Maybe I am a lieutenant colonel today---maybe tomorrow---depends on how fast they are promoting the first part of the month. Won’t know for about 10 days yet as that’s how long it takes to airmail the special orders over here from Washington. Will be real proud to wear new rank insignia. And will mail my nice major’s leaves home for safekeeping.
|Excerpt from Clark's diary entry, 1 July 1965. (Document courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. collection)|
It might be worthwhile to jot down some topics and ideas right now to explain the reasons why we won’t be able to win over here.
NEVER REVEAL THESE TO ANYONE, NOT EVEN CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS:
- The US fighting man has lost the ability to take care of himself. In our headquarters, we employ Vietnamese typists, janitors, barbers, electricians, plumbers, PX clerks, interpreters, clerks, and assistants galore. Classified papers are strewn all over the place like confetti. And no one really knows whether our help are good guys or bad guys. For example, the chief VC leader in Saigon was employed by the Navy as a supply expert for many months until suspicion was raised due to unexplained loss of explosives under his control. He has been the man who has been setting the very effective bombs in the Saigon area.
- The GI wants to fight from a hotel. Today I didn’t make very many points with some Very VIPs when I said: “It’s about time we started thinking about one-story tents instead of 4-story hotels for GIs.” This thing just can’t be won by the guy who wants to play the slot machines at the Rex BOQ.
- Too many “advisors” like to advise by telephone. They find all sorts of excuses to avoid doing their duty. The place to advise is at the Vietnamese commander’s elbow when he’s in trouble, not when he’s in Saigon sitting in an office.
- In my opinion, the South Vietnamese High Command does not want to win and prefers the dollar value of the status quo. Every American headquarters, BOQ, and important official has to be guarded by barbed wire and many MPs. But the Joint General Staff High Command of the Vietnamese Armed Forces HAS NO GUARDS AROUND IT WHATSOEVER. The VC have bombed the US Embassy, Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base, BOQs, and restaurants patronized by the US. But they have not bombed the Vietnamese High Command (unguarded), the Vietnamese Air Force units on Tan Son Nhut or Vietnamese restaurants.
|Army of the Republic of Vietnam Joint General Staff Headquarters, 1965. (Photo courtesy Richard Paris Clark, Jr. collection)|
- The American public does not want to win this war because the cost will come high and hard. Higher taxes will be required to finance a win. More civilians will have to be drafted and the National Guard and Reserves will have to be called up.
- All the Regular Army can say is “I’ll Try, Sir,” and we are slowly eroding the valuable young assets that we have. Older men like me are not very important, but I worry about losing the upcoming leaders through unconstructive loss or disillusionment.