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William Childs Westmoreland (March 26, 1914 – July 18, 2005) was a
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight U.S. uniformed services, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the U.S. Constitution.Article II, section 2, claus ...
general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines. The term ''general'' is used in two ways: as the generic title for all grades of general officer and as a specific rank. It ...
, most notably commander of United States forces during the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War{{native name, vi, Chiến tranh Việt Nam , partof = the Indochina Wars and the Cold War , image = File:VNWarMontage.png , image_size = 300px , caption ...
from 1964 to 1968. He served as
Chief of Staff of the United States Army The chief of staff of the Army (CSA) is the service chief of the United States Army. As the highest ranking officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, the chief is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the secretary of the ...
from 1968 to 1972. Westmoreland adopted a strategy of attrition against the
Viet Cong The Viet Cong ( vi, Việt Cộng; ), officially known as the National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam ( vi, Mặt trận Dân tộc Giải phóng miền Nam Việt Nam), was an armed communist political revolutionary organization in South ...
and the
North Vietnamese Army The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN; vi, Quân đội Nhân dân Việt Nam), also known as the Vietnamese People's Army (VPA), is the military force of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The PAVN is a part of the Vietnam People's Armed Forces an ...
, attempting to drain them of manpower and supplies. He also made use of the United States' edge in artillery and air power, both in tactical confrontations and in relentless strategic bombing of North Vietnam. Many of the battles in Vietnam were technically United States victories, with the United States Army in control of the field afterward; holding territory gained this way proved difficult, however. Public support for the war eventually diminished, especially after the
Battle of Khe Sanh The Battle of Khe Sanh (21 January – 9 July 1968) was conducted in the Khe Sanh area of northwestern Quảng Trị Province, Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), during the Vietnam War. The main US forces defending Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) w ...
and the
Tet Offensive The Tet Offensive of 1968 ( vi, Sự kiện Tết Mậu Thân 1968), or officially called The General Offensive and Uprising of Tet Mau Than 1968 ( vi, Tổng tiến công và nổi dậy, Tết Mậu Thân 1968) was a major escalation and one of ...
in 1968. By the time he was re-assigned as Army Chief of Staff, United States military forces in Vietnam had reached a peak of 535,000 personnel. Westmoreland's strategy was ultimately politically unsuccessful. Growing United States casualties and the draft undermined United States support for the war, while large-scale casualties among non-combatants weakened South Vietnamese support. This also failed to weaken North Vietnam's will to fight, and the
Government of South Vietnam South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN; vi, Việt Nam Cộng Hòa; french: République du Viêt Nam), was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western B ...
—a factor largely out of Westmoreland's control—never succeeded in establishing enough legitimacy to quell defections to the Viet Cong.


Early life

William Childs Westmoreland was born in
Spartanburg County, South Carolina Spartanburg County is a county located on the northwestern border of the U.S. state of South Carolina. The estimated population in 2021 is 331,081, making it the fifth-most populous county in South Carolina. Its county seat is Spartanburg. Sparta ...
, on March 26, 1914 to Eugenia Talley Childs and James Ripley Westmoreland. His
upper middle class In sociology, the upper middle class is the social group constituted by higher status members of the middle class. This is in contrast to the term ''lower middle class'', which is used for the group at the opposite end of the middle-class stratu ...
family was involved in the local banking and textile industries. At the age of 15, William became an Eagle Scout at Troop 1 Boy Scouts, and was recipient of the
Distinguished Eagle Scout Award The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA) is a distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). It is awarded to an Eagle Scout for distinguished service in his profession and to his community for a period of at least 25 years afte ...
and
Silver Buffalo The Silver Buffalo Award is the national-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. It is presented for noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis, either as part of, or independent of the Scouting prog ...
from the
Boy Scouts of America The Boy Scouts of America (BSA, colloquially the Boy Scouts) is the largest scouting organization and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with about 2.3 million youth participants and about one million adult ...
as a young adult. After spending a year at
The Citadel The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, commonly known simply as The Citadel, is a public senior military college in Charleston, South Carolina. Established in 1842, it is one of six senior military colleges in the United States. I ...
in 1932, he was appointed to attend the
United States Military Academy The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on ...
on the nomination of Senator James F. Byrnes, a family friend. His motive for entering West Point was "to see the world". He was a member of a distinguished West Point class that also included
Creighton Abrams Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. (September 15, 1914 – September 4, 1974) was a United States Army general who commanded military operations in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972, which saw United States troop strength in South Vietnam reduced ...
and Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Westmoreland graduated as first captain—the highest cadet rank—and received the Pershing Sword, which is "presented to cadet with highest level of military proficiency". Westmoreland also served as the superintendent of the Protestant Sunday School Teachers.


