The policy and diplomacy of war
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Rule of Engagement, also popularly referred to as ROE, is a leadership model that has been in use since many centuries ago (Davidson, 1991). For example, historical military wars fought before and during the world wars used leadership models that involved written principles with which combat soldiers were guided on rules of engagement. It is beneficial as it allows the lowest level participants in the command chain to make decisions that are consistent with the mission as described by ranks at higher level in the command chain (Moss, 2010). ROE promotes the accomplishment of the mission, conformity with policy and law, as well as force protection. However, ROE can be expensive due to the rigidity in terms of actions that are to be conducted and the way they are to be accomplished. The mission of American military in the Vietnam War was conducted with the rules of engagement, regarding the chain of command (Moss, 2010). Individual soldiers in the field; battalion commanders; division commanders; General William Westmoreland; Defense Secretary Robert McNamara; and President Lyndon Johnson. Individual Soldiers in the Field
The infantry soldiers in the Vietnam War were being given orders by the battalion commanders. They are accountable for the execution of the mission and activities in the manner planned and guided by the combatant commanders (Global Security, n.d.). In the lower-level soldiers’ perspective, the limited war ideology never had much meaning as their major concern was carrying out the job that assigned to them and making sure that they guard their lives. The world politics issues and the mission magnificent strategy were minor to their direct strategies of protecting their lives and that of their friends (Davidson, 1991). The ROE made the Combat soldiers’ war hard as they thought that the rules that the higher command levels set up never allowed them to fight as active as they had wanted (Moss, 2010). Battalion Commanders
From the bottom of the command chain, the battalion commanders came second during the Vietnam War. The battalion commanders were responsible for making the daily resolutions for the ground soldiers (Sorley, 2011; Moss, 2010). Regarding the other levels, they had a great operational freedom, as determined by the operations and the type of force they had. During the Vietnam War, the military scholars have recognized Colonel David Hackworth as being among the best leaders. Even though he respected ROE under the direction of the higher-level officers, he bended the rules every time it was necessary to make his fighting units effective; while, simultaneously, pleasing the Division Commanders. For example, he sometimes applied the guerrilla tactics that the National Liberation Front was using. Division Commanders
From the bottom of the command chain, the division commanders came third. They were under the direction of the American General that was in command of the War (Davidson, 1991). Generally, combat engagements in the Vietnam War happened at the company and team levels and occasionally at the divisional level (Sorley, 2011). The commander led divisions conducted operations involving keeping their team and companies on patrols. Regarding the ROE, the division commanders were seen as obstruction to the operations of the units’ combat as they had a great responsibility and accountability requirement for institutional policies (Global Security, n.d.). This limited their decision making scope as well as freedom in controlling the war.
General William Westmoreland
The American General William Westmoreland became the United States military operations’ Commander in charge between 1964 and 1968 in the Asian country (Sorley, 2011). He is the one who had complete responsibility of the War. Actually, he was completely responsible for the grand strategy’s failure. During the war period, he was needed to update the then Defense Secretary on the war progress (Sorley, 2011). His role was to supervise the mission and execute the government’s decisions that were passed down to him via the Defense Secretary (Moss, 2010). He felt that through the use of large-unit battles, artillery, and air power, the National Liberation Front might be defeated. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara
He carried the government’s decisions and directed General William Westmoreland on the actions to be taken, regarding the US’s plan for the War (Moss, 2010; Sorley, 2011). He was also the one to inform the president on the battlefield situation as notified by the US General. Secretary McNamara stated later that the strategy became futile because the US underrate the mission, predominantly ignoring the consequence of the challenges that were being experienced by the military on the ground (Global Security, n.d.). The US supported the South Vietnam government, even though that government was undemocratic and detested by the people. The US forces had a considerable impact during the Vietnam War following his recommendation to mobilize the National Guard. President Lyndon Johnson
He was the one at the top of the Command Chain during the Vietnam War, and he made the final resolution regarding the grand strategy (Davidson, 1991). The ROE model draw backs were evident in the War as the President decided not to assemble the national troops meant for the Vietnam War despite the Secretary McNamara’s recommendation that requested the president to rally 235,000 reserves and national guards (Moss, 2010; Sorley, 2011). The president thought that when the National Guard is sent, the US’s strategy would be exposed to the Chinese, and could negatively affect the US’s intervention during the War. Additionally, the President was also mindful about making use of the national forces as he feared they might be required to battle the Korean War if it erupted again (Global Security, n.d.). The President felt that the Vietnam War was unimportant and would be over within a year. Conclusion
The ROE is beneficial as it allows the lowest level participants in the command chain to make decisions that are consistent with the mission as described by ranks at higher level in the command chain (Moss, 2010). ROE promotes the accomplishment of the mission, conformity with policy and law, as well as force protection. However, ROE can be expensive due to the rigidity in terms of actions that are to be conducted and the way they are to be accomplished. In Vietnam, every American unit from the infantry soldier to the division level were obliged to understand and take action according to the rules of engagement from the Vietnamese US Army headquarters (Moss, 2010). The limited war ideology is linked belligerent international actions as it guarantees political correctness of the actions and procedures taken by the military. The ideology is vital for national mission, policy, and security actions as it defines legitimate actions that can be taken. It also defines national security and offers the context wherein decisions concerning policy are made. Conversely, on the subject of the limitations intrinsic in the ROE, historical intricacies like those observed in the Vietnam War have to be taken seriously.
Davidson, P. (1991). Vietnam at War: The History, 1946-1975. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Global Security. (n.d.). Chapter 8: Rules of Engagement. Retrieved May 28, 2014, from Global Security: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/27-100/chap8.htm Moss, G. (2010). Vietnam: An American Ordeal. New York: Peachpit Press. Sorley, L. (2011). Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcour.