This is a British news clip from 1969. Thousands of reports were sent back
to homes in Britain, the USA and the rest of the world during the war. It
was the first time that the details of war were seen so clearly by ordinary
This clip was fairly typical of what was shown. In many ways it is balanced
and fair, in that it shows the realities of war. However, media coverage was
criticised by the military and politicians as being anti-war. A major reason
for this was probably that past wars had been covered in a very positive way,
ignoring defeats, disasters and also the sheer brutality of war.
This particular clip follows 'Operation Twinkletoes'. This was a search
and destroy mission in the area around the Sang Be river. Search and Destroy
Missions were meant to locate Viet Cong strongholds and destroy them.
They were often ineffective because it was impossible to tell the difference
between Viet Cong settlements and ordinary villages. Many villages were both.
The result was that many innocent civilians had their homes destroyed or were
killed. The worst example was the My Lai massacre of 300-400 civilians in
It is easy to see how these disasters occurred. Viet Cong tactics were terrifying
and they did generally have the support of many of the peasants. This made
the countryside a dangerous place for US troops who tended to shoot first
and ask questions later.