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History Facts - The Vietnam War

  1. The Vietnam War lasted from 1955 to 1975. Although it was officially a conflict between North and South Vietnam, direct US involvement resulted in 8,744,000 American soldiers seeing action over almost twenty years. A total of 58,318 US military personnel reportedly died in the war.
  2. The Vietnam War was also known as the Second Indochina War. The First Indochina War broke out between the communist North and the French-backed resistance in the South. Due to the threat of growing communism, the US gradually took a more prominent role in the conflict.
  3. At the time of the Vietnam War, world leaders feared that communism might spread from one nation to the next. They feared it would spread like a contagion to Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and their neighbors.
  4. The Americans relied on massive firepower and air superiority. Although they won almost all the major military encounters with their enemies, they still lost the war on a political and social level. They were heavily criticized for not understanding Vietnam's culture and history.
  5. When determining whether to take part in the Vietnam War on a grand scale, US leaders and political advisers felt they could quickly take over the conflict and control Vietnam. Part of their reasoning was that it was a small nation. Geographically, though, it's almost as big as Germany.
  6. The progress of the Vietnam War was documented and compiled in a file known as the Pentagon Papers. These classified documents were shared with the New York Times by a Department of Defense employee.

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