Center of Military History | 2015 | ISBN: N/A | English | 56 pages | PDF (e-book) | 5 MB
The twelve years between the end of the Korean War in the spring of 1953 and the deployment of ground combat troops to Vietnam in the spring of 1965 were stressful ones for the U.S. Army. It had to adjust to the budget and manpower cuts that typify the end of a major war while at the same time maintaining an unprecedented level of preparedness due to ongoing tensions between the United States and the two leaders of the Communist bloc—the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Moreover, the proliferation of atomic weapons, first developed in 1945, raised existential questions about the nature of future wars and the role ground forces would play in them. The Army would spend the remaining years of the 1950s struggling with an identity crisis, trying to prove to itself and to others that it remained relevant in the nuclear age. By the end of the decade, the Army had indeed developed organizations, weapons, and doctrine to address the challenges of nuclear war. No sooner had it done so than the rules of the game changed, as the Communist powers adopted a strategy of fostering revolutions in weak and underdeveloped countries as a means of spreading their political doctrine without risking a direct confrontation with the United States that might spark a thermonuclear exchange. Once again, the Army rose to the occasion with new organizations, equipment, and doctrine. All of these challenges made the period one of the most tumultuous in the history of the peacetime Army—an Army that stood on the brink of one of its most tumultuous wars.