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FREEZE DATE 28th July, 1965.


The Vietnam War was a long and costly armed conflict essentially between the communist
regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam
and its main ally, the United States. The actual war began in 1954, after the rise to power of Ho
Chi Minh and his communist Viet Minh party in North Vietnam, and continued throughout the
intense Cold War between two global superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
Owing to the communist-dominated Viet Cong gaining influence over much of the population in
rural areas of South Vietnam in 1965, the South Vietnamese Government was losing its hold
over the prominent territories of the country. Political instability and internal dissent continued
to plague both the governments as external powers considered this dissent as a direct
derivative of the Cold War. In the ensuing months they were followed by thousands more
combat forces, making 1965 the year in which the United States transformed the Vietnam
conflict into an American war. This year was marked by the significant movement of the U.S
troops in Vietnam which paved the way for the war to proceed towards its current
At the height of the Cold War, phrases like American credibility and the Domino Theory a
belief that defeat in South Vietnam would spread communism throughout Southeast Asia
clouded judgment as Washington weighed its options.
The objective of the U.S. and South Vietnam was to prevent a communist take-over while North
Vietnam and the insurgent Viet Cong sought to unite the two sections of the country. The
causes of the Vietnam War can thus be attributed to the following two factors - the simple
belief held by America that communism was threatening to expand all over south-east Asia and
the formation of the Vietnamese Nationalist Movement Viet Minh under the leadership of Ho
Chi Minh.


The following timeline highlights the significant events that occurred during the Vietnam War.

Battle of Dienbienphu Begins: A force of 40,000 heavily armed Vietminh lay siege to the French
garrison at Dienbienphu. Using Chinese artillery to shell the airstrip, the Vietminh make it
impossible for French supplies to arrive by air. It soon becomes clear that the French have met
their match.
Eisenhower Cites "Domino Theory" Regarding Southeast Asia: Responding to the defeat of the
French by the Vietminh at Dienbienphu, President Eisenhower outlines the Domino Theory: "You
have a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one
is the certainty that it will go over very quickly."
French Defeated at Dien Bien Phu
Geneva Convention Begins:

Delegates from nine nations convene in Geneva to start

negotiations that will lead to the end of hostilities in Indochina. The idea of partitioning Vietnam
is first explored at this forum.
Geneva Convention Agreements Announced:

Vietminh General Ta Quang Buu and French

General Henri Delteil sign the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam. As part of the
agreement, a provisional demarcation line is drawn at the 17th parallel which will divide Vietnam
until nationwide elections are held in 1956. The United States does not accept the agreement;
neither does the government of Bao Dai.

Diem Rejects Conditions of Geneva Accords, Refuses to Participate in Nationwide Elections
China and Soviet Union Pledge Additional Financial Support to Hanoi
Diem Urged to Negotiate with North: Britain, France, and United States covertly urge Diem to
respect Geneva accords and conduct discussions with the North.

Diem Becomes President of Republic of Vietnam: Diem defeats Bao Dai in rigged election and
proclaims himself President of Republic of Vietnam.

French leave Vietnam
US Training South Vietnamese: The US Military Assistance Advisor Group (MAAG) assumes
responsibility, from French, for training South Vietnamese forces.

Communist Insurgency into South Vietnam: Communist insurgent activity in South Vietnam
begins. Guerrillas assassinate more than 400 South Vietnamese officials. Thirty-seven armed
companies are organized along the Mekong Delta.
Terrorist Bombings Rock Saigon: Thirteen Americans working for MAAG and US Information
Service are wounded in terrorist bombings in Saigon.

Weapons Moving Along Ho Chi Minh Trail: North Vietnam forms Group 559 to begin infiltrating
cadres and weapons into South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Trail will become a
strategic target for future military attacks.
US Servicemen Killed in Guerilla Attack: Major Dale R. Buis and Master Sargeant Chester M.
Ovnand become the first Americans to die in the Vietnam War when guerillas strike at Bienhoa
Diem Orders Crackdown on Communists, Dissidents

North Vietnam Imposes Universal Military Conscription
Kennedy Elected President: John F. Kennedy narrowly defeats Richard Nixon for the presidency.
Diem Survives Coup Attempt
Vietcong Formed: Hanoi forms National Liberation Front for South Vietnam. Diem government
dubs them "Vietcong."

Battle of Kienhoa Province: 400 guerillas attack village in Kienhoa Province, and are defeated by
South Vietnamese troops.
Vice President Johnson Tours Saigon: During a tour of Asian countries, Vice President Lyndon
Johnson visits Diem in Saigon. Johnson assures Diem that he is crucial to US objectives in Vietnam
and calls him "the Churchill of Asia."

