The VIetnam War


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US History 1 - Lecture by Adjunct Instructor Sara Emami

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The VIetnam War

  1. 1.  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 nations.  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 airstrikes.
  2. 2.  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 South Vietnam  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.
  3. 3.  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 Saigon.  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 government.
  4. 4.       Since the Vietnam War spanned the years of 1959 to 1975, there were several US Presidents during this time were Dwight Eisenhower John Kennedy Lyndon Johnson Richard Nixon Gerald Ford.
  5. 5.  The United States entered the war to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam as part of their wider strategy of containment.  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 continued.
  6. 6.  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 forty-three.  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.
  7. 7.  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.
  8. 8.  The Case-Church 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 Vietnam War.  North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year.
  9. 9.    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.
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