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1968

General Westmoreland gives farewell press conference in Saigon

At a Saigon news conference on the day he is to turn over command of U.S. forces in Vietnam to Gen. Creighton Abrams, Gen. William Westmoreland offers his assessment of past and current trends in the war. In defense of his attrition policy, Westmoreland declared that it would ultimately make continued fighting “intolerable to the enemy.” He also explained that, because it was impossible to “cut a surface line of communication with other than ground operations,” Washington’s ban on ground attacks to interdict communist infiltration through Laos precluded the achievement of military victory. Westmoreland denied, however, that the military situation was stalemated. 

 Westmoreland’s approach to the war had all but been discredited by the communist Tet Offensive, which was launched in January 30, 1968. In the wake of the widespread Viet Cong and North Vietnamese attacks, there was a review of U.S. policy by the Johnson administration. When it was decided to de-escalate the war, halt the bombing of North Vietnam, and go to the negotiating table, Westmoreland was reassigned to become the Army Chief of Staff, a post he held until his retirement from the service in 1972.

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