1887 France has conquered Indochina and rules it as a colony 1940 Japan occupies Indochina 1941 After 30 years in exile Ho Chi Minh returns to Vietnam, where he forms the Viet Minh, the Vietnamese League for National Independence 1950 The USA begin providing military and economic aid to the French in Indochina. 1955 South Vietnam refuses to participate in nationwide elections. 1956 A US military advisory group replaces French training of the South Vietnamese Army. 1959 Two US military advisors are killed during a communist attack at Bien Hoa in South Vietnam. 1961 The (Communist) National Liberation Front (NLF) is formed in South Vietnam. US president John F. Kennedy sends special forces and military advisors to South Vietnam. by the end of the year, Us forces in Vietnam total 3,2000.
Excerpt from a speech by John F. Kennedy in 1956
First, Vietnam represents the cornerstone of the Free World in Southeast Asia […]. Burma, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines and obviously Laos, and Cambodia are among those who whose security would be threatened if the Red Tide of Communism overflowed into Vietnam. […] Moreover the independence of Free Vietnam is crucial to the free world in fields other than the military. Her economy is essential to the economy of all of Southeast Asia; and her political liberty in all parts of Asia – and indeed the world. The fundamental tenets of this nation’s foreign policy, in short, depend in considerable measure upon a strong and free Vietnamese nation.
Secondly, Vietnam represents a providing ground of democracy in Asia. However, we may choose to ignore it or depreciate it, the rising prestige and influence of Communist China in Asia are unchallengeable facts. Vietnam represents the alternative to Communist dictatorship. If this democratic experiment fails […] then weakness, not strength, will characterize the meaning of democracy in the minds of still more Asians. The United States is directly responsible for this experiment. […] We cannot afford to permit that experiment to fail.
Third, and in somewhat similar fashion, Vietnam represents a test of American responsibility and determination in Asia. If we are not the parents of little Vietnam, then surely we are the godparents. We presided the birth. […] This is our offspring – we cannot abandon it, we cannot ignore its needs.