The Vietnam War was said to have occurred in
Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from September
26, 1959 to April 30, 1975.
The war was fought between the communist
North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies,
and the government of South Vietnam, supported
by the United States and other anti-communist
The Viet Cong, a lightly armed South Vietnamese
communist-controlled common front, largely
fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist
forces in the region.
The North Vietnamese Army engaged in a more
conventional war, at times committing large units
into battle. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces
relied on air superiority and overwhelming
firepower to conduct search and destroy
operations, involving ground forces, artillery and
The Viet Cong had both guerrilla and regular army units, as
well as a network of cadres who organized peasants in the
territory it controlled. Many soldiers were recruited in
Others included People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the
regular North Vietnamese army.
During the war, communists and anti-war spokesmen
insisted the Vietcong was an insurgency indigenous to the
South, while the U.S. and South Vietnamese governments
disputed this and portrayed the group as a tool of Hanoi.
This allowed writers to distinguish northern communists
from the southern communists, or Viet Cong.
Northerners and southerners were always under the same
command structure. According to Hanoi's official history,
the PLAF (Vietcong) was a branch of the PAVN.
Southern Vietnamese communists established the National
Liberation Front in 1960 to encourage the participation of noncommunists in the insurgency.
Many of the Vietcong's core members were "regroupees,"
southern Vietminh who had resettled in the North after the
Geneva Accord (1954).
Hanoi gave the regroupees military training and sent them back
to the South along the Ho Chi Minh trail in the early 1960s.
The NLF called for Southerners to "overthrow the camouflaged
colonial regime of the American imperialists" and to make
"efforts toward the peaceful unification."
The Vietcong's best-known action was the Tet Offensive, a
massive assault on more than 100 South Vietnamese urban
centers in 1968, including an attack on the US embassy in
Later communist offensives were conducted predominately by
the PAVN. The group was dissolved in 1976 when North and
South Vietnam were officially unified under a communist
Since the Vietnam War spanned the years
of 1959 to 1975, there were several US
Presidents during this time were
The United States entered the war to
prevent a communist takeover of South
Vietnam as part of their wider strategy of
Military advisors arrived beginning in 1950.
U.S. involvement escalated in the early
1960s, with U.S. troop levels tripling in 1961
and tripling again in 1962.
U.S. combat units were deployed beginning
in 1965. Involvement peaked in 1968 at the
time of the Tet Offensive. After this, U.S.
ground forces were withdrawn as part of a
policy called Vietnamization.
Despite the Paris Peace Accords, signed by
all parties in January 1973, fighting
Soon after taking office. President Richard Nixon introduced his policy of
"vietnamization". The plan was to encourage the South Vietnamese to
take more responsibility for fighting the war. It was hoped that this
policy would eventually enable the United States to withdraw
gradually all their soldiers from Vietnam.
To increase the size of the ARVN, a mobilization lwas passed that called
up into the army all men in South Vietnam aged between seventeen and
In June, 1969, Nixon announced the first of the US troop withdrawals.
The 540,000 US troops were to be reduced by 25,000. Another 60,000
were to leave the following December.
It was a military campaign
during the Vietnam war.
The purpose of the offensive
was to strike military and
civilian command and
control centers throughout
South Vietnam and to spark
a general uprising among the
population that would then
topple the Saigon
government, thus ending the
war in a single blow.
Amendment, passed by the
U.S. Congress in response to
the anti-war movement,
prohibited direct U.S.
military involvement after
August 15, 1973. U.S.
military and economic aid
continued until 1975.
The capture of Saigon by
North Vietnamese army in
April 1975 marked the end of
North and South Vietnam
were reunified the following
The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities,
including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides
1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians
58,159 U.S. soldiers.