New War in Vietnam
By Colonel Bryce F. Denno, U. S. Army, (Retired)
The introduction of U. S. combat forces has precipitated a new—many consider it the fourth distinct phase of the Vietnamese War. What lessons of the first three phases are still germane?
Our military effort in Vietnam has evolved in classic, textbook fashion. Pursuing an objective of forcing the enemy to “stop doing what he is doing” in the Republic of Vietnam, we have matched the force which he has committed with carefully measured, precisely applied, force increments of our own. Enemy actions and our reactions have produced four fairly distinct phases of U. S. military participation in the war.
The first was our modest advisory effort which began shortly after the Viet Minh defeated the French. U. S. advisors assisted the Army of Vietnam (ARVN), a small Air Force (VNAF) and Navy (VNAV) to organize, equip themselves with U. S. arms, and to train. These forces were designed primarily to counter what seemed to be the most dangerous military threat at the time—a Korea-style attack across the 17th parallel.