Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara … [the “S” stood for “Strange” … check it out] … apparently was totally confused as to why we did not win and the North Vietnamese did not quit after six months. He had planned on the war ending quickly. To ease his confusion, he ordered a review of all capital projects. So I had to visit a special office that was set up in Bangkok. Windows were covered over and the clerk-typist was a Major. So I spent a week writing up summaries. When I returned to Korat, I found that a newly arrived person had thrown out all of the Air Force Manuals that I needed to design projects because … “you are not allowed to have a personal copy of Air Force Manuals”. He had NO IDEA of what our mission was. I assigned a junior airman to play tennis with him on a daily basis. If I ever encountered any of these people back in the States, I might have brought treason charges against them.
A couple of years ago, in a hallway conversation, some retired GS-99 bureaucrat heard I had been at Korat and told me that the reason we lost the war was that our pilots used automobile names as call signs. I was incredulous and informed him that we also used the same take off times every day - 7am and 1pm - flew the same course, and altitude and airspeed - every day and often hit the same target - every day. He blanched; lost all his color and turned white; he had NO IDEA and was proud of it. Waboa. [Often, if a plane returned from the early strike with a good engine, they would pull off the tail and lay it on the ground, pull the engine and run it over to another 105 that was bombed up but had no engine and slap it in, and good to go… ] I suspect that the NVA gunners didn’t even need to aim; our times and refueling tracks were so consistent that all they had to do was point and shoot. They even had time for breakfast and lunch.
Same seminar. Standing around in a hallway waiting for the next session. Retired four-star USMC general. Asked him if he knew anything about what a former FAC described as Notams on a bulletin board announcing the targets for the next day’s B-52 strikes. Yes, check the internet for Purple Dragon. I checked and sure enough; declassified; heavily redacted, but very readable.
Secretary McNamara sort of denied there even WAS a “Ho Chi Minh Trail” … no, really … so he ordered movies made of it. Seriously. Read SOG by John Plaster for details.