- ISBN/SKU: 9781591149613
- Binding: Hardcover
- Era: 20th Century
- Number of Pages: 288
- Subject: Vietnam War
- Date Available: May 2011
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In 1965, despite pronounced disadvantages in firepower and mobility, the Communist Vietnamese endeavored to crush South Vietnam and expel the American military with a strategy for a quick and decisive victory predicated not on guerrilla but "big-unit" war. Warren Wilkins chronicles the formation, development, and participation of the Viet Cong in the opening phase of the big-unit war and shows how the failure of that strategy profoundly influenced the decision to launch the Tet Offensive.
Unlike most books on the war, this one provides an authentic account from the Communist perspective, with the author drawing on memoirs, unit histories, and battlefield studies to reconstruct the formation and deployment of major military units, battles and campaigns, and the strategic debates that informed the big unit war.
Published in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army
Warren Wilkins is a Fellow at the Center for Threat Awareness (CTA) and a periodic contributor to the Center’s publications. Perhaps not surprisingly, his interest in the Vietnam War developed as an outgrowth of the boyhood conversations he enjoyed with his uncle, a proud combat veteran of the conflict
Praise for Grab Their Belts to Fight Them
"Grab Their Belts to Fight Them portrays the VC as a more complex organism than previously understood, and Wilkins’s account of VC big-unit warfare between 1965 and 1966 is a necessary addition to the literature if we wish to keep learning from the Vietnam War. If nothing else, this assessment of VC fighting highlights the fact that, with the right strategic direction, seemingly unconventional armies are quite capable of fighting in a more conventional manner, whether or not they wear pajamas."
— Air & Space Power Journal
— Australian Defence Force Journal, May 2012
“…Loaded with interesting information and insight.”
— Parameters, Autumn 2011
“Warren Wilkins has written a valuable book on the early phases of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. . . .Wilkins makes a well-researched argument that redefines and cuts through the popular mythology of the Viet Cong being a insurgency of fighters in black pajamas. Wilkins has done us a service with this new book. . . . While my specialization is al-Qaida, it is important to appreciate that the late al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Abdul-Aziz al-Muqrin appreciated the Vietnamese insurgency tactics, which themselves built upon Mao Tse Tung’s insurgency principles. Wilkins book helps me to better understand the importance of preventing al-Qaida from gaining the capacity to transition to big-unit wars that the Viet Cong undertook between 1965 to 1966, while simultaneously raising the issues of legitimacy and strategic communications in insurgencies. However, winning an insurgency is not as simple as insurgents gaining the capacity to fight large unit wars or COIN commanders defeating insurgents in big unit wars as the Vietnam War ultimately showed. The book also shows the power of managing the narrative, with Hanoi painting a picture of being willing to sacrifice to the last person, and that their efforts were mainly guerilla based, versus the reality that they were concerned with casualties, and did conduct large scale coordinated operations, being well equipped and trained. Wilkins book helps keep these realities in focus.”
— Small Wars Journal, September 4, 2011
“I eagerly add Wilkins’ book to my professional library. It answers questions I’ve had since 1965 and puts our first battles in perspective. It is also an almost eerie reminder of a war in which we fought with a long logistics tail, supporting a shaky, corrupt government that fielded a checkered quality of armed forces, as we tolerated sanctuaries for our enemies and engaged in combat operations and pacification—simultaneously, with waning U.S. public support. Draw your own conclusions and predictions after reading this fine book.”
— Proceedings, September 2011
". . . .An absolutely invaluable contribution to military history shelves, especially those with a focus on the Vietnam War.”
— Library Bookwatch, May 2011
"A fresh and remarkably detailed portrayal of how a clever enemy force adapts to fight American soldiers. Wilkins’ descriptions and insights apply to the war being waged in Afghanistan"
—Bing West, author of The Village, The Strongest Tribe and The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy and the Way Out of Afghanistan
"In this important history of America’s early Vietnam battles, Warren Wilkins offers new insights by analyzing the fighting from both the American and Vietnamese Communist perspectives. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the military history of the Vietnam War."
—Mark Moyar author ofTriumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965
"This is a huge contribution to understanding what made the Viet Cong tick, even when impatient zealots from Hanoi were winding their clock. Let's be honest: the Viet Cong were the al Qaeda of their day, willing to risk all, lose all for their cause with little coaxing. We have learned lately not to dismiss those we don't understand, a sub-theme of this extraordinary book. Warren Wilkins makes the case that the VC was pushed into the '68 Tet Offensive. But if the VC was weakened with overwhelming casualties in untimely attacks, the Hanoi-sponsored ‘talk-fight’ strategy ultimately worked wonders achieving dual goals—driving the U.S. out of the country and sapping the strength from our allies in Saigon.”
—Lt. Col. Charles Krohn, USA (Ret.),author of The Lost Battalion of Tet: Breakout of the 2/12th Cavalry at Hue
“Wilkins gives us an objective, thoroughly researched, and insightful analysis of enemy military operations in Vietnam. This work is a significant addition to the historiography of the Vietnam War, no mean feat considering all that has been previously written on this subject.”
—Sgt. Maj. Dan Cragg, USA (Ret.), co-author of Inside the VC and the NVA: The Real Story of North Vietnam's Armed Forces