To begin with, the frustrating experience of Vietnam is indelibly etched in the minds of the American military system, which gave them three main lessons for the future. First of all, the military officers have understood the real limitations of the capability of the US government to support global involvement in war crimes. The military has gained a greater understanding that civilian people respond not only to the situations on the particular battlefield but the violent governmental acts in general, such as the Pentagon ramifications. Indeed, the researchers started to realize that people who are not related to the military or the army can be well aware of the negative repercussions even without any battlefield experience. This generality, admittedly, does not hold its meaning across the board, and it has faded in recent years. Nonetheless, while the military continues to support the constitution’s provision for civilian leadership of the armed forces, lingering misgivings about politicians’ abilities and motivations remain from the Vietnam era (Petraeus, 1986). The military came away from Vietnam feeling that the actual civilians did not have the same vision about the incidents and lacked the readiness to look at the situation from a different angle. Simply put, civilian people were rather unsatisfied with the operation.
The Consequences of Vietnam
Additionally, Vietnam made people recall how the military forces have to bear the heaviest burden during any violent conflicts, while the executives and people of power make life-threatening decisions. Vietnam gave additional momentum to what Samuel Huntington called the military’s pacifist mindset in the 1950s. Finally, the military gained a new understanding of the limitations of military power in resolving some sorts of international crises as a result of their experiences in Vietnam. Vietnam, in particular, sowed doubts in the minds of many military leaders about the US military’s ability to execute successful large-scale counterinsurgencies. These reservations are not always based on concerns about the capability of American troops and groups (Petraeus, 1986). Moreover, military leaders are well-aware of the obstacles to early intervention and the struggles that come along with the decision to interfere with no clear understanding of the consequences of such action.
They recognize that these difficulties, combined with America’s typical aversion to engagement in crises that represent only a tangential threat to US interests, could lead to a lack of public support. As a result, senior military officers prefer prudence to speed, aware of the dilemma they face: the country that hesitates may miss the best opportunity for successful action. In comparison, the country that moves hastily may find itself entangled in a conflict it later wishes it had avoided.
The Situation in Afghanistan and Iraq
Undoubtedly, the post-September 11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dominated the US and ally land and air forces’ experience this century. As a result of this experience, these forces have shifted dramatically — as much as they did in either of the twentieth-century global wars. (Barry, 2018). The US military was making rather damaging experiments on real people and civilians, in particular, that the community is not willing to repeat again after Vietnam (De Tray, 2018). The scholars are not quite sure if it will be possible to realistically evaluate the disadvantages of the current situation in Iraq because of its complexity and ambivalence. The main issue is that new policies and politicians are prone to forgetting valuable lessons of unfortunate military experiences. However, the repercussions of the violent acts that happened in Vietnam must stay relevant and help historians process the current military situation.
Petraeus, D. H. (1986). Lessons of history and lessons of Vietnam. The US Army War College Quarterly: Parameters, 16(1), 27.
Barry, B. (2018). Harsh Lessons: Iraq, Afghanistan and the Changing Character of War. Routledge.
De Tray, D. (2018). Why Counterinsurgency Fails: The US in Iraq and Afghanistan. Springer.