will ever find out what truly happened.

On National Guard equipment, I can remember going to the NY State Fair in the early eighties. The Guard troops were there with a M48 tank that had a M60 machine gun mounted on top. I thought the whole display was real cool, especially since they had a zip-line set up to replicate parachutes. The kids were all over that thing. What stands out the most was that they were regularly firing blanks through the M60 to entertain the crowd... that would not go over well these days. Different times.
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