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AD-A253 440 

Countemarcotics Campaign Planning 
A Basis for Success or a Malaise for the 


A Monograph 

Major Michael F. DeMayo m 



AUG 3 1SB2 


School of Advanced Military Studies 
United States Army Command and General Staff College 
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 

\ Second Term AY 91-92 J 

Approved for Pofatic Release; Disthbutioo is UnUmited a 


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4. mil ANO SUBTIILE . „ . _ _ 

Counternarcotics Campaign Planning: A Basis For Success 

or a Malaise For the Military? 


i. Aumoms) 

MAJ Michael F. DeMayo III, USA 

School of Advanced Military Studies 

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 66027-6900 
Com (913) 684-3437 Av 552-3437 







Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited. 

13. ABSTRACT (Minimum 100 wards) 

See Attached 






War on Drugs 
Drug War 

Weinberger Doctrine 


I aMied 


I Unclassified 







Standard Form JIB (Rav. 2-89) 
PrtwtbM fct an« ltd. 
if a-•« J 


4S pages. 

This monograph examines the validity of the comparison 
between the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict and the 
ongoing war on drugs. With the implosion of Soviet-styled 
communism, many American have come to view illicit drug use 
and the violence it fosters as the greatest threat to the 
U.S. Since the mid-SG*s, the U.S. Government has enacted 
legislation and adopted a strategy to include military 
support in this war effort. Some polemicists and political 
scientists have been critical of the mi 1itarization of U.S. 
programs, and compared them to the U.S. experience in 

The monograph first establishes the linkage between the 
strategic, operational and tactical levels of war. In doing 
so, the monograph relies on the classical theorist, Carl von 
Clausewitz, whose trinitarian model and center of gravity 
concept are essential to this preparation. For doctrinal 
consonance with Clausewitz* model, the monograph uses the 
Weinberger Doctrine on "The Uses of Military Power," as well 
as TRADQC PAM 11-9 and FM U3<3-5 . The next two sections 
dissect both the U.S, involvement in Vietnam and the war on 
drugs using the theoretical and doctrinal framework 
previously laid out. 

The monograph concludes that there is a sound basis to 
compare U.S. involvement in Vietnam with the war on drugs. 

U.S. strategic thinking in the war on drugs remains flawed. 
The implications for failing to address the true center of 
gravity of the drug war—domestic demand for illicit 
narcotics—may be disastrous for the nation. Fortunately, 
senior U.S. military leaders remain steadfastly opposed to 
expanding the military’s role in the war on drugs. 

i i 

Countemarcotics Campaign Planning 

A Basis for Success or a Malaise for the 


A Monograph 

Major Michael F. DeMayo m 

School of Advanced Military Studies 
United States Army Command and General Staff College 
Fort Leavenworth, kansas 

Second Term AY 91-92 

Approved for Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited 




Major Michael F. DeMavo III 

Title of Monograph: Counternarcotics Campaign Planninn—A 

Basis for Success or a Malaise For the 
Mi 1 itarv? __ 

COL/James R. McDonough, 

.Director, School of 
Advanced Mi1it ary 

J /£ndu+- 

Phflip J.* Brookes, Ph. D. 

.Director, Graduate 
Degree Program 


Accepted this. 


.day of. 


Aceeaaloa For 

i^TI? OSiAI 
1*4 C t aB 




District lea/ 

Availability Codes 
Avail and/or 




49 pages. 

This monograph examines the validity of the comparison 
between the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict and the 
ongoing war on drugs. With the implosion of Soviet-styled 
communism, many American have come to view illicit drug use 
and the violence it fosters as the greatest threat to the 
U.S. Since the mid-80's, the U.S. Government has enacted 
legislation and adopted a strategy to include military 
support in this war effort. Some polemicists and political 
scientists have been critical of the militarization of U.S. 
programs, and compared them to the U.S. experience in 

The monograph first establishes the linkage between the 
strategic, operational and tactical levels of war. In doing 
so, the monograph relies on the classical theorist, Carl von 
Clausewitz, whose trinitarian model and center of gravity 
concept are essential to this preparation. For doctrinal 
consonance with Clausewitz* model, the monograph uses the 
Weinberger Doctrine on "The Uses of Military Power,” as well 
as TRADQC PAM 11-9 and FM 100—5 . The next two sections 
dissect both the U.S, involvement in Vietnam and the war on 
drugs using the theoretical and doctrinal framework 
previously laid out. 

The monograph concludes that there is a sound basis to 
compare U.S. involvement in Vietnam with the war on drugs. 
U.S. strategic thinking in the war on drugs remains flawed. 
The implications for failing to address the true center of 
gravity of the drug war—domestic demand for illicit 
narcotics—may be disastrous for the nation. Fortunately, 
senior U.S. military leaders remain steadfastly opposed to 
expanding the military’s role in the war on drugs. 

Table of Contents 


Section I. Intnod uction 1 

Section II. Theoretical and Doctrinal Foundations 3 

Section III. Vietnam Case Study Illustration S 

Section IV. The War on Drugs 27 

Section V. Conclusions and Implications 37 

Endnotes 41 




The implosion of Soviet—style communism over the past six 
years has eliminated the foundation of forty-five years of 
Cold War planning. The demise of the comfortable paradigm of 
East-West confrontat ion, too often viewed by the United 
States in stark ideological terms, has unveiled a "realpoli- 
tik" view of international affairs. This realpolitik reveals 
reborn nationalism to be rising in many countries world¬ 
wide. In some countries, irridentist nationalism presents a 
serious threat to peace and democratization. In other coun¬ 
tries, traris-national economic interests confront rising 
nationalism, resulting in a perception by these populations 
that their nation’s government cannot manage its economy. 
Almost inevitably then, economic protectionism asserts 
itself as another variant of rising nationalism. 

Each of these nationalist tendencies, irridentism and 
protectionism, bodes ill for regional stability. Neverthe¬ 
less, they are the natural products of the concluded Cold 
War. The rise of irridentism among formerly suppressed 
peoples is not surprising and may lead to internecine border 
wars in any number of world regions. Likewise, the disap¬ 
pearance of the powerful Soviet menace must be expected to 
loosen the ties which bind western allies, especially 
regarding economic protectionism. 

Neither of these nationalist tendencies appears to 


threaten vital U. S. interests now or in the near future. 
Irridentism tends to be regionally localized far from U. S. 
shores. Protectionism will likely continue to be addressed 
diplomatically and electorally. Towards what threat, then, 
can the United States focus her military forces? 

Coincident with the implosion of Soviet communism, many 
Americans began to assess the "state of the union" in peri¬ 
odicals and on talk shows. The explosion of violent crime in 
America was highlighted in many media forums. Much of the 
violent crime has been accurately attributed to expanding 
illegal drug operations. By the mid-1980*s, a well developed 
cocaine trafficking network was in operation. It had evolved 
in the 1970*s, with its source primarily in the South Ameri¬ 
can Andean nations of Columbia, Peru and Bolivia. The inward 
focus of Americans (another by-product of the Cold War) led 
more of them, by late 1989, to label illegal drugs "as the 
number—one threat to the country."* It is primarily against 
the cocaine cartels of these Andean nations that the U.S. 
Government has directed its armed forces to operate. 

At the governmental level, President Reagan, and later 
President Bush, committed ever increasing resources towards 
countering the drug threat. These resources came in many 
forms—from a national "drug czar”, to directing a greater 
role for the U.S. military both in Latin America’s Andean 
nations and interdicting drug shipments by air and sea. The 
means by which the U.S. is approaching the drug problem 


continue to be debated widely in this country. The expansion 
of the U.S. military’s role in what the President and the 
media have dubbed, "the War on Drugs," garnishes a huge 
share of the debate. Some polemicists and professionals have 
compared the U.S. approach to this undeclared "war on drugs" 
to a similarly unsuccessful effort in Vietnam a quarter 
cent ury ago. 

This monograph shall examine the validity of this compar¬ 
ison. I intend to identify the theoretical linkage between 
the strategic, operational and tactical levels of war as 
well as highlight the tenets of the Weinberger Doctrine. I 
expect to show how the probability of success in securing 
U.S. strategic aims by direct military means is increased 
when this linkage exists and the tenets are met. I shall 
then utilize the case history of the Second Indochina War 
(Vietnam) to illustrate the plausibility of the conclusion 
drawn from theory and doctrine. Then, using the same critet— 
ia, I shall analyze the "war" on drugs. I shall accompany my 
conclusions regarding this comparison with implications for 
the conduct of the war on drugs. 


