Excerpt from http://www.history.com for March 8, 1965:
“… The 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade … (took) up stations 4,000 yards off Red Beach Two, north of Da Nang…. The 3,500 Marines were deployed to secure the U.S. airbase, freeing South Vietnamese troops up for combat.”
How did that work out?
On that date I was working as a United Auto Worker at a ball bearing plant, while also attending night college. I was 19. Two weeks before my 20th birthday in October, I was drafted. When I arrived in Vietnam in 1966 there were 50,000 U.S. troops deployed; when I left a year later, there were nearly half-a-million. Oh, how things get out of hand! Quickly.
We never learn from our military history and we always buy into the myths.
Myth 1: The presence of U.S. troops will free up host nation soldiers to conduct ground operations. This is like a high school basketball team keeping its first string players on the bench during a conference championship game. Never happen. Our national DNA will not allow it.
Myth 2: The U.S. military will work closely with its allies. In fact the U.S. will act in whatever way pleases it and/or keeps it in the dominant role. Combat goals become fuzzy, exit strategies non-existent.
Myth 3: There is an acceptable risk of collateral damage. What an odious euphemism this is. It presupposes, and accepts, that innocents will die. Inevitably, they do.
Myth 4: The people of country ABC will be better off when tyrant DEF is gone. We can certainly debate this one with regard to recent conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Somalia. Ancillary to this myth is the perceived need for the continued presence of U.S. military stations after open hostilities have subsided. I give you North Korea/South Korea and Taiwan/China in Asia and NATO in Europe. It can’t be healthy when most American tourists in some places wear uniforms instead of mufti, where the dollar is cherished more than local currency.
By the time of our ignominious withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, I am hard pressed to report a single good, from an American point of view, that resulted from that conflict. Rather we have a wall with 58,000+ names.
And we have an impossibly calculable number of our countrymen knowingly or, worse, unknowingly dealing with PTSD. We were thrown into the haphazard mix of myths and spewed out as collateral damage. That was then, this is now. What has changed?