The Viet Cong insurgency expanded in South Vietnam in 1962. The French and American experiences in Vietnam differed in many respects. in 1968. Nixon then sent troops across the border in 1970, taking advantage of a coup that ousted Sihanouk in favor of a pro-American general. The Army has the most personnel of any of the U.S. armed services. With the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, the U.S. departed from Vietnam, but the Marines' involvement in the nation was not yet over. However, Vietnam would soon become a battleground familiar to all Americans. demilitarised zone (or DMZ) A demilitarised zone is a broad area along a border, serving as a buffer between opposing forces. Additionally, working with the Army, Navy patrol boats operated on the river systems of South Vietnam – especially in the Mekong Delta – to inspect shipping and support combat operations. Type to begin searching or press esc to exit. Additionally, officers, reinforcements, and supplies from PAVN forces were often funneled to the Viet Cong, which operated with PAVN troops frequently. US military advisers flocked to South Vietnam bringing with them the machines and instruments of modern war, “from typewriters to helicopters”. “The French had controlled Vietnam for a couple of generations,” explains Ed Moise, a professor of history at Clemson University and author of Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union and China poured weapons, supplies, and advisers into the North, which in turn provided support, political direction, and regular combat troops for the campaign in the South. Vietnam War - Vietnam War - The United States enters the war: Between the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the U.S. presidential election in November 1964, the situation in Vietnam had changed for the worse. “Their function is as a tripwire,” Moise says, “a warning to the Americans: ‘Don’t go too far… or you’ll be fighting us.’”. Nevertheless, the two forces remained distinct. The Soviets wanted to “make life difficult for the United States,” McAllister says, “but they didn’t want to do it in a way that got them in a conflict with the United States.”, Soviet involvement in the war increased in the late 1960s, just as China’s influence was lessening. Supplied by the Chinese and Soviets, the North Vietnamese soon developed a complex and comprehensive system armed with surface-to-air missiles. As a result, the Vietnamese suffered the highest casualties in the conflict. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. The end of t… Pritzker Military Museum & Library | Chicago, About the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, Commemorate Their Service Honorial and Memorial, Learn more about the People’s Army of Vietnam, Learn more about the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, Learn more about the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, Learn more about the U.S. Army in Vietnam, Learn more about the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, Learn more about the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. Elections were planned to reunite the country within two years, but Diem, with U.S. approval, never submitted to a vote that he feared losing. Australia’s military involvement in the Vietnam War was the longest in duration of any war in the country’s history. That insurgency drew heavy U.S. bombing. President Johnson began Operation Rolling Thunder in 1965, instructing the Air Force to bomb North Vietnamese industrial and supply sites. China and the Soviet Union didn’t have to do as much as the Americans, Moise explains, because they were buttressing the stronger side. The CIA-sponsored "Secret Army" of Major Gen. Vang Pao at Long Cheng, where the U. S. and Laotian governments permitted newsmen a rare glimpse of the base in 1972. The conflict has deep historical roots, most recently the First Indochina War between the communist North and the French-backed South, and the subsequent splitting of Vietnam into North and South. Bombs ready to be loaded onto a French aircraft for the long drawn out Dien Bien Phu Battle of the Indochina War on April 10, 1954. How eight countries got bogged down in the Vietnam War's Cold War proxy battle. South Korea was the main U.S. and South Vietnamese partner, providing over 300,000 troops and suffering some 5,000 deaths. Navy Seabees constructed a host of infrastructure and bases across South Vietnam, while the Navy itself oversaw vast the supply and logistical operations needed to sustain the American war effort.  However, continued animosity between the South Vietnamese government and the Montagnards complicated their cooperation with the Republic of Vietnam. The Australian commitment consisted predominantly of army personnel, but significant numbers of air force and navy personnel and some civilians also took part. THE VIETNAM WAR: A CHANGE OF PHILOSOPHY In Vietnam, there was a significant and basic change in the way the military treated civilian contractors. But perhaps their biggest role was preemptive: They made it clear that if U.S. ground troops invaded North Vietnam, then they would respond in kind. Established on the republic’s founding in 1955, ARVN began with 150,000 troops, and by 1975 included over one million men-at-arms. The tension between the two groups was seized upon by French and American forces, who allied with the Montagnards. The remaining number were support services personnel; quartermasters, cooks, drivers, pilots, mechanics, engineers, clerks, … Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. By 1963, there were close to 16,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Vietnam. All Rights Reserved. In the south, Marines carried out