The Vietnam War was a very bloody proxy war fought during the Cold War. This proxy war was fought between the communist North Vietnam and the capitalist South Vietnam. America sided with South Vietnam in the war, while Russia helped fellow communist North Vietnam. There were many deaths from the war estimated around 3-4 million people which were about equally spread between Americans and the Vietnamese in the fight. This war had no obvious "victor" because no one really achieved anything from this war.
Causes of the War
The main cause of the Vietnam War was the American fear of communism. When Vietnam gradually split into North and South the leaders that were put into place were supported by USA and Russia, so the North became Communist under Ho Chi Minh and the South became Capitalist under Ngo Ding Diem. When the North wanted to reunite with the South and have the people decide the government in an election, America quickly convinces the south to prevent the unification because America believed in a domino theory where if we were to lose Vietnam to communism we would lose all of Southeast Asia to communism. Northern Vietnam continued to want the unification, and they finally sent troops into the South to help the unification more violently. Once America discovered the North had invaded the South, they had to make a huge decision on whether to reinforce the South or not, and although many people disagreed with it they chose to aid South Vietnam with troops and supplies and join the war.
Strategies of the War
The Northern Vietnamese guerrilla warfare was a new tactic introduced during the Vietnam War. This was a form of warfare where small troops which were extremely mobile were sent to surprise attack huge slow units of troops in the jungles. After causing damage to the units and their supplies, they would withdraw from the fight and retreat into their secret system of tunnels. These attacks were extremely effective because the Americans had never seen anything like it.
Search and Destroy:
The Southern Vietnamese Search and Destroy missions were introduced during the Vietnam War to help counterattack the Guerrilla warfare. The troops would search for enemies, take them out, destroy their supplies, and return back. These search and destroy missions were very ineffective because many of these missions were counterattacked due to underestimation and they often destroyed villages of innocent civilians rumored to be enemies. These missions brought bad publicity to the American troops and caused us to lose much civilian support back home and in Vietnam.
Weapons of the War
Napalm was one of America's major weapons during the Vietnam War. Napalm is an incendiary weapon that the American's used to burn down Vietnam's thick forests which were used for cover. The Americans burned down the forests because they acted as a major supply route and were often used to help them retreat. Napalm was dropped from planes onto the forests devastating the land below, and it was also used in flamethrowers as an antipersonnel weapon which struck Vietnam with fear.
Agent Orange was another mass destruction weapon that America had possession of. It was a herbicide that would destroy vegetation and crops in the forests and on the farms which would starve and remove shelter from the Vietnamese. Over 20 million gallons of these gasses were sprayed all around Northern Vietnam. Although at the time they did not know, Americans later found out that its main ingredient the chemical dioxin caused serious health problems among those who came into contact with the gas. Agent Orange is estimated to have killed over 2 million people in North Vietnam from the starvation or the health issues that came along.