US Military Employs Agent Orange: US Air Force begins using Agent Orange -- a defoliant that
came in metal orange containers-to expose roads and trails used by Vietcong forces.
Diem Palace Bombed in Coup Attempt
Mansfield Voices Doubt on Vietnam Policy: Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield reports back
to JFK from Saigon his opinion that Diem had wasted the two billion dollars America had spent

Battle of Ap Bac: Vietcong units defeat South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) in Battle of Ap Bac
President Kennedy Assassinated in Dallas: Kennedy's death meant that the problem of how to
proceed in Vietnam fell squarely into the lap of his vice president, Lyndon Johnson.
Buddhists Protest Against Diem: Tensions between Buddhists and the Diem government are
further strained as Diem, a Catholic, removes Buddhists from several key government positions
and replaces them with Catholics. Buddhist monks protest Diem's intolerance for other religions
and the measures he takes to silence them. In a show of protest, Buddhist monks start setting
themselves on fire in public places.
Diem Overthrown, Murdered: With tacit approval of the United States, operatives within the
South Vietnamese military overthrow Diem. He and his brother Nhu are shot and killed in the


General Nguyen Khanh Seizes Power in Saigon: In a bloodless coup, General Nguyen Khanh
seizes power in Saigon. South Vietnam junta leader, Major General Duong Van Minh, is placed
under house arrest, but is allowed to remain as a figurehead chief-of-state.
Gulf of Tonkin Incident: On August 2, three North Vietnamese PT boats allegedly fire torpedoes at
the USS Maddox, a destroyer located in the international waters of the Tonkin Gulf, some thirty
miles off the coast of North Vietnam. The attack comes after six months of covert US and South
Vietnamese naval operations. A second, even more highly disputed attack, is alleged to have
taken place on August 4.
Debate on Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is approved by Congress on
August 7 and authorizes President Lyndon Johnson to "take all necessary measures to repel any
armed attack against forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." The
resolution passes unanimously in the House, and by a margin of 82-2 in the Senate. The
Resolution allows Johnson to wage all out war against North Vietnam without ever securing a
formal Declaration of War from Congress.
Viet Cong Attack Bienhoa Air Base
LBJ Defeats Goldwater: Lyndon Johnson is elected in a landslide over Republican Barry Goldwater
of Arizona. During the campaign, Johnson's position on Vietnam appeared to lean toward deescalation of US involvement, and sharply contrasted the more militant views held by Goldwater.


On March 29, 1965, the Viet Cong bombs the U.S. embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam. In
retaliation, the President Lyndon Johnson authorizes sending two more battalions and up to
20,000 logistical personnel to Vietnam. He also authorizes the use of Napalm, a petroleum
bomb that showers hundreds of explosive pellets upon contact and Operation Market Time,
a joint military effort between the U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese Navy, intended to
disrupt North Vietnamese sea routes used to transport supplies into the South. The
operation is highly successful in cutting off coastal supply lines and results in the North
shifting to the more difficult land supply route along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
On 28th July 1965, President Lyndon announces an increase in U.S. military forces in Vietnam,
from the present 75,000 to 125,000. He also said that he would order additional increases if
necessary, pointing out that to fill the increase in military manpower needs, the monthly draft

calls would be raised from 17,000 to 35,000. At the same time, Johnson reaffirmed U.S. readiness
to seek a negotiated end to the war, and appealed to the United Nations and any of its member
states to help further this goal. There are reports of construction of hospitals, air bases, runways
and warehouses in South Vietnam by American troops that clearly signify hostile intentions.
On the other hand, there have been increasing reports indicating clashes between the NVA and
VC troops in the Batang Peninsula south of Da Nang. Employment of air strikes, artilleries,
helicopters and B-52s by USA.


Post World War II Vietnam
As a French province, Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) had been possessed by the
Japanese during the course of World War II. In 1941, a Vietnamese patriot development, the
Viet Minh, was framed by Ho Chi Minh to oppose the occupiers. A socialist, Ho Chi Minh
pursued a guerilla war against the Japanese with the backing of the United States.
Close to the end of the war, the Japanese started to advance Vietnamese patriotism and at last
conceded the nation ostensible autonomy. On August 14, 1945, Ho Chi Minh dispatched the
August Revolution which successfully saw the Viet Minh take control of the nation.
Taking after the Japanese thrashing, the Allied Powers chose that the area ought to stay under
French control. As France did not have the troops to retake the zone, Nationalist Chinese
powers involved the north while the British arrived in the south.
Incapacitating the Japanese, the British utilized the surrendered weapons to rearm French
strengths that had been interned amid the war. The French presence in Vietnam was just
allowed by the Viet Minh after affirmations had been given that the nation would be a free
colony in the French Union. However discussions soon came to end between the two sides and
in December 1946, the French shelled the city of Haiphong and coercively returned the capital,
These activities started a contention between the French and the Viet Minh known as the First
Indo-China War. Battled principally in North Vietnam, this contention started as a low level,
provincial guerilla war as Viet Minh powers led attempts at manslaughter assaults on the

