This is a verbatim copy of a chapter from the book First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps which will be published this month by the U. S. Naval Institute.
As the honcho of U. S. counterinsurgency from 1962 to 1964, “Brute” Krulak sat very close to the seat of power and was privy to much of the military advice being given to his commander-in-chief about Vietnam. He could not agree with the “tightening the screw” strategy advocated by Ambassador Harriman, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and others. And neither they nor President Johnson wanted any part of General Krulak’s proposed strategy.
In June 1966, the Marines’ multiple approach, hardly begun, was altered by a new philosophy announced by General William C. Westmoreland. His strategy was to turn over the liberation and protection of the heavily populated coastal regions to the Vietnamese and to launch American units into the hinterland to seek out and destroy the larger enemy forces. As he described it later, he proposed to “. . . forget about the enclaves and take the war to the enemy.”1