Demonstrating Lack of Resolve, Misguided Negotiation Expectations, and Limited Strategic Outlook
From early 1965 through early 1968, there were six major confrontations between Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and the Pacific Area Commander (CINCPAC) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). These involved a number of Johnson-McNamara policies and strategies that CINCPAC Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp and the JCS believed severely hindered the defeat of Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. After the war and his retirement, Admiral Sharp even wrote a book titled Strategies for Defeat: Vietnam in Perspective, first published in 1978. It was Sharp who characterized Johnson’s Operation Rolling Thunder as “powder-puff air warfare.” A major issue with Sharp and the JCS was the Johnson-McNamara policy of highly restricted bombing of strategic targets in North Vietnam, leaving huge enemy sanctuaries around the most strategic North Vietnamese military and logistical targets critical to their invasion of South Vietnam. President Nixon eventually reversed this costly and absurd policy.
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