“Life of a solider-then and now”
Vietnam War is the conflict between the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and the Republic of Vietnam that is supported by the United States government, on 1956 up to April 30, 1975. In March 20, 2003, the United States is once again involved in war (provoked by terrorists attacks which is results to the invasion of territories in Iraq), commonly known as the Iraq War. By some means, certain similarities and differences can be observed from the Vietnam War and Iraq War. Conversely, it presents certain similarities and differences in the life of a soldier.
From a tactical point of view, life experiences of soldiers in Vietnam War and in the Iraq war are entirely different based on the nature of insurgent warfare. In Vietnam War, the soldiers have to fight both the Vietnamese army as well as random guerrillas. The soldiers of the United States and their allies have to battle against a Maoist model insurgency, peasant-based, three-stage and centrally directed enemies. In addition to this, their enemies have an agenda that is clear and well publicized in almost all aspects (social, economic and political). On the other hand, the soldiers of the United States have to battle against a variety of small and scattered groups that launch small-scale wars. Almost everyday, the soldiers experience threats and deaths from assassinations, sabotage missions, ambushes and car bombings. “The mayhem continues in Iraq, with today at least 40 people dead, including five US soldiers in Diyala province” (“A Soldiers Blog”). In addition to this, “two suicide bombers detonated themselves after walking into a crowd of police officers in Hilla, south of Baghdad” (“A Soldiers Blog”).
Soldiers in Vietnam had to experience huge resistance because the Communists in South Vietnam have wide external access to sophisticated weaponry, which increases in number everyday. In addition to this, the enemies are well armed with captured, stolen and homemade weapons. The Communists have AK-47, MAT 49 7.62 mm SMG, type-24 7.92mm HMG, MAKAROV, SKS rifles, PPSh41, Chinese AK47, mortars, artilleries and rocket launchers. “By daylight they took sniper fire, at night they were mortared” (O’Brien 15). In Iraq, the soldiers are well armed and they fight against enemies with ammunitions and weapons that can be commonly found in the country. Most of the terrorists have AK-47 and improvised explosive devices. However, the soldiers are well protected against these weapons because of the development of armor-plated vehicles and Kevlar jackets. They are also equipped with GPS system and robots that detect bombs or improvised explosive devices. They soldiers in Iraq had weapons, ammunitions, vehicles and equipments which they did not have in the Vietnam War.
In terms of consequences, Iraq and Vietnam War have similarities. The soldiers have to endure and suffer sleepless nights; unsure whether they would be still alive tomorrow or not. “My conscience told me to run, but some irrational and powerful force was resisting, like a weight pushing me toward the war” (O’Brien 52). There are soldiers who were traumatized and some were incapacitated. The soldiers, because of these wars, have to leave their friends, colleagues and families they treasure. In Vietnam and in the Iraq War, the soldiers experience a world where every action and every second in the battlefield dictates their lives.
“A Soldiers Blog”. 2006. May 31 2008. <http://asoldiersblog.blogspot.com/>.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Broadway Books, 1998.