The classical theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, established 
a model for the conduct of war. In the concluding pages of 
book one, chapter one of Ori War . Clausewitz laid down the 



model* s found at ion. First, he stated, "war is not a mere act 
of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of 
political activity by other means.'"* Second, he postulated 
that war is always dominated by the interaction of three 
dominant tendencies, "primordial violence,... the play of 
chance...within which the creative spirit may roam, and... 
policy, which makes Cwarl subject to reason alone."* 
Clausewitz proceeded, within the context of these two 
cornerstones, to develop his theory for war. 

The first of Clausewitz* cornerstones demands a 
"fai—reaching act of Judgment" from a nation’s political and 
military leadership. 1 * Success in war is more likely when 
the nation’s leaders have clearly formulated the political 
aims for which they will commit their country’s resources. 
This judgment is the strategic level of war which ought to 
provide the strategic vision for war prosecution. a 

Clausewitz states that the expenditure of resources by 
either opponent in war is related directly to the importance 
of the political aims on each side.* These aims are the pro¬ 
duct of the interaction of primordial violence, reason, and 
chance—the three dominant tendencies within each nation. 
That is to say, the interaction which exists in every nation 
among its people (economically, socially, politically, and 
informationally), its government, and its armed forces re¬ 
sults in a dynamic tension whose product acts "like an ob¬ 
ject suspended between three magnets." r The conditions 


within which these dominant tendencies interact are rarely 
the same within each adversarial nation, so that uncertain¬ 
ty intrudes upon the process. Each nation remains uncertain 
as to the other’s "strength of will,... character and 
abilities."® These uncertainties regarding the product of 
this dynamic tension within a given nation, and the impact 
of that product in motivating the strategic aims of that na¬ 
tion, sow uncertainty regarding the level of effort to be 
made by an adversarial nation. Nevertheless, a nation’s 
political and senior military leaders must articulate their 
strategic war aims. Yet these aims should remain constrained 
by what a nation’s people will support and by what its armed 
forces can achieve.® 

From these political aims, which are at the heart of 
strategic vision, the nation’s military must deduce opera¬ 
tional level objectives and develop a plan for a campaign or 
major operation which will attain those strategic war aims. 
According to FM 100-5 . "a campaign is a series of joint ac¬ 
tions designed to attain a strategic objective, while the 
coordinated action of large forces in a single phase of a 
campaign is a major operation."*• The campaign (or major 
operation) provides the linkage between the strategic war 
aim and the operational level commander who has been allo¬ 
cated the resources to wage war. 41 In the formulation of the 
campaign plan, the operational level commander faces three 


<1> What military condition roust be produced. .. to 
achieve the strategic goal? 

<2) What sequence of actions is roost likely to 
produce that condition? 

<3> How should the resources... be applied to 
accomplish that sequence of actions?* 1 * 

Essential to answering these questions in the design of a 
campaign is the analysis which identifies the enemy center 
of gravity. 

FM 100-5 defines the center of gravity as "that charac¬ 
teristic, capability, or locality from which the force de¬ 
rives its freedom of action, physical strength, or will to 
f ight. "*•" Clausewitz first labeled this term and refined it 
to mean "the hub of all power and movement, on which every¬ 
thing depends. This is the point against which all our en¬ 
ergies should be directed. " *■* Later in book eight, 

Clausewitz ties this notion of center of gravity to his 
first principle of operational planning, "that the ultimate 
substance of enemy strength must be traced back to the few¬ 
est possible sources, and ideally to one alone."** Destruc¬ 
tion of the enemy center of gravity should increase a na¬ 
tion’s probability of achieving its strategic war aims. 

Once an enemy’s center of gravity is determined, the 
operational level commander establishes the military condi¬ 
tions within which tactical eng-’jement s will be fought. Suc¬ 
cessful tactical engagements may offer opportunities for 
operational exploitation and the rapid attainment of the 
nation’s strategic war aims. With rapid victory in mind, 


Clausewitz added: 

no conquest cari be carried out too quickly, arid 
that to spread it over a loriger period than the 
minimum needed to complete it makes it not less 
difficult, but more. 1 * 

The waste of time by a stronger nation may forfeit "special 

advantages" to the weaker side, and ultimately render 

success, by that stronger nation, impossible.* r 

Turning to our own time, Clausewitz' trinitarian theory 

survives in the context of an ongoing national debate about 

the use of U.S. military power. Coming to grips with this 

issue several years ago, former Secretary of Defense 

Weinberger asked himself a very Clausewitz—1ike question. 

Under what circumstances and by what means does... 

Cour nation! reach the... decision that the use of 
military force is necessary to protect our 
interests or to carry out our national policy?" 1 * 

The tenets with which Mr. Weinberger responded are, like hi 
question, very Clausewitzian. The commitment of U.S. 
military forces must: 

1. be to secure vital national strategic aims, 

2. be with adequate resources to achieve the 
strategic aims, 

3. be to achieve clearly defined political and 
military objectives, 

4. include a continual reassessment of the 
objectives sought and the size, composition, and 
disposition of committed forces, 

5. be reasonably assured of congressional support 
and the support of the American people, 

6. assure that the commitment of U.S. forces into 
combat is a last resort. 

The first tenet corresponds to Clausewitz* concept that the 


decision to wage war requires a "far reaching act of 
judgment" by a nation’s political and military leadership.** 
Indeed, Clausewitz goes so far as to say that no nation 
should prosecute a war without first possessing a clear un¬ 
derstanding of its aims and "how... Cthe nation! intends to 
conduct ...Cthe war!."* 1 The second and fourth tenets ad¬ 
dress Clausewitz’ notion that the "scale of a nation’s 
effort" and the forces available "must be adequate" to 
achieve the aims desired.** Tenet three correlates directly 
to Clausewitz’ guidance that the war’s strategic aim must be 
linked to its operational conduct.** The fifth tenet acknow¬ 
ledges the essential interplay of the three dominant tenden¬ 
cies. Lastly, former Secretary Weinberger’s sixth tenet un¬ 
derwrites a fundamental American attitude which can be found 
in Clausewitz’ seminal statement that "war is no pastime... 
it is a serious means to a serious end."** Taken in its U.S. 
context, this means that U.S. military force will be the 
final strategic policy course of action adopted by the U.S. 

Both Clausewitz and Weinberger are providing important 
guidance to political and military leaders. Their theoreti¬ 
cal concepts and doctrinal ideas tell national leaders to be 
wary of committing a nation to war. A nation, by their 
views, should take a systematic and reasoned approach to the 
decision to wage war. This decision must fully consider the 
demands of the theoretical and doctrinal tenets discussed 


above. In doing so, the nation will increase its probability 
of success in attaining its strategic war aims because the 
reasoned dialogue leading to the decision should have ad¬ 
dressed the uncertainties of the body politic within that 
nation.** To examine an historical case where this consider¬ 
ation was applied this monograph will dissect the American 
involvement in Vietnam. 


America’s vital national interests during four and a half 
decades of the post-WW II era were tied, inexorably, to the 
Cold War. They evolved out of George Kerman’s 1947 article, 
"The Sources of Soviet Conduct," and were reinforced by the 
"who lost China" debate which followed in the wake of Mao’s 
success in 1949. That policy became known as "Containment,” 
viewed a monolithic communist block bent on the destruction 
of democracy and world hegemony, and ultimately found ex¬ 
pression in NSC 6Q.** An examination of the trinitarian de¬ 
bate concerning U.S. involvement in Vietnam offers a useful 
way to examine the theoretical admonitions of Clausewitz and 
Weinberger, as well as how U. S. strategic aims related to 
operational objectives there. 

