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Transcript of Vietnam War
Vietnam war and how it affected civilians
1954 - 1975
The first arrival of the Australian Army in South Vietnam was during July and August in 1962. This was the beginning of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.
In 1965, the US started air raids on North Vietnam and the communist-controlled parts of South Vietnam.
In 1961, South Vietnam signed a military and economic aid treaty with the US.
By 1966 there were 190,000 US troops in South Vietnam.
The Vietnam War began in 1954 and ended in 1975 but conflict in Vietnam began earlier on. Vietnam had been under the French rule for almost 6 decades until World War Two.
Meanwhile, North Vietnam was receiving armaments and assistance from the Soviet Union, Viet Cong, Khmer Rouge, Pathet Lao, China, Cuba, North Korea, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Burma.
During World War Two Japan seized control over Vietnam but once World War Two ended the United States through treaty allowed France to return its colonial possessions which included Vietnam. In 1946 France attempted to take control of Vietnam.
Meanwhile Ho Chi Minh the communist leader tried to get assistance from the U.S. to stop the invasion of France. Ho Chi Minh did this by helping the U.S. such as supplying information about the Japanese during the Second World War The U.S. however did not want communism to spread so they declined this request, instead they assisted France who quickly pulled out of there takeover attempt of Vietnam. The U.S feared that if Vietnam became fully communist then other countries would as well.
At the Geneva conference of 1954 nations met to determine how the French could peacefully withdraw. The agreement that came out (Geneva Accords) created a cease fire for the peaceful withdrawal of the French forces and the temporary division of Vietnam. This split Vietnam into communist (North) and non-communist (South).
There was a democratic election which was to be held in 1956 which would reunite the country under one government. The United States didn’t agree fearing that the communist would win. Instead the U.S held an election and appointed Ngo Dinh Diem the leader of the South. He had strong anti-communist views and became unpopular quickly and was assassinated in 1963.
The Viet Cong which was created by communist supporters began fighting against the South Vietnamese and it's allies. The U.S. didn’t want an outright war they just wanted to stop the spread of communism. This meant that much of the war was fought in the South.
Australia supported South Vietnam in the early 1960's, which was in favour with the plan of other nations; particularly the US. This was to stop the spread of communism in Europe and Asia from North Vietnam.
Guerrilla warfare was the main type of warfare that the Viet Cong used during the Vietnam War. Small groups used military tactics such as ambushes, sabotage, raids and the element of surprise. The U.S. military were not used to this type of warfare and struggled to make their way through the dense forest. The U.S found it difficult to even find the enemy. The Viet Cong had an extensive network of underground tunnels they also hid successfully in the dense brush. This frustrated the U.S forces; they soon began dropping Agent Orange which cleared an area by causing the leaves to drop off or to burn away. They also had difficulty determining the Viet Cong from villagers because they often dressed as villages.
The Vietnam War affected both the innocent North and South civilians. Of the South the ‘Enemy soldiers’ killed were at least 850,000 however a substantial number of these ‘enemy soldiers’ were in fact civilians whom the U.S. military defined as ‘enemy’ because they were within free-fire zones.
The leader of the government in South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem, continuously requested security assistance from the US and its allies in 1961 and 1962.
The numbers of deaths kept rising after the war ended. This was from those that had fallen victim to Agent Orange and other defoliants. They passed it down to their second and even third generation, with children commonly been born with birth defects. As many as 4 million civilians were exposed to toxic defoliants. In total around 430,000 South Vietnamese civilians died during the war, 5.3 million were wounded and there were 11 million refugees.
In South Vietnam
-300,000 children became orphans
-800,000 children lost one or both parents
-83,000 people lost limbs and became amputees
-180,000 became disabled
-130,000 war widows
The North Vietnam soldiers dressed up as civilians and therefore South Vietnam and its allies killed many innocent people.
In 1967, South Vietnam had some political stability after Nguyen Van Thieu was elected as president.
Vietnam War eventually ended in 1975 when communist forces gained control of Saigon in South Vietnam which is now called Ho Chi Minh city. The South and it's allies more or less retreated.
The US did not want communism to spread and therefore became allies with South Vietnam instead of North Vietnam.
This lead to a massive outcry in the US and protests started.
The president at the time was Lyndon B. Johnson and one of the chants was "Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many kids did you kills today?!"
After President Lyndon Johnson didn't seek reelection in 1968, serious negotiations about ending the war began.
In 1969, President Richard M. Nixon was voted in.
In 1968, there was a negotiation of peace between North Vietnam and the US in Paris. In 1969, with the presidency of Nixon, this negotiation expanded to include South Vietnam and the NLF.
Even though the war continued, the peace talks in Paris progressed.
On the 27th of January, 1973 a peace agreement was reached between the United States, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the NLF. With it followed the end of hostilities, the withdrawal of the US and allied troops, the release and return of prisoners of war and a commission to ensure peace.
By 1965, when South Vietnam realised they couldn't starve off the communist insurgents and their North Vietnamese comrades, the US commended a major enlargement of the war. They had committed 200,000 troops by the end of the year to the war. As for this decision, the US asked from their friendly allies including Australia for furthermore support.
Many people thought that there was no need for the US to be involved in this war, and in the end there wasn't any gain from the US fighting.
When the soldiers and veterans came home, they did not receive the congratulations other soldiers usually get. This is why people did not like the fact that the US was involved in this war in the first place.
Because of the US' involvement in the war many people in the US and from all over the world became angry with Lyndon B. Johnson and the US government.
The Australian government sent out the first Battalion of The Royal Australian Regiment in June 1965 to serve along with the US soldiers at the Bien Hoa airbase outside of Saigon.
Despite massive US military aid, heavy bombing and growing US troop commitment - nearly 550,000 soldiers in 1969 - they could not defeat North Vietnam and the Vietnam Cong.
In 1967, the Royal Australian Navy joined US patrols off to the North Vietnamese coast. At that time, approximately 8,500 troops were serving at Vietnam.
From the start of the arrival of the team, approximately 60,000 Australians including ground troop, air force and navy served in Vietnam; 521 died as a result of the war and more than 3000 were wounded.
In August 1966, the sixth Battalion of the RAR was engaged in one of Australia’s major action of the war. Near Long Tan the 6th RAR was fighting for three hours after seeing the forces would be overrun by the enemy’s greater numbers, the Viet Cong withdrew. They lef
t behind 245 dead and carrying away many more injured.
By late 1970, Australia had begun to wind down its military effort in Vietnam and brought troops back home. The 8th Battalion departed in November but it was to make up for the decrease in troop numbers.