One of the main worries of the American army in South Vietnam has been the quality of the Vietnamese leadership, at the junior officer level.
One of the main worries of the American army in South Vietnam has been the quality of the Vietnamese leadership, at the junior officer level. This becomes all the more important as more American troops are withdrawn, leaving the Vietnamese to lead themselves. One answer to this is the National Military Academy of Vietnam at Da Lat, 150 miles north of Saigon. The four-year course turns out officers capable of leading their men into battle, or so it's hoped by the Vietnamese and American military--of the 332 cadets that graduated last December, 5 per cent have been killed in battle.
This film includes a narration by National Broadcasting Company reporter Don North.
SYNOPSIS: While American troop withdrawals from Vietnam continue, one of the main problems of Vietnam's armed forces is a lack of leadership, particularly at the junior officer level. President Nixon has ordered nearly 70,000 men home before the First of December...and behind them they will have to leave trained Vietnamese officers. Here at the National Military Academy in Da Lat, 150 miles north of Saigon, after years of U.S. pressure and 20 million dollars aid, they may finally be producing a new breed of officer. American and Vietnamese officials are enthusiastic about the quality of the officers being turned out here but a true assessment of their field quality is still difficult. Only 332 cadets have gone through the four-year course so far...of the class that graduated last December, 5 per cent have already been killed in battle, mostly in Laos.
To enter, a cadet must have the equivalent of a college degree--few students in Vietnam can afford to attain this standard, so the majority of the cadets come from the economic and social upper classes, Until basic educational standards are raised in the country, the elite character of the cadets is not likely to change But the attempt to make the children of the upper classes into tough, hardened men is impressive.
The chief of military training is Colonel Lyn Van Sou, who was once involved in an abortive Saigon coup. In an attempt to bring the officer cadets into closer contact with the people they will have to lead into battle, Colonel Sou has organised work parties on weekends to help farmers work the rice fields. If Colonel sou is right, the cadets who graduate from the Academy will not only be effective field officers, and later governments leaders, but may also for once command the respect of the Vietnamese people.