Overshadowing the pragmatism of Truman’s Secretary of 
State, George C. Marshall, was his Undersecretary, Dean 
Acheson. Acheson was supported by his persuasive Assistant 


for Far Eastern Affairs, Dean Rusk. The invasion of South 
Korea in June 1950 confirmed this group’s belief in monoli¬ 
thic communism. Together these men persuaded President 
Truman and the U.S. Congress that the civil war in Indochina 
had "been captured by the CSovietD Politburo" and was "part 
of an international war." S7 This was in contravention of 
1948 department estimates "that 'the Vietnamese Communists 
are not subservient’ to Kremlin directives."* 4 * Yet the more 
current position held sway. As President Truman stated, "we 
were seeing a pattern in Indochina timed to coincide with 
the attack in Korea as a challenge to the Western World."*®'® 
In fact, NSC documents 48/2 <Dec ’49) and 64 <Feb *50 
out 1ined: 

It is important to U.S. security interests that all 
practical measures be taken to prevent further 
communist expansion in Southeast Asia. Indo-China 
is a key. .. and is under immediate threat." 

Thus, Truman’s Administration established the strategic aim 
which would dominate the U. S. for nearly half a century. 

In fulfilling its strategic policy of worldwide communist 
containment the Truman administration began military aid to 
those nations which it viewed as being at risk. This view of 
monolithic communism seems to have led to programs of "in¬ 
stinctive support... everywhere...without much regard for... 
and...with little knowledge of the Indochina situation." 3 ‘ 

In Indochina this involved the establishment of a U.S. mili¬ 
tary assistance and advisory group. During the Truman years 


this MAAG was primarily responsible "for logistic support to 
the French, as they retained the training and operational 
missions. By the time of the crisis at Oienbienphu, however, 
U.S. support grew to providing three-fourths of French 
costs.** Even worse though, the U.S., quite unknowingly, 
became "tarnished with the same stamp as French colonial¬ 
ism. "- 31 - 3 Nevertheless, this support to France in Indochina 
was viewed as vital to sustain Western solidarity in a 
Europe confronting the Soviet threat. 

The 1954 French crisis at Oienbienphu triggered the 
dialogue which would try to match U.S. operational actions 
with U.S. strategic policy on Indochina. The impending 
French debacle followed scarcely fourteen months into the 
Eisenhower Presidency, and less than a year after the U.S. 
concluded truce talks between South and North Korea. Secre¬ 
tary of State Dulles’ preserved the idea of monolithic com¬ 
munism while fretting that the French would default Indo¬ 
china to the United States. 3 * The Joint Chiefs were divided, 
with Admiral Radford and General Twining favoring strategic 
bombing support for the French, while General Ridgway op¬ 
posed any direct military action on the asian mainland. It 
was at this time, in March 1954, that the army chief of 
staff stated that "Indochina is devoid of decisive military 
objectives’ and...'would be a serious diversion of limited 
U.S. capabi 1 it ies. "- 3 * Nevertheless, other factors weighed 
into the balance and sustained U.S. policy ties to South 



In the early 1350’s, some prominent U. S. citizens had 
•formed favorable impressions of Ngo Dinh Diem, a former and 
•future key leader in South Vietnam. This man, characterized 
as "an ascetic Catholic steeped in Confucian tradition, a 
mixture of monk and mandarin," spent over two years in ftrnei— 
ica. J,r Prior to his departure in May 1353, he had befriended 
Senators Mansfield and Kennedy. Mr. Diem had argued his 
anti-communist, anti-French colonialist position to each of 
these Americans and gained vocal allies.** 

In July 1354, the Soviet brokered Geneva talks over Indo¬ 
china divided Vietnam, emplaced Ngo Dinh Diem as Prime Mini¬ 
ster in the south, and assured French security forces in the 
south until national elections could be held in July 1356.** 
Over the next ten months "other factors" played an important 
role in U.S. strategic policy making for Southeast Asia. 

Despite their internal division over employing military 
power to aid the French, the Joint Chiefs opposed any 
assumption of a larger U.3. presence in South Vietnam. In 
this opposition, they were affirmed in late 1354 by General 
J. Lawton Collins whose assessment of Diem declared that he 
and his government were "hopeless."'** The State Department’s 
opposition to the military view was seconded by the influen¬ 
tial Senator Mansfield. By insisting on support for Diem, 
Dulles alienated the French, who also viewed Diem as a 
loser, and triggered their complete withdrawal from Indo— 


china earlier than scheduled. President Eisenhower, who 
seemed to be keenly aware of the necessity for balance among 
the dominant tendencies of Clausewitz' trinity, would not 
consider any unilateral U.S. intervention outside of a 
strong allied coalition or without Congressional support. 41 
However, he chose a middle course and continued aid to the 
Diem government. 

Early in 1355, the Eisenhower Administration sought to 
fulfill strategic policy by assuming responsibi1ity to train 
the Army of Vietnam <ARVN>. Over the next four years, the 
U.S. MAAG organized and trained ARVN to oppose a convention¬ 
al invasion from the north. Many of the U.S. advisors sent 
to Vietnam were not prepared for their MAAG duties. They 
neither possessed language skills nor did they receive any 
other training which would familiarize them with Vietnam’s 
history and culture, much less the nature of the struggle. 
Similarly, counterinsurgency training was ignored. Yet the 
U.S. MAAG persevered and accomplished its mission, which was 
to train the ARVN to repel a conventional attack from the 
nort h. •* <Br 

Concurrent with this U.S. MAAG presence, the Viet Cong, 
as a part of phase I-protracted war, organized its insurgent 
political infrastructure in South Vietnam. The National 
Liberation Front <NLF), the VC political arm, began opera¬ 
tions in the south in 135S. By late 1353, civil and parami¬ 
litary forces had proven so ineffective against the expand- 


ing, phase II-VC insurgency, that ARVN units were needed to 
•fight it. However, in spite of the widening indications of 
protracted insurgency war, the U.S. MAAG steadfastly dis¬ 
counted the VC impact in the south. Training for counterin¬ 
surgency war was neither the MAAG’s mission nor part of the 
U.S. Army’s operational concept for waging war. In Vietnam, 
as President Kennedy assumed office, U.S. strategic contain¬ 
ment policy was linked to the U.S. Army’s operational vision 
of fighting a conventional war to repel communist invaders- 
-not to fight a counterinsurgency war.^ The U. S. Army 
failed to understand the true nature of this war. 

The arrival of the Kennedy Administration, in early 1961, 
brought a youthful President with a predisposition to sup¬ 
port Diem. This predisposition was reinforced by events 
prior to his election and early in his administration. Pre¬ 
sident Kennedy had been roughly handled during the election 
campaign by his opponent for being "soft on Communism". 
Coupled with his embarrassment at the Bay of Pigs and the 
bully boy tactics employed against him by Soviet General 
Secretary Khrushchev in Vienna, JFK was determined to "make 
...CAmericanJ power credible," and he Judged that "Vietnam 
. . . CwasJ the place" to do it.-* 1 * Additionally, JFK surrounded 
himself with advisors who generally concurred with him on 
Vietnam issues. Besides key aides like his brother Robert, 
Secretary of State Rusk’s team. Secretary of Defense 
McNamara’s "whiz kids", and Vice President Johnson headed 


the list of "hawks" who agreed that the U. S. must face down 
mor«olithic communist hegemony in Southeast Asia. In fact, 

JFK tended to reiriforce this attitude within his entourage 
by the rough handling he gave to those who disagreed.' 43 In 
spite of the strategic consistency to contain communism in 
Southeast Asia, operational implementation of this strategic 
aim remained unclear. 

As a former U.S. Senator, JFK was aware of the events and 
actions of previous administrations in coming to grips with 
the communist threat in Vietnam. Dissatisfied with the lack 
of success, he was anxious to take actions which would offer 
the U.S. more flexible means to respond to this threat. A 
"flexible response" would require a clear picture of the si¬ 
tuation, and a military instrument capable of implementing 
policy. As the situation was unclear to him, President 
Kennedy dispatched several advisors and friends to assess 
the Diem government. 

The Maxwell Taylor-Walt Rostow fact-finding mission to 
Vietnam in October 1961 recommended a gradual increase in 
U.S. presence. Taylor judged that additional U.S. aviation, 
logistic, and advisory personnel and equipment would stiffen 
the resolve of ARVN, while raising U.S. participat ion to one 
of "limited partnership. "■** This recommendation was not re¬ 
ceived well by the JCS and Secretary McNamara. They felt 
that Taylor’s proposals could not be decisive, so recom¬ 
mended that six U.S. divisions be sent to Vietnam. 4T The 


convent ional operat ional concept of massive firepower and 
mobility dominated the JCS, while any notion of gradualism 
was anathema to the military Chiefs. 

