The Vietnam War was the longest and most hated war in which Americans ever fought. Moreover, there is no estimate of the cost. The toll in distress, grief, in bitter general disorder can never be calculated. No one wants ever to see America so at odds again. In addition, for many of the more than two million American veterans of the war, the wounds of Vietnam will never heal.
Richard Nixon's program of troop pull-outs, stepped-up bombing and huge arms shipments to Saigon altered the war and left GIs wondering which of them would be the last to die in Vietnam.
In 1966, more than 200,000 troops were dedicated to Vietnam. The United States raised its participation in the war to a peak of 543,000 troops in April 1969. American forces in Southeast Asia functioned under some strict limits, together with being prohibited to invade enemy territory in North Vietnam and, for many years, similarly being banned from ground operations against enemy shelters in bordering Laos and Cambodia. The "body count" of Vietcong killed was the showpiece of the American advance to waging the war, lead through search-and-destroy operations in remote jungle regions. By 1966 it became ever more clear that this plan of attrition was not working and could not work because of the enemy's capacity to replace losses far higher than those the allies were able to inflict.