43 years ago today: Westmoreland leaves Vietnam

On this day in 1968, General William Westmoreland turned over his command of the U.S. forces in Vietnam to General Creighton Abrams. Watch a 1981 interview with Westmoreland here, part of Open Vault’s Vietnam Collection.

From the time he took command in 1964, General Westmoreland adopted a war strategy of attrition. To do so, he drastically increased troop deployment to Vietnam – ultimately requesting up to 700,000 soldiers. General Westmoreland also pushed for broadening the war to engage the enemy hiding in neighboring countries.

His strategy would later come under criticism from both the public and leaders in Washington. The January 1968 Tet Offensive prompted serious questions about both Westmoreland’s attrition strategy and America’s involvement in Vietnam. His departure was seen as a reaction to these questions.

Watch the interview to hear Westmoreland’s take on the Vietnam War.

– by Jon Rzepala