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The Vietnam War was a long, costly and also divisive problem that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and also its major ally, the United States. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War in between the USA and also the Soviet Union. More than 3 million civilization (consisting of over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and even more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. 

Opposition to the battle in the United States bitterly separated Americans, even after President Rictough Nixon signed the Paris Peace Accords and ordered the withdrawal of U.S. pressures in 1973. Communist forces ended the battle by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975, and also the country was combined as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.

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Vietnam, a nation in Southeastern Asia on the eastern edge of the Indochinese peninsula, had been under French early american dominance given that the 1nine century.

During World War II, Japanese pressures got into Vietnam. To fight off both Japanese occupiers and the French colonial management, political leader Ho Chi Minh—motivated by Chinese and also Soviet communism—developed the Viet Minh, or the League for the Independence of Vietnam.


Following its 1945 defeat in World War II, Japan withattracted its pressures from Vietnam, leaving the French-educated Emperor Bao Dai in regulate. Seeing an chance to seize manage, Ho’s Viet Minh forces automatically climbed up, taking over the north city of Hanoi and declaring a Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) with Ho as president.

Seeking to reacquire manage of the region, France backed Emperor Bao and put up the state of Vietnam in July 1949, through the city of Saigon as its resources.

Both sides wanted the very same thing: a linked Vietnam. But while Ho and also his supporters wanted a nation modeled after other communist countries, Bao and also many kind of others wanted a Vietnam through close economic and social ties to the West.


Did you know? According to a survey by the Veterans Administration, some 500,000 of the 3 million troops that offered in Vietnam experienced from post-traumatic tension disorder, and rates of divorce, suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction were markedly greater among veterans.

When Did the Vietnam War Start?

The Vietnam War and active UNITED STATE involvement in the war started in 1954, though recurring dispute in the region had actually extended back several decades.

After Ho’s communist forces took power in the north, equipped conflict between north and also southern armies continued until the northern Viet Minh’s decisive victory in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. The French loss at the fight finished nearly a century of French colonial dominion in Indochina.

The succeeding treaty signed in July 1954 at a Geneva conference separation Vietnam alengthy the latitude known as the 17th Parallel (17 levels north latitude), via Ho in manage in the North and Bao in the South. The treaty also dubbed for nationwide elections for reunification to be organized in 1956.


In 1955, however, the strongly anti-communist politician Ngo Dinh Diem pumelted Emperor Bao aside to become president of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN), regularly described during that era as South Vietnam.

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The Viet Cong

With the Cold War intensifying international, the United States hardened its policies versus any kind of allies of the Soviet Union, and by 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower had pledged his firm assistance to Diem and also South Vietnam.

With training and devices from American military and also the CIA, Diem’s protection pressures cracked down on Viet Minh sympathizers in the southern, whom he derisively dubbed Viet Cong (or Vietnamese Communist), arrelaxing some 100,000 civilization, many kind of of whom were brutally tortured and executed.

By 1957, the Viet Cong and other adversaries of Diem’s repressive routine began fighting ago via attacks on federal government officials and other targets, and by 1959 they had actually begun engaging the South Vietnamese army in firefights.

In December 1960, Diem’s many type of adversaries within South Vietnam—both communist and also non-communist—formed the National Liberation Front (NLF) to organize resistance to the program. Though the NLF asserted to be autonomous and that many of its members were not communists, many kind of in Washington assumed it was a puppet of Hanoi.

Domino Theory

A team sent out by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to report on conditions in South Vietnam advised a buildup of Amerihave the right to army, financial and also technological help in order to help Diem challenge the Viet Cong hazard.


Working under the “domino concept,” which organized that if one Southeast Asian nation dropped to communism, many kind of various other countries would follow, Kennedy increased UNITED STATE assist, though he quit brief of committing to a large military treatment.

By 1962, the UNITED STATE armed forces existence in South Vietnam had reached some 9,000 troops, compared with fewer than 800 throughout the 1950s.

Gulf of Tonkin


A coup by some of his own generals prospered in toppling and killing Diem and also his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, in November 1963, 3 weeks before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

The taking place political instcapability in South Vietnam persuaded Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnkid, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to even more increase UNITED STATE military and also economic assistance.

In August of 1964, after DRV torpeexecute watercrafts assaulted two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, Johnchild ordered the retaliatory battle of army targets in North Vietnam. Congress soon passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which provided Johnboy wide war-making powers, and also UNITED STATE planes started consistent battle raids, codecalled Operation Rolling Thunder, the adhering to year.


The battle was not restricted to Vietnam; from 1964-1973, the United States covertly dropped 2 million tons of bombs on neighboring, neutral Laos throughout the CIA-led “Secret War” in Laos. The battle project was intended to disrupt the flow of provides throughout the Ho Chi Minh trail into Vietnam and to prevent the climb of the Pathet Lao, or Lao communist forces. The U.S. bombings made Laos the a lot of heavily bombed country per capita in the world.

In March 1965, Johnkid made the decision—with solid assistance from the Amerideserve to public—to send U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam. By June, 82,000 combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and armed forces leaders were calling for 175,000 even more by the end of 1965 to shore up the struggling South Vietnamese army.

Regardless of the pertains to of some of his advisers around this escalation, and around the entire battle initiative amid a flourishing anti-battle activity, Johnchild authorized the instant dispatch of 100,000 troops at the end of July 1965 and also another 100,000 in 1966. In addition to the United States, South Korea, Thailand also, Australia and also New Zealand also also committed troops to fight in South Vietnam (albeit on a a lot smaller scale).

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William Westmoreland also

In comparison to the air assaults on North Vietnam, the U.S.-South Vietnamese battle initiative in the south was combated mostly on the ground, mostly under the command also of General William Westmoreland also, in coordination via the government of General Nguyen Van Thieu in Saigon.


Westmoreland also sought a plan of attrition, aiming to kill as many type of enemy troops as possible rather than trying to secure region. By 1966, big areas of South Vietnam had actually been designated as “free-fire zones,” from which all innocent civilians were expected to have actually evacuated and just foe continued to be. Heavy bombing by B-52 aircraft or shelling made these zones uninhabitable, as refugees poured right into camps in designated safe areas close to Saigon and also various other cities.

Even as the adversary body count (at times exaggerated by UNITED STATE and also South Vietnamese authorities) placed steadily, DRV and Viet Cong troops refsupplied to sheight fighting, urged by the reality that they could easily reoccupy shed region with manpower and also supplies ceded using the Ho Chi Minh Trail with Cambodia and also Laos. Additionally, supported by assist from China and also the Soviet Union, North Vietnam strengthened its air defenses.

Vietnam War Protests


By November 1967, the variety of Amerideserve to troops in Vietnam was approaching 500,000, and also UNITED STATE casualties had reached 15,058 eliminated and 109,527 wounded. As the war extended on, some soldiers came to mistrust the government’s reasons for maintaining them tright here, and also Washington’s repeated claims that the battle was being won.