Military career

Following graduation from West Point in 1936, Westmoreland became an artillery officer and served in several assignments with the 18th Field Artillery at Fort Sill. In 1939, he was promoted to first lieutenant, after which he was a battery commander and battalion staff officer with the 8th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.


World War II

In World War II, Westmoreland saw combat with the 34th Field Artillery Battalion, 9th Infantry Division, in
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,
Sicily (masculine) it, Siciliana (feminine) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demograph ...
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of Fr ...
, and
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Germany
; he commanded the 34th Battalion in Tunisia and Sicily. He reached the temporary wartime rank of
colonel Colonel (; abbreviated as Col., Col or COL) is a senior military officer rank used in many countries. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations. Historically, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, a colonel was typical ...
, and on October 13, 1944, was appointed the
chief of staff The title chief of staff (or head of staff) identifies the leader of a complex organization such as the armed forces, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a principal staff officer (PSO), who is the coordinator of the supporting ...
of the 9th Infantry Division. After the war, Westmoreland completed Airborne training at the Infantry School in 1946. He then commanded the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
82nd Airborne Division The 82nd Airborne Division is an airborne infantry division of the United States Army, specializing in parachute assault operations into denied areasSof, Eric"82nd Airborne Division" ''Spec Ops Magazine'', 25 November 2012. Archived from thorigi ...
. From 1947 to 1950, he served as chief of staff for the 82nd Airborne Division. He was an instructor at the Army Command and General Staff College from 1950 to 1951. He then completed the Army War College as a student in 1951, and stayed as an instructor from 1951 to 1952.


Korean War

Westmoreland was promoted to Brigadier General in November 1952 at the age of 38, making him one of the youngest U.S. Army generals in the post-World War II era. He commanded the
187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team The 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) is a regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. The "Rakkasans" special designation is derived from the Japanese word for parachute (literally "umbrella for falling", 落下傘). The name was given to the 18 ...
in operations in Korea from 1952 to 1953. After returning to the United States, Westmoreland was deputy assistant chief of staff, G–1, for manpower control on the Army staff from 1953 to 1955. In 1954, he completed a three-month management program at
Harvard Business School Harvard Business School (HBS) is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. It is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world and offers a large full-time MBA program, management-related doctor ...
. As Stanley Karnow noted, "Westy was a corporation executive in uniform." After the war, Westmoreland was the United States Army's Secretary of the General Staff from 1955 to 1958. He then commanded the
101st Airborne Division The 101st Airborne Division ("Screaming Eagles") is a light infantry division of the United States Army specializing in air assault operations. The Screaming Eagles were referred to as "the tip of the spear" by former U.S. Secretary of Defense ...
from 1958 to 1960. He was
Superintendent of the United States Military Academy The Superintendent of the United States Military Academy is its commanding officer. This position is roughly equivalent to the chancellor or president of an American civilian university. The officer appointed is, by tradition, a graduate of the Un ...
from 1960 to 1963. In 1962, Westmoreland was admitted as an honorary member of the Massachusetts
Society of the Cincinnati The Society of the Cincinnati is a fraternal, hereditary society with thirteen constituent societies in the United States and one in France, founded in 1783, to perpetuate "the remembrance of this vast event" (the achievement of American Indepen ...
. He was promoted to lieutenant general in July 1963 and was Commanding General of the
XVIII Airborne Corps The XVIII Airborne Corps is a corps of the United States Army that has been in existence since 1942 and saw extensive service during World War II. The corps is designed for rapid deployment anywhere in the world and is referred to as "America's ...
from 1963 to 1964.


