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Chapter 29, Section 2. “Escalation in Vietnam”. Johnson Sends Ground Troops. Assassination of Pres. Diem brought chaos to S. Vietnam N. Vietnam kept aiding the Viet Cong rebels in the south where they controlled much of the countryside

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Chapter 29 section 2

Chapter 29, Section 2

“Escalation in Vietnam”

Johnson sends ground troops
Johnson Sends Ground Troops

  • Assassination of Pres. Diem brought chaos to S. Vietnam

  • N. Vietnam kept aiding the Viet Cong rebels in the south where they controlled much of the countryside

  • to try to win, Pres. Johnson increased U.S. efforts in Vietnam

  • Johnson wanted to bomb N. Vietnam to get Ho Chi Minh to negotiate an end to the war but he needed Congress’s approval

  • U.S. destroyer Maddox, patrolling in the Gulf of Tonkin, reported being shot at by North Vietnamese

Chapter 29 section 2

President Johnson announcing that U.S. troops are heading to Vietnam

  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution – gave Pres. Johnson power to use military force in Vietnam

  • Johnson began bombing N. Vietnam and sent the 1st U.S. combat troops to S. Vietnam in early 1965

  • Escalation – policy of increasing military involvement in Vietnam (over 500,000 U.S. soldiers there by 1968)

  • William Westmoreland – commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam (left with LBJ)

Chapter 29 section 2

Ho Chi Minh Trail Vietnam

- Ho Chi Minh Trail – supply line that started in North Vietnam and went through neighbor nations Laos and Cambodia used to supply the Viet Cong

- After attacks on U.S. soldiers the Vietcong or North Vietnamese army would sometimes slip back into these nations for safety from counter-attack

Search and destroy missions
Search and Destroy Missions Vietnam

  • search and destroy missions – U.S. tactic to search for Viet Cong and then burn villages that were thought to be sheltering them

  • tactics failed as VC would return after missions and the Vietnamese people turned even more against the S. Vietnamese govt.

U.S. soldiers search for Viet Cong on search and destroy missions

Stripping the jungle
Stripping the Jungle missions


  • U.S. relied on chemicals to reveal and destroy Viet Cong hideouts in the jungle

  • napalm – jellied gasoline dropped by U.S. planes that burn violently

  • Agent Orange – chemical sprayed by planes to kill jungle plants

  • these chemicals worked but they hurt Vietnamese villagers which made them support the U.S. even less

Agent Orange

Victims of agent orange
Victims of Agent Orange missions

Birth defects affect the next generation of Vietnamese children and also affected returning U.S. soldiers

A frustrating war
A Frustrating War missions

  • Most thought the powerful U.S. would win a quickly, but it fought a limited war to keep China out

  • 2 million U.S. soldiers served in the Vietnam War

  • U.S. forces inexperienced as average age of soldiers there was 19 and served only one year tours of duty

  • as Viet Cong mixed in with the general population the enemy was hard to find, and there was no frontline like in WWII

Chapter 29 section 2

  • The Viet Cong hid in underground tunnels and filled the jungles with land mines and booby traps

  • guerrilla warfare – a fighting tactic where small bands of fighters use surprise attacks on a stronger enemy (used by Viet Cong)

  • the hot climate and jungle plants and insects made it hard on the U.S. soldiers

  • the Viet Cong took heavy losses but didn’t give up against the invading U.S.

The surprise tet offensive
The Surprise jungles with land mines and booby trapsTet Offensive

  • by 1967 neither side was near victory

  • Tet Offensive – a surprise attack in January of 1968 on U.S. bases and over 100 S. Vietnamese cities by Viet Cong starting on the Vietnamese New Year’s Day (Tet)

  • Viet Cong smuggled weapons into the cities and couldn’t be spotted amongst all the refugees and visitors heading into the cities

Chapter 29 section 2

  • during the VC attacks they killed enemy soldiers as well as govt. leaders, teachers, doctors and priests

  • the offensive was a military defeat for the VC as all the cities were taken back from them and they lost far more lives in the battles

  • Americans didn’t see it as a victory, and many thought we could not win the war, except for too high of a price

U.S. soldiers (left) and South Vietnamese soldiers (right) defend the capitol, Saigon

Chapter 29 section 2

Hawks govt. leaders, teachers, doctors and priests

  • many Americans began to question whether we should fight a war in which to defend its people we were destroying its cities and countryside

  • Nation became divided between hawks (those who supported the war) and doves (those opposed to the war)

  • Credibility gap – gap between what the govt. told people about the war (that we were winning), and what they believed about the war from watching on TV (that we were losing)


Beginning of the end of the war
Beginning of the End of the War govt. leaders, teachers, doctors and priests

  • the Tet Offensive was the turning point in the war as Pres. Johnson refused General Westmoreland’s request for more soldiers (end of escalation)

  • Johnson announced in March of 1968 that he would stop bombing N. Vietnam, that he would seek an end to the war, and that he would not run for re-election as President

A frustrated President Lyndon Johnson contemplates what to do about the Vietnam War

U s morale sinks
U.S. Morale Sinks govt. leaders, teachers, doctors and priests

  • U.S. soldiers in Vietnam fought hard but lost faith that the U.S. could win

  • South Vietnamese govt. didn’t have the support of the people and its army often refused to fight

  • My Lai Incident – the massacre of a few hundred Vietnamese citizens (mostly women, children, and old men) by U.S. soldiers in March 1968

  • It’s seen as an example of the breakdown of morale and discipline in our armed forces

S. Vietnamese officer kills V.C.

Victims of My Lai massacre