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Title: The hindrances to the US pacification advisory effort in the Vietnam War from the perspective of the advisors
Author: Pulliam, William Nathan (Nate)
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 6506
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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During the Vietnam War, an American advisory effort supported the South Vietnamese as they attempted to pacify the countryside. The subject of this thesis is that advisory effort. The pacification effort used a whole-of-government approach to counterinsurgency that included civilian development, humanitarian assistance, and local security. This inquiry explores the pacification advisory effort's greatest impediments to success, and also seeks to determine pacification's proper place in the story of the war. In general, the historiography is weak on that, and this thesis challenges the historiography by reconstructing the war from the perspective of the advisors rather than the policymakers. To do that it uses mostly untapped sources. The thesis also seeks to determine if there were conceptual problems with the advisory effort. The inquiry makes several findings. First, despite the prevailing narrative, pacification was always at the center of strategy. Even the large search and destroy operations were explicitly intended to shield the pacification effort. Second, there were four significant hindrances to the advisory effort: (1) the challenge of achieving unity of effort among the various American agencies; (2) confusion over how to earn the allegiance of the people; (3) government corruption; and (4) a dysfunctional Vietnamese command and control system. In the end, the US had overcome the first, muddled through on the second, and completely failed on the third and fourth. However, perhaps the most significant finding of this project is that there was indeed a substantial problem with the way the US conceptualized the advisory effort. They invariably tried to solve problems at the bottom that could only have been solved at the top, and in the process made certain that the Vietnamese chain of command would never be forced to stand on its own.
Supervisor: Davies, Gareth ; Dumbrell, John W. ; Tuffnell, Stephen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available