The Vietnam War from the Rear Echelon

An Intelligence Officer's Memoir, 1972-1973

Timothy J. Lomperis

Timothy Lomperis knows the Vietnam War, both as a soldier and as a scholar. In the latter role he has published extensively, including The War Everyone Lost—and Won, hailed as one of the best books ever written on that conflict. Even though he served two tours "in country" during the war's most frustrating period-from the infamous Easter Invasion through the Paris Peace negotiations-this is the first time he has written about the war from such a personal perspective.

An intelligence officer at the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), Lomperis and his comrades were tasked with translating Washington war policy into action. Lomperis provides a rare view of the war from the perspective of a rear echelon officer. He and other so-called REMFs were deeply involved in trying to devise and implement strategies that would the win the war. This largely neglected perspective takes center stage in Lomperis's memoir, presenting a seldom-seen midlevel perspective that provides the missing links between the Washington-Hanoi peace negotiations and the deadly battles between troops in the field.

“A significant contribution to our understanding of the war and an entertaining story for the general reader.

—Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute

“Lomperis has crafted a useful study of the war through a synthesis of memoir and historical analysis. . . . Lomperis provides a stimulating analysis of the United States intelligence officer during the last American phase of the Vietnam War. His compendium on the history of the war intertwined with his personal account, offers a new, dynamic source of information to Vietnam War scholars concerned with day-to-day intelligence activities at the ground level. . . . In addition to his research and discussion, Lomperis provides a concise timeline of the war as well as a useful glossary aptly titled ‘Nam Speak.’ Scholars will find this work as an excellent foundation to further research on the role that intelligence officers played during the Vietnam War.

—H-Net Reviews
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In exposing the inner workings of a military headquarters during wartime, Lomperis recounts the tensions of a command caught between the political imperatives of Washington and the deteriorating military situation on the ground. Involved in the planning and execution of Nixon's 1972 Christmas Bombing Campaign, designed to push the North Vietnamese into peace negotiations, Lomperis sheds new light on Nixon's "secret plan to end the war" while offering rare glimpses of military operations and decision making on the ground in Saigon. Giving color to the REMF story, he also offers a portrait of life in wartime Saigon, writing with genuine respect for and curiosity about Vietnamese culture. And ultimately, he describes his own moral conundrum as the son of missionaries and an initial Cold Warrior who undergoes a gradual disillusionment that resolves into peaceful reconciliation.

This incisive memoir is essential for better comprehending what the Vietnam experience was like for the large contingent of Americans who served there. It suggests the need for some fundamental rethinking about Vietnam-not only for the war's veterans but also for those concerned with the lessons it carries for U.S. involvement in current insurgencies.

About the Author

Timothy J. Lomperis, a Bronze Star veteran, is professor of political science at Saint Louis University and author of several books, including From People’s War to People’s Rule: Insurgency, Intervention, and the Lessons of Vietnam.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series