Some Even Volunteered — The First Wolfhounds Pacify Vietnam, by Alfred S. Bradford
Alfred Bradford served as the pacification officer for the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry of the 25th Infantry Division from 1968 to 1969. His focus is on the pacification program, which was not as successful as the title would indicate. The first part of the title has a vague connection to the book because there is not much on what brought different people into the Army.
The book focuses on an area about 50 miles NW of Saigon. Bradford attempts to make pacification work in spite of corruption of the Vietnamese and a lack of understanding by American policy makers on what a pacification program was supposed to do and what criteria would be used to measure effectiveness. The numbers game without a policy that would give the villagers some freedom and self-respect was doomed from the start.
Bradford went to Viet Nam with an MA degree in ancient history, and sometimes his reflections on ancient historical events can be confusing to a reader without a classical background. In addition, the book does not have the solid information about pacification that is found in books by Corson and Flynn on pacification in the Marine Corps.
The lack of an index also limits the usefulness by researchers who might be studying pacification. I found this surprising in a book by an author with such an extensive historical background. The real positives are that Bradford recognized that his program could not be as successful as he planned due to policies in place. He also gives voice to veterans who thought they could create a better place or return to a world they could understand. Instead, upon their return to the U.S., the veterans felt alienated, hyper-vigilant, and safe only with their weapons near them and in the company of other veterans.
The book provides some added perspective about the Viet Nam War, but it is neither a good picture of operations of the unit nor one of the best on pacification.
(Praeger Publishers, 1994; 192 pp., $19.95 — ISBN 0275947858)