Defintions

This page will be updated regularly to contain terms and definitions relevant to this time period. Use CTRL + F to find a particular term/word. If there is a term you would like to see but is not currently included, please send an ask.

Agent Orange: A chemical defoliant, largely manufactured by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical, used in Vietnam for Operation Ranch Hand.

ARVN: Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the ground component of the Republic of Vietnam’s Military Forces. It was in existence from 1955 until the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Chieu Hoi (Chiêu Hồi) Program: A program developed to encourage Viet Cong and communist supporters to defect. It involved large amounts of pro-South Vietnam propaganda, and leaflets dropped written in Vietnamese encouraging defection. These leaflets were meant to act as safe conduct passes, and if someone came to troops bearing one, they were to be welcomed and guaranteed safety. Chiêu Hồi is loosely translated to “open arms”.

CIDG: Civilian Irregular Defense Group program

Cold War: A period of time, following WWII and extending until 1991, defined by tension between the United States of America (and allies including NATO) and the Soviet Union (along with other Eastern Bloc nations).

DMZ: Demilitarized Zone. Ran along the 17th parallel, dividing Vietnam into North and South.

Geneva Accords: Where the area of Indochina (former colony of France) was recognized as sovereign. Also stated that there would be no more hostilities and that no foreign troops would become involved in the matter. Vietnam was divided into northern and southern zones, the north governed by the Việt Minh and the south governed by the State of Vietnam (later the Republic of Vietnam). The United States did not sign this agreement, though it did acknowledge it.

Geneva Conference: (April 26 – July 20, 1954) Where in Geneva, Switzerland, the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China (along with several other countries occasionally involved) attempted to unify Vietnam. It resulted in the Geneva Accords.

Indochina: Name for the region of southeast Asia that was once a French Colony (then French Indochina). It was comprised of the following countries: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam. The term Indochina is seldom used now.

Kit Carson Scout: A recruited Viet Cong defector who would provide intelligence and work in the field with American troops.

MACV: Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

MACV-SOG: Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group

Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group: Multi-service special operations force that conducted covert missions with unconvential warfare methods. Operated between 1964-1972.

North Vietnam: Or the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). Led by Ho Chi Minh.

North Vietnamese Army: Trained regular army of North Vietnam. Also the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) or Vietnam People’s Army (VPA).

NVA: North Vietnamese Army

Paris Peace Accords of 1973: Those documents establishing a cessation of direct American military involvement and a temporary cease fire between North and South Vietnam.  

Phoenix Program: Designed and operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the program utilized special operations soldiers of the United States, Australia, and South Vietnam to “neutralize” civilian targets working for the Viet Cong. The program ran between 1965-1972.

Republic of Vietnam: The official state which governed southern Vietnam. It became more well known as South Vietnam after the Geneva Conference in 1954 created the DMZ, separating the country of Vietnam in two. The capital was Saigon.

Strategic Hamlet Program: An initiative developed by the United States and South Vietnam to relocate civilians in attempts to decrease communist insurgency. The program was short lived, operating between 1961-1963.

Tet Offensive: A large military campaign launched by North Vietnam and the Viet Cong to take place during the Tet Lunar New Year’s cease fire of 1968. Communist forces attacked cities and towns across I and II Corps Tactical Zones beginning during the night of January 30, the first day of the holiday. Major battles were fought in Saigon, Hue, and Khe Sanh.

VC: Viet Cong, or Victor Charlie

Viet Cong: Or National Liberation Front (NLF). Political and military organization operating out of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. There were various levels of involvement, ranging from regular fighting troops covering large areas to residents of towns and villages planting booby traps.

Viet Minh (Việt Minh): A communist national independence organization. Originally established to fight for independence for Vietnam from France, they also opposed the Japanese during World War II. Following the Japanese surrender they continued to resist French rule.