From battlefield to shop floor
Lessons of war can be applied to setting priorities for improvement projects
By Satya S. Chakravorty
In January 1962, following the orders of President John F. Kennedy in Operation Chopper, U.S. Army pilots flew helicopters to ferry 1,000 South Vietnamese soldiers, initiating the first American combat mission in Vietnam. Eight years before, after Vietnam defeated the French, Vietnam was divided at the 17th parallel into North and South. The provisional demarcation had no real political, social or economic significance except to allow the French to exit the country safely. The North had support from what was then the Soviet Union and China, and the South had the support of the United States. Guerilla forces from the North continued to attack the South, and the situation was deteriorating, especially in places like the Mekong Delta. On Nov. 24, 1963, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson said, “The battle against communism … must be joined … with strength and determination.” A few months after making that statement, Johnson began Operation Rolling Thunder, a bombing campaign to break the spirit of the North.
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