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A Background View About The Vietnam War

Last modified: 09 Jan 2019, submitted by: Just a vet

Country: Vietnam   

Latitude: 10° 49' 23" N     Longitude: 106° 37' 44" E

Area use / Military Branches: Joint forces


A background view about the Vietnam war; a conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from November 1955 to the fall of Saigon in April 1975, with US involvement ending in 1973.

The first US military advisors arrived in then French Indochina in the early 1950’s. Most of the funding for the French was provided by the US. The Viet Cong a.k.a. National Liberation Front, a South Vietnamese communist front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam a.k.a. North Vietnamese Army engaged in conventional warfare with armed struggles from 1959 onward. US involvement escalated in 1960 under then pres. Kennedy, with troop levels surging from just under 1.000 in 1959 to 16.000 in 1963. By 1964 there were 23.000 US military in Vietnam, but this escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a US destroyer clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft. In response this gave then pres. Johnson authorization to increase US military presence, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels to 184,000. However there was no progress..

The US conducted large scaled strategic bombing campaigns against North Vietnam. Following the Tet offensive US forces began a withdrawal of its ground forces under the Vietnamization phase which aimed to end US involvement. At the same time the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) conventional capabilities increased and became modeled on doctrines like US forces. The US forces morale declined significantly during this wind-down period and incidents of fragging, drug use and insubordination increased massively. During the war the US anti-war movement gained strength. Then pres. Nixon appealed to the "silent majority" of Americans who supported the war without showing it in public. However revelations of the My Lai Massacre, in which an army platoon raped and killed civilians and the 1969 Green Beret Affair, where 8 Special Forces soldiers, including the 5th Special Forces Group Commander, were arrested for murdering suspected double agents, provoked national and international outrage. In 1971 the Pentagon Papers - the then secret history of US involvement in Vietnam - were leaked to The New York Times. Direct US military involvement ended on August 15, 1973 as a result of the Case–Church Amendment passed by the US Congress. The capture of Saigon by the ARVN in April 1975 marked the end of the war and North and South Vietnam reunified the following year.

The Vietnam war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese military and civilians killed vary from 966.000 to 3.8 million. Some 275.000–310.000 Cambodians, 20.000–62.000 Laotians and 58.220 US military also died in the conflict. A further 1.626 remain missing in action.Homecoming was very different for most Vietnam veterans. They came back to find the USA torn apart by debate over the Vietnam war. There were no victory parades or welcome-home rallies. Instead, most Vietnam veterans returned to a society that did not seem to care about them, or that seemed to view them with distrust and anger, or simply ignored them!.Confronted with these reactions many Vietnam veterans kept their wartime experiences to themselves. They refused to discuss Vietnam with anyone but other veterans, because no one else seemed to understand or care. . .
To all personnel serving during the Vietnam war: YOU ARE OK! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

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