Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

The Rules of Defeat, Coursework Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1053

Coursework

During the Cold War, the leaders of the United States largely subscribed to the Limited War Ideology. This meant that they believed in exerting a great deal of administrative control over the operations of war. They would expend only a limited number of resources and operate only in certain arenas. Rather than attempting to stamp out communism, the United States aimed to contain it and stop it from spreading any further. The United States would not, therefore, invade China, but it did mean to prevent communist North Vietnam from overrunning South Vietnam (Fleck, 1994, p. 1).

In order to ensure that the Vietnam War was, indeed, a limited war, Robert McNamara, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, drafted rules of engagement (ROE), which restricted commanders and soldiers in order to try to prevent the war from escalating. Although the United States was ultimately successful in preventing escalation, the restrictions of the rules of engagement often tied the hands of commanders and in some cases cost lives. Indeed, the rules of engagement had a significant impact on each link of the chain of command (Fleck, 1994, p. 1).

President Johnson had little military experience. But upon the assignation of President Kennedy, Johnson was thrust into battle. Johnson’s main priority was his Great Society – a plethora of social programs that he hoped would rid The United States over poverty, among other ills. Therefore, he wanted to dedicate as few resources as possible to the war and Vietnam. Yet, he also had a responsibility to prevent the spread of Communism. Therefore, he attempted to fight a limited war. In order to prevent the war from escalating, Johnson instructed Secretary of defense Robert S. McNamara to construct rigid rules of engagement (Drake, 1992, p. 6).

McNamara, a skilled businessman who had run Ford Motor Company, tried to run the military as if it were one of his businesses. McNamara attempted to create an ROE that allowed the Johnson administration to tightly control the military. He tried to craft rules that would allow the President to exert “measured amounts of air power” to military targets, while “preserving domestic social programs.” But because McNamara had little military experience, he drafted rules that were contrary to United States Air Force doctrine and the accepted principles of war (Drake, 1992, p. 6).

Battalion Commanders found themselves set between a rock and a hard place. They had to follow the chain of command and obey those higher up the ladder. However, most commanders did not feel that those underneath them properly understood or followed the ROE. In some instances, following the ROE meant that they could not act to defend their men, even when their lives were in danger. One commander, for instance, contacted his division commander to ask for permission to call for an aerial strike to save his men from an ambush. His request was denied, while the denial when unexplained. This sort of reliance on civilian permission became frustrating to those on the ground (Martins, 1994, p. 19).

Division Commanders, meanwhile, were put in the uncomfortable place of negotiating between the demands of the Johnson administration and the frustrated pleas of individual battalion commanders who felt that their hands were too greatly tied (Martins, 1994, p. 19).

For Field Soldiers, the rules of engagement, which were meant to provide order and structure, had the reverse effect. They caused chaos instead. Indeed, according to Major Ricky J Drake, the ROEs drafted by Johnson and McNamara were so complicated and changed so often that soldiers often found it “difficult to know what the rules were from day to day (Drake, 1992, p. 6). Worse, many have argued that soldiers who did not have to die and who would not have died in a traditional war lost their lives because of thoughtless administrative restrictions (Drake, 1992, p. 7).

William S. Westmoreland, Acting Commander of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), received criticism from those who believed he had “bent the rules of engagement” and from those who believe he followed them too rigidly and thereby put the lives of American troops in danger. In order to comply with the ROE, Westmoreland relied on “a strategy of attrition,” rather than a traditional aggressive battle plan, trying to reach certain military targets while causing the NVA to lose more soldiers than it could replace. This worked in the beginning, but Westmoreland soon began to face crushing defeats as the NVA figured out his strategy (Handel, 1989, p. 124).

Westmoreland was tasked, not only with breaking bad news about restrictions to the military, but also with bringing bad news to Washington. When the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that Westmoreland brief Washington on the increased size of the Viet Cong Army, Westmoreland balked and claimed that releasing the figures would create a “political bombshell” in Washington. He had to worry not only about his own career, but of the political climate Johnson and McNamara would face (Handel, 1989, p. 124).

During the Vietnam War, a restrictive set of rules of engagement affected every part of the chain of command. Soldiers asked to obey complex and changing rules often failed to understand them. Commanders, whose hands were tied because of the ROE, were forced to let their troops struggle and even die because of their administrator’s belief in Limited War Ideology. Those placed in charge of the troops, especially Westmoreland, felt pressure to report good news back to Washington, even while the ROE kept them from truly winning a victory. This in turn, hurt Johnson and McNamara politically.

The ROE tied each link of the chain of command together. Sometimes, this was a good thing. It meant that soldiers and their leaders, both military and civilian, were on the same page. But when the ROE became too complex and was changed too often, the ROE created chaos instead of order, division instead of harmony, and defeat instead of victory.

Works Cited

Drake, R. J. (1992). The Rules of Defeat: The Impact of Aerial Rules of Engagement On USAF Operations in North Vietnam, 1965-1968. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from School of Advanced Airpower Studies: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA425601&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

Fleck, J. (1994). Limited War Theory in Vietnam: A Critique According to Clausewitz. National War College , 1-13.

Handel, M. I. (1989). Leaders and Intelligence. Milton Park: Frank Cass & Co. LTD.

Martins, M. M. (1994). RULES OF ENGAGEMENT FOR LAND FORCES: A MATTER OF TRAINING, NOT LAWYERING. Military Law Review , 143, 3-160.

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Coursework Samples & Examples

American College of Emergency Physicians, Coursework Example

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was created in 1986 in order to enable all patients to be provided with emergency services, [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 991

Coursework

Changing the Us Health Care System, Coursework Example

Managed care is a method of financing healthcare that has its roots back in the 1920s, and this type of system is designed to enable [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1078

Coursework

The Concept of MBWA, Coursework Example

The concept of MBWA, management by wandering around, is largely common in many organizations where there is a more open structure and approach to managing [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1640

Coursework

General Process for Selecting and Setting Baselines, Coursework Example

What is the general process for selecting and setting baselines? In order for one to select the most appropriate baselines for a given project. The [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1036

Coursework

The Role of the Project Sponsor, Coursework Example

The project sponsor is responsible for providing oversight for the project team, as there may be difficulties regarding cultural differences that must be addressed in [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1343

Coursework

Legal and Ethical Implications of Nursing Assignments, Coursework Example

Introduction The staffing example provided demonstrates the need to better understand how staffing experience levels and level of comfort are essential to a successful practice [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1100

Coursework

American College of Emergency Physicians, Coursework Example

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was created in 1986 in order to enable all patients to be provided with emergency services, [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 991

Coursework

Changing the Us Health Care System, Coursework Example

Managed care is a method of financing healthcare that has its roots back in the 1920s, and this type of system is designed to enable [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1078

Coursework

The Concept of MBWA, Coursework Example

The concept of MBWA, management by wandering around, is largely common in many organizations where there is a more open structure and approach to managing [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1640

Coursework

General Process for Selecting and Setting Baselines, Coursework Example

What is the general process for selecting and setting baselines? In order for one to select the most appropriate baselines for a given project. The [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1036

Coursework

The Role of the Project Sponsor, Coursework Example

The project sponsor is responsible for providing oversight for the project team, as there may be difficulties regarding cultural differences that must be addressed in [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1343

Coursework

Legal and Ethical Implications of Nursing Assignments, Coursework Example

Introduction The staffing example provided demonstrates the need to better understand how staffing experience levels and level of comfort are essential to a successful practice [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1100

Coursework

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!