In November, shortly after the Taylor—Rostow mission. 
President Kennedy dispatched his close friend and Ambassador 
to India, John K. Galbraith, to Saigon. Ambassador Galbraith 
was not sanguine about the position of the Diem government. 
Galbraith’s report preferred that "if the ARVN were well- 
deployed c<n behalf of an effective government it should be 
obvious that the Viet Cong would have no chance of success 
or takeover. "* ja 

Scarcely a year later, an uneasy President asked his old 
friend and majority leader, Senator Mansfield, to go to 
Vietnam. Like JFK, Mansfield had been a Diem supporter; 
however, the Senate leader returned as a changed man. His 
assessment was "brutally frank". Despite seven years and 
over two billion U.S. dollars spent, "substantially the same 
difficulties remain if, indeed, they have not been compound¬ 
ed.” His recommendations included 

a careful reassessment of American interests in 
Southeast Asia to avoid a deeper U.S. involvement 
in Vietnam, where the primary responsibi1ity rests 
with the South Vietnamese themselves. He warned: it 
is their country, their future that is at stake, 
not ours.*'* 

Indeed, General Collin’s 1S55 view that Diem was "hopeless" 
was now being acknowledged by the President’s close friends. 
Despite this advice, JFK remained steadfast. Like President 


Eisenhower before him, JFK was averse to alienating his 
advisors. Committed to his policy aims, although not 
prepared to commit U.S. combat divisions, the President 
acted upon Taylor’s proposals. Thus he was reinforcing the 
gradual increase in U.S. military involvement which had 
begun under President Truman, with one important difference 
JFK looked for a specific military instrument which could 
fulfill his strategic policy aim of counterinsurgency. 

Kennedy's enthusiasm for counterinsurgency warfighting 
was not well-received by the armed forces, particularly the 
army. The President called for "a wholly different kind of 
force, and... wholly different kind of military training... 
for a new kind of threat which conventional...Cforcesl 
weren’t ready to fight."** In the face of this, the JCS 
believed that the President "was oversold" on the counterin 
surgency idea, that "any good soldier can handle guerril¬ 
las, “ and "that the essence of the Vietnam problem is mili¬ 
tary."* 1 - This attitude was reinforced in the U.S. MOPG. 

In Vietnam, Kennedy*s dogmatic adherence to strategic 
policy coupled with the army’s dogmatic adherence to convert 
tional operations resulted in chaos. Throughout 1961, as 
JFK’s new administration was coming in, Diem played off 
British counterinsurgency experts against the MPPG. In 
January 1962, Diem implemented his Strategic Hamlets pro¬ 
gram. The intent of this program was the successive destruc 
tion of VC infrastructure and stabilization of pro—govern- 


merit elements in the hamlets.*® MACV supported this so long 
as ARVN could still conduct "offensive operations.. .to de¬ 
stroy VC forces." "Pacification" was "less important to 
counterinsurgency operations than searching for and destroy¬ 
ing guerrilla forces and base areas." aj 

Beginning in November 1361 and independent ly of MACV, 

U.S. Army Special Forces elements, under the auspices of the 
CIA* s Civilian Irregular Defense Groups <CIDG> program, 
initiated secondary, unconventional warfare operations in 
an interior province. The tactics used by the SF teams, with 
the support of the inhabitants of Darlac province, success¬ 
fully applied the "oil spot" counterinsurgency method. By 
the end of 1362, the province was secure; however, in MACV, 
there was no comprehension of this success. What MACV did 
understand was that U. S. soldiers were working for the CIA 
in ever increasing numbers. The anxiety this caused resulted 
in MACV assuming control and rapidly expanding the CIDG pro¬ 
gram. The expansion did not follow the "oil spot" counterin¬ 
surgent pattern of "mutually supportive village defense sys¬ 
tems," rather it focused on "offensive operations and...boy— 
der surveillance. MACV refocused SF operations so that 
detachments occupied widely dispersed border cordon posts to 
prevent infiltration and resupply from the north. By 
November 1363, the success which had been achieved was 
crumbling. Once again, the army showed itself unclear about 
the protracted insurgent nature of the war.** 


These examples show that during the Kennedy yeans, the 
linkage between the strategic policy aim of defeating cornmu 
nisrn and the operational objectives which army commanders 
chose to achieve those aims was tenuous at best. The U. S. 
Army contributed to this failure by not understanding the 
nature of insurgency war. Rather, the senior military lead¬ 
ers persisted in their belief that the foremost threat was 
conventional invasion from the north. How did the Kennedy 
adrnini strat ion address their evident lack of success? The 
answer proved to become the diplomatic nadir of his presi¬ 
dency and embroiled the U.S. deeper into this quagmire. 

U.S. policy had supported Diem from 1955 despite increas 
ing evidence that his influence in the nation was ever de¬ 
creasing. Regardless of sage counsel from close personal 
advisors, JFK was not prepared to accept the fall of South 
Vietnam to communism and American prestige with it. In fact 
JFK was determined to make Vietnam successful, in spite of 
Diem. The overthrow of South Vietnamese President Diem 
became "de facto" U.S. policy after August 1963. Ambassador 
Henry Cabot Lodge’s demand for support in overthrowing Diem 
was c£<bled to JFK on 29 August 1963. Its verbage and tone 
captures the essence of U. 3. strategic dogma: 

We are launched on a course from which there is no 
respectable turning back: the overthrow of the Diem 
government. U.S. prestige is...publicly committed 
to this end,...and will become more so as the facts 
leak out. In a more fundamental sense, there is no 
turning back because there is no possibi1ity...that 
the war can be won under a Diem administration. 38 


The ecu'- plunged South Vietnam into increasing political 
chaos. Complicated by JFK’s assassination three weeks after¬ 
ward, U.3. strategic policy in South Vietnam became inextri¬ 
cably locked in concrete, fisthe new U.S. President, Lyndon 
Johnson soon made it clear that "In Vietnam...Let no one 
doubt...that we have the resources and the long as 
it may take...we will Cnot1 be worn down, nor...driven 
out. "»'*' How would JFK’s successor reassess the American 
"stake" in Vietnam and could the U.S. military deduce clear¬ 
ly defined operational objectives to achieve strategic aims? 

Early in 1964, two National Security Action Memorandums 
<MSAMs 273 and 2QS> reaffirmed LBJ’s commitment to an inde¬ 
pendent, non-communist republic. 3 * In light of the U.S.’s 
deliberate, covert participat ion in staging the Diem coup, 
LBJ clearly felt the weight of moral responsibi1ity to South 
Vietnam, as alluded in ambassador Lodge’s cable. Yet LBJ 
dissembled throughout 1964, and as he looked towards reelec¬ 
tion in November, events in Southeast Asia outpaced American 
decision cycles. " 

In early August two U.S. navy destroyers on electronic 
warfare patrol were attacked by North Vietnamese patrol 
boats. Within days, the U.S. Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf 
resolution which granted LBJ wide military flexibility in 
Vietnam. The President aggressively had sought this symbolic 
Congressional support. In all of Congress, only two senators 
opposed the resolution.*®* Coupled with his crushing victory 


at the poll 5 in November, LBJ was spoiling for a fight with 
the communists. However-, despite his determination to pre¬ 
vent the communist takeover of the south, LBJ and his senior 
advisors had not yet clarified the military conditions which 
would achieve the political aim. 

In late November, 1964, the NSC principals met for LBJ’s 
decision regarding the appropriate U.S. response to early 
November VC attacks on U.S. installations in South Vietnam. 
LBJ rejected the JCS recommendation for a massive, sustained 
air campaign against the north. Rather he accepted a "Sug¬ 
gested Scenario for Controlled Escalation," which consisted, 
in early 1965, of two closely managed air operations, ”Bai— 
rel Roll" and "Rolling Thunder. ''** LBJ was loath to quit, 
but neither did he want to brutally escalate the war.* 1 * The 
effect of this acceptance was to insure "the piecemeal ap¬ 
plication of airpower which 1acked...mass, surprise, con¬ 
sistency, and sustained..." purpose.*- 3 * Once again, the U.S. 
leadership demonstrated its inability to accept the insur¬ 
gent nature of the war, or the conditions which would 
achieve the strategic aim. 

