Date of Award

Summer 8-2013

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Andrew A. Wiest

Advisor Department



This thesis uses government documents and post-combat interviews to explore the effectiveness of the American Advisory effort during the Vietnam War. This study focuses on the war in 1963 and 1964 before American ground forces entered the war and the advisory effort changed to include supporting American forces. By analyzing the reasons given by each advisor for his successes and failures, the American military could learn why the initial advisory effort failed, and why some American advisors could not work well with their counterparts in the Vietnamese leadership.

Chapter One examines the advisory effort as a whole before and during the service of the advisors in the Post-Combat Interview Project conducted by Dr. John G.Westover in 1963. The chapter discusses who the advisors were, what kind of training they received, and the historiography of the advisory effort in Vietnam. Chapter Two focuses on the Post-Combat Interview Project. Through interviews with four advisors in 1964, one can see the obstacles to the advisory effort and the varied results that each advisor achieved through his work. The interviews present the reader with the diversity within the advisory effort. Chapter Three looks at several government documents published during and after the advisory effort. These documents reveal the American government's opinion on why the advisory effort failed to create a powerful and stable Republic of Vietnam and what actions should have been taken to ensure success in this endeavor. The project ultimately finds that the problems mentioned by the advisors and by the studies done by the Department and Defense and the Department of State did inhibit the advisory effort, but the greatest challenge was the difference between the ARVN and US militaries.