A demilitarized zone, or DMZ, separated the two nations along the 17th parallel. A chemical herbicide and defoliant that US forces used extensively in the Vietnamese jungle to remove vegetation and reveal Viet Cong hideouts. It is believed that up to 3 million people were exposed to it during the war.
The Vietnam War was a major political and military conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam that began in early 1959 and ended with an agreement being signed in January 1973 by both sides agreeing to suspend hostilities. The war resulted in the deaths of approximately 2 million people, with another 8 million injured or made homeless by the violence. The United States became involved in the conflict when America's allies, South Vietnam and France, were unable to defeat the communist forces of North Vietnam and China for themselves.
South Vietnam was an autonomous state in Southeast Asia uniting under its government's executive branch, the Presidential Office. It consisted of the Republic of Vietnam, which was renamed "the State of Vietnam" in 1953, and its former province of French Indochina. The capital city of South Vietnam was Saigon, which today is known as Ho Chi Minh City. French Indochina included what are now the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia as well as parts of Thailand.
17th Parallel terms from the Vietnam War The boundary between North and South Vietnam set by the 1954 Geneva Conference. In addition to the DMZ, other boundaries were established for military purposes. The DMZ is a 20-25 mile wide buffer zone that extends inland from both the Northern and Southern borders of Vietnam. It was created as a place where war could not be waged and remains largely untouched by conflict.
The United States became involved in the Vietnam War because: 1 it feared that North Vietnam would fall under Communist control; 2 it believed that South Vietnam could stand on its own without American support; 3 it wanted to see what role it could play in preventing Communism from spreading. These reasons are similar to those which had led to involvement in other recent wars.
Initially, America sent troops to Vietnam to help secure the country against invasion by Communist forces. The first group of Americans arrived in late 1959 and early 1960 and by early 1961 there were 100 soldiers from the United States stationed in Vietnam. By 1964, over 5500 Americans had been killed in Vietnam and over 70,000 injured.
Following its loss at Bien Dien Phu, France negotiated an independence accord in Geneva with the victors Vietnam Minh. Vietnam would be separated by a demilitarized zone (the DMZ), with the French withdrawing from Vietnam north of the zone and the Vietnamese Minh retreating from the south. The two countries agreed to share sovereignty over their common area.
The partition took place in 1954, when the government of Prime Minister Diem decided to withdraw from Cambodia because of pressure from Washington to stop supporting North Vietnam's communist regime. This decision led to the creation of a serious security problem for South Vietnam: Without any military forces of its own, what could it do to protect itself?
The solution was suggested by U.S. officials who had been informed about Diem's plans. They proposed that South Vietnam ask for assistance from its old enemy, the United States. America was willing to help; it wanted to get rid of its last European colonial possession and saw this project as the best way forward for both countries. So beginning in 1955, American soldiers began to arrive in South Vietnam on a permanent basis through what were called "military advisors." They were meant to help the young country's armed forces develop themselves but they ended up providing much more than that.
The number of Americans working with South Vietnam's army increased from 1,200 in 1955 to 12,500 in 1965.
As a result of the First Indo-China War, the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone was constructed as a dividing line between North and South Vietnam. It became significant during the Vietnam War as a battlefield delineation dividing North and South Vietnamese areas. The war ended with neither side able to claim victory or defeat. Instead, a temporary peace was agreed to by both sides, who would later break out in open conflict again.
The DMZ is now considered a fragile peace agreement rather than a military barrier, as South Vietnam is no longer in existence and the Northern Vietnamese government has refused multiple offers from the United States to replace its army with one led by South Vietnamese officers. However, many still refer to it as the "last military barrier" between North and South Vietnam because there are no active armies on either side of the border today.
In addition to being important during the Vietnam War, the DMZ is also significant today in terms of political division between North and South Vietnam. Although both countries have new governments in place, they continue to disagree over certain issues such as the location of Vietnam's capital city and the name that will be given to the new country when it is formed.
In conclusion, the DMZ is important today because it is a reminder of how short a peace can be.
The seventeenth parallel The Geneva Accords designated the Seventeenth Parallel as an interim military demarcation line in Vietnam (1954). The line did not go parallel to the 17th parallel, but rather south of it, roughly following the Ben Hai River to the settlement of Bo Ho Su, and then due west to the Laos-Vietnam border.
The Paris Peace Accords, which ended the Vietnamese War, were signed on January 27, 1973. They included a provision for each party to agree to suspend military activities along the 17th parallel for 180 days while negotiations continued toward peace. These negotiations resulted in the Paris Agreement of October 23, 1974, which specified that the Vietnam War would end in 1975 and consisted of three phases: a 30-day ceasefire starting on January 27, a second phase lasting up to April 30, and a third one ending on May 1. If these efforts failed, combat would continue until a definitive settlement was reached. If war still raged when the final deadline arrived, each side was obligated to submit reports about their forces' movements for a further round of negotiations. If this process failed, battle would resume.
As part of the Paris Peace Accords, both Vietnam and the United States agreed to establish a commission composed of members from each country to study the feasibility of dividing the zone of conflict into two separate states. If such an agreement could not be reached, then troops from both countries would withdraw from Vietnam simultaneously after nine months.