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U.S. looks to Vietnam war experience for Afghan tips

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good to know that the USA try looking to Vietnam war experience, but will Obama's admin really listen and learn? we'll see.

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thedeath: "good to know that the USA try looking to Vietnam war experience"

No, the REAL questions are what part of the experience will they look at, and will they repeat the same mistakes or try to use the experience for good?

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Don't fight a war with your hands tied behind your back.

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No, the REAL questions are what part of the experience will they look at,

Afghanistan has alot of rocky terrain and mountains, which included generations of caves from Soviet invasion in the '80's and prior. They will look at the functions and designs of caves, tunnels, and any camouflage similarities. Vietnam also had miles and miles of tunnels and make comparision of architecture of the caves to Afghanistan and see how how their system functioned.

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The lesson...we lost and killed millions of civilians. Also our aim was to smash Communism. Does this mean this war is to crush Islam? Crusaders in foreign lands...

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Don't fight a war with your hands tied behind your back.

This. Only, its all ready happening, isn't it? With the exception of drone strikes (which are quite effective, mind you) we can't go into Pakistan, meaning we need to rely on Pakistani gov't cooperation and the Pakistani military.

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if they didn't want to repeat the same mistakes or try to use the experience for good, they would go home by now.

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The biggest lesson is to change the minds of the people. If the people don't back you either in your home country or the where it is taking place then you will lose. That is what happened in Vietnam during the Tet offensive. The Vietnamese stopping supporting the Vietcong after they started slaughtering their own people like nuns and other innocent folks. We stopped supporting it once film surfaced of the deaths after the Tet offensive which turned the tide of the battle and our withdrawal.

Second, is to occupy territory like the game 'GO' instead like 'Chest' by trying to wipe them all out. It is to difficult, long and costly. Territory is difficult (caves and tunnels), long (because there are so many and you can't get a clear number) and costly (everytime you kill one that is somebody's family, spouse, child or parent). It just creates more fighters a continues the cycle.

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But war provides jobs(arms industry) and financial opportunities (Aso's family in WW2, Japans economy in Korean War, Hallibarton), as well as resources like oil. Changing the minds of people(Communist witch trials, islamphobia) help people forget about how bad their life is. Charles Taylor started with 200 men trained in Libya, Osama probably the same...except we created him, and we have also made him an incredibly popular anti-hero. The lesson from Vietnam is not to invade countries, rather use trade, education etc. USSR was not beaten by bombs...that is a better lesson.

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Vietnam war was a long fight there for 8,9 or10 years? I wonder how many US soldiers died for nothing/in vain? Look at Vietnam today, Much much better than before without intervention of the US. Now the US tries to look to Vietnam war experience for today'US war. It seems to be too late, I wonder how many soldiers have died for nothing there so far? In the first place, why American soldiers are fighting there anyway? Are they international police? Or saviors?

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U.S. looks to Vietnam war experience for Afghan tips

Yeah, America loves war.

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biglittleman, you saw history channel? they said something like what you said too.

but i think they forgot the chiese. if the american could diplomatically win the chinese support, then win the local heart and support. i think they would win that war.

same thing go to the Afghanistan war today. if they can not win the support from iran and countries around there to stop support the taliban, if they can not win the afghan heart. then it is no point to look at any part of the experience from Vietnam war.

they can do only as good as in vietnam which was losses the war.

it is just what i am thinking. and i am sure obama know it. it is so easy to see. it doesn't need war expert to tell. it just, will he listen and do what.

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Den Den

The lesson from Vietnam is not to invade countries, rather use trade, education etc.

Trade with the Taliban? Educate OBL and Al-Qaida? You sir need to put down the crack...

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I watched a series called BattlePlan. It was awesome!!!!

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Some key thoughts.

The average Afghan just wants to get on with life. Who is best to lead is more a matter of who will enable them to reach this goal.

If ongoing fighting is the answer, the locals would just assume have the Taliban if it means peace.

Most Afghans would rather see the Taliban go, but do not see a viable alternative. They do not want us or any government they perceive is run by us. Meaning we must help Afghans find and empower someone they trust.

You cannot beat the Taliban with the current approach. My firm belief is that a much larger scale effort must be made to secure key places and allow rebuilding and improvements to go forward. Doors must be opened to allow NGOs to safely return. If the people start to experience improvements and security, they will be the best defense against the Taliban return. If we fail in this, people may side the the Taliban because they are simply the default power.

