"The Vietnam War" This Is What We Do (July-December 1967) (TV Episode 2017) Poster

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6/10
This Is What We Do (July-December 1967)
Prismark1017 October 2017
We have reached episode 5, the number of US soldiers in Vietnam had gone up from about 11,000 in 1965 to more than 500,000 by the end of 1967. The army estimated they had killed approximately 200,000 of the North Vietnamese enemy but more than 20,000 American soldiers had also died.

Despite LBJ's upbeat outlook to the public the war is nowhere near being won and Robert McNamara, the Defence Secretary, who escalated the war is now beset with doubts and is replaced.

We see McNamara in this series but we do not hear much from him directly, he self flagellated himself several years before his death in the Errol Morris documentary, The Fog of War.

The press and the lower rank officers are now aware that the war is atrocious but also the US troops has committed atrocities such as gang rape of civilians.

We see footage of a distressed John McCain in hospital after he was caught by the North Vietnamese, he was a valuable trophy for them as he was a son of an admiral. Watching him being interviewed by a French journalist was sorrowful when he is clearly in pain. Remembering how McCain was ridiculed by a draft dodger like Trump in the run up to the 2016 Presidential elections was upsetting.

This is now an unnerving history lesson for me. I was still not born in this time period, the US is ever deeper in this war, the South Vietnamese government is in disarray and cannot be trusted.
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10/10
Imagine
cordenw30 September 2017
Let's do the math, that's what Mcnamara and his team boiled it all down to after all.

500,000 Troops all getting paid a salary, say averaging out to ten thousand a year back in those days, or two hundred bucks a week.

Ten Million a week

That's before you start feeding them and clothing them. Then you have the cost of moving them around, the cost of the artillery, ammunition, bombs and fuel. Then the cost of the backroom administration, then the cost of the destroyed airplanes, helicopters , tanks and vehicles.

The checks got signed without a question!

How all that money could have filled the potholes on the road to the American Dream,instead of destroying jungle paths in a far off country.

Number of people who were killed? Not in the equation, just send more 'cos they aren't in the cost analysis.

Meantimes you let your major cities fall into decay, turn your face away from abject poverty in your own back yard.

You cut back on social infrastructure improvements and programs and set the National Guard and cops on your own citizens.

You couldn't dream up a better recipe for catastrophe and yet that's what we had.

This episode shows why successful businessmen rarely make successful politicians, they think everything can be boiled down to dollars,cents and efficiency.

It's fair to say that Mcnamara expressed his doubts about an eventual victory but there's also no escaping the fact that he was complicit in keeping it secret from the general public.

I lived in England when all of this was happening and for us it just seemed like a minor irritant for the US, the British were preoccupied with their own social upheavals so we didn't really get much coverage.

As these documentaries unfold I find myself amazed at our ignorance and doubly amazed at the downright stupidity of the successive governments in dealing with the problem. If newly elected politicians couldn't get out then you have to ask some serious questions about the tactical qualifications of the permanent military commanders.

Harry Truman had a great quote about Military Generals when he fired McArthur. I'm paraphrasing but it went something like this

"I didn't fire him because he was stupid , because if that was the reason I'd have to fire half the Generals in the Military, I fired him because he disobeyed orders"

It's going to take someone with a granite will to get us out of this mess and it will be interesting to see who gets the credit in the final chapters of this series.

As for me I'm so stunned at the unbelievable levels of waste, pointless missions, carnage and ineptitude at the command level. I have never said this before , but I'm glad I lived in England when all this was going on.

I'll be an even worse cynic when this is through
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10/10
"I don't know how to explain it that it would make sense." - Marine and Vietnam Vet John Musgrave
classicsoncall3 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Military generals in Vietnam had a definition in their minds as to when to gauge we were winning the war there. They referred to it as the 'crossover point', that is, the point in the war when the enemy would no longer be able to replace the men it had already lost. By mid 1967, this idea was taking hold, as President Lyndon Johnson stated to the American people that progress was being made.

In Vietnam however, 'pacification', or the winning of the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese people as a strategy was clearly not working. Half a million Americans were now part of the landscape, and the disruption of life for the average Vietnamese was becoming intolerable. It didn't help that derogatory terms from prior wars were used by soldiers to describe the natives as 'gooks', who lived in 'hooches'.

A stunning statistic came out of this episode that I'm still trying to wrap my head around. With a half million American soldiers in Vietnam by mid 1967, only twenty percent of them would ever see combat! All the rest were in some area of support for soldiers in the field. I just found that astonishing, considering the number of soldiers who died in the war.

One of the frustrations that our combat soldiers in Vietnam experienced was the non-traditional way of fighting over a piece of land and then abandoning it when the battle was over. This was a routine occurrence in Vietnam. To Marine John Musgrave, who I quote in my summary line, the whole idea of fighting an enemy was to secure the land they were fighting on - 'War is a real estate business". Interestingly, the first time I ever ran into the concept expressed in that way was in a 1949 John Wayne movie, "Sands of Iwo Jima". It's the classic Marine definition of battle - "That's war boy, tradin' real estate for men." In Vietnam, all definitions that made any sense wound up entirely discredited.

It would seem then, with the lack of progress in prosecuting the war for the South Vietnamese, that the North would be in high spirits, but there was similar dissatisfaction with Le Duan's leadership as well. The North Vietnamese were weary of the disruption in their own lives, so Le Duan revived an idea that he had some success with in 1964. He termed it 'General Offensive, General Uprising', a strategy of coordinated attacks on scores of South Vietnamese cities and military bases that he hoped would completely demoralize the opposition. In due time, this would become known as the Tet Offensive.

A significant highlight of this episode in the series is the inclusion of an interview by a French journalist of a captured Air Force pilot shot down by the North Vietnamese. The young John McCain is almost unrecognizable as he speaks about his capture, having suffered a broken arm and leg when he parachuted from his downed plane. It was somewhat odd to see McCain smoking during the interview while flat on his back, but it was worse to learn that after the interview, he was beaten for not showing sufficient gratitude to his captors.
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9/10
Just a small glitch
genehil27 September 2017
I was a young USAF airman stationed at Tan Son Nhut from Dec67- Dec68. I found this episode and all, so far, very informative and interesting.

I did see a glitch in Episode 5 that I think should have been caught during editing. Minor, but incorrect, all the same.

00:35:35: Right after the words "mass civilian uprising" is a short, four second scene from Thailand, not Vietnam. This scene shows multiple "Samlaw" pedal taxis (Driver and one wheel in the front and two wheels in the rear, between which the paying passengers sat.) that were common in Thailand. In Vietnam, the pedal taxis were "Cyclos" (Two wheels in front, between which the paying passengers sat, and driver and one wheel in the rear.)

Source: One year stationed in Saigon followed by three and a half years stationed in Thailand.
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10/10
Horrifying Footage
Hitchcoc26 September 2017
What brave young men, who were fighting for a principle they believed in. To put their lives in danger over and over again. Some were wounded in one campaign, only to find themselves again facing death. The problem is that while they were doing what they could, they were being betrayed by propaganda and self aggrandizement from politicians and generals (one in particular). They were given bad information and inadequate weaponry. They were fighting on a terrain and with a culture that they weren't prepared for. This episode makes it so clear that this was about as ugly as anything our soldiers have ever faced. Eighteen and nineteen year old going up a hill where the North had built bunkers and set up their weapons, slaughtered. What was given to Americans was, "Yes, we lost 120 men but look how many we killed. Pride goeth before the fall and there was so much pride by people who knew they would never think of setting foot on these battlefields.
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