search-and-destroy missions, attempting to locate Viet Cong insurgents hidden in South Vietnamese villages and jungles. Naval advisors were present in Vietnam from the 1950s, and during the war the Navy conducted a variety of operations. At first, the U.S. operated behind the scenes, but after 1964, sent combat troops and became more deeply mired in the war. Why Were Vietnam War Vets Treated Poorly When They Returned? Among other weapons, the USSR provided surface-to-air missiles that the Chinese weren’t yet technologically capable of producing. With the coming American withdrawal, PAVN forces employed more conventional attacks, as was seen in the 1972 Easter Offensive. At the height of its strength, ARVN forces included thirteen regular divisions and special forces, the Regional Forces (RF) assigned to the four tactical corps of South Vietnam, and the Popular Forces (PF) which led security operations. During the years of the Vietnam war, I think the number of actual combat troops in a 20,000 man “combat division” was something like 5000. A Cold War-era billboard in Moscow showing bombs raining down on Uncle Sam reading, 'Aggressors out of Vietnam!' Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began with a small commitment of 30 military advisors in 1962, and increased over the following decade to a peak of 7,672 Australian personnel following the Menzies Government 's April 1965 decision to upgrade its military commitment to South Vietnam 's security. Topic:Vietnam Subject Area:US History after World War II Time Required: One class period Goals/Rationale In the winter of 1963, the eyes of most Americans were not on Vietnam. RG 334 Records of Interservice Agencies 4. More than 2,500 sailors lost their lives in Vietnam, but their actions of the Navy ensured the continued operations of the American military. Learn more about the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. From two staging posts in the South China Sea, aircraft carriers provided air support to ground forces; among other campaigns, Navy units worked in partnership with the Air Force during Rolling Thunder and during the Linebacker operations. Supplies were funneled to the Viet Cong through the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which allowed VC forces to operate over the breadth of South Vietnam. In 1964, however, the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incident prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to commit combat troops and launch a massive bombing campaign, and U.S. involvement only deepened from there. The figures show that of 2100000 men and women who served in V'nam, 58,152 or 2.7% were killed. RG 112 Office of the Surgeon General 2. Popularly called Montagnards (French for “mountain people”), the Degar people are the native inhabitants of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. STATISTICS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN UNIFORM AND IN COUNTRY. North Vietnam immediately broke the accord, however, moving troops and supplies through Laos rather than traversing the heavily guarded demilitarized zone that separated it from South Vietnam. All these talks of material considerations and dollar windfalls, new military equipment, war trade bonanzas and pork-barrel funds–behind the Vietnam aid bills are deplorable. During the first Indo-China War (1946-1954) between the communist-dominated Viet Minh and France, New Zealand accepted the British-American view that Vietnam was a crucial point on the front line against communist expansion in Asia. Secrecy was the official U.S. policy concerning the extent of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam. The RF and the PF in particular were less trained than the regular forces. However, they were also being paid off by the United States in the form of economic and military assistance. Floating hospitals like the USS Sanctuary provided important medical equipment and care close to the war zone. Finally, the evacuation of South Vietnam and the rescue operations that saved tens of thousands of civilians fleeing from the North Vietnamese advanced in spring 1975 could not have succeed without the U.S. Navy. Additionally, their familiarity with the hilly, jungle terrain made them ideal guides and trackers for American patrols. RG 338 Records of U.S. Army Commands Ho led the North, whereas the U.S.-backed Ngo Dinh Diem took charge of the South. “The Koreans sent more troops and much more aggressive troops [than other U.S. allies],” Moise says. Marines were soon deployed to defend the vital airbase at Da Nang near the DMZ. As the original communist state, the Soviet Union aided North Vietnam, with increasing support in the late 1960s. Prior to World War II, the Australian government still looked to London for leadership, diplomatic guidance and, when necessary, military protection. 2 8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964 – March 28, 1973). The advance of Japanese imperial forces into the Asia-Pacific brought an aggressive imperial power clo… Army forces poured into Vietnam throughout 1966, 1967, and 1968, as troops engaged in search-and-destroy missions that often put the overwhelming firepower of the American military to use with great effect. The North Vietnamese also came to dominate a communist insurgency against the royalist government of Prince Souvanna Phouma, relegating the local Laotian Communists to what Moise describes as “junior partners.”. The nine-year campaign was so intense that, on average, a planeload of explosives fell every eight minutes, making Laos, per capita, the most heavily bombed nation on earth. Overview. Unsurprisingly, the North Vietnamese likewise moved troops and supplies through neighboring Cambodia, which, though officially neutral, tolerated the communist intrusions. In 1954, Ho’s forces won a decisive victory at Dien Bien Phu and succeeded in evicting the French once and for all. In all, American airpower was a defining aspect of the Vietnam War and proved decisive on numerous occasions. 