The Wars for Viet Nam

Senator Long of Louisiana (D. – La.) discusses the War in Vietnam with General Maxwell Taylor 1966 Senate Foreign Relations Committee – Hearings Eighty-ninth Congress, Second session January 28; February 4, 8, 10, 17, and 18, 1966

SUPPLEMENTAL FOREIGN ASSISTANCE FISCAL YEAR 1966 – VIETNAM

U.S. Government Printing Office Washington : 1966

pp. 516 - 518

“ . . . Senator LONG. General, I have here our treaty – we signed the treaty, we signed the protocol agreeing to help protect these people. Here is an act of Congress. I admit two Senators voted against it – one of them is a member of this committee who has never changed his mind from that day to this.

Senator MORSE. Proud of it.

Senator LONG. Here is an act of Congress that says we regard this as falling within that SEATO treaty. We have reported the matter to the Security Council. The Congress does not want to have the first thing to do with it. And here I quote from the opinion by the most outstanding teachers of international law in America, 20 of them. They all say everything we are doing is completely legal and the way it ought to be.

We have fought the war in Korea, with you a general in charge of the whole Army over there, without a declaration of war at all. But in this case we told the Congress what we were going to do. The Communists attacked us. We fought back just as the treaty obligated us to do. We reported the matter to the United Nations. We sent our troops in. And our allies who signed the treaty, many of them sent their troops in. We passed an act of Congress that says that here is the treaty, here is the act, and here is the act of aggression, and we now agree in compliance with this treaty this is what we ought to do.

Now, it may be that I can’t convince one Senator – but I would be willing to put this to any section of the American Bar Association, even though they don’t specialize in this, and I have no doubt whatever that what we are doing is exactly what it ought to be.

Let me ask a question. Do you think we are the international bad guy or the international good guy? What is your opinion on that?

General TAYLOR. I hope we are the international good guys. We certainly intend to be.

DIVISIONS FIGHTING IN VIETNAM

Senator LONG. Well – General, may I ask this. Of course, I started out this morning discussing some of the units that were fighting for this country overseas. I think in honor to those men I should not leave out these divisions. They are fighting for our country, to uphold our obligation to uphold freedom in Vietnam.

One is the 3d Marine Amphibious Force, which is composed of the 3d Marine Division, major elements of the 1st Marine Division, and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, plus supporting elements, a total of 40, 000 men.

None of these units listed have ever suffered defeat in combat with enemy forces. They might have perhaps lost some men with a little patrol, but no major elements of these units has ever been defeated by the enemy in the history of the United States of America. As you know, they are a very old outfit.

General TAYLOR. That goes for the 101st Airborne.

Senator LONG. In the Army, the 1st Cavalry Airmobile, the 1st Infantry Division, a very old outfit—the 173d Air Borne Brigade, the 1st Brigade of 101 –that is your old outfit, General, the 101st Airborne Division. Certain major elements of the 25th Infantry Division. None of these units listed has ever suffered defeat in combat with enemy forces.

General TAYLOR. They are all proud historic units, Senator, and they are displaying, on the battlefield in South Vietnam, the same qualities they have in other wars.

Senator LONG. I heard --I hope before this is over we will have a chance to hear from the mouth of General Westmoreland -- that this is man for man the finest Army that the United States ever put into combat with anybody, and that they are the best equipped Army the United States ever put into combat.

Now, you made the statement, General, and there has been some question about it, that the Communists say that they defeated the French at Paris, not Dien Bien Phu, because when these boys were surrounded and cut off, the French Government would not draft Frenchmen to send in to save these boys.

I heard--and if it is not correct I would like to be corrected--that those courageous volunteers at Dien Bien Phu stood there and shot these Communists down until a big moat in front of them was completely filled with bodies, and those hordes of numbers kept coming at them until they just marched across the dead bodies that filled the moat, to kill and capture these courageous Frenchmen fighting there.

Now, would you like to see any of these elements that I have mentioned, any one of these courageous divisions of American fighting men, surrounded and defeated, humiliated, killed, and made to surrender because this country would not give them the help that they needed?

General TAYLOR. Well, I hope that day will never come, Senator.

Senator LONG. Would you like to see Old Glory pulled down over the 1st Marine Division or the 101st Airborne and a white flag of surrender run up there?

General TAYLOR. No, Sir.

Senator LONG. Do you think those young men over there want to be brought home on anything less than honorable terms?

General TAYLOR. They would deeply resent any settlement which nullified their gallant efforts.

EXPANSION OF COMMUNIST AGGRESSION

Senator LONG. Are you of the opinion, General, that if we do not resist Communist aggression here, we are going to have to resist it somewhere closer to home?

General TAYLOR. There is no question in my mind, sir.

Senator LONG. Well, that is my judgment, that these people have planned to take over everything that borders on Red China, everything that bordcrs on the Soviet Union, then everything that borders on everything that borders on that. They are already leapfrogging into Latin America and Africa. And if we have not got the courage to stand up here, where we have got all -- where we are inflicting 10 casualties for every 1 we are taking, and our Nation is 10 times as big as theirs – if we cannot stand fast here, are you sure we can hold Florida against Castro?

General TAYLOR. Your point is very well taken, Senator. South Vietnam, far from being a difficult place in which to apply our military strength, is relatively favorable. It has a long seacoast, which allows us to use our Navy and naval air. It is now well equipped with airfields, so we can use our land base there effectively. We can get our supplies in easily. So while it may be 8,000 miles from home, geographically it is not an unfavorable theater.

Senator LONG. General, you have made a magnificent witness here today. I don’t think I have heard a better witness testify in this room, and I would include in that General Douglas MacArthur, who was the most moving witness I ever heard testify here. When he said that he would not advocate a war on the land of China, a major land war on China, he did not advocate that. He was saying at that time that he nevertheless advocated that we fight and win in Korea, was he not?

General TAYLOR. Yes, sir.

Senator LONG. And you were over there at the time to know about this.

General TAYLOR. Yes, sir.

Senator LONG. You were one of his officers.

COMPARISON WITH U.S. MILITARY POSITION IN KOREA

Now, do you find our military position in Vietnam any more difficult than the position that General MacArthur at that time had and that you had in Korea?

General TAYLOR. No, sir; quite different. There were assets and liabilities. It was really a miracle that the ill-equipped, ill-trained divisions that we threw into Korea were able to dam the invasion from the north. In South Vietnam we have excellent units, as the points you have been making. We do have a different kind of war, a more diffused war, and in some sense of the word more difficult to wage. But when they add the pros and cons together I can see little difference in the problem that we have in South Vietnam as against that in Korea, in terms of overall difficulty.

Senator LONG. General, I don’t have the good fortune to have a son. I have two daughters of whom I am very, very proud. But if I had a son and he died in Vietnam, would you feel that boy died in vain?

General TAYLOR. No, sir.

Senator LONG. Do you have a son, General?

General TAYLOR. I am very proud of having a captain in the infantry, in the 101st Airborne Division. He is in action up the coast from Saigon.

Senator LONG. He is in Vietnam fighting for his country right now.

General TAYLOR. Yes, sir. . . . .”