French. In 1949, battling raised as the Chinese comrades captured the northern fringe of
Vietnam and opened a pipeline of military supplies to the Viet Minh. On high alert, the Viet
Minh started more straightforward engagement against the foe and the contention finished
when the French were conclusively vanquished at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The war was at last
settled by the Geneva Accords of 1954, which incidentally apportioned the nation at the
seventeenth parallel, with the Viet Minh in control of the north and a non-socialist state to be
framed in the south under Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem. This division was to last until 1956,
when national decisions would be held to choose the eventual fate of the country.

The Politics of American Involvement (Domino theory)

In 1950, to battle the spread of Communism, the United States started supplying the French
military in Vietnam with guides and subsidizing its endeavors against the Viet Minh.
Circuitous endeavors proceed, when counsels were given to prepare the armed force of the new
Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) with the objective of making a power equipped for
opposing Communist animosity. Regardless of their earnest attempts, the nature of the Army of
the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was to remain reliably poor all through its presence.

The Diem Regime

A year after the Geneva Accords, Prime Minister Diem initiated an "Upbraid the Communists"
battle in the south. All through the mid-year of 1955, communists and other resistance
individuals were imprisoned and executed. Notwithstanding assaulting the communists, the
Roman Catholic Diem struck Buddhist organizations and sorted out wrongdoing, which further
estranged the to a great extent Buddhist Vietnamese individuals and disintegrated his backing.
Over the span of his cleanses, it is evaluated that Diem has up to 12,000 adversaries executed
and upwards of 40,000 jailed. To further bond his energy, Diem fixed a choice on the eventual
fate of the nation in October 1955 and pronounced the arrangement of the Republic of Vietnam,
with its capital at Saigon.
In spite of this, US supported the Diem regime In 1957, a low level guerrilla development started
to rise in the south, led by Viet Minh units that had not returned north after the accords. After
two years, these gatherings effectively compelled Ho's legislature into issuing a mystery
determination requiring an outfitted battle in the south. Military supplies started to stream into
the south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the next year the National Front for the Liberation of
South Vietnam (Viet Cong) was shaped to complete the battle.
Disappointment and Deposing Diem
The circumstance in South Vietnam kept on breaking down with debasement overflowing all
through the Diem government and the ARVN not able to successfully battle the Viet Cong. In
1961, the Kennedy Administration in the US guaranteed more guide and extra cash. Weapons
and supplies were sent, but they had little impact. Examinations then started in Washington in
regards to the need to compel an administration change in Saigon. This was proficient on
November 2, 1963, when the CIA helped a gathering of ARVN officers to topple and murder
Diem. His passing prompted time of political flimsiness that saw the ascent and fall of a
progression of military governments. To manage the post overthrow tumult, Kennedy expanded
the quantity of US consultants in South Vietnam to 16,000. With Kennedy's demise later that
same month, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson rose to the administration and repeated the US'
duty to battling socialism in the area.


Gulf of Tonkin incident

The Gulf of Tonkin occurrence, otherwise called the USS Maddox episode, included two separate
encounters including North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.
The first American report reprimanded North Vietnam for both episodes, however further
reports by North Vietnam questioned the claim made by the US. On August 2, 1964, the
destroyer USS Maddox, while patrolling the waters in the Gulf of Tonkin, was sought after by
three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo pontoons of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox
discharged three cautioning shots and the North Vietnamese vessels then assaulted with
torpedoes and automatic rifle shoot. Maddox consumed more than 280 3inch and 5inch shells in
what was guaranteed to be an ocean fight. One US air ship was harmed, three North Vietnamese
torpedo pontoons were purportedly harmed, and four North Vietnamese mariners were said to
have been murdered, with six more injured. There were no U.S. casualties.
Maddox "was unscathed with the exception of a solitary projectile gap from a Vietnamese
automatic weapon round"
The result of these two occurrences was the section by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin
Resolution, which conceded President Lyndon B. Johnson the power to help any Southeast
Asian nation whose administration was thought to be risked by "comrade animosity". The
determination served as Johnson's lawful legitimization for sending US routine powers and the
beginning of open fighting against North Vietnam.


