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 and
ultimately into a limited international conflict. The United States and some other
countries supported South Vietnam by supplying troops and munitions, and the USSR
and the People’s Republic of China furnished munitions to North Vietnam and the
Vietcong. 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 government
from 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 in
Hanoi, however, indicated its determination to renunify the nation under Hanoi. The
truce arranged at Geneva began to crumble and by January 1957, the International
Control Commission set up to implement the Geneva accords was reporting armistice
violations by both North and South Vietnam. Throughout the rest of the year, Comunist
sympathizers who had gone north after partition began returning south in increasing
numbers. The Vietcong’s began launching attacks on U. S. military installations that had
been established, and in 1959 began their guerilla attacks on the Diem government.
The attacks were intensified in 1960, the year in which North Vietnam roclaimed
its intention to liberate South Vietnam from the ruling of the U. S. imperialists. ?The
statement served to reinforce the belief that the Vietcong were being directed by Hanoi.
On November 10, the Saigon government charged that regular North Vietnamese troops
were talking a direct part in Vietcong attacks in South Vietnam. to show that the
guerrilla movement was independent, however, the Vietcong set up their own political
arm, 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 its
independence significantly. In December 1961, the first U. S. troops, consisting of 400
uniformed army personnel, arrived in Saigon in order to operate two helicopter
companies; 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. The
circumstances surrounding the ?coup? were not fully clear at the time. The government
that replaced teh Diem regime was a revolutionary council headed by Brigadier General
Duong Van Minh. A series of other ?coups? followed, and in the 18 months after Diem’s
overthrow South Vietnam had ten different governments. None of these proved capable
of dealing effectively with the country’s miliary situation. A military councilunder
General Nguyen Van Thieu and General Nguyen Cao Ky was finally created in 1965, and
it restored basic political order. Later, in September 1967, elections were held and Thieu
becambe president of South Vietnam.
A Deepening U. S. Involvement
The Vietnam War was unlike any other conventional wars, in the respect that, the
war had no defined front lines. Much of it consisted of hit-and-run attacks, with the
guerrillas striking at government outposts and retreating into the jungle. The war,
however, began to escalate in the first week of August 1964, when North Vietnamese
torpedo 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 South
Vietnam 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 resumed
after North Vietnam had rejected all negotiations. During this time the United States
continued to build up its troops in South Vietnam. By the end of 1965 the American
combat strength was nearly 200,000.
The Vietnam War had much, much more details and complexities, but for the
sake of time, I only covered a few of them.
Despite the stepping up of U. S. bombing, both sides appeared anxious to salvage
the progress made in previous negotiations. On Decemeber 29, the U. S. announced a
halt to the bombing above the 20th parallel, effective the next day.
With the new year cam the resumption of the secret peace meetings in Paris.
Sensing progress in the first days, President Nixon ordered a halt to all bombing, mining,
and artillery fire in North Vietnam. After six days of conferring, Kissinger and Tho met
once again on January 23, 1973, and, on that evening, President Nixon announced over
nationwide television that agreement on all terms for a formal cease-fire had finally been
On January 27, in Paris, delegations representing the United States, South
Vietnam, North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Communist Government of
South Vietnam signed an agreement on Ending the war and Restoring Peace in Vietnam.
The cease-fire officiallly went into effect on January 28. Both the U. S. and North
Vietam asserted that there were no secret peace terms.
The peace accord called for complete ?cessation of hostilities; withdrawal of all
U. S. and allied forces from South Vietnam within 60 days of the signing; return of all
captured military personnel by both sides at 15-day intervals within 60 days; recognition
of the DMZ as only provisional and ot a political or territorial boundary; an international
control commission (composed of representatives of Canada, Hungary, Indonesia, and
Poland) to oversee implementation of the peace; and provision for an international
conference to be held within 30 days.? The accord allowed some 145,000 North
Vietnamese troops to remain in South Vietnam, but with limitation on their future
replacement and supplies.