Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Ia Drang

Today is Sunday, 14 November 2010.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Ia Drang (14-18 November 1965) in the Second Indochina War.

The Ia Drang was the first significant combat between major elements of the US Army and the PAVN (People’s Army of Viet Nam, popularly known in the USA/USE as the “NVA”, or “North Vietnamese Army”).

The grand strategy of the American commander, Gen. William Westmoreland, was simple: “bleed the enemy dry” – over time, cause unacceptably-high PAVN losses which would lead to the survival of the Republic of Viet Nam (“South Vietnam”), the USA/USE comprador regime.

The strategy failed because it was built on a falsehood: that Vietnamese nationalism was purely a front for a monolithic International Communist Conspiracy directed by an iron hand in The Kremlin. In the end, the willingness of Vietnamese nationalists to die fighting was greater than the capability of American nationalist leaders to convince the American population to die fighting.

The American leadership believed that their material advantages (including heavy artillery, aerial superiority, and chemical warfare) would exhaust the fighting spirit of the PAVN. However, the Ia Drang demonstrated the value of PAVN tactics: “grab them by the belt and hold on”, that is, so swiftly to close with American forces that only a fraction of artillery and aerial bombardment could be employed, without a high probability of striking American forces as well as PAVN.

Of course, many still maintain that the USA/USE could have won, had “only we not fought with one hand tied behind our back”. Given that the Second Indochina War resulted in 5-6 millions of deaths in fighting, overwhelmingly of Indochinese, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario for American “victory” which wouldn’t have required virtual genocide.

We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, is a standard account of the battle.


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