Vietnam War

;Background and overview The attempted French re-colonization of
Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...
following World War II culminated in a decisive
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France ** French language, a French language which originated in France, and its various dialects ** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with Fr ...
defeat at the
Battle of Dien Bien Phu The Battle of Dien Bien Phu (french: Bataille de Diên Biên Phu ; vi, Chiến dịch Điện Biên Phủ, ) was a climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War that took place between 13 March and 7 May 1954. It was fought between the Fren ...
. The Geneva Conference (April 26 – July 20, 1954) discussed the possibility of restoring peace in
Indochina Mainland Southeast Asia (or the Indochinese Peninsula) is the continental portion of Southeast Asia. It lies east of the Indian subcontinent and south of China and is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. ...
, and temporarily separated Vietnam into two zones, a northern zone to be governed by the Việt Minh, and a southern zone to be governed by the
State of Vietnam The State of Vietnam ( vi, Quốc gia Việt Nam; Chữ Nôm: 國家越南; french: État du Viêt-Nam) was a member of the French Union and a country (from 21 July 1954 to 26 October 1955) that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the F ...
, then headed by former emperor
Bảo Đại Bảo Đại (, vi-hantu, , lit. "keeper of greatness", 22 October 191330 July 1997), born Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy, was the 13th and final Emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam. From 1926 to 1945, he was Emperor ...
. A Conference Final Declaration, issued by the British chairman of the conference, provided that a general election be held by July 1956 to create a unified Vietnamese state. Although presented as a consensus view, this document was not accepted by the delegates of either the State of Vietnam or the United States. In addition, China, the Soviet Union and other communist nations recognized the North while the United States and other non-communist states recognized the South as the legitimate government. By the time Westmoreland became army commander in
South Vietnam South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN; vi, Việt Nam Cộng Hòa; french: République du Viêt Nam), was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western B ...
, the option of a Korea-type settlement with a large demilitarised zone separating north and south, favored by military and diplomatic figures, had been rejected by the US government, whose objectives were to achieve a decisive victory, and not to use vastly greater resources. The infiltration by regular
North Vietnam North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) ( vi, Việt Nam Dân Chủ Cộng Hòa) was a state in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1954 and a country from 1954 to 1976. During the August Revolution following World War II, ...
forces into the South could not be dealt with by aggressive action against the northern state because intervention by China was something the US government was concerned to avoid, but President
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
had given commitments to uphold South Vietnam against communist
North Vietnam North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) ( vi, Việt Nam Dân Chủ Cộng Hòa) was a state in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1954 and a country from 1954 to 1976. During the August Revolution following World War II, ...
.Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkele
Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies and Colonel Harry G. Summers
/ref>
Chief of Staff of the United States Army The chief of staff of the Army (CSA) is the service chief of the United States Army. As the highest ranking officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, the chief is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the secretary of the ...
, General
Harold Keith Johnson Harold Keith "Johnny" Johnson (February 22, 1912 – September 24, 1983) was a United States Army general who served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1964 to 1968. Regarded as a premier tactician, Johnson became skeptical that the l ...
, and subsequently historians such as Harry G. Summers, Jr. came to see US goals as having become mutually inconsistent, because defeating the Communists would require declaring a national emergency and fully mobilising the resources of the US. President Johnson was critical of Westmoreland's defused corporate style, considering him overattentive to what government officials wanted to hear. Nonetheless, Westmoreland was operating within longstanding army protocols of subordinating the military to civilian policymakers. The most important constraint was staying on the strategic defensive out of fear of Chinese intervention, but at the same time President had made it clear that there was a higher commitment to defending Vietnam.The Ia Drang Campaign 1965: A Successful Operational Campaign or Mere Tactical Failure?, Peter J. Schifferle (1994)Parameters.To Change a War: General Harold K. Johnson and the PROVN Study, LEWIS SORLEY Much of the thinking about defense was by academics turned government advisors who concentrated on nuclear weapons, seen as making conventional war obsolete. The fashion for counter-insurgency thinking also denigrated the role of
conventional warfare Conventional warfare is a form of warfare conducted by using conventional weapons and battlefield tactics between two or more states in open confrontation. The forces on each side are well-defined, and fight using weapons that primarily target the ...
. Despite the inconclusive outcome of the Korean War, Americans expected their wars to end with the unconditional surrender of the enemy. The
Gulf of Tonkin incident The Gulf of Tonkin incident ( vi, Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS ''Maddox'' incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved both a proven con ...
of 2 August 1964 led to a dramatic increase in direct American participation in the war, with nearly 200,000 troops deployed by the end of the year. Viet Cong and PAVN strategy, organization and structure meant Westmoreland faced a dual threat. Regular North Vietnamese army units infiltrating across the remote border were apparently concentrating to mount an offensive and Westmoreland considered this the danger that had to be tackled immediately. There was also entrenched guerrilla subversion throughout the heavily populated coastal regions by the
