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Vietnam War. Honors Foreign Policy. Timeline. Korea vs. Vietnam. Guerilla Warfare. Aim to capture “hearts and minds” of ordinary citizens and to undermine their confidence in the regime

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Vietnam War

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Vietnam War

Honors Foreign Policy


Korea vs. Vietnam

Guerilla Warfare

  • Aim to capture “hearts and minds” of ordinary citizens and to undermine their confidence in the regime

  • Long term strategy – Guerillas do not have to inflict complete defeat upon enemy or compel them to surrender

  • Guerillas need support of people for food, shelter, and information

French Colonization

  • French colonized Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia at the end of the 1800s until 1954, with brief period of Japanese rule during WWII

  • Japanese ruled Vietnam during WWII and exploited its natural resources

Dien Bien Phu

  • March 13th – May 7th, 1954

  • Battle between French Union troops and North Vietnamese troops in northwestern Vietnam

  • French forces surrounded and forced to surrender

First Indochina War

Geneva Accords 1954

  • Granted independence to Indochina

  • Divided Vietnam at 17th parallel

  • Called for internationally supervised free elections to be held in July 1956

  • Established International Control Commission composed of India, Canada, and Poland

Geneva Accords 1954

  • 450,000 Catholic Vietnamese moved to South Vietnam; 50,000 communist Vietnamese moved to North Vietnam

  • Both sides violated the agreement; North Vietnam supported the Vietcong in the South; South Vietnam and the U.S. sent forces to sabotage installations in the north

Vietnam Split

South Vietnam

North Vietnam

Strategic Hamlet

  • The Strategic Hamlet program was an attempt to isolate rural peasants from contact and infiltration by the Vietminh by creating fortified villages from 1962 - 1964

  • Several thousand fortified villages were constructed and millions of peasants relocated by the program failed due to corruption and peasant resentment

Strategic Hamlet

Diem’s Buddhist Crisis

  • Buddhists not allowed to fly religious flags at religious festival

  • Buddhists staged protests in May in the city of Hue. Diem’s soldiers shot and killed 9 protestors leading to more protests and retributions

  • Buddhists called for freedom to fly religious flags, end to arbitrary arrests, and religious equality with Catholics

Immolation of ThichQuangDuc


Gulf of Tonkin Incident

  • August 2nd, 1964 – The USS Maddox engaged by 3 North Vietnamese Torpedo boats

  • August 4th, 1964 – The USS Maddox allegedly engaged by North Vietnamese Torpedo boats

  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution – Joint resolution passed by Congress on August 7th, 1964

    • Wayne Morse D – Oregon

    • Ernest Gruening D - Alaska


U.S. Commits Troops

  • March 1965, L.B.J. sends marines to Vietnam to protect U.S. air bases. Marines were supposed to perform defensive duties.

  • By December 1965, nearly 200,000 U.S. troops were in Vietnam performing offensive operations. Their task was to seek and destroy the Vietcong.

Vietnamese Strategy

  • Continue to send supplies to Vietcong insurgents in South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail

  • Expand Ho Chi Minh Trail and protect key points with antiaircraft weapons

  • Begin to send large North Vietnamese regular units to the south to help Vietcong

  • Continue hit and run tactics, avoid conventional battles

U.S. Strategy

  • Bomb military targets in North Vietnam such as harbor facilities, railroads, and key points on the Ho Chi Minh Trail

  • Use overwhelming U.S. firepower to seek and destroy enemy

  • Wear down the morale and war fighting capability of North Vietnam until they asked for peace

Operation Rolling Thunder

Operation Rolling Thunder

  • Needs of North Vietnamese forces minimal. All forces in South Vietnam needed only 15 tons of supplies a day to carry on the war

  • China and Soviet Union supplied N. Vietnam with 6000 tons of aid a day

  • N. Vietnam was only a staging point, it had few factories

  • By 1967, N. Vietnam had suffered 300 million in damage but the U.S. had lost 700 aircraft

Ho Chi Minh Trail

Tet Offensive

  • Major North Vietnamese offensive on the Lunar New Year, January 1968

  • North Vietnamese forces broke a truce and simultaneously attacked U.S. Forces across Vietnam

  • NVA forces attacked U.S. embassy in Saigon and briefly took over strategic points in Saigon

Battle of Hue

  • NVA forces took over the ancient capital of Vietnam, Hue, during the Tet Offensive

  • Hue was one of the few urban battles during the Vietnam War

  • Casualties – 150 U.S. Marines, over 5000 NVA

North Vietnam Goals

Tet Outcomes

Nixon Doctrine

  • LBJ did not run for reelection, Richard Nixon was elected as President

  • Nixon promised he would end the war and bring peace with honor

  • Promoted the idea of Vietnamization, a slow withdrawal of U.S. forces in conjunction with training and improving the South Vietnam military

Nixon Doctrine

  • Nixon focused on improving relations with the Soviet Union and China

  • He hoped the Soviet Union and China would reduce aid to the North Vietnamese

  • Nixon was the first U.S. President to travel to communist China and meet with Chinese officials

Nixon Policy

  • Nixon gradually reduced U.S. troops in Vietnam

  • Approved the secret bombing of Vietnamese positions in Cambodia in 1969, Codenamed Operation menu

  • Approved Operation Linebacker, a continuous bombing campaign of North Vietnam from May to October of 1972


  • Cambodia was granted independence by France in November 1953

  • Government was constitutional monarchy under Prince Norodom

  • Norodom adopted policy of neutrality during the Vietnam War

  • North Vietnamese established bases in Cambodia with knowledge of Norodom


  • U.S. Forces secretly bombed and conducted special forces operations in Cambodia against Vietcong

  • In 1970, Prince Norodom was ousted by Prime Minister Lon Nol

  • Khmer Rouge, Cambodian communists with support of North Vietnamese began civil war against Lon Nol’s government forces

  • U.S. bombed Khmer Rouge bases and briefly invaded country

Paris Peace Accords

  • 27 January 1973 – ceasefire

  • After ceasefire was in effect U.S. troops and other foreign troops would withdraw

  • U.S. prisoners of war would be released

  • Reunification of Vietnam to be carried out by step by step through peaceful means

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