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Vietnam War

Cold War conflict in Southeast Asia from 1955 to 1975 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Vietnam War (also known by other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955[A 1] to the Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.[5] It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The north was supported by the Soviet Union, China,[8] and other communist states, while the south was supported by the United States and other anti-communist allies.[55][56] The war is widely considered to be a Cold War-era proxy war.[57] It lasted almost 20 years, with direct U.S. military involvement ending in 1973. The conflict also spilled over into neighboring states, exacerbating the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, which ended with all three countries officially becoming communist states by 1976.[58][59]

Vietnam War
Part of the Indochina Wars and the Cold War in Asia
Clockwise from top left:
Date1 November 1955 – 30 April 1975
(19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day)[A 1][5]

North Vietnamese and Viet Cong/PRG victory

Reunification of North Vietnam and South Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976
Commanders and leaders

≈860,000 (1967)

  • Flag_of_North_Vietnam_%281955%E2%80%931976%29.svg North Vietnam:
    690,000 (1966, including PAVN and Viet Cong).[A 5]
  • FNL_Flag.svg Viet Cong:
    ~200,000 (estimated, 1968)[7]
  • Flag_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China.svg China:
    170,000 (1968)
    320,000 total[8][9][10]
  • Flag_of_Democratic_Kampuchea.svg Khmer Rouge:
    70,000 (1972)[11]:376
  • Flag_of_Laos.svg Pathet Lao:
    48,000 (1970)[12]
  • Flag_of_the_Soviet_Union.svg Soviet Union: ~3,000[13]
  • Flag_of_North_Korea_%281948%E2%80%931992%29.svg North Korea: 200[14]

≈1,420,000 (1968)

  • Flag_of_South_Vietnam.svg South Vietnam:
    850,000 (1968)
    1,500,000 (1974–1975)[15]
  • Flag_of_the_United_States_%28Pantone%29.svg United States:
    2,709,918 serving in Vietnam total
    Peak: 543,000 (April 1969)[11]:xlv
  • Flag_of_the_Khmer_Republic.svg Khmer Republic:
    200,000 (1973)[citation needed]
  • Flag_of_Laos_%281952%E2%80%931975%29.svg Laos:
    72,000 (Royal Army and Hmong militia)[16][17]
  • Flag_of_South_Korea_%281949%E2%80%931984%29.svg South Korea:
    48,000 per year (1965–1973, 320,000 total)
  • Flag_of_Thailand.svg Thailand: 32,000 per year (1965–1973)
    (in Vietnam[18] and Laos)[citation needed]
  • Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg Australia: 50,190 total
    (Peak: 8,300 combat troops)[19]
  • Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg New Zealand: Peak: 552 in 1968[20]:158
  • Flag_of_the_Philippines_%281936%E2%80%931985%2C_1986%E2%80%931998%29.svg Philippines: 2,061
Casualties and losses
  • Flag_of_North_Vietnam_%281955%E2%80%931976%29.svgFNL_Flag.svg North Vietnam & Viet Cong
    30,000–182,000 civilian dead[11]:176[21][22]:450–453[23]
    849,018 military dead (per Vietnam; 1/3 non-combat deaths)[24][25][26]
    666,000–950,765 dead
    (US estimated 1964–1974)[A 6][21][22]:450–451
    232,000–300,000+ military missing (per Vietnam)[24][27]
    600,000+ military wounded[28]:739
  • Flag_of_Democratic_Kampuchea.svg Khmer Rouge: Unknown
  • Laos Pathet Lao: Unknown
  • Flag_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China.svg China: ~1,100 dead and 4,200 wounded[10]
  • Flag_of_the_Soviet_Union.svg Soviet Union: 16 dead[29]
  • Flag_of_North_Korea_%281948%E2%80%931992%29.svg North Korea: 14 dead[30][31]

Total military dead/missing:

Total military wounded:

(excluding GRUNK/Khmer Rouge and Pathet Lao)

  • Flag_of_South_Vietnam.svg South Vietnam:
    195,000–430,000 civilian dead[21][22]:450–453[32]
    Military dead: 313,000 (total)[33]
    • 254,256 dead (between 1960 and 1974)[34]:275

