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Vietnam War Summary



 
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Mary
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:38    Post subject: Vietnam War Summary Reply with quote

The Vietnam War was a war fought between 1964 and 1975 on the ground in South Vietnam and bordering areas of Cambodia and Laos, and in bombing runs over North Vietnam.

Fighting on one side was a coalition of forces including the United States, the Republic of Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

Fighting on the other side was a coalition of forces including the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the National Liberation Front, a communist-led South Vietnamese guerrilla movement.

The USSR provided military aid to the North Vietnamese and to the NLF, but was not one of the military combatants.

The war was part of a larger regional conflict involving the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos, known as the Second Indochina War. In Vietnam, this conflict is known as the American War (Vietnamese Chiến Tranh Chống Mỹ Cứu Nước, which translates into English as "War Against the Americans and to Save the Nation").

In many ways the Vietnam War was a direct successor to the French Indochina War, which is sometimes referred to as the First Indochina War, when the French fought to maintain control of their colony in Indochina against an independence movement led by Communist Party leader Ho Chi Minh.

Citing progress in peace negotiations, On January 15, 1973 President Nixon ordered a suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam which was later followed by the unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords were later signed on January 27, 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict.

The peace agreements signed at the Paris Peace Accords did not last for very long. In early 1975 the North invaded the South and quickly consolidated the country under its control. Saigon fell on April 30, 1975. North Vietnam united North and South Vietnam on July 2, 1976 to form the "Socialist Republic of Vietnam". Hundreds of supporters of the South Vietnamese government were executed, thousands more were imprisioned. Saigon was immediately re-named to "Ho Chi Minh City", in honor of the former president of North Vietnam. Communist rule continues in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the present day.
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Mary
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Vietnam War was in many ways a direct successor to the French Indochina War, sometimes referred to as the First Indochina War, in which the French fought to maintain control of their colony in Indochina against an independence movement led by Communist Party leader Ho Chi Minh.

After the Vietnamese Communist forces, or Viet Minh, defeated the French colonial army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the colony was granted independence.

According to the ensuing Geneva settlement, Vietnam was partitioned, ostensibly temporarily, into a communist North and a non-Communist (and, some hoped, an eventually democratic) South. The former was to be ruled by Ho Chi Minh, while the latter would be under the control of Emperor Bao Dai. In 1955 the South Vietnamese monarchy was abolished and Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem became president of a new South Vietnamese republic.

Some signers of the Geneva accords hoped that elections to unify the two republics could be scheduled to take place in 1956, but such elections were never held. The RVN government of President Diem, with the support of US President Eisenhower, had no interest in holding elections that threatened to bring Communist influences into the South's government. In addition, the communists did not want to hold free elections in the North, fearing the results of forced co-operation with Diem and his supporters. Neither the US nor the two Vietnams had signed the election clause in the accord, and were thus not bound to honor it. Initially, it seemed that a partitioned Vietnam would become the norm, similar in nature to the partitioned Korea created years earlier.

After the communists consolidated their power in the North, they formed the National Liberation Front (NLF or Viet Cong) as a guerrilla movement in opposition to the South Vietnamese government. (The RVN and the US referred to the NLF as Viet Cong, short for Viet Nam Cong San, or "Vietnamese Communist" The NLF itself never called itself by this name). In response to the guerilla war, the United States began sending military advisors in support of the government in the South. North Vietnam and the USSR supported the NLF with arms and supplies, advisors, and regular units of the North Vietnamese Army, which were transported via an extensive network of trails and roads which became known as the Ho Chi Minh trail.
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

The U.S. Senate then approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964, which gave broad support to President Johnson to escalate U.S. involvement in the war. On March 8, 1965 3,500 United States Marines became the first American combat troops to land in South Vietnam and by 1968, over 500,000 troops were stationed there, and the toll of American soldiers killed, as reported every Thursday on the evening news, was over 100 a week. The air war escalated as well; On July 24, 1965 four F-4C Phantoms escorting a bombing raid at Kang Chi became the targets of antiaircraft missiles in the first such attack against American planes in the war. One plane was shot down and the other three sustained damage. Four days later Johnson announced another order that increased the number of US troops in Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000. The day after that, July 29, the first 4,000 101st Airborne Division paratroopers arrived in Vietnam, landing at Cam Ranh Bay.

Then on August 18, 1965 Operation Starlite began as the first major American ground battle of the war when 5,500 US Marines destroyed a Viet Cong stronghold on the Van Tuong peninsula in Quang Ngai Province. The Marines were tipped-off by a Viet Cong deserter who said that there was an attack planned against the US base at Chu Lai.

The continued escalation of American involvement came as the Johnson administration, as well as the commander of U.S. forces, General William Westmoreland, repeatedly assured the American public that the next round of troop increases would bring victory. The American public's faith in the "light at the end of the tunnel" was shattered, however, on January 30, 1968, when the enemy, supposedly on the verge of collapse, mounted the Tet Offensive (named after Tet Nguyen Dan, the lunar new year festival which is the most important Vietnamese holiday) in South Vietnam (and, to a lesser degree, in the 1969 Post-Tet Offensive). Although neither of these offensives accomplished any military objectives, the surprising capacity of an enemy that was supposedly on the verge of collapse to even launch such an offensive convinced many Americans that victory was impossible.

