Jan. 10, 1963 - Gen. Paul D. Harkins (right), commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, issued a strong statement today defending the courage of the Vietnamese soldier. Sources said General Harkins’ statement had come as a result of criticism following the defeat suffered by Government troops in the recent battle of Ap Bac. The General said: “I believe that anyone who criticizes the fighting quality of the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam is doing a disservice to thousands of gallant and courageous men who are fighting so well in the defense of their country.” Many advisers feel that the problem of Ap Bac was not a question of the courage of the Vietnamese soldier. In general, Americans in Vietnam feel real affection and respect for the Vietnamese private. However, they feel that there is still too much political interference in the Vietnamese army and that promotion too often depends on political loyalty rather than military ability. Some commanders are said to feel that they will not be promoted and may lose command if they suffer too many casualties.
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