The Vietnam War in 13 minutes
The Vietnam War is the commonly used name for the Second Indochina War, 1954–1975. Usually it refers to the period when the United States and other members of the SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) joined the forces with the Republic of South Vietnam to contest communist forces, comprised of South Vietnamese guerrillas and regular-force units, generally known as Viet Cong, and the North Vietnamese Army. The U.S., possessing the largest foreign military presence, essentially directed the war from 1965 to 1968. For this reason, in Vietnam today it is known as the American War. It was a direct result of the First Indochina War (1946–1954) between France, which claimed Vietnam as a colony, and the communist forces then known as Viet Minh. In 1973 a “third” Vietnam war began—a continuation, actually—between North and South Vietnam but without significant U.S. involvement. It ended with communist victory in April 1975.
The Vietnam War was the longest in U.S. history until the Afghanistan War (2002-2014). The war was extremely divisive in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. Because the U.S. failed to achieve a military victory and the Republic of South Vietnam was ultimately taken over by North Vietnam, the Vietnam experience became known as “the only war America ever lost.” It remains a very controversial topic that continues to affect political and military decisions today.