Made during the Vietnam War in 1965, this U.S. Army film shows how guerrilla warfare strategies were researched at the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground. On June 15, 1962 the Limited War Laboratory was established under the chief of research and development. Roughly 12 years later the laboratory was closed, in the wake of the failure of strategy in Vietnam.
After the end of the Second World War, the United States military, the Army especially, saw its mission as one of countering potential Soviet aggression. If this were to come, the most likely battlefield would be in Northern Europe. With the Soviet Union’s acquisition of nuclear weapons the two world powers settled into the Cold War. Though a major land war between the two in Europe would have been catastrophic, other fronts presented more potential. By supporting insurgencies around the world the Soviet Union could needle the United States without risking nuclear war.
It was in response to these threats that the U.S. Army created the Limited War Laboratory (USALWL or just LWL) in 1962 at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Other U.S. Army development activities were largely focused on the potential for open warfare with the Soviets. Insurgents on the other had presented an almost completely different adversary, against which the full conventional power of the U.S. military could not always be directed.
The LWL was directed to develop and provide new and improved weapons and equipment to U.S. forces who might find themselves engaged with these forces. At the time, the U.S. was steadily increasing its involvement in Southeast Asia, for instance. A number of insurgencies threatened U.S.-friendly governments in the region. As time went on, the LWL would become very much involved in development equipment for U.S. forces in Vietnam, where counter-insurgency was the name of the game. Its projects dealt not just with weapons, but also various pieces of equipment designed to help with or improve communications, logistics, and even simple survival in the field. In the aftermath of Vietnam, as the U.S. military as a whole worked hard to return to what it understood as traditional warfighting, work at the LWL steadily slowed down. It was also subjected to increasing reviews of its basic function and necessity. It had already been named the Land Warfare Laboratory in 1970 in an attempt to distance the activity from the fighting in Southeast Asia and broaden its scope. The acronym remained the same. In February 1974, however, the decision was made to inactivate the LWL and on June 30, 1974 the laboratory closed its doors.
At the 3 minute mark, the LWL is shown researching a new helicopter-launched smoke munition. Counter-ambush weapons are shown at 5:21 with mines mounted on the side of a truck. A special device at the 6:10 mark is shown, that helps a helicopter pilot know from which direction shots are fired. Dog research is shown at the 6:30 mark, for ambush detection. Electronics research is seen at 8 minutes focusing on communications, with AN-PRC64 radios for jungle use. Survival supplies and emergency kit research is also shown at the 9:30 mark. Lightweight helicopter landing pads and other devices are shown at the 10:30 mark. A man-propelled load carrying device is seen at 11:00, with testing conducted by Special Forces.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com