The Vietnam War was a cold war-era military conflict in Southeast Asia. Conflict officially began on November 1st in 1955 and ended on April 30th 1975 with the fall of Saigon. With that it lasted nearly 20 years, which makes it one of the longest military conflicts ever in human history. The war was fought between the Communistic North Vietnamese and the Anti-Communistic south. The north was supported by various nations, including the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Bulgaria and many others. The south, which was supposedly the by far weaker army, was also supported by a number of countries, the US, South Korea, Australia, Spain and Thailand are only a few of the numerous supporters of the South.
The main problem in the war for the Anti-Communist forces was the Vietcong, which was a lightly armed south Vietnamese communist Guerrilla which was hard to fight, especially for the heavily armed US army. The Vietcong dug complicated tunnel systems and trenches to fight the US in to them unknown territory. The Vietcong preferred this Guerrilla warfare in the rainforests to open battle. The Vietcong also used traps, mines and their knowledge of the region to bring a whole load of trouble upon the US troops. This resulted in heavy bombing raids by the US Air force, this was widely criticised around the whole world as it was seen as a breach of the human rights that the US bombed North Vietnam with napalm bombs. In total, more bombs were dropped on North Vietnam during the Vietnam War than on Germany in the Second World War!
In 1968 the Guerrilla warfare stopped and during the national Tet holiday (from which the attack got its name: Tet offensive) the North Vietnamese army started an assault against over 100 Vietnamese Cities, including the US embassy in Saigon. Although the Anti-Communist forces were initially driven back, they were quick to recover and struck back immediately, decimating the ranks of the North Vietnamese severely.
Vietnam was the battlefield where the Cold War was actually really fought, not only talked about or empty threats being thrown at each other. The United States used Vietnam to blow an attack against Communism in the world. Extinguishing communism was the major goal of the United States in the cold war and in Vietnam they had the perfect region to attack.
The US and the Soviet Union did not dare to attack each other directly, that is why they fought their war, also if not directly, in the muddy forests of Vietnam. None of them had the courage or the means to enter a direct conflict against the other, one would not survive it, that was definite, which too is a reason why the only open conflict during the cold war was not directly between the US and the Soviets as the Soviets only supported the North Vietnam army with money, ammunition and weapons. A direct intervening from the Soviets would probably have ended in a 3rd World War as many nations were already involved in the war in Vietnam and the US could not let a direct Soviet attack unpunished. With that, it was better for the rest of the world that the Soviet Union did not directly involve itself in the fighting.
A widely discussed topic is the outcome of the Vietnam War. According to various American sources1 the Vietnam War was won by the US when they finally left the country in 1975. It is though generally known that the North Vietnamese won the war, they took the capital of the south; Saigon, on April 30th 1975 and with that won the war. The South Vietnamese army was defeated and left with a total of 800,00 casualties (military and civilian). The US had a total of 58,220 dead soldiers; additional 303,644 soldiers were wounded. The Anti-Communist army had a total of 670,000-1,000,000 casualties whereas the North Vietnamese had about 600,000-1,700,000 losses.
Concluding, the Vietnam War was a huge, if not the major, part of the Cold War. It was the place where the Cold war was actually fought out with weapons and not only with threats and words. The situation escalated in Vietnam and it was the perfect place for the US to start and assault against Communism in the whole world. Although many Americans still believe they won the war, it is not so and the North Vietnamese communist troops were victorious. With that, the US failed to fight Communism in the world. The Vietnam War had a great affect on the Cold war and influenced the situation greatly, especially for the Soviet Union for who the war was a huge victory over capitalist America.