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The performance of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) at the Battle of Ap Bac, January 2, 1963, established a narrative that the South Vietnamese were unwilling to fight or lacked aggressiveness. At the time of the Battle of Ap Bac, the South Vietnamese had been receiving direct military aid from the US and under the tutelage of American advisors for over eight years. Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann was the senior US Army advisor present and remarked after the battle, “It was a miserable damn performance, just like it always is. These people won’t listen. They make the same mistake over and over again in the same way.” In the context of those comments, ARVN did not show an appreciable increase in combat effectiveness with years of direct American support. The larger narrative surrounding the battle indicates that the performance of ARVN was a harbinger for future challenges and setbacks in South Vietnam. This battle and subsequent evaluation of the ARVN attribute the cause for combat ineffectiveness was the South Vietnamese lacking leadership and not possessing the necessary fighting spirit. Is the evaluation that the outcome of the Battle of Ap Bac hinged on the ARVN’s lack of aggressiveness still valid when put in the broader cultural, social, and political context that existed at its birth?