More international troops. To avoid the feeling of occupation, we need troops from other nations to join this effort. Including from Muslim countries.

Joint effort by Pakistan on their side and our forces must be launched to at least reduce Taliban power.
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Lesson learned: Colonialism is a failure except for the bankers.

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If the US is serious about learning from history and Vietnam, etc, they need to look at the strategies devised by people such as Ted Serong all those years ago(some of which were not followed by the US Command at the time). They also need to look at the lessons of the Malay Emergency and other successful counter insurgencies such as in Oman.

The US (its field commanders) also need to remember the basic tenet of fighting a low-intensity counter insurgency (which every special forces officer learns somewhere along the line). Namely, when countering an insurgency, the individual soldier's skill and endurance is of far greater importance than overwhelming firepower (artillery, air support, etc).

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tkoind2, I agree. Trade between China and Taiwan has avoided disaster, as an example. Scholarships to poor immigrants in the UK has also empowered them.

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Just like I said "GO instead of Chest"!

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At the risk of repetition, I will say again, "Afghanistan is the Graveyard of Empires"...the US will lose (again) and many will die for NOTHING--except the profits of the profiteers and Corporations who produce war materiel. You cannot win there unless you commit genocide on the Pushtun tribes and that's not winning, is it? The greedy WANT perpetual war and Obama has fallen right into it. It's a shame. Guys like Sarge just help perpetuate the madness.

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"America loves war"

This is a truly despicable and uneducated comment.

America does not love war. But because America is willing to fight wars, people who say "America loves war" are free to say what they want to say.

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Sarge, I don't think it's fair to say America loves war BUT I do feel (and not just in US) that the corporations that control the countries love war. They make billions of dollars from providing the machinery of war.

The dogs of war are always cowering in the shadows, barking, then safely cowering again..

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This "military-industrial complex" BS needs to be put to rest. While I'm sure there are some companies making a mint off of the war, huge swaths of the defense industry (R&D, simulation, etc...) are suffering due to lack of funding. It's ironic, really: they'd be better served by peace. The US gov't is not making money, either; the days when you could plunder your way across the map are long over, yet people still insist on viewing modern war through outdated lenses. War these days destroys far mor wealth than it creates.

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Where Afghanistan most clearly resembles Vietnam is in state-building. One of the problems the US encountered in the earlier conflict was a succession of leaders who appropriated American aid for their own ends. One only need to study the Strategic Hamlet Program, intended to give South Vietnamese farmers a stake in defending the country from communism. Run by President Ngo Dinh Diem's brother, it was an abject failure.

In Afghanistan the problem is compounded by the fact its a tribal culture with a weak sense of national identity. The Karzai government, widely deemed a failure, is, like its Saigon predecessor, riddled with corruption and people who only think in terms of advancing a narrow set of interests.

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I beg to differ as I work for one of the contractor corporations and even with cancellation of F22, defense contractors are not hurting that much. A lot of them are using the recession as a justification of layoffs to make the profit margin higher to satisfy shareholders. Most advanced consumer technology originated with defense projects. The "military-industrial complex" is real. I agree with you that there are times and instances where the companies suffer but it's the firms that have a the subcontractors that take the hit, not GD, MD, or Lockheed.

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Trade with the Taliban?

They already have control over an ever expanding opium crop which is far more profitable than anything else the average Afghan farmer can grow.

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KyotoChris,

I have relatives in the industry as well, and some of them are "taking the hit" as you put it. I'm not saying that companies like Lockheed aren't turning a profit, but if the war wasn't on they'd be busy making the next generation hardware. The idea that a bunch of corporate lobbyists and cronyism are the primary drivers behind modern military conflict seems silly when there are so many more obvious explainations - projection of power, ideology, etc... for what's going on currently.

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Sorry your relatives are getting hurt by it. I agree with your lobbyist and crony comment too as well as other explanation. My comment was solely from what I've seen in the corporations. I'm fortunate even that I get to live here at home part of the year and in the US the other part so I can see perspectives from different sides.

