Although the involvement of the United States of America gave it the magnitude and significance with which we look back at it today, the actual war had started between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam had a communist government that did not have any tolerance for Catholicism, but South Vietnam was under a staunch Catholic leader. This difference in ideology and religion is the main reason why the Vietnam War started in the first place. North Vietnam wanted to remove all traces of Catholicism from South Vietnam and convert it to communism and in order to do so; they had started using special commandoes called the Viet Cong, who were experts in guerilla warfare. This war started in the year 1955 between the two portions of Vietnam, but it soon became a war of much bigger proportions when South Vietnam was joined by the USA. The reason as to why the US joined the Vietnam War is related to the policy of “containment” and the “Domino Theory”. “Containment” demanded that communism must not spread on to other non-communist countries, while the “Domino Theory stipulated that if one non-communist nation was converted to communism, the chances are that most of the other countries surrounding it will also follow the same path like a falling chain of dominoes. The fear that the communist North Vietnam will conquer and convert South Vietnam to communism if the US did not join in and helped South Vietnam win the war, was what provoked America to join as a step to “contain” communism. The involvement does not have an official date but it was within 1955 to 1959.
South Vietnam and the US military did not follow the same conventional military tactics as was applied in this war by the North Vietnamese. They relied heavily on air strikes and “seek and kill” strategies, while the guerilla warfare by the Viet Cong was the most successful ploy introduced by the North Vietnamese army. Even the peace treaty of January, 1972, could not stop the war immediately and thus it went on till 30th April, 1975 with the casualty standing at five million approximately. Apart from the five million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians, 58,159 American soldiers also died in this war.