There was an increasing sense among many people that the government was misleading the American people about a war without a clear beginning or end. When General Westmoreland called for still more troops to be sent to Vietnam, Clark Clifford, a member of Johnson's own cabinet, came out against the war.

There had been a small movement of opposition to the war within certain quarters of the United States starting in 1964, especially on certain college campuses. This was happening during a time of unprecedented leftist student activism, and of the arrival at college age of the demographically significant "Baby Boomers." World War II ended in 1945, and the Korean conflict ended in 1953; thus most, if not all, of the "Baby Boomers" had never been exposed to war. In addition, the Vietnam War was unprecedented for the intensity of media coverage--it has been called the first television war--as well as for the stridency of opposition to the war by the so-called "New Left."

Many young men feared being sent to Vietnam, and hundreds of them fled to Canada or Sweden to avoid the draft. At that time, not all men of draft age were actually conscripted; the Selective Service Board used a lottery system to select draftees. Some men found sympathetic doctors who could find a medical basis for classifying as 4F, making them ineligible to be drafted. Others took advantage of a student deferment. Still others joined the National Guard or entered the Peace Corps as a way of avoiding Vietnam. All of these issues raised concerns about the fairness of who got selected for combat, since it was often the poor or those without connections who were assigned to combat units.

The American people became polarized over the war. Many supporters of the war argued for what was known as the Domino Theory, which held that if the South fell to communist guerillas, other nations, primarily in Southeast Asia, would succumb in short succession, much like falling dominoes. Military critics of the war pointed out that the conflict was political and that the military mission lacked clear objectives. Civilian critics of the war argued that the government of South Vietnam lacked political legitimacy, and that support for the war was immoral.
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

The growing anti-war movement alarmed many in the US government. On August 16, 1966 the House Un-American Activities Committee began investigations of Americans who were suspected of aiding the Viet Cong, with the intent to introduce legislation making these activities illegal. Anti-war demonstrators disrupted the meeting and 50 were arrested.

On February 1, 1968, a suspected Viet Cong officer was summarily executed by Nguyen Ngoc Loan, a South Vietnamese National Police Chief. Loan shot the suspect in the head on a public street in front of journalists. The execution was filmed and photographed and helped sway public opinion in the United States against the war.

The U.S. realized that the South Vietnamese government needed a solid base of popular support if it was to survive the insurgency. In order to pursue this goal of "winning the hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese people, units of the United States Army, referred to as "Civil Affairs" units, were extensively utilized for the first time since World War II. Civil Affairs units, while remaining armed and under direct military control, engaged in what came to be known as "nation building": constructing (or reconstructing) schools, public buildings, roads and other physical infrastructure; conducting medical programs for civilians who had no access to medical facilities; facilitating cooperation among local civilian leaders; conducting hygiene and other training for civilians; and similar activities.

This policy of attempting to win the "Hearts and Minds" of the Vietnamese people, however, often was at odds with other aspects of the war which served to antagonize many Vietnamese civilians. These policies included the emphasis on "body count" as a way of measuring military success on the battlefield, the bombing of villages (symbolized by the phrase "it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it"), and the killing of civilians as such locations as in the My Lai massacre. In 1974 the documentary "Hearts and Minds" dealt with these problems, and won an Academy Award for best documentary amid considerable controversy. The South Vietnamese government also antagonized many of its citizens with its suppression of political opposition, through such measures as holding large numbers of political prisoners, torturing political opponents, and holding a one-man election for President in 1971.

Despite the increasingly depressing news on the war, many Americans continued to support President Johnson's endeavors. Aside from the domino theory mentioned above, there was a feeling that the goal of preventing a communist takeover of a pro-Western government in South Vietnam was a noble objective. Many Americans were also concerned about saving face in the event of disengaging from the war or, as President Nixon later put it, "achieving Peace with Honor."

However, anti-war feelings also began to rise. Many Americans opposed the war on moral grounds, seeing it as a destructive war against Vietnamese independence, or as intervention in a foreign civil war; others opposed it because they felt it lacked clear objectives and appeared to be unwinnable. Some anti-war activists were themselves Vietnam Veterans, as evidenced by the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson began his re-election campaign. A member of his own party, Eugene McCarthy, ran against him for the nomination on an antiwar platform. McCarthy did not win the first primary election in New Hampshire, but he did surprisingly well against an incumbent. The resulting blow to the Johnson campaign, taken together with other factors, led the President to make a surprise announcement in a March 31 televised speech that he was pulling out of the race. He also announced the initiation of the Paris Peace Talks with Vietnam in that speech. Then on August 4, 1969 US representative Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Xuan Thuy began secret peace negotiations at the apartment of French intermediary Jean Sainteny in Paris. The negotiations eventually failed, however.
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seizing the opportunity caused by Johnson's departure from the race, Robert Kennedy then joined in and ran for the nomination on an antiwar platform. Johnson's vice president, Hubert Humphrey, also ran for the nomination, promising to continue to support the South Vietnamese government.

