Longest war in us history the first major military defeat for the united states 1954 1975
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Longest war in US history. The first major military defeat for the United States 1954-1975. 55,000+ American soldiers dead. Millions of U.S. and Vietnamese veterans injured or psychologically damaged. 1.3 million Vietnamese soldiers dead, and unknown numbers of civilians.

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55 000 american soldiers dead
55,000+ American soldiers dead for the United States

Wwii aftermath
WWII Aftermath civilians

  • After WWII, communism became the biggest threat to world peace

  • After 1945, France threatened to regain control over Vietnam

  • But Vietnamese nationalists, who also believed in communism and had connections to the Soviet Union, were determined to fight back

  • The U.S. then decided that France’s position was more anti-communist and allowed a somewhat independent Vietnam to be established

  • French Indo-China was split into 4 parts: Laos and Cambodia to the West while Vietnam was split into 2 in the East. Communists ruled N. Vietnam, and S. Vietnam became somewhat independent.

Thus the cold war and the domino theory
. . . Thus the Cold War and the Domino Theory civilians

  • Vietnam then became symbolic of the battle to prevent the spread of Communism – a battle of power between the U.S. and the Soviet Union named the Cold War

  • With China becoming communist and with a war in Korea, the U.S. feared the consequences of “losing” Vietnam

  • This fear became known as the “Domino Theory” – if one country came under communist rule, then adjacent countries would follow suit.

Who was fighting
Who was Fighting? civilians


South Vietnam (Anti-Communists)

Republic of Vietnam (RVN)

United States

Laotian (Hmong)

North Vietnam (Communists)

North Vietnamese Army (NVA)

Vietcong (Charlie, VC) from the South

At first, the U.S. was the actions of the Diem government

To only advise

But involvement in vietnam grows
But involvement in Vietnam Grows the actions of the Diem government

  • U.S. involvement in Vietnam grew over time

  • Following President Eisenhower’s example, President Kennedy tripled aid to S. Vietnam (N. Vietnam was controlled by communists) and increased military presence to 16,700 troops

  • After Kennedy’s assassination, President Johnson, faced w/ the potential allegation of “losing Vietnam,” committed himself and the country to deeper involvement in the Vietnam conflict

Alleged provocation august 1964 gulf of tonkin
Alleged Provocation, August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin the actions of the Diem government

A resolution was then developed allowing Johnson to use military force in Vietnam – to “take all necessary steps, including the use of armed forces’ to help the South East Asia Treaty Organization “defend their freedom.”Link

Reflections after the war
Reflections after the war… the actions of the Diem government

The failure to protect democracy and its costs
The Failure to Protect Democracy . . . And Its Costs the actions of the Diem government

  • . . . The only time in its history the U.S. failed to achieve its stated war aims . . .

  • Even after the U.S. Treasury spent over $140 billion . . .

  • And 200,000 South Vietnamese, 1 million North Vietnamese, 500,000 civilians, and 56,555+ U.S. Soldiers lives were spent.

  • Destruction to land, too, was costly: 50% of the country’s forest cover was destroyed as was 20% of its agricultural land.

Further costs
. . . Further Costs the actions of the Diem government

  • Vietnam became communist and several thousand refugees fled

  • Laos and Cambodia erupted in chaos

  • Hmong, citizens of Laos who helped the U.S., fled to Thailand and then the U.S.

And the u s soldier s return home was difficult too
. . . And the U.S. soldier’s return home was difficult too.

  • 2.6 million men and women served in the war

  • Upon returning home, after facing intense combat stress, the veterans suffered from: high rates of divorce, drug abuse, unemployment, and homelessness

  • The veterans were also criticized by those who opposed the war, and they became symbols of America’s defeat

. . . Until The Wall commemorating their service was built in Washington D.C., helping to finally honor the men and women who died in service to their country

Topic choices
Topic Choices in Washington D.C., helping to finally honor the men and women who died in service to their country

How effective were:

  • Lyndon B. Johnson? (A key U.S. president)

  • Ho Chi Minh? (North Vietnamese leader)

  • The ARVN Army?

  • The Vietcong?

  • The American military?

  • U. S. medical personnel?

  • Protesters?

  • The media coverage?

