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The greatest tragedy is war but so long as there is mankind there will be war -Jomini The Art of War On March 16 1968 Charlie Company of the Americal Division moved into the hamlet of My Lai and committed one of the most brutal atrocities in the Vietnam War and American history However much their actions resulted from inherent stresses of the war their brutal targeting of noncombatants was said to be an exceptional deviation from orders Some 500 civilians were killed and it was not until a year later with a letter from Ron Ridenhour that the Criminal Investigation Division of the US Army checked the validity of the accusation Then General Peers was asked to head a Commission to determine what happened and who was at fault Since then countless attempts have been made to explain how such an atrocity could have occurred One of the strongest suggests that as an attempt to lift the demoralized spirit after the Tet offensive the Charlie company platoon leader Lt Calley led a mission to eliminate a Viet Cong stronghold in the vicinity of Son My village This mission succeeded only in the death of unarmed innocent men women children and babies thus revealing the brutal nature of war To understand why the My Lai incident happened one must understand the events leading to it In 1967 the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front NLF decided the time had come to launch an all out offensive aimed at the Army of the Republic of Vietnam ARVN and US forces In December of 1967 the North Vietnamese attacked the US marine base at Khe Sanh General Westmoreland the commanding US military
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