Research Paper: War Has Undoubtedly Shaped

Pages: 13 (5137 words)  ·  Style: Turabian  ·  Bibliography Sources: 25  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Military  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Vietnam emerged from the war as a potent military power within Southeast Asia, but its agriculture, business, and industry were disrupted, large parts of its countryside were scarred by bombs and defoliation and laced with land mines, and its cities and towns were heavily damaged. A mass exodus in 1975 of people loyal to the South Vietnamese cause was followed by another wave in 1978 of "boat people," refugees fleeing the economic restructuring imposed by the communist regime. Meanwhile, the United States, its military demoralized and its civilian electorate deeply divided began a process of coming to terms with defeat in what had been its longest and most controversial war. The two countries finally resumed formal diplomatic relations in 1995.

The United States Special Force Role in the War

The term "Special Operations Forces" is a generic reference for a wide range of commando units from the different armed forces, including Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and the covert Delta Force; however, the term "Special Forces" is used to refer to the Green Berets only.

The origin of the Green Berets dates after World War II when, in 1952, Colonel Aaron Bank, a veteran of the Office of Strategic Services, identified the need for a commando unit that specialized in unconventional warfare. According to Bering (2005), "Fascinated by their warrior mystique, John F. Kennedy saw [the Green Berets] as a useful tool for fighting communist Third World insurgencies."

Structured for unconventional warfare, Special Forces teams were originally organized into 12-man teams and then later 14-man teams known as Operational Detachment -- A teams, or more commonly ODA's, or simply "A-Teams." The total number of ODAs that were deployed at any given point during the Vietnam War was approximately 85.

The A-Teams were characterized by a "peculiarly collaborative culture where competence confers at least as much credibility as rank."

This collaborative culture was enhanced by the fact that all members of A-Teams were commissioned and noncommissioned officers.

The first A-Teams were deployed in South Vietnam in 1962, and Special Forces camps were established throughout the country, with the majority of the sites being situated near the Laotian and Cambodian borders. According to Clark (1990) "Four to five A-Teams were under the control of a B-Team, with three B-Teams controlled by a C-Team. The typical A-Team consisted of a commanding officer, executive officer, operations sergeant, heavy weapons leader, intelligence sergeant, light weapons leader, medical and assistant specialist, engineer sergeant, engineer and radio operator and supervisor."

When deployed, Special Forces C-Teams were in charge of three or four B-Teams and the average C-Team was comprised of about 20 men led by lieutenant colonel.

According to Clark, "The C-Team was the organizational equivalent of a regular Army company and was referred to as a Special Forces Company. The B-Teams were equivalent to a platoon and the A-Teams were equivalent to squads."

Although all war fields are complex environments, Special Forces teams are frequently called upon to operate in especially complicated operational settings where their special brand of training and tactics are most valuable.

According to Cate, "Only a special breed of person can operate far beyond the reach of supporting ground forces and live among indigenous peoples while training them in guerrilla warfare or conducting strategic reconnaissance and direct-action raids."

These attributes would play an important role in the prosecution of the war in Vietnam by U.S. Special Forces. In this regard, Lewis (1995) reports that, "The sensitive nature and complex politics of the actual role the Special Forces A Teams played in Vietnam [included] living among the Montagnards and exploiting their thousand-year-old hatred for the ethnic Vietnamese."

In fact, Fox (1997) argues that, "One reason the Special Forces were so successful at unconventional warfare was their respect for the various groups, including the Montagnards and the Cambodians, with whom they served -- a counterpoint to the disdainful attitude toward minorities widespread among South Vietnamese leaders and officers."

As mentioned earlier, the war in Vietnam was primarily one of guerilla tactics and unconventional methods. As such, the United States needed to resort to other, more efficient means of warfare to counteract the Vietnam method. As such, special operations and task forces were established to counteract the Vietnam methods of war. One such method was the Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrols also known as LRRP. LRRP units were small, heavily armed long-range reconnaissance teams that patrolled enemy-held territory.

