The Vietnam War was the longest military conflict in U.S. history. It was the most unpopular war in which Americans ever fought. The toll in suffering, turmoil, and sorrow can never be tabulated. For the more than two million American Veterans of the war, the wounds will never heal. The war took the lives of over 58,000 of our best men, with over a quarter million wounded. The cost of the war? 150 billion dollars.

How did this all happen? The French were fighting the Viet Minh. The U.S. supplied 300,000 small arms and spent more than one billion dollars in support of the French military effort. The Viet Minh was receiving support from the Soviet Union and China. The idea of the French winning the war was always in doubt. On May 7, 1954, the Viet Minh handed the French a stunning military defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

JFK became President and sent 500 “Advisors” to Vietnam. It is uncertain what he thought they could accomplish. By 1962 the number had increased to over 12,000. With guerrilla activity increasing, JFK increased the number once again to 16,300. The numbers on both sides escalated and by 1964 the guerrillas had over 100,000 men. Then came the bombing campaign. 3500 marines were committed, and soon escalated to over 200,000. The controversial General Westmoreland takes the full blame for his incompetence in underestimating the enemy, predicting victory by 1967. Westmoreland increased the troop commitment to 553,000 by 1969. He requested 200,000 more troops, but the Tet Offensive defused any plans the U.S. had of winning the war.



Meanwhile, back in the States, the entire nation revolted against the ever escalating war as we invaded Cambodia. In 1971 Australia and New Zealand withdrew their soldiers. The U.S. reduced to 196,700, with plans to withdraw another 45,000.Our country was consuming large amounts of drugs, race relations grew tense, and U.S. soldiers were disobeying orders and there was an increase of murder of unpopular officers.

Vietnamese civilians - Ctsy,Wikipedia

North Vietnamese soldiers launched a dramatic attack on U.S. troops, taking city after city. The Americans were clearly on the run. Chaos, unrest, and panic ensued as there was a hysterical scramble to get out of Vietnam as the fall of Saigon was near. On April 23, President Gerald Ford declared an end to the Vietnam War.

General Westmoreland’s incompetent leadership was credited as the major cause of failure.


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