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The conflict emerged from the First Indochina War between the French and the communist-led Viet Minh.[A 5] After the French quit attempted recolonization of Indochina in 1954, the US assumed financial and military support for the South Vietnamese state. The Việt Cộng, also known as Front national de libération du Sud-Viêt Nam or NLF (the National Liberation Front), a South Vietnamese common front under the direction of North Vietnam, initiated a guerrilla war in the south. North Vietnam had also invaded Laos in the mid-1950s in support of insurgents, establishing the Ho Chi Minh Trail to supply and reinforce the Việt Cộng.:16 U.S. involvement escalated under President John F. Kennedy through the MAAG program, from just under a thousand military advisors in 1959 to 23,000 in 1964.:131 By 1963, the North Vietnamese had sent 40,000 soldiers to fight in South Vietnam.:16
With the VC and PAVN mounting large-scale offensives in the Tet Offensive throughout 1968, U.S. domestic support for the war began fading. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) expanded following a period of neglect after Tet and was modeled after U.S. doctrine. The VC sustained heavy losses during the Tet Offensive and subsequent U.S.-ARVN operations in the rest of 1968, losing over 50,000 men.:481 The CIA's Phoenix Program further degraded the VC's membership and capabilities. By the end of the year, the VC insurgents held almost no territory in South Vietnam, and their recruitment dropped by over 80% in 1969, signifying a drastic reduction in guerrilla operations, necessitating increased use of PAVN regular soldiers from the north. In 1969, North Vietnam declared a Provisional Revolutionary Government in South Vietnam in an attempt to give the reduced VC a more international stature, but the southern guerrillas from then on were sidelined as PAVN forces began more conventional combined arms warfare. By 1970, over 70% of communist troops in the south were northerners, and southern-dominated VC units no longer existed. Operations crossed national borders: Laos was invaded by North Vietnam early on, while Cambodia was used by North Vietnam as a supply route starting in 1967; the route through Cambodia began to be bombed by the U.S. in 1969, while the Laos route had been heavily bombed since 1964. The deposing of the monarch Norodom Sihanouk by the Cambodian National Assembly resulted in a PAVN invasion of the country at the request of the Khmer Rouge, escalating the Cambodian Civil War and resulting in a U.S.-ARVN counter-invasion.
In 1969, following the election of U.S. President Richard Nixon, a policy of "Vietnamization" began, which saw the conflict fought by an expanded ARVN, with U.S. forces sidelined and increasingly demoralized by domestic opposition and reduced recruitment. U.S. ground forces had largely withdrawn by early 1972 and support was limited to air support, artillery support, advisers, and materiel shipments. The ARVN, buttressed by said U.S. support, stopped the first and largest mechanized PAVN offensive during the Easter Offensive of 1972. The offensive resulted in heavy casualties on both sides and the failure of the PAVN to subdue South Vietnam, but the ARVN itself failed to recapture all territory, leaving its military situation difficult. The Paris Peace Accords of January 1973 saw all U.S. forces withdrawn; the Case–Church Amendment, passed by the U.S. Congress on 15 August 1973, officially ended direct U.S. military involvement.:457 The Peace 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 capture of Saigon by the PAVN on 30 April; this marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year.
The scale of fighting was enormous. By 1970, the ARVN was the world's fourth largest army, and the PAVN was not far behind with approximately one million regular soldiers.:770 The war exacted an enormous human cost: estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed range from 966,000 to 3.8 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action.[A 4]
^Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj (Profiles of Malaysia's Foreign Ministers)(PDF). Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Malaysia). 2008. p. 31. ISBN978-983-2220-26-8. Archived from the original(PDF) on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015. The Tunku had been personally responsible for Malaya's partisan support of the South Vietnamese regime in its fight against the Vietcong and, in reply to a Parliamentary question on 6 February 1962, he had listed all the used weapons and equipment of the Royal Malaya Police given to Saigon. These included a total of 45,707 single-barrel shotguns, 611 armoured cars and smaller numbers of carbines and pistols. Writing in 1975, he revealed that "we had clandestinely been giving 'aid' to Vietnam since early 1958. Published American archival sources now reveal that the actual Malaysian contributions to the war effort in Vietnam included the following: "over 5,000 Vietnamese officers trained in Malaysia; training of 150 U.S. soldiers in handling Tracker Dogs; a rather impressive list of military equipment and weapons given to Viet-Nam after the end of the Malaysian insurgency (for example, 641 armored personnel carriers, 56,000 shotguns); and a creditable amount of civil assistance (transportation equipment, cholera vaccine, and flood relief)". It is undeniable that the Government's policy of supporting the South Vietnamese regime with arms, equipment and training was regarded by some quarters, especially the Opposition parties, as a form of interfering in the internal affairs of that country and the Tunku's valiant efforts to defend it were not convincing enough, from a purely foreign policy standpoint.
^Thayer, Thomas C. (1985). War Without Fronts: The American Experience in Vietnam. Westview Press. ISBN978-0-8133-7132-0.
^Clarke, Jeffrey J. (1988). United States Army in Vietnam: Advice and Support: The Final Years, 1965–1973. Center of Military History, United States Army. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam suffered 254,256 recorded combat deaths between 1960 and 1974, with the highest number of recorded deaths being in 1972, with 39,587 combat deaths
^ abHeuveline, Patrick (2001). "The Demographic Analysis of Mortality Crises: The Case of Cambodia, 1970–1979". Forced Migration and Mortality. National Academies Press. pp. 102–04, 120, 124. ISBN978-0-309-07334-9. As best as can now be estimated, over two million Cambodians died during the 1970s because of the political events of the decade, the vast majority of them during the mere four years of the 'Khmer Rouge' regime. ... Subsequent reevaluations of the demographic data situated the death toll for the [civil war] in the order of 300,000 or less.
^ abSliwinski, Marek (1995). Le Génocide Khmer Rouge: Une Analyse Démographique [The Khmer Rouge genocide: A demographic analysis]. L'Harmattan. pp. 42–43, 48. ISBN978-2-7384-3525-5.
^Cite error: The named reference Factasy was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
^"Vietnam War". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 5 March 2008. Meanwhile, the United States, its military demoralized and its civilian electorate deeply divided, began a process of coming to terms with defeat in its longest and most controversial war