During the years of 1954-1975, Vietnam believed that communist aggression in South Vietnam could lead to taking over South East Asia, which lead the United States to slowly become involved in the conflict of this war.
Communist guerrillas, known as the Vietcong, helped native Communist terrorists in the south. One main objective of these rebels who were directly controlled by the Vietminh, North Vietnam’s government, was to disrupt all types of South Vietnamese order.
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In October 1961, President John F. Kennedy sent Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor to South Vietnam, to evaluate the country’s economic and military condition. General Taylor said that “infiltration of the Vietcong from the north was increasing,” that “South Vietnam’s economy had suffered drastically,” and that “better and more equipment was needed.”
On Aug. 2, 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats off the coast of North Vietnam attacked the USS Maddox, a destroyer cruising in the Gulf of Tonkin. Two days later the Maddox and another destroyer were attacked. The United States was drawn further into the conflict when President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered retaliatory air attacks and the congress authorized U.S. military operations with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.
During 1965 the United States became even more committed to helping South Vietnam. That year it was officially known that the U.S. was at war with North Vietnam and the Vietcong. The size of the United States forces in South Vietnam exceeded 50,000 troops, doubling in about six months. Between July and November, a fighting force of an additional 100,000 men was transferred from military bases in the United States to Vietnam.
Rather than a classic military strategy of gaining territory, the army tried to clear areas with search and destroy missions. The U.S. hoped to make the communists want to give up by causing creating heavy casualties and a lack of supplies. This strategy did not take into account that Hanoi was prepared to suffer enormous losses.
The first major American victory took place in August at Chu Lai, where more than 5,000 United States troops defeated an estimated 2,000 Viet
In January 1966 about 20,000 American, South Vietnamese, and South Korean troops encircled North Vietnamese south of Da Nang.
In June 1966 United States bombers made their first attack on North Vietnam’s two largest cities Hanoi, the capital, and Haiphong, the chief port. In January 1968 the NLF launched a large-scale offensive throughout the South during Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year holiday. The targets included about 30 major cities. American troop withdrawals, which had begun in the summer of 1969, left about 200,000 Americans in South Vietnam at the end of 1971.
On Jan. 31, 1973, a cease-fire was signed in Paris by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the NLF (called the Paris Accords). Negotiations were made regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops and the release of prisoners. United States ground troops left Vietnam by the end of March 1973.
Fighting continued, however, as the North and the South accused each other of truce violations. A second cease-fire was signed in June, but the battles continued through 1974. South Vietnam fell to communist rule on April 30, 1975, when the South surrendered and enemy troops entered Saigon. President Ford formally ended the war in January 1975.
There were over 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam and 3 times the amount of bombs dropped in World War II. During the many years that the U.S. was at war with North Vietnam, there were many people that didn’t agree with the directions the country took. Some people disagreed with the whole Vietnam war and wanted the U.S. involvement to end. 1968 was the turning point year for much of American opinion of Vietnam.
The American people caught a small glimpse of the real war in Vietnam and decided they didn’t want to be involved. As President John F. Kennedy took office, cold-war tensions between Communist and Western nations increased. Communist forces pushed into Laos and threatened South Vietnam. The new president pledged strong efforts to halt the spread of Communism.
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