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US soldiers went into war in South Vietnam and had the duty to organize how they will attack and outmaneuver Vietnamese soldiers. The US Soldiers were assigned to the 25th Infantry Division and immediately an arrival they started digging foxholes, to shield them against bullets and attacks from enemy soldiers.
This was one of the best platoons stationed in Vietnam but in recent days, it had suffered from heavy combat operations. After this unit was acquainted with the surrounding environment, it was set to carry out its first night ambush. The soldier on watch out fell asleep while the others were preparing themselves and the North Vietnamese Army walked into the ambush site and killed most of the troop members including private Gardner, many others were injured.
After the attacks, the soldiers organized themselves and followed the enemy into the north of their bunker, where along the way they encountered a mutilated body of one of them tied to a post. Unless we understand the major reasons why soldiers decide to become offensive, we should not condemn their actions whenever they are fighting battles which they have slim chances of winning.
As the soldiers were advancing northwards, they came into a village where they believed the Vietnamese soldiers were hiding. They inquired from the villagers about the presence of soldiers in their midst but got no reliable information though they found a lot of food and arms cache hidden there. Suffering from loss of their colleagues to enemies and defeat in combat, the soldiers started murdering and torturing both men and women, they came across(Halberstam 78).
Sergeant Barnes held hostage one woman and asked her husband information which could help capture their enemies but the husband gave no reliable information and Barnes killed the woman. The soldiers set the whole village on fire as a last attempt to quench their frustration and defeat and they resorted to gang rape of young girls but Sergeant Chris stopped the raping.
A closer look on this scene shows attempts by American soldiers to win war against their enemies but they did not understand the terrain. The Vietnamese soldiers knew their land very well and knew when and where to ambush from.
The Americans lost so many soldiers, they could not outsmart their enemies and so they started the village fire as a last attempt to make their enemies come closer so that the Americans can attack them. The enemies did not respond but attacked the platoon again on yet another patrol and the Americans lost many soldiers.
On the other hand, the soldiers could have started the fire so that they could scare the villagers to reveal information about the whereabouts of the Vietnamese soldiers.
Usually the villagers should have persuaded the soldiers to prevent spread of the fires but the villagers were not shaken by these actions of the Americans and that resulted to deaths of many of the villagers and the total destruction of the entire village. The villagers could not reveal any information, which could lead to the arrest of their own soldiers since they knew that this could lead to severe punishment from their soldiers and further more they respected the security from their own.
Burning down the whole village was meant to show other villagers nearby that American soldiers were very serious in settling for nothing other than cooperation from the civilians to get help to ambush Vietnamese soldiers since they had killed many Americans.
On the other hand, the village, which was burnt is the one where Americans found hidden food and arms cache so they believed that by burning down the whole place, Vietnamese will not find a place for settling down while planning another ambush and this will as well cut off any food supplies they were expecting from villagers.
Burning down the entire village on the other hand was a scheme, which was meant to burn the bodies of the people killed so that no one will have a clear count of the damage done. This was aimed at concealing evidence of the killings (Oliver 98).
Soldiers have used the scotched earth policy as a tactic for spreading fear to opponents. This as well helps to deprive off their opponents food and shelter supplies and so the opponents may be weakened in one way or the other and at the same time, the opponents will not find some well-hidden resting place for planning ambushes. This is the same strategy used by Americans to enable them to get time to plan attacks but lack was not on their side since eventually they lost the fight.
Halberstam, David. The making of a quagmire. Ed. New York: Knopf, 1988. Print.
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Oliver, Kendrick. The My Lai Massacre in American History and Memory. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2006. Print.