chapter  3
23 Pages

Mission Impossible? The Prosecution of the Ground War in Vietnam

It would have been wise of civilian policymakers to create political-diplomatic conditions advantageous to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), but they failed to do so; instead, Washington placed severe constraints on the conduct of military operations, and thereby undermined the military effort in Indochina. However, this fact does not excuse the US military leadership for its own errors in its guidance of the conflict. An exceptional performance by MACV might have made the marginal difference that would have created circumstances under which South Vietnam would have survived as an independent entity. Although choices made in Washington regarding the bombing campaign against the DRY, the attitude toward Laos and Cambodia, and so forth had the primary role in determining the American prospects of victory in Vietnam, there is a serious argument that MACV could have made good the errors of its civilian masters.