Leadership in the American army - from Vietnam to Iraq

Published: 8 March 2007

A leading expert in the development of the American army in the twentieth century will visit the University of Glasgow on 13 March 2007

A leading expert in the development of the American army in the twentieth century, Professor Lewis Sorley, will visit the University of Glasgow on 13 March 2007 to lecture on leadership in the American military. The lecture will draw comparisons between leadership in the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy and the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Army Historical Foundation, Professor Sorley will focus his discussion on the military career of Creighton Abrams.

Abrams was a distinguished tank commander in the Second World War and in 1968 became US commander in Vietnam. He was made responsible for Vietnamization, a programme to encourage the South Vietnamese government to take more responsibility for fighting the war in order to implement withdrawal of US military personnel.

In view of the current challenges facing the US army in Iraq, Abrams offers an interesting case study of leadership in the American military.

Professor Sorley said: 'In the midst of the Vietnam War Abrams took command of American forces there and brought to bear a new understanding of the nature of the war and how it ought to be fought. Shifting from an inherited fixation on 'body count' as the measure of merit, he emphasized security of the population and upgrading South Vietnam's own capabilities for defence and governance and helped the South Vietnamese achieve remarkable success.

'On his last night in Vietnam Abrams spoke to some of his closest associates. 'The longer I serve,' he told them, 'the more I become convinced that the single most important attribute of the professional officer is integrity.' General John Vessey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argued that Abrams had laid the basis for American fighting methods in the First Gulf War, a legacy that persists to this day.'

Professor Sorley has published a number of award-winning books including his biography of Commander Harold K Johnson, Honorable Warrior: General Harold K. Johnson and the Ethics of Command, which won the the Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Book Award, and A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

The lecture will take place at 5.15pm on Tuesday 13 March in the Lecture Room, 2 University Gardens, Glasgow University. The event is free and open to the public. Professor Sorley will also be available to answer questions after the lecture.

The lecture is part of the Scottish Centre for War Studies Seminar Series.

Kate Richardson (K.Richardson@admin.gla.ac.uk)

Journalists are invited to the event and should contact Kate Richardson in the University of Glasgow's Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3683 or email K.Richardson@admin.gla.ac.uk

First published: 8 March 2007

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