In 2013, under the leadership of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army set out to undertake a study of the Iraq War. Col. (ret) Frank Sobchak was selected to take part in the study. He would go on to serve as the study group’s director, before retiring from the Army in 2018. The team eventually produced a two-volume, 1,300-page history of the conflict, which was published earlier this year, with Sobchak and Col. Joel Rayburn as its coauthors. Sobchak visited West Point recently and spoke at an event hosted by the Modern War Institute.
When the team was first gathered by Gen. Odierno, he told them that the Army had never truly written a history of the Vietnam War, which had serious implications. “Look,” Sobchak recalls him telling the group, “we cannot afford to do that again. . . . We spent the first couple years of the Iraq conflict relearning many of the lessons of the Vietnam War. We paid for it in blood and treasure.”
That’s why it’s important that the Army conducted a study like this. You can watch the video of Sobchak’s remarks below and listen to him discuss the process of conducting the study and reflect on some of the major conclusions about the US Army’s performance during the war that they drew from their research. You can also listen to an episode of the MWI Podcast we recorded with Sobchak during his visit.
Absolute right. In my CGCS Class 88-89, the instructor couldn’t even locate a map of Vietnam to use during our 3 hrs only discussion.
Regarding the Vietnam War, its history still hasn't been written. Who is really writing its epitaph and you look to historians at West Point who don't respond to queries, nor when its library has taken almost four years to assimilate a special issue of battles in Vietnam into its collection, then you begin to wonder. To make matters worse, it seems that Vietnam has been relegated to a few pages in a textbook (which instructors don't really want to teach), which has done a great disserve to the wars that have followed and General Odierno knew.
Small Wars Journal articles:
Look Who Has Been Entrusted With Vietnam Military History
Historically and Factually Accurate?
Jesus when you listen to this and I swear that I'm NOT playing "Monday morning QB" here it makes you question the intelligence of the people that formulated the war in total, the "transition" to Iraqi control and the Iraqi political infighting and the invitation to conduct an insurgent campaign against US forces. I mean does it really take an Einstein to understand how incredibly inept the understanding (none what so ever) of the local, regional, significance of the political aims, mindset, motives, power/leverage of varying militias present? The disbanding of the Iraqi army is the PRIME indicator of the ineptitude of those making decisions for US forces (political and military). The surge was a military success (big deal) but the invasion was a complete shit show which NEVER should have happened and so we "cauterized the wound" that we in fact inflicted but the operation killed the patient anyway! My god, I love that someone is providing the after-action analysis but to think that we didn't see or better understand the basic tenants of this completely fucked up strategy in total is scary as hell! I could go on and on and on. I'm not hearing anything that I didn't already know having listened to this. Rumsfeld and Cheney had NO understanding what they were doing. I DO know that Rumsfeld did not listen to the Joint Chiefs when they said an invasion of Iraq is a BAD idea and did not support the war.
It amazed me that Rumsfeld was still talking about "Dead Enders" 6 weeks after the insurgency started. Iraq was a Soviet client and Soviet doctrine featured partisan warfare as the immediate response in territories overrun by a belligerent force. The fact that the Army seemed to be unaware of this reality was not much comfort at the time, And, then, the fact that David Petraeus had to reinvent the CO-IN doctrine when, as an Army brat, I had read most of his core bibliography before I graduated from high school in 1965 didn't pile any particular distinction upon the leadership cadre of the All Volunteer Military who cling to the mythology that the draftee was the problem in Vietnam. The good news is that the COIN-Nation Building agenda of NATO in Afghanistan is working better than advertised. The danger is that Nation Building isn't sufficiently macho for Vietnam-era National Guard pukes like John Bolton and the regime change ambitions of Robert Kagan that corrupted the Obama's foreign policy that motivated Kim to goose his nuke and ICBM program. Just for the record, the only difference between the PRC's Band-and-Road Initiative and the Green New Deal is the Democratic Socialism embedded in Eisenhower's 1956 Presidential Program. The good news is that Chairman Kim can import Democratic Socialism as a military to military technology transfer from ROK-KMAG to DPRK. The only things standing in the was are John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and POTUS's failure to keep his promise to Kim to get a GI haircut like Elvis before serious negotiations can begin, after which Kim is prepared to give away the ranch.