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During the Vietnam War, geopolitical considerations led the government to impose very strict rules of engagement on the soldiers and to carefully limit the scope of the war. For example, the government officially banned any incursions into other countries even though the enemy was using the “Ho Chi Minh Trail” as a major supply route.
From the perspective of the average soldier, this was very frustrating. The soldiers were risking their lives and were being prevented from doing things that would have made survival more likely. The soldiers would of course have liked less restrictive rules of engagement. They would have liked to be able to interdict the Ho Chi Minh trail and thereby reduce the enemy’s capacity to fight. But this was not possible due to the needs of the government. Therefore, from the perspective of the solider, the rules of engagement and the idea of limited war were just two more factors that made it harder for them to try to win the war and to survive it.
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