1950’s books like The Ugly American, helping our friendsnhelp themselves at the grass roots level. “Limited War,” theyncalled it.n(If I sound cynical about grass roots support and “helpingnlittle people help themselves,” I am skeptical about it fromnboth the rational and emotional sides. Rationally, it isngenerally thought of as a poor utilization of our Army’snfighting power. Our troops are not missionaries and to castnthem in such roles is to get them into positions asking for thensort of abuse Sybil and I heard being poured on America at anconference in Paris a year ago last December. I can’t forgetnthe insults of the Parisian anticommunist Vietnamese. In sonmany words, these leading Vietnamese intellectuals, whonhad sponsored the South Vietnamese government, chargednAmerica with intruding into South Vietnam’s internalnaffairs, and bringing about their country’s descent intonCommunism. In short, they claimed America owed Vietnamnanother war. We got so close we got pinned with thenblame from both sides.)nThe reason I think this rehash and analysis is worthy ofnyour time is that it exposes the insidious dangers of thatngradualistic paternalism that is so attractive to the timid. Itncould happen again. Remember Winston Churchill’s wordsnin his introduction to The Gathering Storm?nIt is my purpose, as one who lived and acted innthese days … to show how the malice of thenwicked was reinforced by the weakness of thenvirtuous, how the councils of prudence and restraintnmay become the prime agents of mortal dangern. . . and how the middle course, adopted fromndesires for safety and a quiet life may be found tonlead direct to the bull’s-eye of disaster.nIt’s hard to believe, now, but “Limited War” was a newnexpression in early 1965. There was lots of discussion aboutnit—just like when its modern counterpart, “Low IntensitynConflict,” was introduced a few years ago. Either can getnconfusing if you try to apply it to yourself as an individualncombatant. In April 1965, a few months after our nationalnVietnam strategy had been decided, I was heading westwardnon the aircraft carrier Oriskany — starting my third eightmonthncruise that would mainly involve flying missions overnVietnam. I was forty-one-years-old and had climbed to thentop of Navy flying — Air Group Commander, senior combatantnpilot on the ship. This was to be a full combat cruisen(since we had left the United States we had heard about thenMarines landing near Da Nang, and the start of the RollingnThunder bombing campaign). Three things triggered anspeech I gave to all my Air Group pilots a few days beforenwe raised the Indochina coast. (The full text appears innAdmiral Sharp’s book, Strategy for Defeat.) The first triggernwas informal chitchat among my squadron commandersnabout whether limited war required the same low altitude/nhigh accuracy bomb drop patterns as regular war. “I heardnsome squadrons on other ships were thinking about pullingnout high,” some were saying. Second trigger: an easilyndetectable and understandable anxiety among my pilotnpopulation as a whole — 85 percent of whom were facingntheir first combat. The majority (the juniors) were wellneducated, thoughtful, and sensitive — too young to remembernthe national fervor of World War II. (I still vividlyn16/CHRONICLESnnnremembered the whispered concern among several just likenthem aboard the carrier Ticonderoga the previous summernas we eyed the still-wet bomb damage assessment photos ofnthe flaming wreckage of the Vinh oil storage yard followingnour reprisal raid of August 5. “Yes, sure enough, there aren, bodies among that rubble.”) The third trigger: a letter fromna bright and highly respected former commanding officer ofnmine, wishing me well on the one hand, and surprising menon the. other by suggesting that I might give thought tonlaying off pressing for Code of Conduct conformance ofnprisoners — that it was, after all, a regular war document.nI’ll quote myself just enough to give you the drift, and thentenor of the times:nWhere do you as a person, a person of awareness,nrefinement and education, fit into this “limitednwar,” “measured response” concept? I want to levelnwith you right now, so you can think it over here innmid-Pacific and not kid yourself into “starknrealizations” over the target. Once you go “feetndry” over the beach, there can be nothing limitednabout your commitment. “Limited war” means tonus that our target list has limits, our ordnancenloadout has limits, our rules of engagement havenlimits, but that does not mean that there is anythingn”limited” about our personal obligation as fightingnmen to carry out assigned missions with all we’vengot. If you think it is right or sensible for a man, innthe heat of battle, to apply something less than totalnpersonal commitment — equated perhaps to his ideanof the proportion of national potential beingnapplied, you are wrong. It’s contrary to good sensenabout self-protection — half speed football is wherenyou get your leg broken. It’s contrary to humannnature. So also is self-degradation. Don’t think for anminute that the prisoner’s Code of Conduct is justna “regular war” or “total war” document. It wasnwritten for all wars, and let it be understood that itnapplies with full force to this Air Group in thisnwar. …nIf you don’t agree with all the above, right nownis the time to turn in your wings. It’s much lessndamaging to your pride if you do it here irinmid-Pacific now, as a clearly thought-out decision,nthan after you see your shipmates get shot up overnthe beach. . . .nI hope I haven’t made this too somber. I merelynwant to let you all know where we stand on Duty,nHonor and Country. Secondly, I want to warn younall of excessive caution. A philosopher has warnednus, that of all forms of caution, caution in love isnthe most fatal to true happiness. In the same way, Inbelieve that “caution in war” can have a deleteriousneffect on your future self-respect, and in this sense,nsurely your future happiness. When that Fox Flag isntwo blocked on Yankee Station, you’ll be an actornin a drama that you’ll replay in your mind’s eye fornthe rest of your life. Level with yourself now. Donyour duty.nNo one came forward to turn in his wings. By the timenOrinskany returned to San Diego in December 1965, hern