After World War II, France reoccupied Vietnam as part of its attempt to reclaim its prewar empire. “The Koreans sent more troops and much more aggressive troops [than other U.S. allies],” Moise says. 104 S. Michigan Ave. Soviet and Chinese advisers and supplies enhanced the fighting strength of PAVN forces. Like the Marine Corps, its core strength lies in the prospect of boots on the ground. 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. It wanted no part of the new conflict.After World War II, France reoccupied Vietnam as part of its attempt to reclaim its prewar empire. The Australian commitment consisted predominantly of army personnel, but significant numbers of air force and navy personnel and some civilians also took part. The most heavily used record group is: 1. The Marines at Khe Sanh were locked in a 77 day siege, while the Marines in Huế suffered through brutal urban fighting as they worked to retake the city. Instead, a communist insurgency broke out, pitting the so-called Viet Cong, who were sponsored by North Vietnam, against Diem’s forces. The Soviets even allegedly shot down some U.S. planes. 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. 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. (The two countries were undergoing a bitter split at the time.). Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. 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. The figures show that of 2100000 men and women who served in V'nam, 58,152 or 2.7% were killed. It is important to note that several other armed forces do not appear on this list. 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. Ho led the North, whereas the U.S.-backed Ngo Dinh Diem took charge of the South. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! 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. “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. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. 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. The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1961. 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. Although the group named its own soldiers the People's Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF), the National Liberation Front has been memorialized by the American public as the Viet Cong, a name derived from Việt Nam Cộng-sản, or “Vietnamese communist.” The Viet Cong were a continuation of the Viet Minh, and many VC leaders had fought against French forces during the First Indochina War. 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.”. While relations eventually improved between the two, thousands of Montagnards fled when Saigon fell in 1975, fearful of communist reprisals for their role in aiding the American war effort. Learn more about the Montagnards. How eight countries got bogged down in the Vietnam War's Cold War proxy battle. 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. Naval advisors were present in Vietnam from the 1950s, and during the war the Navy conducted a variety of operations. Unlike during the Korean War, the United States yielded to this threat. 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. Prior to World War II, the Australian government still looked to London for leadership, diplomatic guidance and, when necessary, military protection. The Vietnam War was a military conflict between North Vietnam and U.S.-aided South Vietnam from 1955–1975. The French and American experiences in Vietnam differed in many respects. The RF and the PF in particular were less trained than the regular forces. Of Those Lost. demilitarised zone (or DMZ) A demilitarised zone is a broad area along a border, serving as a buffer between opposing forces. Financial aid, along with a desire to curry favor with the United States, drew in additional countries as well. 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. 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam. 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.”. Additionally, officers, reinforcements, and supplies from PAVN forces were often funneled to the Viet Cong, which operated with PAVN troops frequently. 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. However, they were also being paid off by the United States in the form of economic and military assistance. Despite this support, ARVN troops were often poorly led and suffered from internal strife amongst the South Vietnamese high command. Nixon then sent troops across the border in 1970, taking advantage of a coup that ousted Sihanouk in favor of a pro-American general. 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. —President Richard Nixon, November 3, 1969 What change in policy during the Vietnam War was President Nixon promising to make in this speech? 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. All told, the Chinese claimed to have spent over $20 billion in support of North Vietnam and deployed 320,000 military personnel, more than 4,000 of whom died. However, the growing air campaign confronted an expanding North Vietnamese air defense system. The withdrawal of American forces continued until March 29, 1973, when the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam and the last commander of MACV, General Frederick C. Weyand, oversaw the command’s deactivation. U.S. officials eventually soured on Diem, tacitly approving a 1963 coup that resulted in his death. American special forces began training Montagnard forces in the early 1960s. 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. STATISTICS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN UNIFORM AND IN COUNTRY. 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. 1. 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. At first, the United States largely operated behind the scenes. 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 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. One year later, 70,000 Marines were stationed in country. 2 8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964 – March 28, 1973). 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. databases? As the original communist state, the Soviet Union aided North Vietnam, with increasing support in the late 1960s. It lasted from August 1962 until May 1975. 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. Around 2,500 American Air Force personnel would lose their lives in Vietnam. Learn more about the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam. In this administration, we are Vietnamizing the search for peace. 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. In the Vietnam War defoliation was usually carried out with chemicals (such as Agent Orange) or incendiaries (such as napalm). 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. Over 3000 New Zealanders served in South Vietnam from 1963 to 1975. Assuming that North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were not likely to be decrypting the United States' most secure communications and that they could not have enough spies in South Vietnam to be aware of every U.S. operation in Southeast Asia before they took place, U.S. personnel came to the conclusion that U.S. forces were themselves inadvertently revealing vital information to the opposition. Yet their support for South Vietnam never wavered, no matter who occupied the White House. South Korea  was the main U.S. and South Vietnamese partner, contributing more than 300,000 troops to the war. Australian military history overview: Vietnam War 1962-1975. In 1954, Ho’s forces won a decisive victory at Dien Bien Phu and succeeded in evicting the French once and for all. The remaining number were support services personnel; quartermasters, cooks, drivers, pilots, mechanics, engineers, clerks, … 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.’ Explore more records, information, articles and resources at the National Archives organized by subject area. China and the Soviet Union didn’t have to do as much as the Americans, Moise explains, because they were buttressing the stronger side. At first, the U.S. operated behind the scenes, but after 1964, sent combat troops and became more deeply mired in the war. 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. THE WAR IN VIETNAM was one of the 20 th Century’s most intractable conflicts. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was the main fighting force of the Republic of Vietnam, or South Vietnam, during the war. In all, ARVN troops fought effectively when well-led, but tragically never seemed to have good commanders. Learn more about the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Yet, no matter what they tried, the Americans never succeeded in seriously disrupting North Vietnamese supply lines, nor did they prevent the fall of Laos to the communists in 1975. Far from being monolithic, the Vietnamese and American armed forces were each comprised of men of differing talents and abilities.Â. Ho Chi Minh was succeeded by Le Duan, who became head of North Vietnam’s communist party. Though it originally took little interest in the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union secretly ramped up its aid to North Vietnam following Nikita Khrushchev’s fall from power. 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). Chicago, IL 60603 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. 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. The United States supplied a dizzying amount of firepower and equipment to ARVN forces, providing everything from tanks, APCs, and helicopters to bullets, small arms, and rations. Popularly called Montagnards (French for “mountain people”), the Degar people are the native inhabitants of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Army personnel formed the core of the Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam in the 1950s, and played a large role in creating the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). 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. By 1963, there were close to 16,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Vietnam. However, American airpower and ARVN resistance stifled this attack. Air Force advisers had served in Vietnam as part of MAAG in the 1950s, but the primary Air Force role in the war would come with full-scale American combat operations in the mid-1960s. 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 … PAVN troops suffered a significant amount of the North’s wartime casualties, with hundreds of thousands dead. 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975. This alliance was made more important during the American involvement in Vietnam as the Montagnard’s position in the Central Highlands gave them great control over a troublesome part of the South Vietnam and a key ending point for the Ho Chi Minh Trail. American forces supplied and advised these Montagnard troops, hoping to count on their support against communist infiltration. In all, Army soldiers received 160 Medals of Honor for their actions in Vietnam, but paid a heavy price: of the nearly 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam, around 38,000 were Army servicemen. Learn more about the U.S. Army in Vietnam. 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. P01592.015 Special Air Service patrol aboard an Iroquois helicopter, 1967 A total of 521 Aust… Phone: 312.374.9333. American training further enhanced the ARVN troops. 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. Why Were Vietnam War Vets Treated Poorly When They Returned? 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. By the end of 1965, around 40,000 Marines would be deployed in Vietnam. The Army has the most personnel of any of the U.S. armed services. Thai involvement did not become official until the total involvement of the United States in support of South Vietnam in 1963. 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. Overall, though, they pumped only about 3,000 troops into the conflict, far fewer than the Chinese. During Linebacker I in 1972, the Navy flew nearly 4,000 sorties per month in order to stop the North Vietnamese attack. 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. The VC were prone to staging small ambushes before quickly withdrawing. DMZs are usually cleared of military personnel, in order to protect against invasion or attack. RG 338 Records of U.S. Army Commands Beginning in September, the Khanh government was succeeded by a bewildering array of cliques and coalitions, some of which stayed in power less than a month. THE VIETNAM WAR: A CHANGE OF PHILOSOPHY In Vietnam, there was a significant and basic change in the way the military treated civilian contractors. At the height of the war, almost 50,000 American military personnel were stationed in Thailand, mainly airmen. Poster entitled "Support Vietnam People," circa 1969, showing China's support of the Communist cause in Vietnam. In all, tens of thousands of Montagnards assisted the American war effort. 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). Despite being in bad economic shape at the time, newly Communist China aided Ho during the war with the French, and did so again during the war with the Americans, providing weapons, expertise, and manpower. The Vietnam War was ostensibly a civil war between the communist North and pro-Western South. “They were determined to go on holding it, both as a matter of national pride and because if they let one colony go loose, then the others might get ideas.”. A converted T-28 trainer aircraft is seen near 250-pound bombs used by Meo pilots of Vang Pao's "mini-Air Force" against North Vietnamese in northern Laos. This reliance was undermined by the events of World War II. U.S. military personnel began to fly combat missions and accompany South Vietnamese soldiers in ground operations to find and defeat the insurgents. For the most part, the Chinese stayed in the background, rebuilding areas destroyed by U.S. bombs and manning anti-aircraft batteries. Back home, the Vietnam War led to enormous political and public debate about New Zealand's foreign policy and place in the world. In addition, Russian military schools and academies trained more than 10,000 Vietnamese military personnel. 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. 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. 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. In February of 1962, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) was created as the successor to MAAG, and MACV took charge over all American military operations in Vietnam. Established on the republic’s founding in 1955, ARVN began with 150,000 troops, and by 1975 included over one million men-at-arms. Cambodia, while officially neutral, tolerated communist intrusions—and was bombed by the United States for those intrusions. 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. Daniel Ellsberg was an analyst at the RAND Corporation and secretly copied the report. Naval gunfire from offshore cruisers, destroyers, and even the reactivated battleship New Jersey provided additional artillery support for the duration of the war. Secrecy was the official U.S. policy concerning the extent of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam. The Thai government then allowed the United States Air Force in Thailand to use its air and naval bases. That insurgency drew heavy U.S. bombing. Additionally, low morale plagued the troops and desertion was a continual problem, as was corruption among the officers. How the Vietnam War Ratcheted Up Under 5 US Presidents. The Viet Cong (VC), or the National Liberation Front, was the main political and armed communist opposition operating within South Vietnam. In the northern region of South Vietnam, Marines fought along the DMZ while attempting to interdict supplies flowing in from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. 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