On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War is a well-written by Harry G. Summers, Jr. He was a colonel in the United States Army. He had served as a squad leader in the Korean War and as a battalion and corps operations officer in the Vietnam War. Summers was also an instructor at the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He delivered on the negotiation panel for the United States at the end of the Vietnam War. Summers wrote a national newspaper column on national security affairs for the Los Angeles Times, and worked as the editor of Vietnam Magazine. He was also a frequent speaker at colleges, lectures, and debates.
In this book, Summers gave the analysis, clearest insights, and clarification of the principles and practice of warfare. His purpose was to draw strategic lessons from the Vietnam experience. Summers attempted to place the Vietnam war in domestic context as well as in the context of war itself, by using Clausewitzian theory and the classical principles of war. The main idea, Summers was trying to give was a lack of appreciation of military theory and military strategy, leading to a faulty definition of the nature of the war. Therefore, the result was the exhaustion of the Army against a secondary guerilla force and the ultimate failure of military strategy . Intended neither as a history of the Vietnam involvement nor as a definitive account of the war, summers motivated military strategic thinking so that America remains prepared for the future challenges.
Summers used his own experience in the military and Clausewitzian war theory in the discussion to explain why Americans lost the war in Vietnam when they had won it. Summers discussed how the war got mismanaged by political and military leadership. The overall suggestion of Summers’ argument was that the problem with the war was not that the principles were wrong, but that the principles were ignored and not abided. The book is consisting of two themes, first is the Environment and the other one is the Engagement.
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