This volume examines US Army Special Forces efforts to mobilize and train indigenous minorities in Vietnam.

Christopher K. Ives shows how before the Second Indochina War, the Republic of Vietnam had begun to falter under the burden of an increasingly successful insurgency. The dominant American military culture could not conform to President Kennedy’s guidance to wage 'small wars', while President Diem’s provincial and military structures provided neither assistance nor security. The Green Berets developed and executed effective counterinsurgency tactics and operations with strategic implications while living, training, and finally fighting with the Montagnard peoples in the Central Highlands. Special Forces soldiers developed and executed what needed to be done to mobilize indigenous minorities, having assessed what needed to be known.

Combining Clausewitz, business theory and strategic insight, this book provides an important starting point for thinking about how the US military should be approaching the problems of today's ‘small wars’.

US Special Forces and Counterinsurgency in Vietnam will be of much interest to students of the Vietnam War, Special Forces operations, military innovation and strategic theory in general.

chapter |13 pages


chapter 1|19 pages

Crossbows to carbines

chapter 2|19 pages

Combatants and continuities

chapter 3|20 pages

Contexts, doctrines, and discontinuities

chapter 5|19 pages

Choosing the wrong trails

chapter 6|17 pages

Threatened hamlets and bad advice