The period from March to July 1965 demonstrates a similar 
shortfall in linking operational objectives to military end- 
state conditions which would achieve the strategic aim. In 
early March, LBJ upbraided the Army Chief General H.K. 
Johnson with an unceremonious demand for him to "go get some 
answers" about winning the war.* - * The Army Chief’s trip to 


Vietnam left him even less sanguine about the prospects for 

victory. The heart of his trip report was a question which 

attacked the core of U.S. strategic policy. He wrote; 

a policy determination must be made in the very 
near future that will assure the questions What 
should the Vietnamese be expected to do for 
themselves and how much more must the U.S. 
contribute directly to the security of South 
Vietnam?* 3 

The Secretary of Defense's curt answer was scrawled at 
the bottom of General Johnson's memos "Policy iss anything 
that will strengthen the GVN will be sent. McNamara un¬ 

derstood LBJ’s intention to beat the communists in Vietnam. 

Late this same month. General Westmoreland submitted his 
estimate of the Vietnamese situation. The MACV commander 
deduced that he would be able to exhaust the North Vietna¬ 
mese and convince them to cease their support of the insut— 
gency in the south. He believed that "...air strikes against 
NVN will, in time, bring about desired results."® 7 These 
"desired results" were the cessation of insurgency support 
and, "hopefully,” insurgency operations. Tied to this was 
Westmoreland’s request for several more battalions. 
Meanwhile, Ambassador Taylor had seen the political abyss in 
South Vietnam, and now was opposing the direct involvement 
of U.S. ground forces. Likewise, the CIA director argued 
that the U.S. would get stuck "in a war it could not win."** 

Similarly, domestic pressures were mounting upon LBJ. 
Senators Church and McGovern were opposed, and Senator 


Fulbright, chairman of the foreign relations committee, who 
was so key in the passage of the Tonkin Gulf resolution ad¬ 
vised "that a 'massive ground and air war*...would be a 
'disaster* for the U. S. In spite of the groundswell op¬ 

posing deeper commitment, LBJ was determined: out on Vietnam...the church is on 
fire over there, and we’ve got to find a way out 
...there’s nobody over there to negotiate with... 
the only do is to hang on. And that’s 
what I’m going to do. 7,8 

Clearly, LBJ was determined to stay on his policy course. 

In early May, General Westmoreland provided his campaign 
plan for operations to Secretary McNamara and the JCS. It 
envisioned the exhaustion of the enemy through large scale 
search and destroy operations which would defeat the VC and 
reclaim provincial territories to the GVN. In time, these 
operations would "demonstrate VC failure in the south... 
Candl break the will of the DRV/VC by denying them vic¬ 
tory. " 7t This would accomplish the aim of a campaign of ex¬ 
haustion—to bring the enemy to the negotiating table. 

One month later, the MACV commander submitted his request 
for forty-four battalions for his operations. Within a week, 
LBJ had acceeded to General Westmoreland’s request and gave 
the guidance that U.S. operations should offer "the maximum 
protection at the least cost" and that the "war must be con¬ 
ducted without going all out. H ' 7 * By early June, 1G65, the 
173rd Airborne Brigade had been on the ground in Vietnam for 
over a month, making it more likely that direct combat with 


U. S. Army forces was imminent 

Ir< July, General Westmoreland called for a force level of 
200,000 men with which to prosecute operations. 7,4 Previous¬ 
ly, the JCS had accepted Army Chief General Johnson’s posi¬ 
tion, that the war could not be won without reserve mobili¬ 
zation. They remained aghast at the prospects of limited 
war, so continued to pressure the Defense Secretary for full 
mobilization. He agreed to support both General 
Westmoreland*s request and the JCS position to the Presi¬ 
dent. 7 '* On the 22nd, the NSC met, yet again, to come to 
grips with the mobilization issue. As this meeting adjourn¬ 
ed, LBJ had "left the distinct impression" upon the JCS 
"that he had decided to mobilize the nation for war." 7 * The 
JCS was satisfied that the President’s mobilization would 
assure support for the war, as well as the means to fight, 
win, and get out. Warning orders were issued to the 1st 
Cavalry Division for deployment to Vietnam. However, that 
very weekend LBJ met privately at Camp David, with Secre¬ 
tary McNamara, Clark Clifford and Supreme Court Justice 
Arthur Goldberg. Both Clifford and Goldberg were steadfastly 
opposed to mobilization, which was tantamount to a declara¬ 
tion of war. LBJ returned from Camp David opposed to mobili¬ 
zation. 77 In announcing his decision not to mobilize, but to 
approve General Westmoreland’s force level request, LBJ com¬ 
mitted American soldiers to a gradually escalating, limited 
war. Ten years and 58,00© lives later, the "last" American 


officials were lifted from the U.S. embassy roof and 
departed Vietnam. How does this case study illustrate the 
conclusions drawn from theory and doctrine? 

In spite of the consistent strategic policy over four 
administrations, the U.S. did not do the really "hard 
thinking" required to determine if a non-communist Indochina 
was truly a vital national interest.The ever-increasing 
number of prominent Americans opposing Vietnam policy, even 
before August, 1965, is sufficient to cast doubt upon U.3. 
aims in Indochina. Therefore, it remains doubtful that the 
U.S. fulfilled the first essential part to the "fan—reaching 
act of judgment" and former Secretary Weinberger’s first 
tenet. A non-communist Vietnam may not have been a vital 
national interest. 

The U.S. did not understand the protracted insurgency 
nature of the war. Therefore, it failed to fulfill the 
second essential part to the "far—reaching act of judgment”- 
—determining how the U.S. would conduct the war before en¬ 
gaging in it. This failure to link the strategic aim with 
operational objectives is also a failure to meet the third 
tenet outlined by Weinberger. No political or senior mili¬ 
tary officials could define achieveable military objectives 
which would attain the strategic aim. 

The U.S. regularly re-assessed its objectives in Vietnam 
with relation to the forces and resources required. However, 
the effect of these assessments was the gradual escalation 


of U. S. rnen and materiel. This l*.ad to the piecemealed inco¬ 
herence of operational plans and actions. The previous fail¬ 
ures outlined above could not be redeemed by gradual esca¬ 
lation in an effort to attrit a mis—understood enemy. Simply 
put, the force brought against the VC insurgency Mas not 

The Tonkin Gulf resolution and a landslide victory in the 
1964 presidential elections appeared to constitute both 
congressional and public support for the war. Indeed, had 
the U.S. succeeded there would not be much to discuss, but 
there was much hard work done behind that facade of support. 
First and foremost, the Tonkin Gulf resolution was a legis¬ 
lative referendum on the defense of U.S. national "honor." 
Secondly, it was the result of an incumbent president’s 
desire to appear decisive amidst an election campaign. In 
1964, only two members of congress would oppose the presi¬ 
dent. Regarding the presidential elections, one may view LBJ 
as a liar for pledging "that we are not about to send 
American do what Asian boys ought to...for them¬ 
selves. " r '9 At a minimum, American popular support is always 
conditional. The U.S. failure to link strategic aims with 
achieveable operational objectives merely assured that the 
foundation of popular support was built upon sand. 

Lastly, the gradual escalation of this war insured that 
U.S. forces were in harm’s way long before they were "the 
last resort." The responsibility for training and equipping 


ARVN by the Eisenhower- ftdrnini strat ion set the conditions for 
this. The large increase in advisor strength after the 1361 
Taylor-Rostow visit virtually guaranteed it. 

In conclusion, this example—the first fifteen years of 
the U.S. experience in Vietnam—offers the military campaign 
planner "fertile" ground. It is illustrative of how military 
forces may become enmeshed when "hard thinking" and "criti¬ 
cal analysis" fail to predominate at the operational and 
strategic levels of war. 

Turning to more recent events, it has been widely accept¬ 
ed by most objective observers that the U.S. has learned 
from its Vietnam experience. These observers view the ful¬ 
fillment of the "Weinberger Manifesto" in Panama and the 
Persian Gulf as having set the conditions for victory.** But 
do these examples show that we really have learned the 
lessons of Vietnam completely? 

