In war, soldiers must make the enemy an 'Other' in order to be able to kill them. In The Things They Carried, we see a lot of examples of the Vietnamese as the Other, but O'Brien twists the idea as well. Sometimes, the soldiers see Americans at home as the Other, since they haven't experienced the war. O'Brien also forces the Viet Cong out of the position of Other on occasion, making them human. And when the soldiers return from Vietnam to America, they discover that they are now Other to America, and America is Other to them.
The true Other to the soldiers in Vietnam are the civilians back home. While the soldiers may not be able to speak the language of the Vietnamese, it's the Americans civilians with whom the soldiers will truly never be able to communicate.
The Other in Vietnam is not the Vietnamese people themselves, but the war. O'Brien humanizes the Vietnamese time and time again, while presenting the war as a strange and implacable character.