A commander of U.S. troops during the Vietnam War says the Persian Gulf war will be much different because this time the United States is using all its might.
"The Vietnam War was a limited war with limited objectives, fought with limited means and with limited public support," said retired Gen. William Westmoreland in a copyright article in Tuesday's edition of the Post-Courier.Westmoreland, 76, a resident of Charleston, was commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. The published interview was his first since the gulf war began last week.
Westmoreland said he attended a Pentagon briefing the day U.S. air strikes against Iraq began but the military has not asked for his opinion or
"They don't need any advice and if I were in their position I wouldn't want any old soldiers trying to look over my shoulder and tell me what to do," he said. "I've been retired almost 19 years and although I've fought three wars, they don't need my advice."
Westmoreland said he sees many contrasts with the Vietnam War.
Most significant was President Bush's assurances that this war would not be like Vietnam and that U.S. troops would not have to fight Iraq with "one arm tied behind their backs," he said.
"I'm not surprised that Mr. Bush has made that point," Westmoreland said. "It's welcome to most of us, particularly those of us who fought in Vietnam."
Another important difference is that the Vietnam War was fought by draftees while the current troops volunteered.
"People aren't as opposed to what we have now, where they're all volunteers," he said. "That does, from the standpoint of public support, make a major difference," he said.
Weaponry is also much greater this time, he said.