Viet Cong The Viet Cong ( vi, Việt Cộng; ), officially known as the National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam ( vi, Mặt trận Dân tộc Giải phóng miền Nam Việt Nam), was an armed communist political revolutionary organization in South ...
. Consistent with the enthusiasm of
Robert McNamara Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 – July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth United States Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He played a major role ...
for statistics, Westmoreland placed emphasis on
body count A body count is the total number of people killed in a particular event. In combat, a body count is often based on the number of confirmed kills, but occasionally only an estimate. Often used in reference to military combat, the term can also re ...
and cited the
Battle of Ia Drang The Battle of Ia Drang was the first major battle between the United States Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), also referred to as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), and was part of the Pleiku Campaign conducted early in the Vietnam War. ...
as evidence the communists were losing. However, the government wished to win at low cost, and policymakers received McNamara's interpretation indicating huge American casualties in prospect, prompting a reassessment of what could be achieved. Moreover, the Battle of Ia Drang was unusual in that US troops brought a large enemy formation to battle. After talking to junior officers General Westmoreland became skeptical about localised concentrated
search and destroy Search and Destroy, Seek and Destroy, or even simply S&D, refers to a military strategy that became a large component of the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. The idea was to insert ground forces into hostile territory, ''search'' out the ...
sweeps of short duration, because the Communist forces controlled whether there were military engagements, giving an option to simply avoid battle with US forces if the situation warranted it. The alternative of sustained countrywide pacification operations, which would require massive use of US manpower, was never available to Westmoreland, because it was considered politically unacceptable.Westmoreland: The General who Lost Vietnam By Lewis Sorley p96 In public at least, he continued to be sanguine about the progress being made throughout his time in Vietnam, though supportive journalist
James Reston James Barrett Reston (November 3, 1909 – December 6, 1995), nicknamed "Scotty", was an American journalist whose career spanned the mid-1930s to the early 1990s. He was associated for many years with ''The New York Times.'' Early life ...
thought Westmoreland's characterizing of the conflict as
attrition warfare Attrition warfare is a military strategy consisting of belligerent attempts to win a war by wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and materiel. The word ''attrition'' comes from the Latin root to r ...
presented his generalship in a misleading light. Westmoreland's critics say his successor, General
Creighton Abrams Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. (September 15, 1914 – September 4, 1974) was a United States Army general who commanded military operations in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972, which saw United States troop strength in South Vietnam reduced ...
, deliberately switched emphasis away from what Westmoreland dubbed attrition. Revisionists point to Abrams's first big operation being a tactical success that disrupted North Vietnamese build up, but resulted in the
Battle of Hamburger Hill The Battle of Hamburger Hill was a battle of the Vietnam War that was fought by U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces against People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces from 10 to 20 May 1969 during Operation Apache Snow. Althou ...
, a political disaster that effectively curtailed Abrams's freedom to continue with such operations. ;Commander in South Vietnam Westmoreland was sent to Vietnam in 1963. In January 1964, he became deputy commander of
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) was a joint-service command of the United States Department of Defense. MACV was created on 8 February 1962, in response to the increase in United States military assistance to South Vietnam. MACV wa ...
(MACV), eventually succeeding Paul D. Harkins as commander, in June. Secretary of Defense
Robert McNamara Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 – July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth United States Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He played a major role ...
told President in April that Westmoreland was "the best we have, without question". As the head of the MACV, he was known for highly publicized, positive assessments of U.S. military prospects in
Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...
. However, as time went on, the strengthening of communist combat forces in the South led to regular requests for increases in U.S. troop strength, from 16,000 when he arrived to its peak of 535,000 in 1968 when he was promoted to Army chief of staff.On April 28, 1967, Westmoreland addressed a joint session of Congress. "In evaluating the enemy strategy", he said, "it is evident to me that he believes our Achilles heel is our resolve. ... Your continued strong support is vital to the success of our mission. ... Backed at home by resolve, confidence, patience, determination, and continued support, we will prevail in Vietnam over the communist aggressor!" Westmoreland claimed that under his leadership, United States forces "won every battle".Sheehan, Neil ''A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann And America in Vietnam'' 1988. The turning point of the war was the 1968
Tet Offensive The Tet Offensive of 1968 ( vi, Sự kiện Tết Mậu Thân 1968), or officially called The General Offensive and Uprising of Tet Mau Than 1968 ( vi, Tổng tiến công và nổi dậy, Tết Mậu Thân 1968) was a major escalation and one of ...
, in which
communist Communism (from Latin la, communis, lit=common, universal, label=none)Ball, Terence, and Richard Dagger. 9992019.Communism (revised ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 10 June 2020. is a philosophical, social, political, and economic ide ...