Kennedy was assassinated that summer, and McCarthy was unable to overcome Humphrey's support within the party elite. Humphrey won the nomination of his party, and ran against Richard Nixon in the general election. During the campaign, Nixon claimed to have a secret plan to end the war.

Opposition to the Vietnam War in Australia followed along similar lines to the United States, particularly with opposition to conscription. Whilst Australian disengagement began in 1970 under John Gorton, it was not until the election of Gough Whitlam in 1972 that conscription ended.

Nixon was elected President and began his policy of slow disengagement from the war. The goal was to gradually build up the South Vietnamese Army so that it could fight the war on its own. This policy became the cornerstone of the so-called "Nixon Doctrine." As applied to Vietnam, the doctrine was called "Vietnamization." The goal of Vietnamization was to enable the South Vietnamese army to increasingly hold its own against the NLF and the North Vietnamese Army. During this period, the United States conducted a gradual troop withdrawal from Vietnam. Nixon continued to use air power to bomb the enemy, and American soldiers continued to die in combat. Ultimately, more American soldiers died, and more bombs were dropped, under the Nixon Presidency than under Johnson's.

Many significant gains in the war were made under the Nixon administration, however. One paticularly significant achievement was the weakening of support that the North Vietnamese army recieved from the Soviet Union and China. One of Nixon's main foreign policy goals had been the achievement of a "breakthrough" in relations between the two nations, in terms of creating a new spirit of co-operation.

To a large extent this was achieved, and through his many meetings with the leaders of the two Communist superpowers Nixon was able to convince them that North Vietnam was clearly the loosing side in the war. China and the USSR had been the principle backers of the North Vietnamese army through large amounts of military and financial support. The eagerness of both nations to improve their own US relations in the face of a widening breakdown of the inter-Communist alliance successfully led to the weakening of aid to North Vietnam.

The morality of US conduct of the war continued to be an issue under the Nixon Presidency. In 1969, it came to light that Lt. William Calley, a platoon Leader in Vietnam, had led a massacre of Vietnamese civilians (including small children) at My Lai a year before. The massacre was only stopped after two American soldiers in a helicopter spotted the carnage and intervened to prevent their fellow Americans from killing any more civilians. Although many were appalled by the wholesale slaughter at My Lai, Calley was given a light sentence after his court-martial in 1970, and was later pardoned by President Nixon.

In 1970, Nixon ordered a military incursion into Cambodia in order to destroy NLF sanctuaries bordering on South Vietnam. This action prompted even more protests on American college campuses. Several students were shot to death by National Guard troops during demonstrations at Kent State.

One effect of the incursion was to push communist forces deeper into Cambodia, which destabilized the country and which in turn may have led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, who seized power in 1975. The goal of the attacks, however, was to bring the North Vietnamese negotiators back to the table with some flexibility in their demands that the South Vietnamese government be overthrown as part of the agreement. It was also alleged that American and South Vietnamese casualty rates were reduced by the destruction of military supplies the communists had been storing in Cambodia.

Backed by American air and artillery support, South Vietnamese troops invaded Laos on February 13, 1971. Then on August 18 of that year, Australia and New Zealand decided to withdraw their troops from Vietnam.

In the 1972 election, the war was once again a major issue in the United States. An antiwar candidate, George McGovern, ran against President Nixon. Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, declared that "Peace is at Hand" shortly before the voters went to the polls, dealing a death blow to McGovern's campaign, which had been facing an uphill battle. However, the peace agreement was not signed until the next year, leading many to conclude that Kissinger's announcement was just a political ploy. Kissinger's defenders assert that the North Vietnamese negotiators had made use of Kissinger's pronouncement as an opportunity to embarrass the Nixon Administration to weaken it at the negotiation table. The US did halt heavy bombing of North Vietnam on December 30, 1972.
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Mary
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

On January 15, 1973, citing progress in peace negotiations, President Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam which was later followed by a unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords were later signed on January 27, 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict. The first American prisoners of war were released on February 11 and all US soldiers were ordered to leave by March 29. Unlike previous American wars, soldiers returning from the Vietnam War were not treated as heroes, and soldiers were sometimes even condemned for their participation in the war.

The peace agreement did not last.

Although Nixon had promised South Vietnam that he would provide military support to them in the event of a crumbling military situation, Congress voted down any further funding of military actions in the region. Nixon was also fighting for his political life in the growing Watergate scandal, so none of the promised military support to defend the South Vietnamese government was forthcoming. Although some small amounts of economic aid continued, most of it was siphoned off by corrupt elements in the South Vietnamese government and little of it actually went to the war effort. The 94th Congress eventually voted for a total cut off of all aid to take effect at the beginning of the 1975-76 financial year (July 1, 1975). At the same time aid to North Vietnam from the USSR and China began to increase, as with the Americans out, the two countries no longer saw the war significant to their US relations. The balance of power had clearly shifted to the North.

In early 1975 the North invaded the South and quickly consolidated the country under its control. Saigon was captured on April 30, 1975. North Vietnam united both North and South Vietnam on July 2, 1976 to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Saigon was re-named Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the former president of North Vietnam. Hundreds of supporters of the South Vietnamese government were rounded up and executed, many more were imprisioned. Communist rule continues to this day.