These units were critical in regards to intel and information regarding the jungle terrain within Vietnam. In this regard, Connery (1992) reports that, "Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrols (known acronymically as Lurps), spent many days at a time observing the enemy in the darkness of the far reaches of nowhere."

By 1967, formal LRRP companies were organized in Vietnam. Most LRRP teams have three platoons, each with five six-man teams equipped with VHF/FM AN/PRC-25 radios. There primary function was to ascertain enemy territory and relay the information back to headquarters. This role was essential as the jungle terrain ultimately proved too much for the military forces of the United States. The information that the U.S. did obtain however, was funneled primarily through the LRRP Special Forces. LRRP training was notoriously rigorous and team leaders were often graduates of the U.S. Army's 5th Special Forces Recondo School in Nha Trang, Vietnam. In fact, it has been reported that the LRRP kill ratio was nearly 400 to 1.

For every LRRP death, they killed nearly 400 Vietnamese soldiers. This ultimately led to commanders using the LRRP very aggressively during the war. LRRP units accounted for approximately 10,000 enemies KIA through ambushes, air strikes, and artillery. Ultimately through the extreme success of LRRP in battle in Vietnam, they set the standard and foundation for today's Long-Range Surveillance, Ranger, and Marine Reconnaissance units.

The mobile strike force command, known as MIKE, was another critical component of the war in Vietnam. MIKE Force's mission was to act as a country-wide quick reaction force. Their primary aim was to secure, reinforce, or recapture small enemy camps. In addition, they were also instrumental in many special reconnaissance missions. According to Taillon (2001), "These units performed patrols, ran special missions, and reinforced Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) camps in trouble."

In fact, Taillon argues that, "If the Special Forces had constituted effective MIKE Forces in 1964, just as the Viet Cong had begun to take on isolated CIDG camps, the need for intervention by U.S. ground forces might have been unnecessary."

The MIKE Force was particular well adept at search and destroy missions. Due primarily to their quick reaction mandate, the MIKE Force was better able to assist U.S. troops in recapturing or recovering lost comrades. Search and rescue missions were also given to the MIKE Force as they were often in close proximity to downed pilots within the battlefield. Much like the LRRP, the MIKE Force was trained in a vigorous manner, and as such, participated in many reconnaissance missions.

The Vietnamese often used guerilla tactics to help provide them with a competitive advantage in war. The jungle, the overall terrain, and field conditions were often unknown to the United States.

As such, the need to counter the Vietnamese guerilla tactics was essential to help prevent U.S. causalities. As such, the Tiger Force was created to help "out guerilla the guerillas." The Tiger Force was a platoon-sized unit, consisting of approximately 45 paratroopers.

The Tiger Force was founded by Colonel David Hackworth in November 1965 in response to the massive causalities being experienced by the U.S. due to guerilla tactics used by northern forces. In this regard, Willbanks (2008) reports that, "Tiger Force [was] a special reconnaissance platoon formed in Vietnam by the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division."

The Tiger Force was especially adept at guerilla warfare. According to records, members of the Tiger Force had the highest kill ratios of any platoon in that war. In fact, In October 1968, Tiger Force's parent battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Tiger Force, although very superior in regards to their attack and proficiency on the battlefield, has been the source of a great deal of controversy. They have been accused of numerous atrocities such as rape, killing young women and children, torture, and more.

Reports indicate that the unit has scalped many North Vietnamese civilians. There are reports of drugging, raping, and eventually killing young women. The revelations about the Tiger Force's atrocities were the result of a former head of the Army's Criminal Investigations Command bequeathing a box of secret investigative reports about Tiger Force to newspaper reporters at the Toledo Blade after his death in July 2002.

The subsequent investigation of the unit received a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2004.

The group has been known to wear a necklace of victim's ears around their necks and even routinely torturing innocent women and children. Although many of these atrocities did occur during the war, the unit was unmatched in their ability to combat the Vietnamese forces through… [END OF PREVIEW]

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