communist
forces attacked cities and towns throughout
South Vietnam South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN; vi, Việt Nam Cộng Hòa; french: République du Viêt Nam), was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western B ...
. At the time, Westmoreland was focused on the
Battle of Khe Sanh The Battle of Khe Sanh (21 January – 9 July 1968) was conducted in the Khe Sanh area of northwestern Quảng Trị Province, Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), during the Vietnam War. The main US forces defending Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) w ...
and considered the Tet Offensive to be a diversionary attack. It is not clear if Khe Sanh was meant to be distraction for the Tet Offensive or vice versa; sometimes this is called the Riddle of Khe Sanh. Regardless, U.S. and South Vietnamese troops successfully fought off the attacks during the Tet Offensive, and the communist forces took heavy losses, but the ferocity of the assault shook public confidence in Westmoreland's previous assurances about the state of the war. Political debate and public opinion led the Johnson administration to limit further increases in U.S. troop numbers in Vietnam. Nine months afterward, when the
My Lai Massacre#REDIRECT MY {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation {{R ambig ...

My Lai Massacre
reports started to break, Westmoreland resisted pressure from the incoming
Nixon administration The presidency of Richard Nixon began at noon EST on January 20, 1969, when Richard Nixon was inaugurated as 37th President of the United States, and ended on August 9, 1974, when he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and remova ...
for a cover-up, and pressed for a full and impartial investigation by Lieutenant General William R. Peers. However, a few days after the tragedy, he had praised the same involved unit on the "outstanding job", for the "U.S. infantrymen had killed 128 Communists 'sic''in a bloody day-long battle". Post 1969 Westmoreland also made efforts to investigate the Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre a year after the event occurred. Westmoreland was convinced that the Vietnamese communists could be destroyed by fighting a war of attrition that, theoretically, would render the
Vietnam People's Army , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...
unable to fight. His war strategy was marked by heavy use of artillery and airpower and repeated attempts to engage the communists in large-unit battles, and thereby exploit the US's vastly superior firepower and technology. Westmoreland's response, to those Americans who criticized the high casualty rate of Vietnamese civilians, was: "It does deprive the enemy of the population, doesn't it?" However, the
North Vietnamese Army The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN; vi, Quân đội Nhân dân Việt Nam), also known as the Vietnamese People's Army (VPA), is the military force of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The PAVN is a part of the Vietnam People's Armed Forces an ...
(NVA) and the
National Liberation Front of South Vietnam The Viet Cong ( vi, Việt Cộng; ), officially known as the National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam ( vi, Mặt trận Dân tộc Giải phóng miền Nam Việt Nam), was an armed communist political revolutionary organization in South ...
(NLF) were able to dictate the pace of attrition to fit their own goals: by continuing to fight a guerrilla war and avoiding large-unit battles, they denied the Americans the chance to fight the kind of war they were best at, and they ensured that attrition would wear down the American public's support for the war faster than they. Westmoreland repeatedly rebuffed or suppressed attempts by
John Paul Vann John Paul Vann (born John Paul Tripp; July 2, 1924 – June 9, 1972) was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, later retired, who became well known for his role in the Vietnam War. Although separated from the military before the Vietnam ...
and Lew Walt to shift to a "pacification" strategy. Westmoreland had little appreciation of the patience of the American public for his time frame, and was struggling to persuade President Johnson to approve widening the war into Kingdom of Cambodia (1953–1970), Cambodia and Kingdom of Laos, Laos in order to interdict the Ho Chi Minh trail. He was unable to use the absolutist stance that "we can't win unless we expand the war". Instead, he focused on "positive indicators", which ultimately turned worthless when the Tet Offensive occurred, since all his pronouncements of "positive indicators" did not hint at the possibility of such a last-gasp dramatic event. Tet outmaneuvered all of Westmoreland's pronouncements on "positive indicators" in the minds of the American public. Although the communists were severely depleted by the heavy fighting at Khe Sanh when their conventional assaults were battered by American firepower, as well as tens of thousands of deaths in the Tet Offensive, American political opinion and the panic engendered by the communist surprise sapped U.S. support for the war, even though the events of early 1968 put the United States and South Vietnam into a much stronger military position. At one point in 1968, Westmoreland considered the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam in a contingency plan codenamed Fracture Jaw, which was abandoned when it became known to the White House.


