A New Kind Of War: JFK’s Prophetic Remarks at West Point in 1962

JFK at West Point 1962, forwhattheygave.com

These are some of the remarks that JFK made in 1962 to the graduating class at West Point.  The context was the fight against communism that was raging in Asia. I found this quote in the book “Legend” by Eric Blehm, which tells the story of Roy Benavidez, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. JFK’s words were written in the front of the training manual for the Green Berets.

He points to the fact that America was facing a different kind of war. One with different opponents, different objectives, and different requirements. His remarks were true enough then and he may not have known how much they would describe the evolution of war against extremist forces in the next 50 years.

“This is another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin–war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat; by infiltration, instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It is a form of warfare uniquely adapted to what has been strangely called “wars of liberation,” to undermine the efforts of new and poor countries to maintain the freedom that they have finally achieved. It preys on economic unrest and ethnic conflicts. It requires in those situations where we must counter it, and these are the kinds of challenges that will be before us in the next decade if freedom is to be saved, a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore a new and wholly different kind of military training.”

Source: John F. Kennedy: Remarks at West Point to the Graduating Class of the U.S. Military Academy.

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