Napoleon is known as a developer of the war model which is known as conventional wars. This model is famous for its involving the leadership in writing and training troops for rules of engagement (ROE). ROE presents a row of benefits, but it is also connected to costs and expenditures which are conditioned by training and supplying causatives. Still, the benefits ROE offers are multiple and, thus, they exceed the expenses including better organization and cooperation in the army on all levels. Additionally, the chain of command links everybody in uniformed service to those both senior and junior to them, all the way from the most junior ranks up to the President of the United States. In the following paper, the six levels of the chain of command in connection to the limited war ideology in Vietnam will be examined including individual soldiers in the field; battalion commanders; division commanders; General; Secretary of Defense; and the President.
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Discussing the level of individual soldiers in the field, it should be stated that in Vietnam the limited war ideology laid to a certain measure of a failure. This sad outcome is connected to the miscounting and disorganization of a military operation in Vietnam. Being motivated by good inclinations, the United States military machine created a strategy which laid to its disastrous breakdown in the war (Air Force Colonel Jacksel ‘Jack’ Broughton & Air Force General John D. ‘Jack’ Lavelle, 2006). However, one positive outcome of an ideology of the limited war is in restricting private soldiers from unnecessary military actions during a quite long period from 1954 to 1965 (Dorschel, 1995).
Further, the level of battalion commanders demonstrates the same problems. According to Dorschel, “the ROEs were so restrictive that it was all but impossible to achieve the desired results; they forced commanders and planners to go against the central principles of military strategy” (195, par. 25). This situation became the reason for the great defeat of the military strategy of the United States.
Next, speaking about the level of division commanders, it seems that this level was especially affected by the strategic mistake which received its title of “the limited war ideology” in history. The proofs of such a situation can be seen in the comments of numerous commanders including Dorschel, one of the commanders of the United States Air Force. According to him,
The controls tied the hands of the military commanders that were tasked to meet the arduous objectives of the campaign. Rolling Thunder barely achieved any of the desired results – restrictive rules of engagement undoubtedly played a major part in the failure of U.S airpower in this singular black mark on the record of American military aviation (Dorschel par.12).
This statement is more than noteworthy with regards to the ineffectiveness and even disastrous character of a military strategy called “the limited war”.
Speaking about the level of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, it is worth mentioning that his situation was not much better than the situation of his subjects and colleagues. Being a victim of the promises given by the government of the country, and the obliged fulfiller of these promises, McNamara was severely limited in his actions. He could not exercise his role of giving the American military machine the needed mobility. The limited war ideology, in contrast, turned the American army into a “freight train” moving fast, and not able to turn away from its approaching disaster.
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Finally, President Lyndon Johnson was also a captive of the strategy of the limited war. This strategy required significant amounts of money, and what is more offensive, numerous human lives going nowhere, with no certain results, just exhausting the recourses of the local population and the country of the United States itself. These are the actions of the president of the United States conditioned by the ideology of the limited war which caused the strange development of the Vietnamese War. According to Air Force Colonel Jacksel ‘Jack’ Broughton & Air Force General John D. ‘Jack’ Lavelle,
It was a conflict that should not have been lost. But the men who ran that war were politicians and bureaucrats, not military professionals. Men like Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara and President Lyndon Baines Johnson, along with Department of Defense bureaucrats, civilian and military, called all the shots (2006, par.2).
Concluding on all the information related above, it should be stated that looking up the chain of command from the infantry soldiers in Vietnam to the President, ROE with the limited war ideology proved itself ineffective and much more than this, it appeared to be harmful, and even disastrous both for the United States and the country of Vietnam as well. This tendency can be explored within all the levels of the army including individual soldiers in the field; battalion commanders; division commanders; General; Secretary of Defense; and the President. On all of these levels, military leaders and individual soldiers experienced a lack of opportunity to make important decisions to win in the war. This weak point was quickly identified by the enemy and used in the military strategy.
- Dorschel, M. (1995). The Effects of Restrictive ROEs on the Rolling Thunder Air Campaign. Web.