Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore’s best on-screen moment did not end with the utterance of “napalm,” that soul-searing substance that still lingers in the minds of a troubled generation. No, his words were not powerful for the overt horror elicited, but for their resigned sense of hopelessness, the disquiet induced as his speech to his troops trails off, “Someday this war’s gonna end…”
Speak to veterans of Vietnam and they will tell you the deeply divisive war did not have to end as it did. I’m proud to be related to one of the soldiers who fought valiantly and with honor. What went wrong is sadly straightforward. Without getting swept up in politics, from a purely strategic perspective, Americans did not hold the ground they’d won. “Search and destroy” missions required U.S. soldiers to take enemy territory, in many cases destroying its livability in the process, and move on to the next target. The Viet Cong were pushed out but for a moment — as soon as American patrols left the area, they would return and rebuild with more reinforcements and win the confidence of the South Vietnamese in the process. Worse yet, American soldiers would rebuild a bridge the enemy had destroyed and promptly abandon it to be blown to bits once again.
Danielle DiMartino Booth is CEO and Director of Intelligence at Quill Intelligence
For a full archive of my writing, please visit my website — www.DiMartinoBooth.com
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