Topic choices1
Topic Choices in Washington D.C., helping to finally honor the men and women who died in service to their country

…or explore one of these topics:

  • Tet Offensive

  • The use of Laotian citizen fighters

  • The draft system

  • Psyops (psychological warfare)

  • Agent Orange

  • Prisoners of war

  • U. S. withdrawal from Vietnam

  • The potential of avoiding the Vietnam War

Your homework
Your Homework in Washington D.C., helping to finally honor the men and women who died in service to their country

  • Access this PowerPoint from our class website

  • Check out the remaining slides to help you get to know the topics

  • List your top 3 choices on a piece of paper and hand in next class.

  • NOTE: There will also be brief explanations posted in the LMTC

Did lyndon b johnson make effective decisions during the vietnam war
Did Lyndon B. Johnson make effective decisions during the Vietnam War?

  • By 1965, Johnson had to choose between losing a war or making the Vietnam War a huge military commitment

  • He did not choose either extreme, but still committed 300,000+ troops which grew to 500, 000 by 1968

  • After the Tet Offensive, a surprise series of attacks on U.S. and S. Vietnamese Troops in 1968, Johnson slowly and painfully reduced U.S. involvement

Was ho chi minh an effective leader during the vietnam war
Was Ho Chi Minh an effective leader during the Vietnam War? Vietnam War?

  • Ho Chi Minh was a Vetnamese nationalist

  • A communist, Ho Chi Minh trained a group named the Vietminh who fought against first the Japanese during WWII and then later the French.

  • They operated as guerillas, which later shaped the fighting of the Viet Cong

  • As a leader, Ho Chi MInh’s primary goal was to establish a unified, communist Vietnam

Did the vietcong soldiers fight effectively during the vietnam war
Did the Vietcong soldiers fight effectively during the Vietnam War?

  • The Vietcong usually fought as guerillas, meaning they did not fight in the open but struck against their enemies and then resumed hiding in the jungle. They also were not distinguished by a uniform as the North Vietnamese Army would have been, so it was difficult to distinguish a member of the Viet Cong from a civilian

  • They incorporated extensive methods to remain hidden, building tunnels where necessary

  • As guerillas, they did not stage battles but instead murdered S. Vietnamese leaders and village heads to control the Southern country side

  • Effective in their methods, the Viet Cong were supported by the North Vietnamese Army by 1960

Did the arvn soldiers fight effectively during the vietnam war
Did the ARVN soldiers fight effectively during the Vietnam War?

  • The ARVN military group was formed in South Vietnam in 1954

  • The U.S., under President John F. Kennedy sent advisors and a great deal of financial support to aid ARVN in combating the Communist insurgents.

  • The idea was the help South Vietnam help itself.

  • The ARVN eventually became fully armed and funded by the U.S.

12 year old child soldier of the ARVN with a M-79 grenade launcher

Should the u s have implemented the draft system for the vietnam war
Should the U. S. have implemented the draft system for the Vietnam War?

  • In order to have enough soldiers, the U. S. initiated the draft.

  • The system randomly assigned number (based on birthdays). If a person’s number was called, he had to report to the local draft board or risk imprisonment

  • Some took huge risks to avoid the war altogether

Soldiers were drafted while some volunteered
Soldiers were drafted, while some volunteered. Vietnam War?

Conditions in Vietnam were tough . . .

Was the american military prepared for the challenges it met in vietnam
Was the American military prepared for the challenges it met in Vietnam?

  • While the V.C. and NVA used light infantry and guerilla tactics, the U.S. relied on air superiority.

  • The Air Force consumed over 6 million tons of munitions

  • Also, because of the dense foliage of Vietnam’s jungles, the U.S. used a defoliant called Agent Orange to try to kill the plant helping the Viet Cong hide

The. U.S. also used the helicopter for various operations as well as other more “Western” warfare technologies

Should the laotian citizens have helped the u s during the vietnam war
Should the Laotian citizens have helped the U. S. during the Vietnam War?

  • Because of its proximity to Vietnam, several US advisors were sent (but the CIA) to Laos to create a secret army against Communism.

  • Although Laos was technically neutral in this war, and other countries had agreed not to attack it, a crucial trail from North Vietnam to South Vietnam ran though it.

  • These secret armies helped the US by fighting in battles along this trail; Laos itself was often under attack as US and North Vietnam fought each other.

  • Laos helped helped because it trusted that the US would always stand by them

Notice how the Ho Chi Minh Trail (red line) goes through Laos

Were the u s psyops efforts well planned and effective
Were the U.S.’ “psyops” efforts well-planned and effective? 

  • Psyops are planned operations to give selected information to influence emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.

