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Title: Swords and ploughshares : an analysis of the origins and implementation of the US Marine Corps' counterinsurgency strategy in Vietnam between March 1965 and November 1968
Author: Strachan-Morris, David
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis analyses the United States Marine Corps’ counterinsurgency strategy in Vietnam between March 1965 and November 1968, filling a major gap in the existing literature by forensically examining the primary source records maintained by the United States Marines to produce an assessment of the effectiveness of the strategy. It provides a useful corollary to the diplomatic and military histories of the war because not only does it examine operational-level thinking about the war but it analyses the intellectual antecedents of the Marines’ counterinsurgency strategy to answer the important questions about why the Marines chose to emphasis pacification and the ‘ink blot’ strategy rather than conducting a more conventional campaign that focused upon the destruction of enemy forces. The Marines’ own experience of counterinsurgency in the early part of the 20th Century, as well as the work of counterinsurgency theorists of the 1950s and 1960s, had a considerable impact upon their approach to the Vietnam War. The decision of the senior Marine commanders to adopt a pacification strategy along the lines of the ‘ink blot’ approach promulgated by these French and British counterinsurgency experts was partly the result of their view of the political nature of the war and partly the result of the reality they faced on the ground. At the time the Marines deployed to Vietnam their mission was to protect three bases on the coast in the northern provinces of South Vietnam and the Marines realised that the security of these establishments could be greatly improved if the population supported the Marines (and, by extension the South Vietnamese government) rather than the insurgents. Therefore, the ‘spreading ink blot’ of pacification was a product of the need to improve security as well as an attempt to challenge the political nature of communist revolutionary warfare. The metrics used to measure progress in the war were flawed, but there are other indicators within the Marines’ records that show they were conducting an effective and appropriate counterinsurgency campaign, within the limitations imposed by lack of resources and general inability to influence the war as a whole. When the Tet Offensive was launched in early 1968, the Marines use of pacification as ‘defence in depth’ allowed them to successfully defend the coastal enclaves by countering both the political and military efforts of the North Vietnamese in those areas.
Supervisor: Buckley, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Counterinsurgency ; Vietnam ; Marines ; Pacification ; Insurgent ; Guerrilla ; COIN ; Counter-guerrilla ; Doctrine ; Strategy