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Lack of Communication Between Vietnamese and American Advisers Blamed for Losses

Jan. 19, 1963 - Vietnamese field commanders are being told to be more receptive to recommendations of American advisers, sources said today. The move was the outcome of the Battle of Ap Bac “goof-up” earlier this month, in which 3 Americans were killed in action, 10 Americans wounded, and 5 U.S. Army helicopters shot down, 4 of which were later recovered. Sixty-five Vietnamese troops were killed as well as more than 100 Communist guerrillas. American officers complained that during critical moments of the Ap Bac battle their advice was unheeded and Vietnamese commanders lacked decisiveness. They blame poor leadership, lack of initiative, and unwillingness to engage in a “buzzsaw fight” with Viet Cong guerrillas out of fear of reprimands from superiors for casualties or equipment losses. High American officials are known to have approached President Ngo Dinh Diem to curb this fear.

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