Copyright (c) 1980, 1987, The Vietnam War Library


The first rule of war has always been that war cannot be declared won until the invading foot soldier subdues his enemy and verifies all resistance has been completely eliminated. If this time and experience proven rule is still considered valid, then America, indisputably, lost the war in Vietnam.

But, although there are many able minds in the military who can offer a variety of valid-sounding excuses why America failed to win, there is only one simple truth. And that is the nature of combat over the last half-century has changed dramatically and America's military has failed to change with it.

During World War II it took three support GI's to back up one combat GI. During Korea, that number rose to six. During Vietnam's high point, between TET '68 and TET '71, the number rose to eleven. As America evolved from the industrial stage of national development into the technological, our military evolved with it. The fundamental tactical skills practiced by nations in their earth-bound, agricultural stage were left far behind as America's application of nuclear physics catapulted us far ahead of the third world. The increased amount of technology used in combat has required an increase in combat support GI's over the years. If that trend continues any major war the United States has to fight against third-world agro-nations with an abundance of manpower will go the way Vietnam did, in defeat.

America lost the war in Vietnam because we no longer adequately trained and prepared our Army to fight a ground war.

Even though the grunt has been commonly associated as the symbolic representative of the American military in Vietnam, the battles were actually planned and controlled by the combat support troop. The grunt was left with the menial and lonely task of securing the battlefield.

This is the story of one group of combat support GI's.

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