VIETNAM WAR SUMMARY:
The Vietnam War occurred in present-day Vietnam, Southeast Asia. It represented a successful attempt on the part of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam, DRV) and the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam (Viet Cong) to unite and impose a communist system over the entire nation. Opposing the DRV was the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam, RVN), backed by the United States. The war in Vietnam occurred during the Cold War, and is generally viewed as an indirect conflict between the United States and Soviet Union, with each nation and its allies supporting one side.
VIETNAM WAR - DATES:
The most commonly used dates for the conflict are 1959-1975. This period begins with North Vietnam's first guerilla attacks against the South and ends with the fall of Saigon. American ground forces were directly involved in the war between 1965 and 1973.
VIETNAM WAR - CAUSES:
The Vietnam War first began in 1959, five years after the division of the country by the Geneva Accords. Vietnam had been divided into two, with a communist regime in the north under Ho Chi Minh and a democratic government in the south under Ngo Dinh Diem. In 1959, Ho commenced a guerilla campaign in South Vietnam, led by Viet Cong units, with the goal of reuniting the country under a communist government. These guerilla units often found support among the rural population who desired land reform.
Worried about the situation, the Kennedy Administration elected to increase aid to South Vietnam. As part of the larger goal of containing the spread of communism, the United States endeavored to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and supplied military advisors to aid in combating the guerrillas. Though the flow of aid increased, President John F. Kennedy did not wish to use ground forces in Vietnam as he believed their presence would cause adverse political consequences. Causes of the Vietnam War
VIETNAM WAR - AMERICANIZATION OF THE WAR:
In August 1964, a US warship was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. Following this attack, Congress passed the Southeast Asia Resolution which allowed President Lyndon Johnson to conduct military operations in the region without a declaration of war. On March 2, 1965, US aircraft commenced bombing targets in Vietnam and the first troops arrived. Moving forward under Operations Rolling Thunder and Arc Light, American aircraft began systematic bombing strikes on North Vietnamese industrial sites, infrastructure, and air defenses. On the ground, US troops, commanded by General William Westmoreland, defeated Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces around Chu Lai and in the Ia Drang Valley that year.
VIETNAM WAR - CASUALTIES:
United States: 58,119 killed, 153,303 wounded, 1,948 missing in action
South Vietnam 230,000 killed and 1,169,763 wounded (estimated)
North Vietnam 1,100,000 killed in action (estimated) and an unknown number of wounded.
Updated August 29, 2016