Descriptive: Vietnam War The Vietnam War was a military struggle fought in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975. It began as a determined attempt by Communist guerrillas (Vietcong) in the South,backed by Communist North Vietnam, to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. The struggle widened into a ward between South Vietnam and North Vietnam andultimately into a limited international conflict. The United States and some othercountries supported South Vietnam by supplying troops and munitions, and the USSRand the People’s Republic of China furnished munitions to North Vietnam and theVietcong. On both sides, however, the burden of the war fell mainly on the civilians. The war also engulfed Laos, where the Communist Pathet Lao fought governmentfrom 1965 to 1973 and succeeded in abolishing the monarchy in 1975, and Cambodia,where the government surrendered in 1973 to the Communist Khmer Rouge. The position taken by Diem won the backing of the U. S. The government inHanoi, however, indicated its determination to renunify the nation under Hanoi. Thetruce arranged at Geneva began to crumble and by January 1957, the InternationalControl Commission set up to implement the Geneva accords was reporting armisticeviolations by both North and South Vietnam. Throughout the rest of the year, Comunistsympathizers who had gone north after partition began returning south in increasingnumbers. The Vietcong’s began launching attacks on U. S. military installations that hadbeen established, and in 1959 began their guerilla attacks on the Diem government. The attacks were intensified in 1960, the year in which North Vietnam roclaimedits intention to liberate South Vietnam from the ruling of the U. S. imperialists. “Thestatement served to reinforce the belief that the Vietcong were being directed by Hanoi. On November 10, the Saigon government charged that regular North Vietnamese troopswere talking a direct part in Vietcong attacks in South Vietnam. to show that theguerrilla movement was independent, however, the Vietcong set up their own politicalarm, known as the National Liberation Front (NLF), with its headquarters in Hanoi. In the face of the deteriorating situation, the U. S. restated its support for Saigon. In April 1961, a treaty of mity and economic relations was signed with South Vietnam,and in December, President John F. Kennedy pledged to help South Vietnam maintain itsindependence significantly. In December 1961, the first U. S. troops, consisting of 400uniformed army personnel, arrived in Saigon in order to operate two helicoptercompanies; the U. S. proclaimed, however, that the troops were not combat units as such. A year later, U. S. military strength in Vietnam stood at 11,200. On November 1, 1963, the Diem regime was overthrown in a military “coup.” Diem and his brother and political advisor, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were executed. Thecircumstances surrounding the “coup” were not fully clear at the time. The governmentthat replaced teh Diem regime was a revolutionary council headed by Brigadier GeneralDuong Van Minh. A series of other “coups” followed, and in the 18 months after Diem’soverthrow South Vietnam had ten different governments. None of these proved capableof dealing effectively with the country’s miliary situation. A military councilunderGeneral Nguyen Van Thieu and General Nguyen Cao Ky was finally created in 1965, andit restored basic political order. Later, in September 1967, elections were held and Thieubecambe president of South Vietnam.

A Deepening U. S. Involvement

The Vietnam War was unlike any other conventional wars, in the respect that, thewar had no defined front lines. Much of it consisted of hit-and-run attacks, with theguerrillas striking at government outposts and retreating into the jungle. The war,however, began to escalate in the first week of August 1964, when North Vietnamesetorpedo boats were reported to have attacked two U. S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. As a result of this attack, former-President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered jets to SouthVietnam and the retaliatory bombing of military targets in North Vietnam. Throughout 1965, U. S. planes began regular bombing raids over North Vietnam,but a halt was ordered in May in hopes of initiating peace talks. Bombings were resumedafter North Vietnam had rejected all negotiations. During this time the United Statescontinued to build up its troops in South Vietnam. By the end of 1965 the Americancombat strength was nearly 200,000. The Vietnam War had much, much more details and complexities, but for thesake of time, I only covered a few of them.


Despite the stepping up of U. S. bombing, both sides