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General Creighton Abrams assumed command of United States forces in the Republic of South Vietnam in the summer of 1968. In recent years, this change in leadership has been viewed as a radical departure from the operational approach implemented by his predecessor General William Westmoreland. This monograph proposes that the United States Armed Forces consistently followed a strategy of attrition from the introduction of battalion sized combat troops in 1965, through the Westmoreland-Abrams transition, and ultimately encouraged the South Vietnamese to follow this strategy during the period of Vietnamization.
The National Command Authority and General Westmoreland specifically adopted a strategy of attrition in February of 1966. The Military Assistance Command Vietnam implemented this strategy throughout 1966 and accelerated the strategy in 1967, when General Abrams became General Westmoreland’s deputy commander. The operations were specifically designed to attrite Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regular forces as outlined in the 1966 meeting. The Tet offensive of January 1968 appeared to discredit the strategy of attrition and contributed to the ouster of Westmoreland and his replacement by General Abrams.
General Abrams promoted a “one-war” strategy which had the desired end state of population security for the people of South Vietnam. In reality the “one-war” was a multi-tiered strategy of attrition. While the tactics of large scale search and destroy missions were modified, the operational purpose was not. Simultaneously, the Phoenix Program conducted constant low level attrition warfare at the village level to prevent the resurgence of the Viet Cong.
While these operations were being conducted the national command authority adopted the policy of Vietnamization in the summer of 1969.
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Subtítulo: APPROACH OF ATTRITION IN THE VIETNAM WAR