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Date Submitted: 09/20/2010 09:08 PM

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US Involvement in Vietnam

Unlike conventional wars, the war in Vietnam had no defined front lines. Much of it consisted of hit-and-run attacks, with the guerrillas striking at government outposts and retreating into the jungle. In the early 1960s, some North Vietnamese troops began to infiltrate into South Vietnam to help the Vietcong, and supplies sent to Hanoi from the USSR and China were sent south down the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail. The war began to escalate in the first week of August 1964, when North Vietnamese torpedo boats were reported to have attacked two US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. Acting on the resolution passed on August 7 by the US Senate, authorizing increased military involvement, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered jets to South Vietnam and the retaliatory bombing of military targets in North Vietnam. From 1964 to 1968 General William C. Westmoreland was commander of US forces in South Vietnam; he was replaced in 1968 by General Creighton Abrams.

In February 1965, US planes began regular bombing raids over North Vietnam. A halt was ordered in May in the hope of initiating peace talks, but when North Vietnam rejected all negotiations, the bombings were resumed. In the meantime, the United States continued to build up its troop strength in South Vietnam. On March 6, 1965, a brigade of American marines landed at Ðà Nang, south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that had originally been set up at the time of partition. The Marines, the first US combat ground-force units to serve in the country, brought the number in the US military forces in Vietnam to some 27,000. By the end of the year American combat strength was nearly 200,000.

While continuing the military build-up in Vietnam, the United States made another attempt to end the war. In December 1965, President Johnson again halted the bombing of North Vietnam in an effort to achieve a peaceful settlement. Again he was unsuccessful, and the raids were resumed. In June...