Army Chief of Staff

In June 1968, Westmoreland was replaced by General
Creighton Abrams Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. (September 15, 1914 – September 4, 1974) was a United States Army general who commanded military operations in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972, which saw United States troop strength in South Vietnam reduced ...
, the decision being announced shortly after the Tet Offensive. Although the decision had been made in late 1967, it was widely seen in the media as a punishment for being caught off guard by the communist assault. He was mentioned in a ''Time'' magazine article as a potential candidate for the 1968 United States presidential election, 1968 Republican presidential nomination. Westmoreland served as
Chief of Staff of the United States Army The chief of staff of the Army (CSA) is the service chief of the United States Army. As the highest ranking officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, the chief is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the secretary of the ...
from 1968 to 1972. In 1970, as Chief of Staff, in response to the
My Lai Massacre#REDIRECT MY {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation {{R ambig ...

My Lai Massacre
by United States Army forces (and subsequent cover up by the Army chain of command), he commissioned an army investigation that compiled a comprehensive and seminal study of leadership within the army during the Vietnam War demonstrating a severe erosion of adherence to the army's officer code of "Duty, Honor, Country". The report, entitled ''Study on Military Professionalism'', had a profound influence on Army policies, beginning with Westmoreland's decision to end the policy that officers serving in Vietnam would be rotated into a different post after only six months. However, to lessen the impact of this damaging report, Westmoreland ordered that the document be kept on "close hold" across the entire Army for a period of two years and not disseminated to War College attendees. The report became known to the public only after Westmoreland retired in 1972. Many military historians have pointed out that Westmoreland became Chief of Staff at the worst time in history with regard to the army. Guiding the army as it transitioned to an all-volunteer force, he issued many directives to try to make Army life better and more palatable for United States youth—e.g., allowing soldiers to wear sideburns and to drink beer in the mess hall. However, many hard-liners scorned these as too liberal.


Later years

Westmoreland ran unsuccessfully for Governor of South Carolina as a Republican Party (United States), Republican in the 1974 South Carolina gubernatorial election, 1974 election. He published his autobiography the following year. Westmoreland later served on a task force to improve educational standards in the state of South Carolina. In 1986, Westmoreland served as grand marshal of the Chicago Vietnam Veterans parade. The parade, attended by 200,000 Vietnam veterans and more than half a million spectators, did much to repair the rift between Vietnam veterans and the American public.


