Chaos, Clausewitz, and combat: a critical analysis of operational planning in the Vietnam War, 1966-1971

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Authors
Womack, Scott Ellis
Subjects
Advisors
Moran, Daniel
Eyre, D.P.
Date of Issue
1995-12
Date
December 1995
Publisher
Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School
Language
en_US
Abstract
What can theory tell us about war and the role of planning therein? This thesis attempts to answer that question by using Carl von Clausewitz's theories on war and the mathematical theory of chaos to analyze war in general and the Vietnam War in particular. It offers a critical analysis of operational planning conducted by the United States Military Assistance Command - Vietnam (MACV) during the years of greatest involvement by American forces, 1966-1971. Viewing war through the dual lenses of Clausewitz and chaos theory, it argues that war tends toward one of two ideal types, conventional or popular. This typology of war is the result of the interplay of its essential components, which are described by Clausewitz and correspond to a characteristic of a chaotic system. Conventional and popular wars are qualitatively distinct and require qualitatively differentiated responses. The thesis further argue that the Vietnam War displayed the characteristics of a popular war during the 1966 - 1971 time frame. Lastly, it argues that the operational planning conducted by MACV failed to account for the popular nature of the Vietnam War and exacerbated the deteriorating situation facing it by pursuing policies more suited to a conventional war.
Type
Thesis
Description
Series/Report No
Department
National Security Affairs (NSA)
Organization
Identifiers
NPS Report Number
Sponsors
Funder
NA
Format
151 p.
Citation
Distribution Statement
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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