    1,170,000 military wounded[11]
    ≈ 1,000,000 captured[35]
  • Flag_of_the_United_States_%28Pantone%29.svg United States:
    58,281 dead[36] (47,434 from combat)[37][38]
    303,644 wounded (including 150,341 not requiring hospital care)[A 7]
  • Flag_of_Laos_%281952%E2%80%931975%29.svg Laos: 15,000 army dead[43]
  • Flag_of_the_Khmer_Republic.svg Khmer Republic: Unknown
  • Flag_of_South_Korea_%281949%E2%80%931984%29.svg South Korea: 5,099 dead; 10,962 wounded; 4 missing
  • Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg Australia: 521 dead; 3,129 wounded[44]
  • Flag_of_Thailand.svg Thailand: 351 dead[11]
  • Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg New Zealand: 37 dead[45]
  • Flag_of_the_Republic_of_China.svg Republic of China: 25 dead[46]
    17 captured[47]
  • Flag_of_the_Philippines_%281936%E2%80%931985%2C_1986%E2%80%931998%29.svg Philippines: 9 dead;[48] 64 wounded[49]
Total military dead:
333,620 (1960–1974) – 392,364 (total)

Total military wounded:
(excluding FARK and FANK)
Total military captured:
Flag_of_FULRO.svg FULRO fought an insurgency against both South Vietnam and North Vietnam with the Viet Cong and was supported by Cambodia for much of the war.

With the defeat of the French Union in the First Indochina War and its acceptance of military withdrawal from Vietnam pursuant to the Geneva peace agreement on Vietnam that took effect on 23 July 1954, the country gained the independence from France but was divided into two military gathering areas: the Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam, while the U.S. assumed financial and military support for South Vietnam.[60][A 8] The Viet Cong (VC), a South Vietnamese common front under the direction of the north, initiated a guerrilla war in the south. The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), engaged in more conventional warfare with U.S. and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). North Vietnam invaded Laos in 1958, establishing the Ho Chi Minh Trail to supply and reinforce the VC.[61]:16 By 1963, the north had sent 40,000 soldiers to fight in the south.[61]:16 U.S. involvement increased under President John F. Kennedy, from just under a thousand military advisors in 1959 to 23,000 by 1964.[62][28]:131

Following the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution that gave President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authority to increase U.S. military presence in Vietnam, without a formal declaration of war. Johnson ordered the deployment of combat units for the first time, and dramatically increased the number of American troops to 184,000.[62] U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. The U.S. also conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam,[28]:371–374[63] and continued significantly building up its forces, despite little progress being made. In 1968, North Vietnamese forces launched the Tet Offensive; though it was a military defeat for them, it became a political victory, as it caused U.S. domestic support for the war to fade.[28]:481 By the end of the year, the VC held little territory and were sidelined by the PAVN.[64] In 1969, North Vietnam declared the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam. Operations crossed national borders, and the U.S. bombed North Vietnamese supply routes in Laos and Cambodia. The 1970 deposing of the Cambodian monarch, Norodom Sihanouk, resulted in a PAVN invasion of the country (at the request of the Khmer Rouge), and then a U.S.-ARVN counter-invasion, escalating the Cambodian Civil War. After the election of Richard Nixon in 1969, a policy of "Vietnamization" began, which saw the conflict fought by an expanded ARVN, while U.S. forces withdrew in the face of increasing domestic opposition. U.S. ground forces had largely withdrawn by early 1972, and their operations were limited to air support, artillery support, advisors, and materiel shipments. The Paris Peace Accords of January 1973 saw all U.S. forces withdrawn;[65]:457 accords were broken almost immediately, and fighting continued for two more years. Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge on 17 April 1975, while the 1975 spring offensive saw the Fall of Saigon to the PAVN on 30 April, marking the end of the war; North and South Vietnam were reunified on 2 July the following year.

The war exacted an enormous human cost: estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed range from 966,000[21] to 3 million.[51] Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians,[52][53][54] 20,000–62,000 Laotians,[51] and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict.[A 7] The end of the Vietnam War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the larger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw millions of refugees leave Indochina, an estimated 250,000 of whom perished at sea. Once in power, the Khmer Rouge carried out the Cambodian genocide, while conflict between them and the unified Vietnam would eventually escalate into the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, which toppled the Khmer Rouge government in 1979. In response, China invaded Vietnam, with subsequent border conflicts lasting until 1991. Within the United States, the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements,[66] which, together with the Watergate scandal contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s.[67]

The U.S. Air Force destroyed more than 20% of the jungles of South Vietnam and 20–50% of the mangrove forests by spraying over 20 million gallons of toxic herbicides (defoliants) including Agent Orange.[68][69][70] The war is one of the most commonly used examples of ecocide.[71][72][73]