On January 21, 1977 American President Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all Vietnam War draft evaders.

The Vietnam war had many long term repercussions, especially for the American society and foreign policy.

Firstly, the war was America's first significant military defeat. This was very damaging for America's reputation as a global superpower, which had previously seemed almost invincible. The massive American casualties and lack of a decisive victory also created a great distaste for foreign wars among the American public. Indeed, not until the Gulf War, nearly 15 years later, would the United States commit comparable amounts of troops to fight in a foreign country.

Politically, the war's poor planning and "blank check" legislation led to Congress reviewing current terms of war, and passing new legislation to guarantee themselves a larger, and more clearly defined role in the planning of any future Vietnam-style conflicts. The War Powers Act of 1973 greatly curtailed the President's ability to commit troops to action without first obtaining Congressional approval. The use of the defoliation agent known as Agent Orange, designed to destroy the hiding places of the Viet Cong, has caused many health maladies and birth defects to this day.

From a social point of view, the war was a key time in the lives of many younger Americans, especially the so-called baby boom generation. Protestor and soldier alike, the war created many strong opinions in regards to American foreign policy and the justness of war. As a result, the Vietnam was also significant in showing the degree that the public can influence government policy through mobilization and protest.

Service in the war, though initially unpopular, soon became respected even though the war itself was not. Past service in Vietnam became important to the election of many future American politicians. The fact that President Bill Clinton had avoided service was a major source of controversy during his election campaign.
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

May 7, 1954
Vietnamese forces occupy the French command post at Dien Bien Phu and the French commander orders his troops to cease fire. The battle had lasted 55 days. Three thousand French troops were killed, 8,000 wounded. The Viet Minh suffered much worse, with 8,000 dead and 12,000 wounded, but the Vietnamese victory shattered France's resolve to carry on the war.

During 1959
A specialized North Vietnamese Army unit, Group 559, is formed to create a supply route from North Vietnam to Vietcong forces in South Vietnam. With the approval of Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, Group 559 develops a primitive route along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border, with offshoots into Vietnam along its entire length. This eventually becomes known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Late 1961
President John F. Kennedy orders more help for the South Vietnamese government in its war against the Vietcong guerrillas. U.S. backing includes new equipment and more than 3,000 military advisors and support personnel.

January 12, 1962
In Operation Chopper, helicopters flown by U.S. Army pilots ferry 1,000 South Vietnamese soldiers to sweep a NLF stronghold near Saigon. It marks America's first combat missions against the Vietcong.

Early 1962
Operation Ranchhand begins. The goal of Ranchhand is to clear vegetation alongside highways, making it more difficult for the Vietcong to conceal themselves for ambushes. As the war continues, the scope of Ranchhand increases. Vast tracts of forest are sprayed with "Agent Orange," an herbicide containing the deadly chemical Dioxin. Guerrilla trails and base areas are exposed, and crops that might feed Vietcong units are destroyed.

January 2, 1963
At the hamlet of Ap Bac, the Vietcong 514th Battalion and local guerrilla forces ambush the South Vietnamese Army's 7th division. For the first time, the Vietcong stand their ground against American machinery and South Vietnamese soldiers. Almost 400 South Vietnamese are killed or wounded. Three American advisors are slain.

April - June 1964
American air power in Southeast Asia is massively reinforced. Two aircraft carriers arrive off the Vietnamese coast prompted by a North Vietnamese offensive in Laos.

July 30, 1964
On this night, South Vietnamese commandos attack two small North Vietnamese islands in the Gulf of Tonkin. The U.S. destroyer Maddox, an electronic spy ship, is 123 miles south with orders to electronically simulate an air attack to draw North Vietnamese boats away from the commandos.

August 4, 1964
The captain of the U.S.S. Maddox reports that his vessel has been fired on and that an attack is imminent. Though he later says that no attack took place, six hours after the initial report, a retaliation against North Vietnam is ordered by President Johnson. American jets bomb two naval bases, and destroy a major oil facility. Two U.S. planes are downed in the attack.

August 7, 1964
The U.S. congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson the power to take whatever actions he sees necessary to defend southeast Asia.

October 1964
China, North Vietnam's neighbor and ally, successfully tests an atomic bomb.

November 1, 1964
Two days before the U.S. presidential election, Vietcong mortars shell Bien Hoa Air Base near Saigon. Four Americans are killed, 76 wounded. Five B-57 bombers are destroyed, and 15 are damaged.
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 1 - February 7, 1965
Vietcong forces mount a series of attacks across South Vietnam. They briefly seize control of Binh Gia, a village only 40 miles from Saigon. Two hundred South Vietnamese troops are killed near Binh Gia, along with five American advisors.

February 7, 1965
A U.S. helicopter base and advisory compound in the central highlands of South Vietnam is attacked by NLF commandos. Nine Americans are killed and more than 70 are wounded. President Johnson immediately orders U.S. Navy fighter-bombers to attack military targets just inside North Vietnam.

February 10, 1965
A Vietcong-placed bomb explodes in a hotel in Qui Nonh, killing 23 American servicemen.

