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Vietnam War Vocabulary

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1. Ho Chi Minh- a Japanese nationalist leader during the Vietnam War who supported communism. He later became the president of North Vietnam.

2. Vietminh- an organization whose goal was to win Vietnam’s independence from foreign rule, mostly formed by Ho Chi Minh

3. Domino Theory- The theory that if one nation is taken over by communism, many other countries would become communism too.
4. Vietcong- A communist opposition group in the South that assassinated thousands of South Vietnamese government officials that started in 1957.

5. Ho Chi Minh Trail- A network of paths along the borders of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia by which Ho Chi Minh supplied arms to the Vietcong.

6. Robert McNamara- Secretary of Defense that worked with Johnson and Dean Rusk to send troops to Vietnam.

7. Dean Rusk- Secretary of State that worked with President Johnson and Robert McNamara to send a lot of U.S. soldiers to Vietnam.

8. William Westmoreland- the American commander in Vietnam that kept requesting for more troops and was unsatisfied with the fighting ability of the ARVN. He was a WW2 and Korea veteran.

9. ARVN-The south Vietnamese army (Army of the Republic of Vietnam)

10. Search-and-destroy missions- a strategy that U.S. soldiers used where they uprooted civilians suspected to be related to the Vietcong, killed their livestock, and burned villages.

11. Battle for “Hearts and Minds”- The attempt to win over the South Vietnamese people to join the South Vietnamese and US against the North Vietnamese, and the Vietcong

12. Credibility gap- when a public doesn’t trust statements made by the government. Critics thought a credibility gap was growing between what the Johnson administration was stating and what was actually happening.

13. Draft- required enrollment into the armed forces where all males, 18 and older, had to register with their local draft boards and were screened unless they were excluded

14. SDS- (Students for a Democratic Society) an organization founded by Tom Hayden and Al Harbor that charged that corporations and large government institutions had taken over America. They wanted to restore “participatory democracy” and more individual freedom.

15. The Ballad of the Green Berets- A patriotic song about an elite special force in the U.S. army. It was one of a few songs that noted the military in a positive way and became a major hit.

16. Tet offensive- a huge surprise attack on Vietnamese towns and cities early in 1968 by the Vietcong

17. Henry Kissinger- the National Security Adviser that worked with Richard Nixon to make a plan (vietnamization) to stop America’s involvement in Vietnam.

18. Vietnamization- The gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, so that the South Vietnamese could take on a more active combat role in the war.

19. Pentagon Papers- a 7,000 page document, written for Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in 1967-1968, that revealed among other things that the government had drawn up plans for entering the war even though President Johnson promised that he wouldn’t send American troops to Vietnam.

20. War Powers Act- stated that the president had to tell congress within 48 hours of sending forces into a hostel area without a declaration of war. Also that the troops may only stay there for 90 days unless Congress approves of the President’s actions or declares war.

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