The main objective behind the United States’ involvement in Vietnam was to contain the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. It was in the 1950’s when the United States began to send troops to Vietnam, during the following 25-year period, the ensuing war would create some of the strongest tensions in US history. Almost 3 million US men and women were sent thousands of miles to fight for what was a questionable cause.
The Vietnam War created great controversy in the United States. The burning of draft cards, protests, and riots were all effects of Vietnam. In 1967 General William C. Westmoreland addressed the public attempting to gain support for the war along with ensuring Americans that it would soon be over. He described the war by breaking it up into phases. Optimistically he explained phases one and two were over and the final phase was just around the corner. The General felt vast progress had already been made. He viewed the enemy as a weakening opponent that would soon be able to be overcome. Though Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara had his own view on the war in Vietnam. A year after the General addressed the public Robert McNamara drafted a secret memorandum for President Lyndon B. Johnson about the current status of the war. McNamara gradually became skeptical about whether the war could be won by deploying more troops to South Vietnam and intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam. Overall he saw no short-term possibility of winning or even ending this war. Robert McNamara description of the war and where it was going was so different from General Westmoreland because McNamara memorandum was meant just for the president so he was able to be brutally honest. The General, due to the desire of policymakers, had to convince the American public of close and victorious win.
The moral of American troops in Vietnam and the Enemy was an influential and ongoing problem all throughout the Vietnam War. Colonel Robert D. Heinl described the morale of United States Armed forces being the lowest it has ever been. He was among the soldiers in the field and encountered and witnessed the fragging, combat refusals, and dug abuse that occurred.
He felt the situation was potentially disastrous and credited it in part to lack of public confidence in the war. He experienced first hand how discouraging it was to fight for such a controversial cause. Along with American morale, enemy morale was also a problem. The problem was that to many it was unable to be broken. Robert S. McNamara thought the enemy has adopted a strategy of waiting out American troops, which made there morale unbreakable.
Arthur E. Woodley served as a Special Forces ranger in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. In the time that Woodley served he faced an ample amount of killing and brutality. He recalls how many fingers and toes he collected and how many Vietn’ese he pushed out of a helicopter. This is what is memorable to Arthur Woodley. Yet, he fought in Vietnam around the same time that, according to General William C. Westmoreland, Phase four should have been taking place. It seems that the experiences of Woodley are not consistent with what policymakers felt would be occurring in phase four. Westmoreland talked about the Vietnamese being modernized, infiltration slowing down, and the communist infrastructure near collapsing. This was inconsistent with the memories of Arthur Woodley and many other American in combat in Vietnam.
The types of experiences that Woodley was confronted with were the groundwork and what led to Heinl’s observations. Arthur felt he became “an animal” in Vietnam. This was due to the killing and inhumanity that he witnessed everyday. These types of encounters have an influential pull on a persons emotions and morale. War life is extremely hard and demoralizing on a person. Yet, it is made even worse when the cause of your fight is uncertain and when there is an ongoing collapse of confidence from your fellow Americans at home.
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