In 1965, Westmoreland developed the aggressive strategy of 'search and destroy'. The objective was to find and then kill members of the National Liberation Front. The US soldiers found this difficult. As one marine captain explained: "You never knew who was the enemy and who was the friend. They all looked alike. They all dressed alike." Innocent civilians were often killed by mistake. As one Marine officer admitted they "were usually counted as enemy dead, under the unwritten rule 'If he's dead and Vietnamese, he's VC'."
Americans deny firing on civilians as 70 die
By Chris Johnston
ABOUT 70 Iraqis have been killed by American air strikes on two villages near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
The US military said the attacks on Sunday, near a site where five American soldiers died in a roadside blast on Saturday, killed 70 militants. But residents said at least 39 of the dead were civilians. A roadside bomb killed the US troops in a vehicle in the Al-Bu Ubaid village on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi.
About 25 Iraqis gathered around the wreckage and were hit by the air strikes. The military said the crowd was setting another roadside bomb when F15 jets hit them, killing about 20 people it called “terrorists”.
But many residents said they were civilians taking pieces of the wreckage, as often happens after an American vehicle is hit.