American and Viet Losses in War: In the Ballpark?

The Washington Post, Sunday, October 28, 2012:  BOOK WORLD


THE GENERALS, American Military Command From World War II to Today, by Thomas E. Ricks, Penguin Press

…”Then, in South Vietnam under (General) William Westmoreland, came another nadir in American generalship.  Westmoreland was convinced that the way to win was through a strategy of attrition that would kill off the Viet Cong guerrillas and the regular North Vietnamese army faster than they could replace the losses…”  

Author Ricks, quoting General William DePuy, the intellectual advocate of the strategy as Westmoreland’s operations officer, admitted the attrition strategy’s futility years later:  “We …didn’t know about the redoubtable nature of the North Vietnamese regime.  We didn’t know what steadfast, stubborn, dedicated people they were.  Their willingness to absorb losses compared with ours wasn’t even in the same ballpark.” 

For interpretation of the baseball metaphor, go to  The original baseball meaning for in the ball park is: “The ball was hit hard, but stayed in the ball park;”  the metaphoric equivalent relates to an acceptable figure or proposal. 



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