Correlate the understanding of the rules of engagement with the limited war ideology and its assumptions as seen through the perspective and experiences of General William Westmoreland and...

Correlate the understanding of the rules of engagement with the limited war ideology and its assumptions as seen through the perspective and experiences of General William Westmoreland and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in Vietnam.

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At this level, attitudes towards the rules of engagement and limited war were much closer to those of the president than they were to the attitudes of the individual combat soldiers.  These men were at the highest levels of the military, where a clear understanding of geopolitics is typically vital. 

At this level, leaders are far removed from actual combat.  McNamara, of course, was not a soldier.  In order to get to such levels, leaders must have a grasp on the “big picture” and must be very political.  For these reasons, leaders like Westmoreland and McNamara were more focused on the ideas of limited warfare than were the officers below them.  This is not to say that they did not care about the combat soldiers, but it is true that they needed to be more focused on the big picture.

For this reason, these two men would have been more inclined to accept limited rules of engagement.  Westmoreland, of course, tended to want more soldiers and a broader war because he wanted to be able to win the war.  However, he still understood that it was important to pay attention to geopolitics.

In general, then, the farther up the ladder we go, the more we see leaders who are concerned with geopolitics and limited war.  McNamara and Westmoreland were only one or two steps from the top of the ladder and were therefore more cognizant of the importance of limited war than most soldiers and officers at the lower levels.

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