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam. The primary military organizations involved in the war were the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the United States armed forces, fighting against the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) (commonly called the North Vietnamese Army, or NVA, in English-language sources) and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF, more commonly known as the Viet Cong (VC) in English language … Daniel Ellsberg was an analyst at the RAND Corporation and secretly copied the report. Prince Norodom Sihanouk “basically felt that he was surrounded by dangerous enemies, and he had to make nice with some of them,” Moise says, adding that “he could not afford to offend” the North Vietnamese despite being “anti-communist in Cambodian politics.”. By 1975, when North Vietnamese troops took Saigon and reunified the nation under communist rule, an estimated 1 million to 3 million Vietnamese had perished, many of them civilians. Overall, though, they pumped only about 3,000 troops into the conflict, far fewer than the Chinese. However, American airpower and ARVN resistance stifled this attack. RG 472 United States Forces in Southeast Asia, 1950-1975 Additional records relating to the U.S. Army in Vietnam may be found in: 1. According to the Nominal Roll of Australian Vietnam Veterans, almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam. France had been a long-time occupier of Vietnam before 1954. Following France’s defeat in the First Indochina War, an international agreement divided Vietnam in two. Nominal Rolls. Not wanting to be seen as going it alone, the Johnson administration pressured other countries to join in the Vietnam War, much as George W. Bush would later form a “coalition of the willing” to fight in the Iraq War. Far from being monolithic, the Vietnamese and American armed forces were each comprised of men of differing talents and abilities.Â. In fact, French President Charles de Gaulle warned his U.S. counterpart, John F. Kennedy Jr., that Vietnam would be a “bottomless military and political swamp.” Though prescient, the advice ultimately went unheeded. In addition, Russian military schools and academies trained more than 10,000 Vietnamese military personnel. Year American SVN Aust. The Vietnam War (also known as Second Indochina War or American War in Vietnam) lasted from 1 November 1955–30 April 1975, (19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day).It was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China and North Korea, while South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, New … P01592.015 Special Air Service patrol aboard an Iroquois helicopter, 1967 A total of 521 Aust… South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated by his own generals, a coup supported by the U.S and led by his successor, Duong Van Minh. The Thai government then allowed the United States Air Force in Thailand to use its air and naval bases. In 1968, Marines nationwide fought back against the Tet Offensive with success, but the battles at Huế and Khe Sanh proved much more difficult. A short biography of their service, including awards they were given, challenges they faced, and a bit about their life before and after serving; Years of service or the wars/conflicts in which they served; Which military branch(es) in which they served (e.g., US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, US Marines, US Coast Guard). 240 men were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. This reliance was undermined by the events of World War II. The People’s Army of Vietnam traces its lineage back to the Viet Minh fighters organized by Võ Nguyên Giáp during the war with France, with the formal separation of the PAVN coming by the end of 1950. The ARVN suffered over 200,000 fatalities by the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973, and thousands more would die by the end of the war. At the height of the war, almost 50,000 American military personnel were stationed in Thailand, mainly airmen. Yet their support for South Vietnam never wavered, no matter who occupied the White House. ARVN troops did take part in a number of American led operations, and were tasked with defending the nation when the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! The role of the Navy in Vietnam is sometimes overlooked, but Navy units played a major role in the American combat mission during the war. By the time American forces finally withdrew in 1973, about 2.7 million U.S. soldiers had served in Vietnam, more than 58,000 had died, and the nation had racked up a staggering bill of at least $111 billion (plus billions more in non-military costs). Unexploded munitions from the Vietnam War-era continue to kill Laotians (and Vietnamese and Cambodians) to this day. How the Vietnam War Ratcheted Up Under 5 US Presidents. Brutal tactics were the norm during the Vietnam War, and no one suffered more than the Vietnamese themselves, both in the North and the South. The United States responded with a secret bombing campaign that Nixon drastically ramped up in 1969. It lasted from August 1962 until May 1975. The United States and many other countries intervened, propping up both sides—but especially South Vietnam—with troops, weapons and supplies and turning what started as a small guerrilla uprising into a major Cold War-era conflict. When the Second Indochina War, or Vietnam War, as it’s known in the United States, began soon after, France stayed well away. Three years later, however, PAVN forces had recovered from their earlier offensive, and now stood strong with 685,000 troops. The Vietnam War was ostensibly a civil war between the communist North and pro-Western South. 