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No apologies necessary. I'm sure the industry is filled with SOBs that are delighted bombs are falling. My issue is not with whether a "military-insdustrial complex" exists - obviously there is multi-billion dollar industry here, which you yourself have a part in. Rather, my issue is with the idea that this industry is a prime driver in modern conflict. To put it another way: were the military-industrial complex not to exist as such, mankind would still be warring against itself. And were war not being currently waged, the industry would continue to churn out ever-more complex and expensive bombs, tanks and planes.

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You're correct I have a part in it unfortunately. I see your point from this and very much agree. Countries would still fight whether or not a complex existed and the weapons would still be produced whether warring or not. I try to justify my work in that I deal with forensics during war and peace of anyone connected to defense. We (my colleagues and i) are always happy when we see fewer cases because that means less people have died.

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"military-industrial complex"

I believe it was Dwight Eisenhower, as he was leaving office, who coined the term and warned Americans of its dangers. While it does create an incentive to go to war, I think pursuit of American strategic interests, as they are understood, is the determinant of policy.

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I don't think that you need to be ashamed of the work you are doing; I assume you do so in good faith. The sad truth is that as long as men exist, so to will conflict, and thus there will always be a need to guard against it. I have great respect for those who choose to serve, in the armed forces or otherwise. The work you are doing may help to save the lives of soldiers. Would that it were not necessary.

Moderator: All readers back on topic please. The subject is Vietnam and Afghanistan.

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A very sensible post from Betzee.

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Well we didn't learnm sh*t from Vietnam if you look at our experience in Iraq. Epic Failure

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How do you figure that, usaexpat? We lost upwards of 58,000 in Vietnam and, while it is clear we made some terrible mistakes in Iraq, it is not at all clear that we have "failed." I would say that the Iraqi gov't has a pretty good shot of becoming a stable democracy. You might disagree with me on the odds, but you'd need a crystal ball to be assure of "failure". What I want to know is, what "tips" have we learned in Iraq that can help us in Afghanistan?

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In Iraq the USA exchanged one despot for another. At the cost of trillions of dollars and millions of lives. The oil will continue to be sold, that is the only important factor to the powers that created this failed war.

The only thing that one can apply from vietnam to iraq is that eventually the USA will leave in defeat (no matter how the government spins the exit).

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Triumvere: We're exiting Iraq without the shame we had in Vietnam, I'll give you that. Problem is I don't think Iraq will manage to become a functional state once they don't have the back up of US forces. One thing we can take away from Iraq is that we need to understand the locals better if we hope to win "hearts and minds"

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One thing we can take away from Iraq is that we need to understand the locals better if we hope to win "hearts and minds"

A very important lesson indeed.

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Iraq was a success no? oil for a few more years until the next time someone gets shirty. stop watching Fox, it'll make you think a bit divvy

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"In Iraq the USA exchanged one despot for another"

Yeah, that al-Maliki is a real despot! Ha ha ha!

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I'm going to have to admit to not understanding that last post, DenDon.

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I'll div it down for you since you seem a bit dolly dimple. recent Iraq war was for OIL, just like the last Iraq war was. there's not much left and even george bush realised that, or prolly someone told him about it. got a bit derailed due to US balls-up. if you watch too much TV or read sarge's posts I'd forgive you for thinking it was all about freedom. oh yeah...don't watch Fox News.

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I was a "Spook" in Vietnam and from moment one it was apparent that we were losing and the leadership had no idea of what "management" entailed and no Colonel was going to listen to a spook - so I wrote my Congressman and told him we were losing and he should come out and understand why - I would give him the tour! His reply was "If you think you can do my job, why don't you run? I immediately reigned my postion and returned to Washington D.C. only to find out that you had to have at least 2 million dollars to run. Patton, where are you when we need you?

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First thing that was learned from Vietnam, you don't put 2ndLts just out of Officers Candidate School in charge of anything, not even the head. < :-)

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sarge,

they do not report the real news on fox. karzai, al-maliki, allwai are all the same. corrupt to the core and despotic.

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DenDon,

Meh. The Iraq war was about a great many things, oil being only one of them. I'd be interested to know what makes you think "there's not much left".

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Why do you Americans love domination so much? Why don't you stop wars and invasions? I come from a little country, not particularly rich, not powerful, and I'm perfectly fine with that, we live in peace. What's wrong with that? Why don't you leave the world alone? Leave it in peace... Power is not everything... sorry for saying what I'm thinking...

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