Fiction in Name Only (2): The Weyand Brief

Continuing my commentary on the premise that Last of the Annamese is fiction in name only, the novel reports on the visit of General Frederick C. Weyand to Saigon between 28 March and 4 April 1975. Weyand was the last commander of U.S. military operations in Vietnam from 1972 to 1973 and served as the 28th U.S. Army Chief of Staff from 1974 to 1976. His trip to Vietnam, at the behest of President Ford, was to assess the military situation. Toward the end of his itinerary, he was briefed by representatives of the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) Intelligence Branch. I attended that briefing. In Last of the Annamese, I attributed the summary of the military situation in South Vietnam given to General Weyand at that briefing to the novel’s protagonist, Chuck Griffin. The text of Chuck’s assessment is based on my memory of what General Weyand was actually told. The assessment is quoted below:

The northern half of South Vietnam is lost. The southern half could survive temporarily under three conditions:

  1. the government is able to extract its forces from the north intact;
  2. the North Vietnamese do not increase their forces in the south; and
  3. the U.S. immediately resumes the air war and delivers essential ammunition, equipment, and supplies.

As this is written, it is clear that none of these conditions will be met. Casualties in the north have been overwhelming, and the remaining troops are in rout. Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese are infiltrating the southern provinces at an unprecedented rate. And the United States has ceased its matériel and air support. In short, what is left of South Vietnam will fall within weeks.

In the long term, the only option available to avoid capitulation is the reintroduction of U.S. forces—ground, naval, and air. President Nixon promised to bring U.S. military strength to bear if North Vietnam violated the Paris Agreement. Gross violations by North Vietnam are now legion. Failure to rescue Vietnam will be recognized world-wide as evidence of bad faith.

End of quote. South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese less than a month later.

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