From Strategy and Policy department
May 10, 2013
NEWPORT, R.I. -- Dean of academic affairs, professor John Garofano, delivered a lecture on American civil-military relations during the Vietnam War for the U. S. Naval War College’s (NWC) senior-level Strategy and Policy course on May 9.
The passing of almost 40 years since the end of the American involvement in the fighting in Southeast Asia has not diminished the controversy surrounding the conflict. Garofano, a respected historian and analyst of civil-military relations, cut through the many myths about the conflict and provided students an assessment of how well our nation’s institutions withstood the test of war during this prolonged and divisive struggle. The experience of the Vietnam War has had lasting impact on the nation’s civil-military relationship and Garofano explored with the students the conflict’s legacy for American strategic culture.
The case study on the Vietnam War forms part of NWC’s senior-level course on grand strategy. It builds on previous case studies such as, the struggle for independence, the American Civil War, World War II, and the Korean War. Classic readings on strategic leadership also examine the civil-military fabric in the United States.
Students examine the difficulties that American strategic leaders faced during the Vietnam War with the frictions of civil-military relations, the knotty chain of command extending from Washington to Saigon, the doctrinal rigidity or bureaucratic repertoires of military service and civilian agencies, the limitations of the South Vietnamese government and army, the challenges of strategic communication in the face of effective communist propaganda, and the dissipation of congressional support as the war became protracted.
Students are asked to evaluate the roles, relationships, and functions of the president, the SECDEF, CJCS, JCS, combatant commanders, and service chiefs with an emphasis on how their decision affected operational and strategic outcomes.
In coming weeks, students in the senior-level course will examine American grand strategy from the end of Vietnam War to the present-day policy and strategy dilemmas facing our nation’s leaders in conducting ongoing conflicts and in managing the changes taking place in the international strategic environment.
Garofano’s research interests include civil-military relations, military intervention, Asian security, and the making of U.S. foreign policy. Before coming to join the NWC faculty, he served as a Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, taught at the U.S. Army War College, the Five Colleges of Western Massachusetts, and the University of Southern California. Garofano received a doctorate and master’s degree in government from Cornell University, an M.A. in security studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (Bologna/Washington), and a bachelor’s degree in history from Bates College. His book, “Deep Currents and Rising Tides: The Indian Ocean and International Security,” co-edited with NWC professor Andrea Dew, has just been published by the Georgetown University Press.