Westmoreland versus CBS: ''The Uncounted Enemy''

Mike Wallace interviewed Westmoreland for the CBS special ''The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception''. The documentary, shown on January 23, 1982, and prepared largely by CBS producer George Crile III, alleged that Westmoreland and others had deliberately understated
Viet Cong The Viet Cong ( vi, Việt Cộng; ), officially known as the National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam ( vi, Mặt trận Dân tộc Giải phóng miền Nam Việt Nam), was an armed communist political revolutionary organization in South ...
troop strength during 1967 in order to maintain U.S. troop morale and domestic support for the war. Westmoreland filed a lawsuit against CBS. In ''Westmoreland v. CBS'', Westmoreland sued Wallace and CBS for libel, and a lengthy legal process began. Just days before the lawsuit was to go to the jury, Westmoreland suddenly settled with CBS, and they issued a joint statement of understanding. Some contend that Judge Leval's instructions to the jury over what constituted "actual malice" to prove libel convinced Westmoreland's lawyers that he was certain to lose. Others point out that the settlement occurred after two of Westmoreland's former intelligence officers, Major General Joseph McChristian and Colonel Gains Hawkins, testified to the accuracy of the substantive allegations of the broadcast, which were that Westmoreland ordered changes in intelligence reports on Viet Cong troop strengths for political reasons. Disagreements persist about the appropriateness of some of the methods of CBS's editors. A deposition by McChristian indicates that his organization developed improved intelligence on the number of irregular Viet Cong combatants shortly before he left Vietnam on a regularly scheduled rotation. The numbers troubled Westmoreland, who feared that the press would not understand them. He did not order them changed, but instead did not include the information in reporting to Washington, which in his view was not appropriate to report. Based on later analysis of the information from all sides, it appears clear that Westmoreland could not sustain a libel suit because CBS's principal allegation was that he had caused intelligence officers to suppress facts. Westmoreland's anger was caused by the implication of the broadcast that his intent was fraudulent and that he ordered others to lie. During the acrimonious trial, Mike Wallace was hospitalized for depression, and despite the legal conflict separating the two, Westmoreland and his wife sent him flowers. Wallace's memoir is generally sympathetic to Westmoreland, although he makes it clear he disagreed with him on issues surrounding the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration's policies in Southeast Asia.


Views on Vietnam War

In a 1998 interview for ''George (magazine), George'' magazine, Westmoreland criticized the battlefield prowess of his direct opponent, North Vietnamese general Võ Nguyên Giáp. "Of course, he [Giap] was a formidable adversary", Westmoreland told correspondent W. Thomas Smith, Jr., W. Thomas Smith Jr. "Let me also say that Giap was trained in small-unit, guerrilla tactics, but he persisted in waging a big-unit war with terrible losses to his own men. By his own admission, by early 1969, I think, he had lost, what, a half million soldiers? He reported this. Now such a disregard for human life may make a formidable adversary, but it does not make a military genius. An American commander losing men like that would hardly have lasted more than a few weeks." In the 1974 film ''Hearts and Minds (film), Hearts and Minds'', Westmoreland opined that "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient. And as the philosophy of the Orient expresses it: Life is not important." Westmoreland's view has been heavily criticized by Nick Turse, the author of the book ''Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam''. Turse said that many of the Vietnamese killed were actually innocent civilians, and the Vietnamese casualties were not just caused by military cross-fire but were a direct result of the U.S. policy and tactics, for example the policy "kill everything that moves" which enabled the U.S. soldiers to shoot civilians for "suspicious behavior". He concluded that, after having "spoken to survivors of massacres by United States forces at Phi Phu, Trieu Ai, My Luoc and so many other hamlets, I can say with certainty that Westmoreland's assessment was false". He also accused Westmoreland of concealing evidence of atrocities from the American public when he was the Army Chief of Staff.Nick Turse, Turse, Nick (October 9, 2013)
"For America, Life Was Cheap in Vietnam"
''The New York Times''.
Historian Derek Frisby also criticized Westmoreland's view during an interview with ''Deutsche Welle'': For the remainder of his life, Westmoreland maintained that the United States did not lose the war in Vietnam; he stated instead that "our country did not fulfill its commitment to South Vietnam. By virtue of Vietnam, the U.S. held the line for 10 years and stopped the Domino theory, dominoes from falling."