Operation Rolling Thunder

Operation Rolling Thunder was the name of a gradual and sustained aerial bombardment
campaign conducted by the US in 1965.
The four objectives of the operation (which developed after some time) were to help the
hanging spirit of the Saigon regime in the Republic of Vietnam, to convince North Vietnam to
stop its backing for the comrade insurrection in South Vietnam without really taking any ground
strengths into socialist North Vietnam, to demolish North Vietnam's transportation framework,
mechanical base, and air safeguards, and to end the stream of men and materiel into South
Vietnam. Achievement of these destinations was made troublesome by both the restrictions
forced upon the U.S and its partners by Cold War exigencies and by the military guide and help
received by North Vietnam from its socialist partners, the Soviet Union and the People's
Republic of China. Further in August 1964, as a result of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, in which U.S.
navy ships claimed to have been attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats, President Johnson
ordered retaliatory air strikes (called Operation Pierce Arrow) launched against the North
Vietnam. This did not, however, satisfy the military chiefs, who demanded a much wider and
more aggressive campaign like Operation Rolling Thunder.
Fearing that this operation was the only alternative to sending American troop on the ground, the
aerial assault began in March 2, 1965.
Bridges, rail yards, docks, and supply dumps were all targeted during the attack. During the
initial weeks, 26 bridges and seven ferries in the North were destroyed. Other military targets
included the extensive North Vietnamese radar system, army barracks, and ammunition
depots. Bombs often missed targets. Schools and hospitals were accidentally hit. Many innocent
lives were lost as well.



The Soviet Union was always expansionist and was highly determined to impose its
absolute authority on the rest of the world. And the Soviet Union was always committed to
the worldwide spread of communism. With a new nuclear capability and a vast army, the
Soviet Union seemed to be and also often declared itself a potential enemy of the United
States of America. As the United States poured resources into South Vietnam, Chinese and
Soviet involvement in Vietnam also increased. As the worlds largest two communist
powers, both the Soviet Union and China also lent moral, logistic and military support to
North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Both Moscow and Beijing hoped to strengthen and
expand communism in the Asia. Neither Soviet Union nor China were true or open about
the nature of the support they provided North Vietnam and Viet Cong. Russia started
supplying Vietnam with medical supplies, food, oil, and machinery parts. Most Russian
assistance was supplied as aid rather than a system of differed payment as used by China.



The US became involved in the war for various reasons, and these changed and shifted over
time. Primarily, every president of the United States regarded the Viet Minh, the National
Liberation Front and the government of North Vietnam, administered by Ho Chi Minh, as agents
who worked to spread global communism. U.S. government and most Americans regarded
communism as the opposite of all they held dear. Communists mocked democracy, violated
basic human rights, pursued military aggression, and created closed state economies that rarely
traded with capitalist countries. Americans compared communism to a very contagious disease.
If it took hold in one nation, U.S. policymakers expected contiguous nations to fall to
communism, too, as if nations were dominoes lined up on to fall. In 1949, when the Communist
Party came to power in China, US feared that Vietnam would become the next Asian domino.
That was one reason for President Truman in 1950 took the decision to give financial aid to the
French forces that were fighting the Viet Minh.


The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council consisted of three nations with
opposing interests in the outcome of the war (the US, the Soviet Union, and China) and
Vietnam's former colonial ruler (France). Any one of these member nations had the ability to use
their veto right to block any coherent Vietnam policy by the United Nations.
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter prohibits war that is not to maintain or restore
international peace (Article 42) or undertaken in self-defense (Article 51). According to Richard
Falk, "If the US Government had abided by international law, the dreadful experience of the
Vietnam War would not have occurred. The one other point is that the US and RVN were in
violation of the Geneva Accords signed in 1954. Other signees were DRVN, France, UK, USSR and


The accords stipulated free elections to be held in 1956 to elect a single government for a unified
Viet Nam, which Ho Chi Minh would have won in a landslide. By refusing to honor the previous
agreement, the US and the RVN didn't have a strong case for claiming the need for intervention
by the UN the diplomat from Burma who served as Secretary General of the United Nations from
1961, both publicly denounced the war in Vietnam and privately tried to open diplomatic
channels between the US and Vietnam, but he largely failed because the United States was not in
favour of his diplomatic efforts.