320,000 military personnel, more than 4,000. VIETNAM VETERANS. READ MORE: Why Were Vietnam War Vets Treated Poorly When They Returned? Utilizing modern fighter-bombers, strategic B-52 bombers operating from Guam, and a varied collection of other attack aircraft, American airpower devastated North Vietnamese troop, infrastructure, and supply positions. Making use of traps, tunnel systems, and a variety of insurgent tactics, the Viet Cong were a powerful enemy for much of the war. Learn more about the Viet Cong. In 1962, the United States, both Vietnams, and several other nations agreed to respect the neutrality of and not interfere in the affairs of Laos, which borders Vietnam to the west. PAVN troops suffered a significant amount of the North’s wartime casualties, with hundreds of thousands dead. RG 319 Army Staff 3. Established on the republic’s founding in 1955, ARVN began with 150,000 troops, and by 1975 included over one million men-at-arms. —President Richard Nixon, November 3, 1969 What change in policy during the Vietnam War was President Nixon promising to make in this speech? DMZs are usually cleared of military personnel, in order to protect against invasion or attack. Through the 1972 Easter Offensive, Marine aircraft remained and soldiers on the ground provided training and fire support. Meanwhile, President Richard Nixon authorized a cross-border invasion of Laos in 1971. The Air Force conducted re-supply missions, medical evacuations, and rescue missions, but the most crucial part of their involvement in the war was their bombardment of enemy positions. Nonetheless, “if there had been no Chinese or Soviet support, the North Vietnamese could not have won,” he says, pointing out that the U.S. military budget was roughly 30 times greater than the entire gross national product of North Vietnam. Korea New Zeal Philip Thai; 1959 760 243000-----1960 900 243000-----1961 3205 243000-----1962 11300 243000-----1963 Despite this support, ARVN troops were often poorly led and suffered from internal strife amongst the South Vietnamese high command. In 1971, the New York Times published excerpts from the documents, which became known as the Pentagon Papers. If we must go to South Vietnam to help stem the tide of communist aggression and defend our security and freedom, let us do so without being coerced or pressured, without being bought or purchased.’ The Army suffered the most casualties, 38,179 or 66% of all casualties. The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that theremains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified andwill be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.Army Chief, News and Stories from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency's Public Affairs Office and External Relations. While the U.S.S.R. supplied some troops, their biggest contribution was in weaponry. Laos was originally neutral in the conflict, but the North Vietnamese moved troops through the country and supported a communist insurgency. 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975. 521 killed, ~3,000 wounded. The Vietnam War was described as a civil war within South Vietnam, although it became a proxy war between Cold War powers. Yet, as Moise points out, they both learned one important lesson: “It’s dangerous to get in a fight when the other side cares about winning more than you do.”. The United States got involved to prevent South Vietnam from falling into communist hands. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. Technology can certainly help boots on the ground be more effective, but numbers matter.And a large number of front-line troops means an even larger number of support personnel.In the mid-1950s, the Army was demobilizing from the Korean War. To feature this service person in our online Commemorate Their Service™ Gallery, we suggest you supply: View an example of how we will display your tribute online. So, too, did a legitimate fear of Communism, Moise says. South Korea  was the main U.S. and South Vietnamese partner, contributing more than 300,000 troops to the war. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. (The two countries were undergoing a bitter split at the time.). Armed with tanks and artillery marched successfully on the South, ending the Vietnam War. Chicago, IL 60603 PAVN troops earned no respite from conflict, however, and in 1978 were on the frontlines of Vietnam’s war with Cambodia. Learn more about the People’s Army of Vietnam. Air Force bombardment sustained the Marines under siege at Khe Sanh, Operation Menu attacked positions in Cambodia, and the two Linebacker operations in 1972 stopped the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive and helped return Hanoi to the negotiating table, respectively. Also known as the Second Indochina War or simply the American War to the Vietnamese, the epic struggle claimed the lives of more than 2 million people, including some 60,000 U.S. personnel and more than a … Yet the Vietnamese didn’t do all the fighting. U.S. bombs killed tens of thousands of Cambodians, which, some historians contend, may have increased popular support for the Khmer Rouge, a communist insurgency group that initiated a brutal genocide upon taking power in 1975. Army units were involved in the Cambodian Incursion in 1970 and assisted in the South Vietnamese led Lam Son 719 all while continuing to train their South Vietnamese counterparts per President