February 13, 1965
President Johnson authorizes Operation Rolling Thunder, a limited but long lasting bombing offensive. Its aim is to force North Vietnam to stop supporting Vietcong guerrillas in the South.

March 2, 1965
After a series of delays, the first bombing raids of Rolling Thunder are flown.

April 3, 1965
An American campaign against North Vietnam's transport system begins. In a month-long offensive, Navy and Air Force planes hit bridges, road and rail junctions, truck parks and supply depots.

April 7, 1965
The U.S. offers North Vietnam economic aid in exchange for peace, but the offer is summarily rejected. Two weeks later, President Johnson raises America's combat strength in Vietnam to more than 60,000 troops. Allied forces from Korea and Australia are added as a sign of international support.

May 11, 1965
Two and a half thousand Vietcong troops attack Song Be, a South Vietnamese provincial capital. After two days of fierce battles in and around the town, the Vietcong withdraw.

June 10, 1965
At Dong Xai, a South Vietnamese Army district headquarters and American Special Forces camp is overrun by a full Vietcong regiment. U.S. air attacks eventually drive the Vietcong away.

June 27, 1965
General William Westmoreland launches the first purely offensive operation by American ground forces in Vietnam, sweeping into NLF territory just northwest of Saigon.

August 17, 1965
After a deserter from the 1st Vietcong regiment reveals that an attack is imminent against the U.S. Marine base at Chu Lai, the American army launches Operation Starlite. In this, the first major battle of the Vietnam War, the United States scores a resounding victory. Ground forces, artillery from Chu Lai, ships and air support combine to kill nearly 700 Vietcong soldiers. U.S. forces sustain 45 dead and more than 200 wounded.

September - October 1965
After the North Vietnamese Army attacks a Special Forces camp at Plei Mei, the U.S. 1st Air Cavalry is deployed against enemy regiments that identified in the vicinity of the camp. The result is the battle of the Ia Drang. For 35 days, the division pursues and fights the 32d, 33d, and 66th North Vietnamese Regiments until the enemy, suffering heavy casualties, returns to bases in Cambodia.

November 17, 1965
Elements of the 66th North Vietnamese Regiment moving east toward Plei Mei encounter and ambush an American battalion. Neither reinforcements nor effective firepower can be brought in. When fighting ends that night, 60 percent of the Americans were casualties, and almost one of every three soldiers in the battalion had been killed.

January 8, 1966
U.S. forces launch Operation Crimp. Deploying nearly 8,000 troops, it is the largest American operation of the war. The goal of the campaign is to capture the Vietcong's headquarters for the Saigon area, which is believed to be located in the district of Chu Chi. Though the area in Chu Chi is razed and repeatedly patrolled, American forces fail to locate any significant Vietcong base.

February 1966
Hoping for head-on clashes with the enemy, U.S. forces launch four search and destroy missions in the month of February. Although there are two minor clashes with Vietcong regiments, there are no major conflicts.

March 5, 1966
The 272nd Regiment of the Vietcong 9th Division attack a battalion of the American 3rd Brigade at Lo Ke. U.S. air support succeeds in bombing the attackers into retreat. Two days later, the American 1st Brigade and a battalion of the 173rd Airborne are attacked by a Vietcong regiment, which is driven away by artillery fire.

April - May 1966
In Operation Birmingham, more than 5,000 U.S. troops, backed by huge numbers of helicopters and armored vehicles, sweep the area around north of Saigon. There are small scale actions between both armies, but over a three week period, only 100 Vietcong are killed. Most battles are dictated by the Vietcong, who prove elusive.

Late May - June 1966
In late May 1966, the North Vietnamese 324B Division crosses the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and encounters a Marine battalion. The NVA holds their ground and the largest battle of the war to date breaks out near Dong Ha. Most of the 3rd Marine Division, some 5,000 men in five battalions, heads north. In Operation Hastings, the Marines backed by South Vietnamese Army troops, the heavy guns of U.S. warships and their artillery and air power drive the NVA back over the DMZ in three weeks.

June 30, 1966
On Route 13, which links Vietnam to the Cambodian border, American forces are brutally assaulted by the Vietcong. Only American air and artillery support prevents a complete disaster.

July 1966
Heavy fighting near Con Thien kills nearly 1,300 North Vietnamese troops.

October 1966
The Vietcong's 9th Division, having recovered from battles from the previous July, prepares for a new offensive. Losses in men and equipment have been replaced by supplies and reinforcements sent down the Ho Chi Minh trail from North Vietnam.

September 14, 1966
In a new mission code-named Operation Attleboro, the U.S. 196th Brigade and 22,000 South Vietnamese troops begin aggressive search and destroy sweeps through Tay Ninh Province. Almost immediately, huge caches of supplies belonging to the NLF 9th Division are discovered, but again, there is no head-to-head conflict. The mission ends after six weeks, with more than 1,000 Vietcong and 150 Americans killed.

