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Vietnam War

Map of North and South Vietnam

After eight years of warfare between the French and the communist-led Viet Minh, the 1954 Geneva Agreements ended France's colonial rule and partitioned Vietnam into a communist-controlled North and a non-communist South backed by the United States. In the South, beginning in 1957, communist Viet Cong waged a guerrilla campaign against the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem and drew increasing support from the North. The United States tried to bolster Diem's government with increasing numbers of advisers and material aid. In 1963, as the insurgency appeared to gain strength, South Vietnamese military officers overthrew Diem but the situation only worsened. In August 1964, following a North Vietnamese naval attack on a U.S. warship, the U.S. Congress approved the Tonkin Gulf Resolution (P.L. 88-408), authorizing President Johnson to expand conventional military operations in Vietnam without a formal declaration of war. During 1965, to prevent the imminent collapse of South Vietnam, the United States launched Rolling Thunder, a systematic bombing campaign against the North, and started committing ground combat forces in the South. The purpose of Rolling Thunder, never achieved, was to compel the North to stop helping the Viet Cong. By April 1969, despite U.S. military personnel in the South peaking at 543,400, victory remained elusive and more of the American public began to turn against the war. Rolling Thunder was suspended and in 1969 U.S. troop withdrawals began. Between 1970 and 1972, bombing of the North resumed intermittently and sometimes intensively but ground redeployments continued and the bulk of U.S. forces left the South. The Paris Peace Accords, signed on January 27, 1973, proved to be a temporary truce rather than a genuine peace. In the wake of North Vietnam's multiple assaults, South Vietnam collapsed in the spring of 1975. As North Vietnam took over, President Gerald R. Ford declared the Vietnam War over.