US bombing campaign
Anticipating the arrival of even more US troops in South Vietnam, the North Vietnamese government began lending more aid to the communist insurgency in the South. North Vietnam sent personnel, equipment, and other supplies to the Viet Cong, tasking them with capturing key areas in the South and weakening the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
On 6th and 7th of February, 1965, approximately 300 Viet Cong soldiers attacked a US helicopter facility located in South Vietnam. They achieved victory by destroying 10 aircrafts and damaging 15 more. The attack killed eight US soldiers and wounded another 126. Just 12 hours after the attack, Lyndon B. Johnson started Operation Flaming Dart to bomb North Vietnamese targets. The bombing campaign was intended to persuade North Vietnam to cease its support for the communist insurgency in South Vietnam.
Operation Flaming Dart was conducted in two parts. The first part consisted of attacks on North Vietnamese army bases and Viet Cong logistics and communications near the Demilitarised Zone. After a retaliatory attack from the Viet Cong on a hotel hosting US personnel, the second part of the Operation Flaming Dart commenced, where the US Navy launched 99 fighter-bombers to attack enemy bases. However, after the operation, the Soviet government decided to increase their military aid to North Vietnam, because Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin was on a state visit to Hanoi during the bombing and because they intended to counteract Chinese influence in the region.
Operation Flaming Dart was later followed by Operation Rolling Thunder which began on 2nd of March, 1965 and lasted almost 4 years. The objectives of the operation were to force North Vietnam to cease its support for the Viet Cong and to destroy North Vietnam's infrastructure, industrial base, and military units. The operation was additionally aimed at boosting the morale of the South Vietnamese army and government. Rolling Thunder was the most intense battle waged during the Cold War period.
Ground war and escalation of US involvement
On 8th of March, 1965, 3,500 US Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam with defence as their initial assignment. However, the number of US troops increased to nearly...