End of 1966
By the end of 1966, American forces in Vietnam reach 385,000 men, plus an additional 60,000 sailors stationed offshore. More than 6,000 Americans have been killed in this year, and 30,000 have been wounded. In comparison, an estimated 61,000 Vietcong have been killed. However, their troops now numbered over 280,000.
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

January - May 1967
Two North Vietnamese divisions, operating out of the DMZ that separates North and South Vietnam, launch heavy bombardments of American bases south of the DMZ. These bases include Khe Sanh, the Rockpile, Cam Lo, Dong Ha, Con Thien and Gio Linh.

January 8, 1967
America forces begin Operation Cedar Falls, which is intended to drive Vietcong forces from the Iron Triangle, a 60 square mile area lying between the Saigon River and Route 13. Nearly 16,000 American troops and 14,000 soldiers of the South Vietnamese Army move into the Iron Triangle, but they encounter no major resistance. Huge quantities of enemy supplies are captured. Over 19 days, 72 Americans are killed, victims mostly of snipers emerging from concealed tunnels and booby traps. Seven hundred and twenty Vietcong are killed.

February 21, 1967
In one of the largest air-mobile assaults ever, 240 helicopters sweep over Tay Ninh province, beginning Operation Junction City. The goal of Junction City is to destroy Vietcong bases and the Vietcong military headquarters for South Vietnam, all of which are located in War Zone C, north of Saigon. Some 30,000 U.S. troops take part in the mission, joined by 5,000 men of the South Vietnamese Army. After 72 days, Junction City ends. American forces succeed in capturing large quantities of stores, equipment and weapons, but there are no large, decisive battles.

April 24, 1967
American attacks on North Vietnam's airfields begin. The attacks inflict heavy damage on runways and installations. By the end of the year, all but one of the North's Mig bases has been hit.

May 1967
Desperate air battles rage in the skies over Hanoi and Haiphong. America air forces shoot down 26 North Vietnamese jets, decreasing the North's pilot strength by half.

Late May 1967
In the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, Americans intercept North Vietnamese Army units moving in from Cambodia. Nine days of continuous battles leave hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers dead.

Autumn 1967
In Hanoi, as Communist forces are building up for the Tet Offensive, 200 senior officials are arrested in a crackdown on opponents of the Tet strategy.

Mid-January 1968
In mid-January 1968 in the remote northwest corner of South Vietnam, elements of three NVA divisions begin to mass near the Marine base at Khe Sanh. The ominous proportions of the build-up lead the U.S. commanders to expect a major offensive in the northern provinces.

January 21, 1968
At 5:30 a.m., a shattering barrage of shells, mortars and rockets slam into the Marine base at Khe Sanh. Eighteen Marines are killed instantly, 40 are wounded. The initial attack continues for two days.

January 30 - 31, 1968
On the Tet holiday, Vietcong units surge into action over the length and breadth of South Vietnam. In more than 100 cities and towns, shock attacks by Vietcong sapper-commandos are followed by wave after wave of supporting troops. By the end of the city battles, 37,000 Vietcong troops deployed for Tet have been killed. Many more had been wounded or captured, and the fighting had created more than a half million civilian refugees. Casualties included most of the Vietcong's best fighters, political officers and secret organizers; for the guerillas, Tet is nothing less than a catastrophe. But for the Americans, who lost 2,500 men, it is a serious blow to public support.

February 23, 1968
Over 1,300 artillery rounds hit the Marine base at Khe Sanh and its outposts, more than on any previous day of attacks. To withstand the constant assaults, bunkers at Khe Sanh are rebuilt to withstand 82mm mortar rounds.

March 6, 1968
While Marines wait for a massive assault, NVA forces retreat into the jungle around Khe Sanh. For the next three weeks, things are relatively quiet around the base.

March 11, 1968
Massive search and destroy sweeps are launched against Vietcong remnants around Saigon and other parts of South Vietnam.

March 16, 1968
In the hamlet of My Lai, U.S. Charlie Company kills about two hundred civilians. Although only one member of the division is tried and found guilty of war crimes, the repercussions of the atrocity is felt throughout the Army. However rare, such acts undid the benefit of countless hours of civic action by Army units and individual soldiers and raised unsettling questions about the conduct of the war.

March 22, 1968
Without warning, a massive North Vietnamese barrage slams into Khe Sanh. More than 1,000 rounds hit the base, at a rate of a hundred every hour. At the same time, electronic sensors around Khe Sanh indicate NVA troop movements. American forces reply with heavy bombing.

April 8, 1968
U.S. forces in Operation Pegasus finally retake Route 9, ending the siege of Khe Sanh. A 77 day battle, Khe Sanh had been the biggest single battle of the Vietnam War to that point. The official assessment of the North Vietnamese Army dead is just over 1,600 killed, with two divisions all but annihilated. But thousands more were probably killed by American bombing.

June 1968
With strong, highly mobile American forces now in the area, and the base no longer needed for defense, General Westmoreland approves the abandonment and demolition of Khe Sanh.

