A Requiem For Vietnam


The Vietnam War broke the US Armed Forces in Vietnam. Colonel Robert D. Heinl Jr. wrote “The Collapse of the Armed Forces” a study that appeared in “Armed Forces Journal” on June 7, 1971. Here are a few excerpts:

“The morale, discipline and battleworthiness of the U.S. Armed Forces are, with a few salient exceptions, lower and worse than at any time in this century and possibly in the history of the United States. By every conceivable indicator, our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and noncommissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near-mutinous….Intolerably clobbered and buffeted from without and within by social turbulence, pandemic drug addiction, race war, sedition, civilian scape-goatise, draftee recalcitrance and malevolence, barracks theft and common crime, unsupported in their travail by the general government, in Congress as well as the executive branch, distrusted, disliked, and often reviled by the public, the uniformed services today are places of agony for the loyal, silent professionals who doggedly hang on and try to keep the ship afloat….


“While no senior officer (especially one on active duty) can openly voice any such assessment, the foregoing conclusions find virtually unanimous support in numerous non-attributable interviews with responsible senior and midlevel officers, as well as career noncommissioned officers and petty officers in all services…To understand the military consequences of what is happening to the U.S. Armed Forces, Vietnam is a good place to start. It is in Vietnam that the rearguard of a 500,000-man army, in its day (and in the observation of the writer) the best army the United States ever put into the field, is numbly extricating itself from a nightmare war the Armed Forces feel they had foisted on them by bright civilians who are now back on campus writing books about the folly of it all.

“’They have set up separate companies,” writes an American soldier from Cu Chi… ‘for men who refuse to go out into the field. It is no big thing to refuse to go. If a man is ordered to go to such and such a place he no longer goes through the hassle of refusing; he just packs his shirt and goes to visit some buddies at another base camp. Operations have become incredibly ragtag. Many guys don’t even put on their uniforms any more…. The American garrisons on the larger bases are virtually disarmed. The lifers have taken our weapons from us and put them under lock and key…. There have also been quite a few fray incidents in the battalion…’ ‘Frag incidents’ or just ‘fragging’ is current soldier slang in Vietnam for the murder or attempted murder of strict, unpopular, or just aggressive officers and NCOs. With extreme reluctance (after a young West Pointer from Senator Mike Mansfield’s Montana was fragged in his sleep) the Pentagon has now disclosed that fraggings in 1970 (209) have more than doubled those of the previous year (96). Word of the deaths of officers will bring cheers at troop movies or in bivouacs of certain units. In one such division . . . fraggings during 1971 have been authoritatively estimated to be running about one a week….

“In 1970, the Army had 65,643 deserters, or roughly the equivalent of four infantry divisions. This desertion rate (52.3 soldiers per thousand) is well over twice the peak rate for Korea (22.5 per thousand). It is more than quadruple the 1966 desertion-rate (14.7 per thousand) of the then well-trained, high-spirited professional Army….Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr, Chief of Naval Operations, minces no words. ‘We have a personnel crisis,’he recently said, ‘that borders on disaster.’. . .”

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Source : http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/a-requiem-for-vietnam/

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