Personal life

Westmoreland first met his future wife, Katherine (Kitsy) Stevens Van Deusen, while stationed at Fort Sill; she was nine years old at the time and was the daughter of the post executive officer, Colonel Edwin R. Van Deusen. Westmoreland met her again in North Carolina when she was nineteen and a student at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The couple married in May 1947 and had three children: a daughter, Katherine Stevens; a son, James Ripley II, and another daughter, Margaret Childs. Just hours after Westmoreland was sworn in as Army Chief of Staff on July 7, 1968, his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Van Deusen (commander of 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment (United States), 47th Infantry Regiment), was killed when his helicopter was shot down in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Westmoreland died on July 18, 2005, at the age of 91 at the Bishop Gadsden retirement home in Charleston, South Carolina. He had suffered from Alzheimer's disease during the final years of his life. He was buried on July 23, 2005, at the West Point Cemetery,
United States Military Academy The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on ...
. The General William C. Westmoreland Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, is named in his honor. In 1996, the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution authorized the General William C. Westmoreland award. The award is given each year in recognition to an outstanding SAR veterans volunteer. William Westmoreland was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State's highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 1970 in the area of Government.


Major military assignments

*Commander, 34th Field Artillery Battalion, 9th Infantry Division; 1943–1944 *Chief of Staff, 9th Infantry Division; October 13, 1944 to 1946 *Commander, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division; 1946 to 1947 *Chief of Staff, 82d Airborne Division; 1947 to 1950 *Instructor, Army Command and General Staff College; 1950 to 1951 *Student, Army War College; 1951 *Instructor, Army War College; 1951 to November 1952 *187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team; November 1952 to 1953 *Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G–1, for Manpower; 1953 to 1955 *Secretary of the General Staff; 1955 to 1958 *Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division; 1958 to 1960 *Superintendent, United States Military Academy; 1 July 1960 to 27 June 1963 *Commanding General, XVIIIth Airborne Corps; July 1963 to December 1963 *Deputy Commander, United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam; January 1964 to June 1964 *Commander, United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam; June 1964 to June 1968 *Chief of Staff, United States Army; July 3, 1968 to June 30, 1972


Military awards

Westmoreland's military awards include: ;Foreign decorations and awards


Other awards

: Knox Trophy Award, USMA highest military efficiency as a cadet at West Point, 1936.


Dates of rank

United States Military Academy The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on ...
class of 1936

Retired military, Retired from active service in July 1972.


Notes


References

* * * * *


External links

;General *
Westmoreland's political donations


* [https://web.archive.org/web/20060219014216/http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/025/0250204001j.pdf PDF copies of MG McChristian's deposition for the CBS trial]
A biography on William Westmoreland at Encyclopaedia Britannica

MG McChristian's deposition concerning his participation in the documentary and clarifying his observation of the facts

Analysis of the broadcast by Professor Peter Rollins of Oklahoma State University, hosted on Vietnam Veterans website

William C. Westmoreland Collection
US Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
1981 video interview with Westmoreland about U.S. military involvement in Vietnam
* ;Obituaries
Initial report on the death of Westmoreland
from the Associated Press
Obituary: General Commanded Troops in Vietnam
from the ''Washington Post''
Gen. Westmoreland, Who Led U.S. in Vietnam, Dies
from the ''New York Times''
Commander of US forces in Vietnam dies aged 91
from ''The Times''
A general who fought to win
from ''The State (newspaper), The State''
'Westy' recalled as noble, tragic
from ''The State (newspaper), The State''
Farewell salute to a fine soldier
from ''The Washington Times''
General Westmoreland's Death Wish and the War in Iraq
from ''CommonDreams.org'' {{DEFAULTSORT:Westmoreland, William 1914 births 2005 deaths 20th-century American politicians United States Army Chiefs of Staff Superintendents of the United States Military Academy United States Army personnel of World War II United States Army personnel of the Korean War United States Army personnel of the Vietnam War Operation Overlord people Candidates in the 1968 United States presidential election Harvard Business School alumni United States Military Academy alumni Recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal (US Army) Recipients of the Legion of Merit Recipients of the Air Medal Recipients of the National Order of Vietnam, 1 Westmoreland, William Recipients of the Gallantry Cross (Vietnam) Recipients of the Legion of Honour Recipients of the Order of Military Merit (Korea) Commanders of the Order of Sikatuna Recipients of the Croix de Guerre (France) Burials at West Point Cemetery People from Spartanburg County, South Carolina South Carolina Republicans United States Army Command and General Staff College alumni Writers from South Carolina People with Alzheimer's disease Military personnel from South Carolina