Many, many years after Seymour Hersh shocked America with the revelations of what President Nixon described as the 'isolated incident' of My Lai , Tiger Force presents another example of the fascinating but by now sadly familiar tale of war crimes by US soldiers in Vietnam, revealing such actions to be far from singular occurrences.
Tiger Force were an almost secret semi-guerilla unit, designed to fight the Viet Cong on their own turf and in their own way, using methods ordinary US line units wouldn't employ. Unfortunately, but very predictably, things quickly got out of hand. Or, and worse still, a culture of racist imperialist violence was actively fostered, not always overtly or in such stark terms, but sometimes hidden under such elastic euphemisms as 'free-fire zones'.
What's perhaps most puzzling to someone like me is that anybody's surprised that war encourages such things: the grunts and the peasants are always on the sharp end. The former, young men, many from the lower sections of society, often from poor or rough backgrounds, get to vent their unresolved adolescent anger upon the hapless civilian innocents, both soldiers and civilians being caught in the crossfire of huge vague ideological currents that are stoked and fanned by older men, miles away from dirt and death on the ground. It's an obvious recipe for hell on earth.
A shorter piece by Sallah on this topic can be read here.
 Read Hersh on this subject here.
 It was LBJ, president Johnson, who famously used the 'hearts and minds phrase'. There's also a 1975 documentary on Vietnam by that name, which is worth watching.
 This picture shows a member of a Tiger Force having a punji stick wound dressed in the field. Punji sticks are sharpened bamboo stakes which were often smeared with human faeces, designed to cause infections of the wounds they would cause if stepped upon.
 At the time Apsey started his investigations Tiger Force was a shadowy unit, with hardly any official trace to be found. That's no longer true. As well as the infamy of this sad story, it should also be remembered that the unit served with distinction in Vietnam. It wasn't all rampant butchery. Now there's a website devoted to the unit, past and present (visit it here). And yes, there is still a Tiger Force unit in existence as part of the 101st Airborne.