Vietnam War Essay Research Paper Vietnam War — страница 2

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Command in Vietnam in 1964, advocated establishing a large American force and then unleashing it in big sweeps. His strategy was that of attrition?eliminating or wearing down the enemy by inflicting the highest death toll possible. There were 80,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam by the end of 1965; by 1969 a peak of 543,000 troops would be reached. In 1967 North Vietnam and the NLF decided the time had come to mount an all-out offensive aimed at inflicting serious losses on both the ARVN and U.S. forces. They planned the Tet Offensive with the hope that this would significantly affect the public mood in the United States. In December 1967 North Vietnamese troops attacked and surrounded the U.S. Marine base at Khe Sanh, placing it under siege. Westmoreland ordered the outpost held at all

costs. To prevent the Communists from overrunning the base, about 50,000 U.S. Marines and Army troops were called into the area, thus weakening positions further south. This concentration of American troops in one spot was exactly what North Vietnam strategists had hoped would happen. The main thrust of the Tet Offensive then began on January 31, 1968, at the start of Tet, or the Vietnamese lunar new year celebration, when a lull in fighting traditionally took place. Most ARVN troops had gone home on leave, and U.S. troops were on stand-down in many areas. Over 85,000 NLF soldiers simultaneously struck at almost every major city and provincial capital across South Vietnam, sending their defenders reeling. The U.S. Embassy in Saigon, previously thought to be invulnerable, was

taken over by the NLF, and held for eight hours before U.S. forces could retake the complex. The Tet Offensive as a whole lasted into the fall of 1968, and when it was over the North Vietnamese and the NLF had suffered acute losses. The U.S. Department of Defense estimated that a total of 45,000 North Vietnamese and NLF soldiers had been killed, most of them NLF fighters. Having no faith that the Paris treaty would be implemented, the North Vietnamese set 1975 as the year to mount their final offensive. They believed it would take at least two years; the rapid collapse of the ARVN was therefore a surprise even to them. After the initial attack by the North Vietnamese in the Central Highlands northeast of Saigon on January 7, the ARVN immediately began to fall apart. On March 25

the ancient imperial city of Hue fell; then on March 29, Da Nang, the former U.S. Marine headquarters, was overtaken. On April 20 Thieu resigned, accusing the United States of betrayal. His successor was Duong Van Minh, who had been among those who overthrew Diem in 1963. On April 30 Minh issued his unconditional surrender to the PRG. Almost 30 years after Ho Chi Minh?s declaration of independence, Vietnam was finally unified. In 1965 the United States sent in troops to prevent the South Vietnamese government from collapsing. Ultimately, the United States failed to achieve its goal, and in 1975 Vietnam was reunified under Communist control; in 1976 it officially became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. During the conflict, approximately 3 to 4 million Vietnamese on both sides

were killed, in addition to another 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians who were drawn into the war. More than 58,000 Americans lost their lives.