November 1, 1968
After three-and-a-half years, Operation Rolling Thunder comes to an end. In total, the campaign had cost more than 900 American aircraft. Eight hundred and eighteen pilots are dead or missing, and hundreds are in captivity. Nearly 120 Vietnamese planes have been destroyed in air combat or accidents, or by friendly fire. According to U.S. estimates, 182,000 North Vietnamese civilians have been killed. Twenty thousand Chinese support personnel also have been casualties of the bombing.
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Mary
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 1969
President Richard M. Nixon takes office as the new President of the United States. With regard to Vietnam, he promises to achieve "Peace With Honor." His aim is to negotiate a settlement that will allow the half million U.S. troops in Vietnam to be withdrawn, while still allowing South Vietnam to survive.

February 1969
In spite of government restrictions, President Nixon authorizes Operation Menu, the bombing of North Vietnamese and Vietcong bases within Cambodia. Over the following four years, U.S. forces will drop more than a half million tons of bombs on Cambodia.

February 22, 1969
In a major offensive, assault teams and artillery attack American bases all over South Vietnam, killing 1,140 Americans. At the same time, South Vietnamese towns and cities are also hit. The heaviest fighting is around Saigon, but fights rage all over South Vietnam. Eventually, American artillery and airpower overwhelm the Vietcong offensive.

April 1969
U.S. combat deaths in Vietnam exceed the 33,629 men killed in the Korean War.

June 8, 1969
President Nixon meets with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu on Midway Island in the Pacific, and announces that 25,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn immediately.

April 29, 1970
South Vietnamese troops attack into Cambodia, pushing toward Vietcong bases. Two days later, a U.S. force of 30,000 -- including three U.S. divisions -- mount a second attack. Operations in Cambodia last for 60 days, and uncover vast North Vietnamese jungle supply depots. They capture 28,500 weapons, as well as over 16 million rounds of small arms ammunition, and 14 million pounds of rice. Although most Vietcong manage to escape across the Mekong, there are over 10,000 casualties.

February 8, 1971
In Operation Lam Son 719, three South Vietnamese divisions drive into Laos to attack two major enemy bases. Unknowingly, they are walking into a North Vietnamese trap. Over the next month, more than 9,000 South Vietnamese troops are killed or wounded. More than two thirds of the South Vietnamese Army's armored vehicles are destroyed, along with hundreds of U.S. helicopters and planes.

Summer 1971
While herbicides containing Dioxin were banned for use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1968, spraying of Agent Orange continues in Vietnam until 1971. Operation Ranchhand has sprayed 11 million gallons of Agent Orange -- containing 240 pounds of the lethal chemical Dioxin -- on South Vietnam. More than one seventh of the country's total area has been laid waste.

January 1, 1972
Only 133,000 U.S. servicemen remain in South Vietnam. Two thirds of America's troops have gone in two years. The ground war is now almost exclusively the responsibility of South Vietnam, which has over 1,000,000 men enlisted in its armed forces.

March 30, 1972
Massed North Vietnamese Army artillery open a shattering barrage, targeting South Vietnamese positions across the DMZ. Upwards of 20,000 NVA troops cross the DMZ, forcing the South Vietnamese units into a retreat. The Southern defense is thrown into complete chaos. Intelligence reports had predicted a Northern attack, but no one had expected it to come on the DMZ.

April 1, 1972
North Vietnamese soldiers push toward the city of Hue, which is defended by a South Vietnamese division and a division of U.S. Marines. But by April 9, the NVA are forced to halt attacks and resupply.

April 13, 1972
In an assault spearheaded by tanks, NVA troops manage to seize control of the northern part of the city. But the 4,000 South Vietnamese men defending the city, reinforced by elite airborne units, hold their positions and launch furious counterattacks. American B-52 bombers also help with the defense. A month later, Vietcong forces withdraw.

April 27, 1972
Two weeks after the initial attack, North Vietnamese forces again battle toward Quang Tri City. The defending South Vietnamese division retreats. By April 29, the NVA takes Dong Ha, and by May 1, Quang Tri City.

July 19, 1972
With U.S. air support, the South Vietnamese Army begins a drive to recapture Binh Dinh province and its cities. The battles last until September 15, by which time Quong Tri has been reduced to rubble. Nevertheless, the NVA retains control of the northern part of the province.

December 13, 1972
In Paris, peace talks between the North Vietnamese and the Americans breakdown.

December 18, 1972
By order of the president, a new bombing campaign starts against the North Vietnamese. Operation Linebacker Two lasts for 12 days, including a three day bombing period by up to 120 B-52s. Strategic surgical strikes are planned on fighter airfields, transport targets and supply depots in and around Hanoi and Haiphong. U.S. aircraft drop more than 20,000 tons of bombs in this operation. Twenty-six U.S. planes are lost, and 93 airmen are killed, captured or missing. North Vietnam admits to between 1,300 and 1,600 dead.
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Mary
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 8, 1973
North Vietnam and the United States resume peace talks in Paris.

January 27, 1973
All warring parties in the Vietnam War sign a cease fire.

March 1973
The last American combat soldiers leave South Vietnam, though military advisors and Marines, who are protecting U.S. installations, remain. For the United States, the war is officially over. Of the more than 3 million Americans who have served in the war, almost 58,000 are dead, and over 1,000 are missing in action. Some 150,000 Americans were seriously wounded.

