VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO HAMLET BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

The hamlet of Duc Bang next to the Cambodian border is part of the new strategic village concept. The plan is to arm and train the local villagers to defend themselves. During Tet the American and ARVN troops at the hamlet are withdrawn to fight the attacks. The local VC make their move and attack finding villagers left with old obsolete WWII weapons. They kill the men and destroy the bunkers build. The high command sends Mack Gerber in to rebuild the hamlet and train the villagers. Instead he finds a demoralized population that wants nothing to do with him. Meanwhile a battalion of VC are gathering to destroy the Americans.

The action in this book takes place around the hamlet of Duc Bang. Such an obscene sounding name in English. It explores the strategic village initiative. The idea to make the Vietnamese more self sufficient in the war and not dependent on the American military. A solid plan on paper but not very successful. The local villagers bug out because they know there is an attack coming leaving the Americans all alone to face it. A general at the end brings out a Congressional delegation to show how successful the program is while withholding the basic failure. Yet he knows its a failure but continues to sell it. Vietnamization is popular and nothing is allowed to rock the boat on the concept so everyone goes about with the delusion of its success. This story illustrates the politics that interfered with sound judgement during this war. A very good story.

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