Nixon’s Vietnamization program. Like the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the PAVN was divided into regular, regional, and security forces that each received different degrees of training and supplies. After a while, “no one thinks they’re going to win,” says James McAllister, a political science professor at Williams College, “but they’re damn sure a loss is not going to take place under their watch.”, READ MORE: How the Vietnam War Ratcheted Up Under 5 US Presidents. In 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara commissioned a study of American political and military involvement in Vietnam. After World War II, France reoccupied Vietnam as part of its attempt to reclaim its prewar empire. It is important to note that several other armed forces do not appear on this list. However, the growing air campaign confronted an expanding North Vietnamese air defense system. William Westmoreland (March 26, 1914 – July 18, 2005) served as the commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Compound, Vietnam (MACV) from 1964 until 1968, overseeing all American forces in Vietnam during the escalation period of the conflict. New Zealand joined its major allies in recognising the French-sponsored Bao Dai regime in 1950, but remained unsure about the strength and legitimacy of the non-communist forces in Vietnam. American training further enhanced the ARVN troops. Most Vietnamese, however, opposed colonial rule, and a rebellion broke out led by communist and pro-independence leader Ho Chi Minh. The Soviets even allegedly shot down some U.S. planes. The People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN), popularly known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), was the main branch of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Deepen your understanding and enhance your knowledge by exploring the nearly 4,000 books, photographs, programs, and other Pritzker Military Museum & Library holdings on the Vietnam War.Â, © 2020 Pritzker Military Museum & LibraryDisclaimer | Contact, CONTACT The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was the main fighting force of the Republic of Vietnam, or South Vietnam, during the war. 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (Aug 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975). Instead, a communist insurgency broke out, pitting the so-called Viet Cong, who were sponsored by North Vietnam, against Diem’s forces. In 1975, Marines were instrumental in the evacuation of Saigon, while Marines also carried out the final combat operation of the Vietnam War as they retook the cargo ship SS Mayaguez in May 1975. In the end, almost 60,000 Australians served (521 of whom died), about 40,000 Thais served (321 of whom died), and over 3,000 New Zealanders served (37 of whom died). Below is a list of nations that played a role in the Vietnam War, and details on what motivated them to get involved. The Marines fought valiantly but suffered greatly:  over 13,000 would be killed, while another 88,000 were wounded. Learn more about the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. Australian military history overview: Vietnam War 1962-1975. As a branch of the US forces, however, the Marine Corps lost the highest percentage of its own men (5.0%) which in turn accounted for 25.5% of all casualties. At first, the United States largely operated behind the scenes. The Vietnam War was our longest and most contentious military experience of the twentieth century. Of Those Lost. Led at first by General Paul Harkins, who was succeeded by General William Westmoreland in 1964, MACV’s mission expanded from advisement to defense in 1965 as President Johnson began to change the U.S. mission in Vietnam. During the Tet Offensive, Army units helped repel the overall communist attack while playing a key role in the Battle of Huế . Additionally, the nations of Cambodia and Laos fought parallel wars that often intersected with the Vietnam War, while Australia, South Korea, and other allied nations also deployed substantial forces during the war. In 1965, the involvement of the Marine Corps was escalated greatly and the Marines made substantial landings around the port at Da Nang as their role expanded beyond advisement and base defense. As Tet prompted the withdrawal of American forces and General Creighton Abrams replaced Westmoreland as head of MACV, Army forces gradually decreased while still carrying out search-and-destroy missions and assisting South Vietnamese forces. He explains that they were partially motivated by a sense of obligation and ideological sympathy: After all, they could not help but notice the historical parallels between themselves and South Vietnam. In response to these North Vietnamese transgressions, the Americans covertly rained down billions of pounds of bombs on Laos. In this lesson plan, students analyze a letter to President Kennedy from a woman who had just lost her brother in South Vietnam and consider Kennedy’s reply, explaining his … As the Pentagon Papers later revealed, “the Diem regime certainly, and an independent South Vietnam almost as certainly, could not have survived” without U.S. help. The Viet Cong (VC), or the National Liberation Front, was the main political and armed communist opposition operating within South Vietnam. The Marine Corps had begun providing assistance and advisement to the South Vietnamese in the late 1950s, and their mission expanded gradually through the early 1960s. Even after its federation and nominal independence in 1901, Australia’s foreign policy was for years strongly influenced by Britain. 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( such as napalm ) with a secret bombing campaign that Nixon ramped.