January 1974
Though they are still too weak to launch a full-scale offensive, the North Vietnamese have rebuilt their divisions in the South, and have captured key areas.

August 9, 1974
President Richard M. Nixon resigns, leaving South Vietnam without its strongest advocate.

December 26, 1974
The 7th North Vietnamese Army division captures Dong Xoai.

January 6, 1975
In a disastrous loss for the South Vietnamese, the NVA take Phuoc Long city and the surrounding province. The attack, a blatant violation of the Paris peace agreement, produces no retaliation from the United States.

March 1, 1975
A powerful NVA offensive is unleashed in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. The resulting South Vietnamese retreat is chaotic and costly, with nearly 60,000 troops dead or missing.

During March
Another NVA offensive sends 100,000 soldiers against the major cities of Quang Tri, Hue and Da Nang. Backed by powerful armored forces and eight full regiments of artillery, they quickly succeed in capturing Quang Tri province.

March 25, 1975
Hue, South Vietnam's third largest city, falls to the North Vietnamese Army.

Early April 1975
Five weeks into its campaign, the North Vietnamese Army has made stunning gains. Twelve provinces and more than eight million people are under its control. The South Vietnamese Army has lost its best units, over a third of its men, and almost half its weapons.

April 29, 1975
U.S. Marines and Air Force helicopters, flying from carriers off-shore, begin a massive airlift. In 18 hours, over 1,000 American civilians and almost 7,000 South Vietnamese refugees are flown out of Saigon.

April 30, 1975
At 4:03 a.m., two U.S. Marines are killed in a rocket attack at Saigon's Tan Son Nhut airport. They are the last Americans to die in the Vietnam War. At dawn, the last Marines of the force guarding the U.S. embassy lift off. Only hours later, looters ransack the embassy, and North Vietnamese tanks role into Saigon, ending the war. In 15 years, nearly a million NVA and Vietcong troops and a quarter of a million South Vietnamese soldiers have died. Hundreds of thousands of civilians had been killed.
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Mary
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PostPosted: 01.03.2007, 07:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vietnam War Casualties
Estimating the number killed in the conflict is extremely difficult. Official records are hard to find or nonexistent and many of those killed were literally blasted to pieces by bombing. For many years the North Vietnamese suppressed the true number of their casualties for propaganda purposes. It is also difficult to say exactly what counts as a "Vietnam war casualty"; people are still being killed today by unexploded ordinance, particularly cluster bomblets. Environmental effects from chemical agents and the colossal social problems caused by a devastated country with so many dead surely caused many more lives to be shortened. In addition, the Khmer Rouge would probably not have come into power and committed their slaughters without the destabilization of the war, particularly of the American bombing campaigns to 'clear out the sanctuaries' in Cambodia.

The lowest casualty estimates, based on the now-renounced North Vietnamese statements, are around 1.5 million Vietnamese killed. Vietnam released figures on April 3, 1995 that a total of one million Vietnamese combatants and four million civilians were killed in the war. The accuracy of these figures has generally not been challenged. 58,226 American soldiers also died in the war or are missing in action. Australia lost almost 500 of the 47,000 troops they had deployed to Vietnam and New Zealand lost 38 soldiers.

In the aftermath of the war many Americans came to believe that some of the 2,300 American soldiers listed as "Missing in Action" had in fact been taken prisoner by the DRV and held indefinitely. "Missing in Action" is a term applied to missing soldiers whose status cannot be determined through eyewitness accounts of their death, or a body. While little credible evidence has been shown for this, images of tortured, emaciated prisoners of war (notably in the sequel to Rambo) continue to evoke anger among many Americans. The Vietnamese list over 200,000 of their own soldiers Missing in Action, and MIA soldiers from World War I and II continue to be unearthed in Europe.

Both during and after the war, significant human rights violations occurred. Both North and South Vietnamese had large numbers of political prisoners, many of whom were killed or tortured. In 1970, two American congressmen visiting South Vietnam discovered the existence of "tiger cages", which were small prison cells used for torturing South Vietnamese political prisoners. After the war, actions taken by the victors in Vietnam, including firing squads, torture, concentration camps and "re-education," led to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. Many of these refugees fled by boat and thus gave rise to the phrase "boat people." They emigrated to Hong Kong, France, the United States, Canada, and other countries.

Many effects of the animosity and ill will generated during the Vietnam War are still felt today among those who lived through this turbulent time in American and Indochinese history.

American involvement in the war was a gradual process, as its military involvement increased over the years under successive U.S. presidents, both Democrat and Republican (including Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon), despite warnings by the American military leadership against a major ground war in Asia. There was never a formal declaration of war but there were a series of presidential decisions that increased the number of "military advisers" to the region. One of the first occurred on July 27, 1964 when 5,000 additional American military advisers were ordered sent to South Vietnam which brought the total number of US forces in Vietnam to 21,000.

Then on August 4, 1964 American destroyers USS Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. Air support from the carrier USS Ticonderoga sinks two, possibly three North Vietnamese gunboats. The event was labeled the "Gulf of Tonkin incident" by reporters and the next day Operation Pierce Arrow was launched in retaliation; aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga and USS Constellation bombed North Vietnam.
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