To answer this question, I shall now examine the national 
crisis colloquially known as the "war on drugs." I intend to 
assess the U.S. conduct of this "war" to determine if it has 
set the conditions which will increase the probability of 


In his nearly inimitable fashion, former President Reagan 
declared "war on drugs" in the early 1380’s. The expansion 
of narco-trafficking into the U.S. to satisfy the apparently 


insatiable demand of U.S. narcotic consumers seemed almost 
insurmountable. Pollsters and pundits alike elevated the 
drug scourge into the public consciousness, which quickly 
became a clarion call for decisive governmental action.* 1 

Through the first half of the decade, the Reagan Admini¬ 
stration obtained authoriration for budget increases to 
fight the drug plague. Most of the increase, almost 4 bil¬ 
lion dollars by the end of his presidency, resulted from the 
passage of succeeding pieces of legislation—the "Anti-Drug 
Abuse Acts of 1936 and 1988."** These legislative acts re¬ 
quired increased U.S. military cooperation and support to 
U.S. law enforcement agencies <LEAs> for this war. These 
Acts also reflected the groundswell of Congressional support 
to militarize the war on drugs. Both the President and 
Congress accepted the notion that going after drugs at their 
source would be an effective way to reduce the scourge.** 
However, governmental actions for which this legislation 
appropriated funds had yet to be linked to a unified stategy 
for fighting this war. 

President Bush first unveiled his unifying "National Drug 
Control Strategy" (NDCS) to the nation in September 1989. 
Subsequently, this has been followed by annual update, "com¬ 
panion" NDCS editions. The strategic aim of the NDCS was 
first articulated by the President in his 1990 NDCS cover 
letter. Here the President stated his principal goal of re¬ 
ducing "the level of illegal drug use in America."* - * Pre- 


viously the 19Q9 NDCS had declared that "Drugs are a major 

threat to our national security.The 1991 NDCS document 
continued this characterization.Each edition of the NDCS 
has called for comprehensive measures to "exert pressure on 
all parts of this problem simultaneously,” because "no sin¬ 
gle tact ic. .. alone. .. can work. ' , * 7 Since its inception, the 
NDCS has highlighted the U.S. Government’s strategic aim; it 
also provides the linkage between that aim and the opera¬ 
tional objectives which will lead to victory in this war. 

Articulated in the introductory chapter of the 1991 NDCS 
are four operational goals which, when met, are supposed to 
attain the President’s strategic aim. These ares 

1. to restore order and security to American 
neigh borh ood s; 

2 . to dismantle drug trafficking organizations; 

3. to help people break the habit of drug use; and 
A. to prevent those who have never used illegal 
drugs from starting. - * 

In order to measure the effectiveness of these broad goals, 
the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has de¬ 
vised "nine detailed goals and objectives, all with specific 
and proportional targets ." mm The nine measures are: 

1 . current overall drug use, 

2 . current adolescent drug use, 

3. occassional cocaine use, 

A. frequent cocaine use, 

3. current adolescent cocaine use, 

6 . drug-related medical emergencies, 

7. drug availability, 

0 . domestic marijuana production, 

9. student attitudes towards drug use.** 

These nine statistical measures of effectiveness <M0Es> 


are crucial to the analysis of victory in the war on drugs. 
Of the nine MOEs, two—drug availability and domestic mari¬ 
juana production—relate to the supply-side of this war. The 
NDCS declares that the evidence is "not yet available” to 
evaluate the results in these two categories, yet close to 
seventy percent of counternarcotics funding is focused or 
them. 1 * 4 This is the "supply-side" of the war, in which the 
DOD plays the lead role for detection and interdiction, and 
which dominates the national debate. 

Recent army doctrine introduces Clausewitc’ "center of 
gravity" as a concept that is supposed to aid military plan¬ 
ning. This concept assists planners in focusing their re¬ 
sources on that which will attain the strategic aim. It is a 
concept which was notably absent during the Vietnam era. 
Theoretically, this is an improvement. 

In developing campaigns (or major operations) in a joint 

and interagency environment, U.S. efforts should be oriented 

upon the defeat of the enemy center of gravity. Os the "hub 

of all power and movement," the center of gravity is crucial 

to the enemy’s survival.®* In theory, 

the ultimate substance of enemy strength must be 
traced back to the fewest possible sources, and 
ideally to one alone. The attacks on these sources 
must be compressed into the fewest possible 
actions—again, ideally, into one. Finally, all 
minor actions must be subordinated as much as 
possible. ®* 

Thus, if the U.S. is successful in attacking the center 
of gravity, then it becomes more probable that the enemy 


will suffer defeat. However, identifying the center of gra¬ 
vity in this war may not have aided in focusing the limited 
assets available for prosecution. Let us examine the "center 
of gravity" concept as strategists have applied it to the 
war on drugs. 

The 1991 NDCS incorrectly identified "that a point where 
the drug trade is most susceptible to...disrupt ions is its 
organizational center of gravity—the traffickers’ home 
country base of operations. ,,,,A The document further outlined 
that s 

tin the3 dismantling of major drug trafficking 
organizations...we certain that we are 
attacking the heart...not just its extremities. 

Final success depends upon identifying and destroy¬ 
ing critical parts of the organization that are 
most vulnerable: key personnel, communications, 
transportat ion, finances, and 
eq u i prnent. ,, * s * 

ft similar view of the center of gravity in counternarcotics 
is offered by the Strategic Studies Institute.** This view 
seems to espouse attacking every element of the trafficking 
network because the six item list is all-inclusive. No part 
of the narco-trafficking system is suggested to be more cri¬ 
tical—"the ultimate source of enemy strength"—than ano¬ 
ther. ,7 This "full court press"-like view of counternarco¬ 
tics operations remains consonant with the NDCS’s position 
that this war must exert constant pressure on every part of 
the illicit drug system. This approach, however, seems to 
contribute to confusion rather than clarification of the 



.WIlAJp. .11 

ceriter of gravity, An example will illuminate this 

In 1986, the DEA, in cooperation with U.S. forces and the 
Bolivian Government, participated in Operation "Blast 
Furnace." This was a five month "search and destroy” opera¬ 
tion to eradicate cocaine production and disrupt distribu¬ 
tion from that country. "Blast Furnace" succeeded in disrup¬ 
ting Bolivian narco—trafficking operations, but failed to 
demonstrate that production labs or coca supplies are cen¬ 
ters of gravity. There remains no evidence to suggest that 
"Blast Furnace" had any impact upon the domestic U.S. 
cocaine market. A lesson from "Blast Furnace" should have 
been that neither production and processing labs, nor coca 
supplies are centers of gravity. Additionally, the economic 
malaise caused by this operation greatly embittered local 
Bolivians towards both their government and that of the U.S. 
If success in the drug war results from concentrating the 
effects of combat power at production labs and coca supply 
points to compel the enemy to do our will, then “Blast 
Furnace" was an abject failure.** 

Other indications of the incorrect identification of the 
center of gravity in this war abound. Success in the late 
1989 effort to shut down Columbia’s narco—trafficking was 
shortlived; within six months of the operation’s end, Colum¬ 
bian production had recovered to eighty percent of its pre¬ 
vious level. Narco-traffickers simply had moved or shut down 


operations to wait it out. ‘®® From 19QS to 1990, the DEA 
estimated a two hundred and fifty percent increase of annual 
cocaine production in Latin America. *®* During this same 
timeframe, the U.S. State Department’s Inspector General 
concluded "that U.S. efforts in the Andes 'have had little 
impact on the availability of illicit narcotics in the 
United States.*"*®*' These indices of failure reinforce my 
belief that U.S. resources allocated to fight this war in 
the Andes cannot unbalance the enemy’s center of gravity. 
Indeed, one must look elsewhere to find the center of 
gravity in the war on drugs. 

