NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: VIETNAMS UNSEEN WAR PART 3 OF 3
The Vietnam War (also known as the Second Indochina War, the American War in Vietnam and the Vietnam Conflict) occurred from 1959 to April 30, 1975. The war successfully reunified the Vietnamese under a communist government which consisted of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV or North Vietnam) and the indigenous National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, (also known the Việt Cộng or VC, or derogatively as Charlie). To a degree, the war may be viewed as a Cold War conflict between the U.S., its allies, and the Republic of Vietnam on one side, and the Soviet Union, its allies, the People's Republic of China, and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on the other. Others, however, viewed the conflict as a civil war between communist and non-communist Vietnamese factions.
The U.S. deployed large numbers of troops to South Vietnam between the end of the First Indochina War in 1954, and 1973. Some U.S. allies also contributed forces. U.S. military advisers first became involved in Vietnam in 1950, assisting French colonial forces. In 1956, these advisers assumed full responsibility for training the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. President John F. Kennedy increased America's troop numbers from 500 to 16,000. Large numbers of combat troops were dispatched by President Lyndon Johnson beginning in 1965. Almost all U.S. military personnel departed after the Paris Peace Accords of 1973. The last American troops left the country on April 30, 1975.
At various stages the conflict involved clashes between small units patrolling the mountains and jungles, amphibious operations, guerrilla attacks on the villages, and cities and large-scale conventional battles. U.S. aircraft also conducted massive aerial bombing, targeting North Vietnam's cities, industries and logistical networks. Cambodia and Laos were drawn into the conflict.