The Vietnam War was one of the United States’ longest and most frustrating conflicts.  Occurring between 1959 and 1975, the war was fought between communist North Vietnam and its allies against the United States and South Vietnam.  During the era of the Cold War and the expansion of communism, the US entered the war to prevent the communist North from taking over the Republic of South Vietnam.

The United States’ involvement initially began by sending military advisors during the 1950s.  Our nation’s role escalated during the Kennedy administration by sending special forces troops to conduct a guerrilla war.  Troop levels sharply escalated under President Johnson in 1965, with massive ground and air buildups.  Troop levels culminated at 550,000 in 1968 during the Tet Offensive.

The Vietnam War divided our nation, causing violent unrest and demonstrations across the US and leading to Lyndon Johnson’s decision in 1968 not to seek reelection.  After Nixon was elected president in 1968, he began a policy of gradual troop withdrawal known as Vietnamization.  The United States’ active military involvement ended with the Case-Church congressional amendment on August 15, 1973.  The US continued economic and military aid to the Republic of South Vietnam until April 1975, when the North Vietnamese army captured Saigon and the communists gained control.

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