Limited war as an ideology depended on a number of assumptions that limited what results could be achieved at the practical level. The standing rules of engagement (ROE) were the practical expression of limited war ideology at the battlefield command and execution level. Think expansively and generatively about the impact of limited war ideology and then discuss these questions with other students:
•Within the concept of limited war, what would constitute the “winning” of the Vietnam War?
•What sort of successful outcomes would measure the win?
•How would we ever know if we had won it?
And then, what was the glue that held the limited war concept together with all its difficulties of thought and application?
Limited warfare called for the gradual application of economic and military assistance, diplomatic pressure, covert operations, and military force at the site of insurrections (Moss, 2010). During the Vietnam War, winning was waged based on lives lost on either side of the war. Based on this, the US was ahead in less lives lost. Truthfully, ending the war with a free and independent South Vietnam would have constituted a true win. According to Moss (2010), a major reason that the war was not won is due to the US reliance on conventional strategy against adversaries who employed unconventional war strategies that enabled them to fight a protracted war and avoid defeat at the hands of a much more powerful army (p. 164).
Moss, G. (2010). Vietnam, an American ordeal. (6th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458: Prentice Hall