In his 1990 monograph. QCQNUS Counternarcotic Campaign 

P1armino . Major Jim Morris made this prescient observation: 

With the extraordinary power of high demand corning 
from outside the theater, attacking the infrastruc¬ 
ture and production of drugs at the source is the 
most direct, but also a short-term solution. Regen¬ 
eration of any part of the infrastructure is assur¬ 
ed as long as the demand exists.*®-* 

The allusions to "extraordinary power of demand" and "regen¬ 
eration ... of... infrastructure” identify the center of 
gravity. The "ultimate source of enemy strength and power” 
is the seeming insatiable domestic U.S. demand, coupled with 
the enormous financial strength reaped from it. Attrition of 
Andean narco-trafficking infrastructure has not and will not 
dismantle the cartels. Why? Because the "ultimate substance 
of CtheirH strength" is demand, not plants. The war in the 
Andean Ridge is not focused against the enemy center of 


gravity; it may be fought against a vulnerability or weak 
point in the narco-industry, but it is not aiming at the 
center of gravity. 

Conducting this style of war may only produce the wastage 
of limited U.S. resources. As the 1931 NDCS admits, the 
evidence does not demonstrate any significant reduction of 
drug availability, despite the allocation of nearly seventy 
percent of U.S. drug war dollars. In contravention of its 
own strategy, U.S. actions are not weighted against the 
"heart" of this issue, but against "extremities. 

Despite this reality, the U.S. continues to militarise 
the "war" on drugs. Currently, DOD activity remains highly 
visible to the U.S. public. There is also an ever present 
tension among U.S. advisors in Latin America to "take 
charge" of operations in order to accomplish the counterdrug 
mission. That "take charge" mind set is part of the American 
"warrior ethos" which can become manifest among advisors "in 
country. " *•** Where will this lead us to in the near future? 

The U.S. Military has steadfastly held its ground against 
expanding its leadership role in this war on drugs. Yet, 
there may be highly placed government officials who believe 
that a unified military command could develop "a military- 
style battle plan which would help the administration wage a 
more effective campaign." lB * This same article anonymously 
quoted "a senior administration official" as saying,”1 do 
not understand why... Cthe U.S. Military!! can’t act a little 


More forward-looking. "*-®^ The answer to this official's lack 
of understanding can be found by some hard thinking about 
the objective conditions of this conflict, and a review of 
the Weinberger Doctrine- 

First, there is no question that illicit drugs pose a 
debilitating threat to the fabric of American society. Thus 
the NDCS’s strategic aim of reducing "illegal drug use in 
America" meets the requirement of being a vital national 
interest and satisfies the guidance of Weinberger’s first 
tenet. 1 ®* However, the nature of the operational objectives 
that, so far, have governed the war in the Andean Ridge are 
not adequately chosen. That is, attacks against narco-traf¬ 
ficking infrastructure—communications, transportation, pro¬ 
duction, and growth—have not contributed to the destruction 
of the "enemy" center of gravity. The inability to define 
militarily significant objectives, that is, objectives which 
directly contribute to achieving the strategic aim—the 
reduction of drug use—results in a breakdown of Clausewitz’ 
cornerstone admonition requiring "the most far-reaching act 
of judgment" by political and military leaders. 1 ®® While the 
strategic aim is clear, there appears to be a de—coupling 
between that aim and the selection of the operational objec¬ 
tives which, when accomplished, are supposed to attain that 
aim. With 7®# of the resources allocated against 25# of the 
objectives, the preponderance of U.S. resources are focused 
against "extremities." The "heart” of the problem beats on 


... lj.. vw*-ui.wwi.. 

unabated; the center' of gravity is unaffected, and former 
Secretary Weinberger’s third tenet is unfulfilled. 

The U.S. regularly re-assesses its commitment of re¬ 
sources to the war on drugs. The NDCS is produced annually, 
as are budget appropriations for the war. Thus far, the 
assessments have lead to the gradual escalation of support 
provided to Andean nations, with ineffective results. In 
short, the application of U.S. resources in the drug war has 
not been decisive. 

American popular support appears to back the President in 
the drug war. Many Americans believe that drug use and the 
narcotics trade are a blight upon the nation. These same 
people accept the overseas actions taken by the U.S. Govern¬ 
ment in this issue—to include the recent military operation 
and resultant conviction of Panama’s Manuel Noriega. Con¬ 
gress has reflected its willingness to support the overseas 
effort as well. So long as the war remains limited and the 
expenditure of resources relatively small, it is likely that 
public support will be retained. However, as this war wears 
on, and especially if increasing numbers of U.S. servicemen 
or members of other U.S. agencies are killed in counter¬ 
narcotic’s operations whose objectives will not lead to 
reduced drug use in the U.S., then the American public will 
do some hard thinking, thinking that military and political 
leaders should be doing now. 

Lastly, events assure that U.S. forces are in harm’s way- 


long before they might be the last resort. The probability 

of U.S. forces involvement, by design or by accident, has 
already been demonstrated. First, the U.S. provided the 
UH-60 helicopters and a company-sized unit to support Opera¬ 
tion "Blast Furnace" in 19SS. *■*'** Second, an American air- 
crewman was lost and presumed dead after the C-130 in which 
he served was attacked by two Peruvian Air Force jets over 
international waters on £4 April 1992. His plane was 
reported to be on a counternarcotic’s mission. 111 American 
servicemen and women continue their support of Andean and 
U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies in the drug war. 

The objective of this monograph has been to systemati¬ 
cally examine the validity of the comparison between the war 
on drugs and the Vietnam War. While not analagous in every 
respect, the dissection of U.S. strategic aims and opera¬ 
tional actions as well as the Weinberger Doctrine has pro¬ 
vided the framework for this task. From this study of each 
case, there does appear to be firm ground for a valid 

First, in each case the strategic aim was clearly articu¬ 
lated and essentially consistent for the duration of the the 
conflict (the drug war is ongoing). The U.S. strategic aim 
in Vietnam was to defeat monolithic communism by sustaining 
an independent, non-communist republic in South Vietnam. In 


the war on drugs, the President has stated the strategic aim 
of significantly reduced illegal drug use in the U.S. This 
is the first cornerstone in the "fai—reaching act of judg¬ 
ment" by national leaders bent on waging war. 

The second cornerstone of this judgment is a clear under¬ 
standing by the nation’s leaders about how the war will be 
conducted. Vietnam offers a stark example of how the 
de-coupling of the linkage between strategic and operational 
levels of war results in a malaise for the military and the 
nation. Similarly, the war on drugs appears to be focusing 
the vast preponderance of resources against operationally 
insignificant objectives. 

The comparison remains valid from the perspective of 
former Secretary of Defense Weinberger’s doctrine, as well. 
Each case presented an acknowledged vital national interest, 
in accord with the first tenet. However, in both Vietnam and 
the drug war, a clear political aim has not been translated 
into militarily achieveable operational objectives, a viola¬ 
tion of tenet three. This alone provides a sound basis for 
caution by military leaders interacting at the strategic and 
operational levels of war. When an operational objective has 
no demonstrable effect on achieving the strategic aim, then 
it is impossible to determine the size and composition of a 
force sufficient to bring victory. In Vietnam, American 
forces moved ever so increment a1ly from their support and 
advisory role to that of the main effort. In the war on 


drugs, U« S. military forces are still in a support role, but 
their first casualty has been counted. It could be a slip¬ 
pery slope should U.S. political leaders fail to acknowledge 
the nature of this war and insist on a larger, more direct 
U. S. military role. 

Lastly, American popular support remains essential, yet 
always conditional. In Vietnam, the American public and its 
elected representatives supported the strategic aim. How¬ 
ever, such support fell away rapidly, when it became clear, 
albeit too late, that the focus of the war effort would not 
gain victory. Similarly, direct U.S. military action in the 
Andean nations has been ineffective in achieving the U.S. 
strategic aim of reduced drug use in America. Any effort by 
U.S. policy-makers to escalate the direct involvement of 
U.S. forces in a drug war where their employment could not 
be decisive places at risk American popular support. How¬ 
ever, there may still be too many high government officials 
who might be willing to plunge their armed forces into a 
deeper malaise. 

The implications of this comparative study for the con¬ 
duct of the war on drugs are twofold. First, the U.S. 
military’s support role is not directed against the center 
of gravity—domestic demand—nor should it be. American 
armed forces are ill-suited for such a task. However, one 
must understand that the U.S. military, in support of other 
government and allied agencies, is conducting a campaign of 


exhaustion against narco-trafficking organizations, without 

much effect. In short, the resources being expended by the 
U.S. Government to fight this war in the Andean Region will 
not be decisive. 

