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Vietnam War military struggle fought in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975 It began as a determined attempt by Communist guerrillas the so-called Vietcong in the South backed by Communist North Vietnam to overthrow the government of South Vietnam The struggle widened into a war between South Vietnam and North Vietnam and ultimately into a limited international conflict The United States and some 40 other countries supported South Vietnam by supplying troops and munitions and the USSR and the Peoples Republic of China furnished munitions to North Vietnam and the Vietcong On both sides however the burden of the war fell mainly on the civilians The war also engulfed Laos where the Communist Pathet Lao fought the government from 1965 to 1973 and succeeded in abolishing the monarchy in 1975 and Cambodia where the government surrendered in 1973 to the Communist Khmer Rouge This article is concerned primarily with the military aspects of the war for further discussion of the historical and political issues involved see Vietnam History Vietnam 1945-54 The war developed as a sequel to the struggle 1946-54 between the French who were the rulers of Indochina before World War II and the Communist-led Vietminh or League for the Independence of Vietnam founded and headed by the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh Having emerged as the strongest of the nationalist groups that fought the Japanese occupation of French Indochina during World War II the league was determined to resist the reestablishment of French colonial rule and to implement political and social changes Following the surrender of Japan to the Allies in August 1945 Vietminh guerrillas seized the capital city of Hanoi and forced the abdication of Emperor Bao Dai On September 2 they declared Vietnam to be independent and announced the creation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam commonly called North Vietnam with Ho Chi Minh as president France officially recognized the new state but the subsequent inability of the Vietminh and
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