The main countries involved in the Vietnam War were North and South Vietnam. South Vietnam
was backed by anticommunist countries and members of the South East Asia Treaty
Organization (SEATO) which consisted of the United States, South Korea, Australia, Philippines,
New Zealand, Thailand, Laos and Republic of China (also known as Taiwan). North Vietnam was
backed by the communist allies including Peoples Republic of China, Soviet Union, Pathet Lao
(Laotian Communist insurgents), Khmer Rouge (Cambodian Communist insurgents) and North


Peoples Republic of China (PRC) was the first country that recognized the Democratic republic
of Vietnam (DRV) led by Ho Chi Minh back in January 1950. In the same year, they also sent
weapons and military advisors to assist the viet Minh in their war against the French. Prior to the
recognition and support, the Chinese communists and Viet Minh had been cooperating in their
respective struggles during 194649, up until the Chinese communists won the civil war in 1949.
In the 1954 Geneva Accords, following the Soviet Union, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai urged the
Viet Minh to accept a temporary partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel. China continued to
provide military aid and support to North Vietnam years after the first Indochina war.

In the 1954 Geneva Accords, following the Soviet Union, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai urged the
Viet Minh to accept a temporary partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel. China continued to
provide military aid and support to North Vietnam years after the first Indochina war.
The U.S. escalating involvement and its first troops sent to Vietnam likewise increased Soviet
interest in Vietnam remarkably. Leonid Brezhnev signed a defense treaty with Hanoi during a
meeting with the Lao Dong Politburo and NVA commanders in February 1965 and Soviet aid
began flowing to North Vietnam since then.

North Korea had provided North Vietnam both political and military support including sending
military advisers in the early stage of the Vietnam War due to the close Ideology between Hanoi
and Pyongyang.

Similar to most communist allies, Cuba has not officially revealed its secret support to North
Vietnam and that its role in the Vietnam War remains mystery. However, the Republic of Cuba
under the leadership of Fidel Castro reportedly provided doctors, military advisors and
engineers who engaged in widening the Ho Chi Minh trail.


Along with Australia, New Zealand was a close ally of the U.S. as they were members of
Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and Australia, New Zealand, United States Security
Treaty (ANZUS). Under Cold War concern, communist spread and alliance obligations, New
Zealand also sent its ground troops into Vietnam together with its allies.
However, unlike the U.S. and Australia, New Zealand was rather reluctant to commit its troops to
South Vietnam partially due to its military commitment in the Indonesian Malaysian
Confrontation. Instead, in April 1963, New Zealand confined its commitment to a civilian surgical
team which comprised of 7 men and later extended to 16 men .Under U.S. continued pressure,
New Zealand eventually sent in a detachment of 25 engineers the New Zealand Army Detachment
Vietnam (NEWZAD) in June 1964.


In the First Indochina War, Canada did not involve yet provided modest diplomatic and
economic support to the French. In the aftermath of the war, Canada, together with India and
Poland, was a member of the International Control Commission (ICC) which was supposed to
oversee the implementation of the 1954 Geneva Agreements. Thus, they attempted to maintain
a neutral involvement in Vietnam although their negotiators favored the U.S. and some even
reportedly worked for them during their bombings against North Vietnam later on.
Canada did not fight in the Vietnam War and diplomatically it was officially nonbelligerent
even though it did send foreign aid to South Vietnam, which was albeit humanitarian directed by
the U.S.

As part of the alliance with the United States, South Korea under the administration of Park
Chunghee played an active role in the Vietnam War
Together with communist spread concern, their participation was strongly rooted in the
commitment of American forces in the earlier Korean War (1950 1953) and this was seen as
returning the favor.


The first South Korean personnel headed to Vietnam in September 1964 were noncombatant,
consisting of 10 Taekwondo instructors and 130 Korean Army hospital unit.

In the early 1960s, under the threat from a growing communist insurgency, South Vietnamese
government repeatedly sought security assistance from the U.S. and its allies. Following the
U.S.s footsteps its most valued ally, Australia responded with civil and military support for
South Vietnam.
In 1962, Australian government formed up the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam
(AATTV), also known as the Team, which included 30 qualified and experienced officers, led
by Colonel Ted Serong. The team would provide their experience in jungle warfare, which they
had gained from the Malayan Emergency, to American forces. By the end of 1964, Australia
increased the number of military personnel up to 200, including a larger AATTV team as well as
a new engineer and surgical team.


What measures can be taken to avoid escalation of the current situation in North and
South Vietnam into a deadly war?

Is the United States intervention in Vietnam justified? How?

What are the hidden motives of the Soviet Union and China behind supporting
North Vietnam?

Was the signing of the Geneva Accords 1954 the most suitable settlement to the
First Indo-China war?

How can other measures like economic sanctions and other restrictions be used to
avoid a military intervention?

How did U.S. objectives differ from the objectives of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese
Communists during the war?