Second, the U.S. NDCS is not properly weighting what 
should be its main operational effort against the "enemy" 
center of gravity—domestic demand. Only two of the NDCS’s 
operational objectives address this demand. There seems to 
be a prevailing line of thought that the "demand” problem 
may be isolated and addressed through "a domestic policy of 
treatment, education, and urban development." 41 * However, 
such a limited view completely ignores the demand which may 
exist in corporate America, the entertainment industry, and 
professional athletics, to name but a few. High profile drug 
use may not be in vogue, but the billions of dollars reaped 
by narco-traffickers cannot spring largely from U.S. 
ghettos. The NDCS will not succeed until this U.S. Govern¬ 
ment, its institutions and society at large, are resolved to 
attack the center of gravity—domestic demand. Until then, 
the U.S. military is fortunate to have leaders who remain 
steadfastly opposed tC- a greater military role in this 
malaise called the war on drugs. 


•Carl vori Clausewitz, On War , ed. and trans. Michael 
Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University 
Press, 1984), 87. 

^Clausewitz, 89. 

^Clausewitz, 88. 

"U. S. Army, TRADOC Pam 11-9. Blueprint of the Battlefield 
(Fort Monroe, Virginias Department of the Army, Training and 
Doctrine Command, 1990), 6. 

•Clausewitz, 81 and 579. 

7 Clausewitz, 89. 

•Clausewitz, 585. 

•Clarified in discussion with LTC(P) Dubik, 13 APR 92. 

‘•U. S. Army, FM 100-5. Operations (Washington: Department 
of the Army, 1986), 10. 

** TRADOC Pam 11-9 <1990), 6. 

* » FM 100-5. 10. 

‘ M FM 100-5 <1986), 179. 

••Clausewitz, 595-596. 

‘"Clausewitz, 617. 

‘•Clausewitz, 598. 

‘^Clausewitz, 597. 

‘•Caspar W. Weinberger, "The UsesOf Military Power," 
Defense . <January 1985): 2. 

‘•Weinberger, 10. 

••Clausewitz, 88. 


■Clausewitz, 573 

••ClausBwitz, 573, 565,and 537. 

••*Clausewit z, 61 and 573. 

•■Clausewitz, 66. 

••instruct ion about the purpose and use of "Socratic" 
dialogue by LTC(P) Dubik, 15 APR 32. 

••Mr. X (George Kerman), "The Sources Of Soviet Conduct," 
Foreign Affairs (July 1347)s 572. 

•■’’'Stanley Karnow, Vietnam! A History (New York! The Viking 
Press, 1363), 17® and 173. 

■•Karnow, 171. 

■•Douglas Kinnard, The War Managers (Hanover, New 
Hampshire: University Press Of New England, 1377), 5. 

Kinnard, 16. 

■‘Bruce Palmer, Jr., The 25-Year Mar-America* s Military 

Role In Vietnam (Lexington, Kentucky! The University Press of 
Kentucky, 1384), 5. 


6 . 






2 ®2. 




213 and 217. 






220; Palmer, 6. 


137 and 133. 


F. Krepenevich, The 

Mdi The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1366), 22-24. 
••Krepenevich, 25-26. 


■^■♦Karnow, £4 8 

4 s Karnow, £48 and £93. These examples discuss the 
professional exiling of Chester Bowles and Paul Kattenburg. 

4 *Karnow, £5£. Maxwell Taylor, Swords and Plowshares (New 
Yorks Da Capo Press, 199©), £3S-£44. 

47 Karnow, £53. 

4 *Krepenevich, 63. 

4 , *Karnow, £63. 

a# Krepenevich, 3©. 

ai Krepenevich, 36-7. 

“Krepenev i ch, 67. 

a3 Krepenevich, 69. 

■"♦Krepenevich, 7£. 

aa Krepenevich, 70-75. 

“•Karnow, £89, discussion of Diem coup £86-311. 
a7 Karnow, 389. 

“•Krepenevich, 93. 
a, Karnow, 395. 

••Krepenevich, 95; Karnow, 363-376. 

•‘Mark Perry, Four Stars (Bostons Houghton Mifflin 
Company, 1989),145-146; see also, Krepenevich, 99; Palmer, 

••Perry, 146. 

••Palmer, 37. 

• 4 Perry, 148. 

•■Perry, 149. 

••Perry, 149. 

•^Krepenevich, 145. 


••Krepenevich, 146. 

**Kanriow, 416. 

"'•Karnow, 418-413. 

"'‘Krepenevich, 151; see also palmer-,42. 
"'•Krepenevich, 152-154. 

■'•Krepenevich, 156. 









7a Mao Tse-Turig, Selected Military Writings (Fort 
Leavenworth, Kss Combat Studies Institute, U.S. finny Command 
and General Staff College, 1330 reprint), 83. 

7 *Karnow, 335. 

••speech of a recently retired U. S. finny four star general 
and former unified command commander to fiMSP, 23 fiPR 32. 

•‘Bruce Michael Bagley, "The New Hundred Years War? US 
National Security find The War On Drugs In Latin firnerica, " 
Journal of Interamerlean Studies and World fiffairs 30-1 
(Spring 1388)s 173. 

••Bagley, "New Hundred Years War," 182. 

••Peter R. Andreas, Eva C. Bertram, Morris F. Blachman, 
and Kenneth E. Sharpe, "Dead-End Drug Wars, ** Foreign Policy 
85 (Winter 1331-32)s 106-128. 

•♦George Bush, National Drug Control Strategy (Washington, 
DCs Government Printing Office, 1330)s Cover Letter. 

•‘"George Bush, National Drug Control Strategy (Washington, 
DCs Government Printing Office, 1383)s 61. 

••George Bush, National Drug Control Strategy (Washington, 
DCs Government Printing Office, 1331>s 77. 

••'’George Bush, National Drug Co ntrol Strategy (Washington, 
DCs Government Printing Office, 1383)s 5; see also. Bush, 


1990 NDCS, £; arid 1991 NDCS, 2. 

—Bush, 1990 NDCS, 1. 

—Bush, 1991 NDCS, 4. 

—Bush, 1991 NDCS, 4. 

•‘Bush, 1991 NDCS, 4; see also Andreas, et al., 107; and 

CNN crossfire interview with ONDCP Chairman Bob Martinez, 10 
April 1992. 

•“Clausewitz, 595. 

••Clausewitz, 617. 

—Bush, 1991 NDCS, 77. 

»=Bush, 1991 NDCS, 116. 

—William W. Mendel and Murl D. Munger, Campaign Planning 
and the Drug War (Carlisle Barracks, Pa: Strategic Studies 
Institute, 1991), 52. 

•’Clausewitz, 617. 

—John T. Fishel, Developing a Drug War Strategy—Lessons 
From Operation 'Blast Furnace,’" Military Review (June 1991): 

••AMSP course 1 notes, Seminar 1. 




et al, 109 
et a1, 108 

et al, 109 

‘"James A. Horris, "OCONUS Counternarcotic Campaign 
Planning," (SAMS Monograph, US Army Command and General Staff 
College, 1990), 24. 

‘—Bush, 1991 NDCS, 4 and 116. 

‘••Informal discussions with a Special Forces Major, 
recently returned from a 3 1/2 year tour in Latin America, 
where he served with 3/7SF and participated in "Just Cause,” 
and other deployments. This attitude was reflected by a USMC 
guest speaker to AMSP'. 

‘••Douglas Jehl and Ronald J. Ostrow, "Pentagon kills drug 
war plan," Kansas City Star (27 January 92), A—1. 


^■. : 5T- 1 ? 

■V ; : ;}jippwpp^pp(| 

‘“’"Jehl and Ostrow, A-l. 

‘•“Bush, 1930 NDCS, cover letter. 

‘••Clausewitz, QQ. 

“•Fishel, 61. 

“‘Kartsas City Star article, £5 April 199£, A—1. 

4 *“Andreas, et al, 1£Q; a similar perception to that 
articulated by Andreas, et al, was offered by an AMSP guest 
speaker from the NSC in late April 193£. 




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