Apoclapyse Now -Eric Gonzalez
I love the film apocalypse now. I've been a fan since I first saw it in High School. Beyond the unique cinematography( Which i loved) I believe that the film is probably the most accurate portrayal of the pitfalls of guerilla warfare on a macro scale and the contradictions and moral dilemmas that war has always presented. IN the film the renegade Colonel Kurtz is shown as probably the most competent and intelligent tactician there ever was. His military training background and accomplishments even go so far as the impress the elite adviser-pro Green beret officer "Captain Willard". But Kurtz has a falling out with the Army chain of command when Kurtz decides to apply the same sort of brutal tactics that the vietcong employ, only with a twisted pseudo-attention to discipline. Historically in the Vietnam war, particularly with the Green berets attached with ARVN units were photographed desecrating Vietcong bodies and even torturing VC/NVA personell. I remember hearing of men taking "trophies" where they would do things like cut off ears and cure and tan them like leather and wear them on a necklace. That tsort of thing that was conveniently left out of the John Wayne film "The Green Berets "... But I digress.
It was those sorts of terrorist tactics that Colonel Kurtz integrated into his fighting-force while also conducting cross -border raids into cambodia and Laos, and because of his effectiveness, the Army decided to try to remove him from power.
The interesting truth behind this is that the discussion to use off-the-record Montanyard civilians trained and equipped by green berets was going on in the Pentagon and the White House. If I remember correctly there actually were some ARVN troops escorted by Navy Seals that did just that, and some cases of U.S. Army, South Korean Army, Australian SAS, and Hac Boa with ARVN units actually conducting cross-border raids autonomously without upper level clearance. Which is strangely similar to the film, but even wierdier because these operations didn't become known until much later through congressional testimony.
There was a debate in the public sphere about just what level we would go to in order to win in Vietnam. Some said that we should pull the troops out. Others said that the United States and Allies should formally declare war and go to war with North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos simultaneously using air strikes and para-troopers. Some even suggested deploying tactical nuclear weapons against the North Vietnam capital Hanoi.
What we actually did was something in between where we trained ARVN units to fight but also used U.S. troops to defend key cities and tactical stronghold, but also occasionally deploy troops in the field to root-out Vietcong in particular. That particular scenario wasn't discussed in Congress or at the dinner table but was really just a slow escalating follow things like the Tet offensive,the battle of Nah-Trang valley, and the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
I guess it's really easy to get stuck in a war that comes about through slow, gradual escalations. The VC/NVA basically lost every single battle they engaged in with a few small exceptions. But the U.S lost in the long run. I think that it's because at home we couldn't get agreement on whether to pull out or to declare total war that we lost the war.