Counterinsurgency, often known as "pacification," began in Vietnam during the Indochina War (1946–1954). The French developed military-civilian teams (known as equipes mobiles), which conducted civic services alongside military actions aiming to establishing French rule over Papacy-dominated areas...
The term "counterinsurgency" was first used by U.S. Army officer John K. Singlaub in a 1951 report on Vietnam policy. In this report, Singlaub described an approach that combined military action against insurgent forces with efforts to win the support of Vietnamese civilians. This approach would become standard practice for all future U.S. commanders in Vietnam.
Vietnam was not alone in using counterinsurgency tactics during this time. British officers used similar methods while working with local governments in India. And in Central America, U.S. officials employed counterinsurgency strategies after the 1973 oil crisis caused economic hardship for many countries in North America and Europe.
But it was in Vietnam where the concept of the "unarmed civilian" became popularized among Westerners. Until then, civilians were usually avoided by soldiers who were trained to fight instead. But now that fighting men were needed to guard supply lines and hold territory, experts felt that using noncombatants could achieve two things: reduce the number of casualties among peaceful citizens and give the appearance of success even if the campaign had failed.
On December 20, 1960, North Vietnam founded the National Liberation Front to organize an insurrection in the South. Later, communist offensives were mostly carried out by the North Vietnamese. When North and South Vietnam were officially united under a communist government in 1976, the organization was disbanded. The NLF was renamed the Vietnamese People's Army and is now regarded as a part of the Vietnamese military.
In April 1975, after the Fall of Saigon, the last government of South Vietnam collapsed, ending nearly 10 years of American involvement in the conflict. Communist forces quickly advanced on Saigon, capturing the capital in May 1975. On January 7, 1977, the NLF declared victory over the United States and formed a Council of State to guide national policy until a new government could be established.
The communist victory in the Vietnam War came at a high cost to both countries. In the United States, 58,000 soldiers were dead, missing or wounded while another 200,000 veterans suffered from health problems resulting from their service in the war. Economic losses due to the war amounted to $1.5 trillion dollars.
In Vietnam, the loss of life was even greater with estimates ranging from 1 million to 4 million people killed. Almost everyone we lost was innocent; they only became victims of history's worst wars when they ended up on one side or the other.
The Indochina wars were twentieth-century hostilities in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, primarily involving France (1946–544) and, subsequently, the United States (beginning in the 1950s). The wars are commonly referred to as the French Indochina War and the Vietnam War (q.v. ), or the First and Second Indochina Wars. They also include the Lao Issara rebellion against French rule and the Cambodian Civil War.
These conflicts involved a variety of political motives on all sides, but they can be divided into two main categories: those involving colonialism and those involving communism.
The first Indochina war was fought between France and its colonial power Vietnam over control of the territory. This war began in 1946 with an attack by Vietnamese nationalists led by Ho Chi Minh upon French forces occupying their country. It ended in 1954 with the Treaty of Paris, which granted Vietnam independence from France.
The second Indochina war started in 1955 when Communist insurgents based in North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam, beginning what would become a long conflict between these two countries. This war ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon to communist forces and the evacuation of the U.S. embassy staff from Vietnam.
In addition to these two major wars, there have been several other incidents and rebellions throughout the history of Vietnam that have not been given official names by historians.
To fight the superior armaments and technology of the United States, North Vietnam used a lethal combination of modern weaponry and guerilla tactics. The following are the most noteworthy engagements from that fight.
In early 1955, North Vietnamese forces attacked Thai and Laotian villages on Laos' Mekong River border with heavy casualties. They were responding to U.S. bombing raids on northern Viet Nam that had killed hundreds of civilians. In another incident, North Vietnamese troops captured two American soldiers near Thua Thien-Hue. The men were executed to show that America would be punished for its crimes.
In late 1955, North Vietnam invaded southern Viet Nam in response to U.S. military activities there. The conflict became known as the First Indochina War. It lasted until July 1954 when France surrendered to Communist China. After this defeat, French officials abandoned their efforts to maintain control over South Vietnam and Cambodia. The United States provided no direct support to the government of South Vietnam but did not interfere with its defense efforts either. As part of its overall strategy, North Vietnam sought to draw the United States into the conflict so that it could obtain weapons and funds to strengthen its military position.
The next major engagement occurred at the end of 1962 when U.S. and South Vietnamese naval vessels clashed in the Gulf of Tonkin.
In response, on December 19, 1946, the Vietnamese Minh launched an offensive on the French in Hanoi, kicking off the First Indochina War. During the eight-year conflict, Mao Zedong's Chinese communists backed the Vietnam Minh, while the US backed French and anti-communist Vietnamese troops. The war ended with a deal under which Vietnam was divided into two separate states: Communist North Vietnam won by outmaneuvering its opponents with Soviet support; South Vietnam was supported by the United States.
North Vietnam saw itself as the vanguard of a worldwide revolution to achieve social equality and prosperity for all through communism. South Vietnam was a military dictatorship that banned communism and anyone associated with it. In addition, it arrested and tortured political dissidents.
During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Vietnam went through many political upheavals as both the North and South tried to gain control of the other. Finally, in 1990, President George HW Bush signed legislation granting official recognition to Vietnam, ending the longest running foreign policy fiasco in US history.
In 2001, President Bill Clinton became the first president to visit Vietnam since the end of the war. He called for reconciliation between the North and South and praised the Vietnamese people for their struggle for independence before adding that "the American government will continue to support Vietnam's efforts to maintain a stable democracy."
On January 30, 1968 CE, the Tet Offensive began. The Tet Offensive was begun on January 30, 1968, by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces against South Vietnamese and US objectives. The Tet Offensive was a watershed moment in the Vietnam War. Before it began, there had been little sign that North Vietnam was willing to commit significant resources to the fight against America. However, after the offensive failed to produce a breakthrough, public support for the war began to drop sharply.
The attacks at Tet marked the beginning of a major nationwide campaign aimed at both South Vietnamese officials and the American military. They also served as a warning to Americans not to believe their country would be able to maintain its dominance over Southeast Asia.
The Tet Offensive is considered one of the most successful military operations of all time. It resulted in the death of approximately 1,800 enemy soldiers and the capture of 100 more. Equally important, it demonstrated to both North Vietnam and America that there was no advantage in continuing the conflict.
President Roosevelt was diagnosed with arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, in 1944. This disease caused his death in 1945. Arteriosclerosis is a permanent condition that can only be treated by following a healthy lifestyle. There is no cure for this disease.