One of the highest-ranking United States civilian advisers in South Vietnam, Mr John Paul Vann, died on Friday night (9 June) when his helicopter crashed in flames.
CU Vann speaking
SOF IN: "I believe that..."
SOF ENDS:"...his army".
VANN: "For the first time in the history of this conflict the enemy has gone conventional. I believe, based upon my sixteen years in combat activities, both as a soldier and as a civilian, in World, war II, Korea and Vietnam....I believe that he has made a mistake, about on the magnitude of his Tet offensive in 1968, which had very favourable results for South Vietnam and its counter-insurgency actions, supported by the U.S., in the subsequent three to four years. I think the mistake he has made, is that he has committed the over-whelming majority of his regular army into a battle that is largely relying on logistics. He did not anticipates having the huge logistical problem that the United States President's action has now given him. Because he has this problem, he essentially is going to be back out of Vietnam within six months...and without his army.
Initials SGM/1230 SGM/1216
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: One of the highest-ranking United States civilian advisers in South Vietnam, Mr John Paul Vann, died on Friday night (9 June) when his helicopter crashed in flames. Mr Vann was flying to the embattled Central Highlands city of Kontum, in whose defense he had been a key figure.
Mr Vann was a near-legendary figure in Vietnam. He had served there as early as 1962, before the United States became deeply involved in the war. In 1963, he resigned as an army officer over what he considered excessive aid to South Vietnam. But, in 1965 he returned as a civilian adviser and at the time of his death was regarded as the third most influential American in Vietnam after Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and General Creighton Abrams, the U.S. military commander.
This interview with Mr Vann was made a little over a week before his death, and is one of the last he gave. In it, he assesses the situation in South Vietnam in light of the North Vietnam offensive.