The United Statesfirst got involved in Vietnam when President Harry
Truman extended official international recognition of Vietnam, Laos, and
Cambodia on Feb. 7, 1950 (according to Professor Sandra Whittman, Oakton
Community College, Des Plaines Illinois). This recognition by Truman was by
way of taking sides with the south, as the north’s communist-led aggression
led American presidents to fear the “Domino Theory”: when one country falls
to the communists, such as Korea, others will fall like dominos, too; and
if Vietnam was to fall, Truman, and later Eisenhower believed, all of
Truman set up a group of “advisors” known as the Military Assistance
and Advisory Group (MAAG), to advise the French, as they fought communist-
led insurgents (Viet Minh) in the north of Vietnam. Truman initiated the
training of “unconventional warfare operations and forces.” And when the
French were defeated by the Viet Minh at the battle of Dien Bien Phu,
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established a CIA military mission in
In July, 1959, thefirst American military deaths occurred as two
“advisors” (soldiers) were killed. By 1961, under President John Kennedy,
there were 1,500 Americans in South Vietnam. In August, 1964, President
Johnson responds to an alleged attack on the U.S. Navy (in the Gulf of
Tonkin) by getting Congress to approve the bombing of North Vietnam and
later (in 1965), Johnson sends ground troops. Up to a half a million troops
are engaged by the late 1960s. Question: What was the common link between
all four U.S. presidents’ Answer: Communism and the “Domino Theory.” What
caused the U.S. to commit to the war’ The goal was stopping the communists.