The battle of Khe Sanh was won and the Vietnam war was lost at the same time. Expendable Warriors describes at multiple levels the soldiers and Marines who were expendable in the American political chaos of Vietnam, 1968.
On January 21, 1968, nine days before the Tet offensive, tens of thousands of North Vietnamese regulars began the attacks on the Khe Sanh plateau, which led to the siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. General Westmoreland was fully aware that the North Vietnamese would attack but he declined to alert or warn the small unit of American soldiers and Marines serving in the Khe Sanh village in an advisory capacity, considering them expendable in the greater strategy of fighting a set piece firepower intensive battle. Not just an analysis of the battle, Expendable Warriors also ponders the question of how to win an unpopular war on foreign soil, linking battlefield events to political reality.
Since the Vietnam War was the first to be brought into America’s living rooms in almost real time, the average citizen was able to experience the horror of war on a daily basis. As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John “Jack” Vessey states, in his foreward to Expendable Warriors, “Bruce highlights that…because the battles around Khe Sanh lasted seventy-seven days and the ‘agony of Khe Sanh’ played in the press for that period this series of battles was, as pointed out, the culminating point of the Vietnam War.”
The battle of Khe Sanh was won and the Vietnam War was lost at the same time. Colonel Clarke’s first hand experience in that gruesome battle combined with his political and military insight have allowed him to describe that battle on multiple levels, from the individual soldier in the trenches, to the families of MIAs, to the strategy of President Johnson and General Westmoreland.
In Expendable Warriors Colonel Clarke brings together the stories of many of his fellow warriors. This account draws on the experiences of the brave men who fought the Battle of Khe Sanh Village and endured the siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base and through their stories reveals the exhilaration and agony that is war. In telling their stories, in the most descriptive and visceral manner, the actual participants make the agony, despair, and valor that is war come alive. Expendable Warriors: Khe Sanh and the Vietnam War is not merely an explanation of the past, but a guidebook for the future.
Colonel Clarke’s analysis of the events around Khe Sanh is as applicable to today’s events as it is to analysis of what happened almost 40 years ago. The participants in the book believe that they owe it to the next generation of brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines that they will not have to endure similar tests of their courage and determination for naught.
Why Bruce Clarke?
Colonel Bruce B.G. Clarke was a soldier before he was born. His father was killed in action, and his mother, as long as he can remember, was called “Colonel.” Following that legacy, Bruce Clarke became a cadet at West Point, where he overloaded on political science courses and graduated third in his class in military history. Before going to Vietnam, as a ranger and airborne qualified officer, he commanded a 160-man airborne cavalry troop.
As the only American officer who fought in Khe Sanh village before the siege, commanded part of the perimeter at the combat base during the siege, and then helped plan the relief operations, Bruce Clarke brings a unique and untold perspective to this defining battle of the Vietnam War. As General John Vessey says, “Colonel Clarke has had a unique perspective on the battles that raged on the Khe Sanh Plateau in early 1968…[a battle that] has never been adequately reported in existing histories.” He goes on to say, “Colonel Clarke’s analysis of the events around Khe Sanh is must reading for future combat leaders. In fact, it should be read by everyone. We should all heed Bruce’s admonition that ‘We need to learn from our mistakes and ensure that we don’t repeat them. We owe it to the next generation of brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that they will not have to endure similar tests of their courage and determination.’”
Imprint: Praeger Security International
On Sale: February 28, 2007
List Price: $49.95
Publisher: Stackpole Books
On Sale: April 2009
List Price: $18.95