War on the cheap: U.S. military advisors in Greece, Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam
O’Lavin, Brian P.
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Following the Second World War, theUnited States assumed the mantle of world leadership from Great Britain and faced two concurrent pressures on the world order: communism and anti-colonialism. Confronted with the responsibility of containing the global menace, President Harry Truman promised U.S. military advice and assistance to free nations fighting against oppression. An analysis of the U.S. advisory missions in Greece, Korea, and the Philippines shows a pattern of perceived success that overshadowed the operational and strategic environments in which these missions took place. This pattern contributed to a misguided belief that advisors would be sufficient to fix South Vietnam’s fundamental flaws. Unable to persuade South Vietnam to implement changes that would make it more effective, but unwilling to walk away, Washington stayed the advisory course in Vietnam when all signs were pointing toward its inability to affect the internal situation’s most critical elements. In Vietnam, theUnited States discovered that the model it had previously tested—and perhaps thought perfected—failed in the face of the most motivated anti-colonialist communist foe it faced during the Cold War. This paper challenges the contemporary mythology of America’s early advisory efforts and the true efficacy of advisors in general.
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