  • It usually targets the common citizens of the area—those who usually are caught in the middle

  • This information is often distributed by dropping leaflets from planes but it also done through whatever media is available (newspapers, radio, television, etc)

Did the u s medical personnel care effectively for american soldiers
Did the U. S. medical personnel care effectively for American soldiers?

  • A helicopter pilot points out something to his copilot in the cockpit of a US UH1 helicopter gun ship over the Mekong River Delta, 1968. The "Huey" became known as the workhorse of Vietnam. It could be adapted to many functions such as troop transport, medical evacuation and use as a gunship. No other machine saved as many lives during the war as the Medevac Hueys.

Photograph of 1st Lt. Elaine H. Niggemann Changing a Surgical Dressing

1st Lt. Elaine H. Niggemann changes a surgical dressing for Mr. James J. Torgelson at the 24th Evacuation Hospital. Mr. Torgelson is a civilian

Photograph of a Nurse Tending to a Patient

In the South China Sea, a nurse tends a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16).

Photograph of Medevac Helicopter Taking Off to Pick Up an Injured Member of the 101st Airborn Division

South Vietnam.

A UH-1D Medevac helicopter takes off to pick up an injured member of the 101st Airborn Division, near the demilitarized zone. 10/16/1969

Was the tet offensive a victory for the united states or the north vietnamese
Was the Tet Offensive a victory for the United States or the North Vietnamese?

  • During a religious holiday in January of 1968, the Viet Cong mounted a surprise attack against the S. Vietnamese city of Saigon as well as Hue and other cities

  • Though the U.S. suspected an attack was planned, they were misdirected

  • Fighting was especially fierce, and about 32,000 Viet Cong lost lives while 3,000 civilians of Hue were executed. American losses, too, were heavy – 14,000 soldiers perished.

Should the u s have used agent orange during the vietnam war
Should the U. S. have used Agent Orange during the Vietnam War?

  • Agent Orange was the code name for a herbicide developed for the military, primarily for use in tropical climates. Although the genesis of the product goes back to the 1940's, serious testing for military applications did not begin until the early 1960's.

  • The purpose of the product was to deny an enemy cover and concealment in dense terrain by defoliating trees and shrubbery where the enmy could hide. The product "Agent Orange" (a code name for the orange band that was used to mark the drums it was stored in, was principally effective against broad-leaf foliage, such as the dense jungle-like terrain found in Southeast Asia.

  • Agent Orange has been blamed for Vietnamese birth defect and illnesses and disease found in soldiers who fought during the war

Did media coverage accurately portray the events of the vietnam war
Did media coverage accurately portray the events of the Vietnam War?

  • The graphic nature of the Vietnam War was publicized day after day in people’s homes

  • As a result of striking military losses of human life and money, the war became unpopular

Were american protesters effective in changing the course of the war
Were American protesters effective in changing the course of the war?

  • The first major demonstration was in NY City in 1965, where 25, 000 people marched against the war; most protestors were college-aged.

  • The anti-war movement grew after 1968, following the My Lai Massacre and later in 1969, the Tet Offensive.

  • The My Lai Massacre, in which a company of soldiers massacred 500 Vietnamese – men, women, and children – heightened public dissatisfaction with the war

  • When the U.S. invaded Cambodia in 1970, a student demonstration at Kent State University in Ohio led to the deaths of 4 students, shot by the National Guard

  • Other key protests occurred, including the bombing on the UW campus

Should the u s have withdrawn from the vietnam war when they did
Should the U. S. have withdrawn from the Vietnam War when they did?

  • During that time period, the U.S. reduced troops in the region; however, in an attempt to protect fragile S. Vietnam, President Nixon spread the war to Cambodia

  • By 1972, 47,000 troops were in Vietnam and the U.S. concentrated on training S. Vietnamese to hold off the communists

  • By 1973, the Paris Peace Accord was signed

Although the ceasefire was reached it failed to save the south
Although the ceasefire was reached, it failed to save the south

  • The Vietcong captured Saigon in the South in 1975

  • The last hours of Saigon were full of chaos as U.S. military tried to save its supporters

  • Many were left to the vices of the Vietcong . . .

Could the vietnam war have been avoided somehow
Could the Vietnam War have been avoided somehow? south

  • This topic is geared for the individual who wants a challenge and can handle dealing with hypotheticals.

  • While there are definite ways to prove either position, you must consider a variety of sources to completely understand the issues prove your points well.