The anatomy of military failure, peacetime defects of the military establishment and failure in war are closely connected to the painful record of Vietnam. Much of what went wrong in Vietnam resulted from military institutions that remain unreformed and which failed again in the Iran raid, Beirut, Grenada, and which continue to fail in converting manpower and money into effective military power.
President Clinton and his advisors conducting the war in Yugoslavia are getting deeper into fanciful and bookish polices of graduated escalation with ruthless impeccability. First of all, he failed to alert the military and the nation. He did not call the military into a state of readiness and this has caused a national embarrassment. Neither he nor his advisors ever served in the armed forces of this country or any other country.
As a veteran, I will stand solidly behind our service personnel who are committed, and I pray that none will suffer the pains of war that could result from lack of clear objectives and policies. What disturbs me very much is what I read in the Roundup letters of June 1, "Purple Hearts for Kovoso POWs was a mistake." I can hear that Vietnam stuff all over again. And I would much rather pass on that issue.
American troops are on the field, flying missions and soon they will be dropping food to those trapped in Kosovo. They were in neutral territory, patrolling their assigned area, and were attacked by fast-moving enemy patrols and captured. They did not intend to see hostile troops in this area, and prior to getting info from their unit, they were captured, then beaten with rifle butts, fist and who knows what.
The President of the United States has the authority and power to award them a Purple Heart. I would wait and try to get a full report prior to making public statements.
Lawrence D. Okendo
Veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam