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- Agency for International Development : U.S. government agency responsible for nonmilitary foreign aid of goods, services, and certain finances, although it does not operate at the highest levels of international finance. May operate assistance and development programs in foreign countries
- Ambassador : An individual of the highest diplomatic rank, most commonly the representative of the head of state of his or her government to the head of state of the country to which the ambassador is accredited.
- Averell Harriman : American diplomat who served as Asistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs between 1961 and 1963, and then headed the overt U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace Talks while the serious secret negotiations took place between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. Known as "the alligator" for his approach to discussion inside the U.S. government.
- Chief of Staff of the Army : Uniformed professional head of the United States Army, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and of four-star general rank
- David Halberstam : Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, who was especially controversial for his coverage of the Vietnam War, where some thought he was providing critical investigation for the public, while others believed he was undermining the war effort
- Edward Lansdale : A U.S. Air Force general on assignment to the CIA, key counterinsurgency advisor to Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, involved in French Indochina and South Vietnam 1954-1960, although lost influence in U.S. policymaking through bureaucratic infighting
- Foreign Service Officer : Career diplomat of the United States
- Frederick Nolting Jr. : U.S. ambassador and head of the United States Mission to the Republic of Vietnam, from May 10 to August 15, 1963. A career Foreign Service Officer, he was preceded by Elbridge Durbrow, and succeeded by Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.. A supporter of Ngo Dinh Diem, he did not agree with the policy of U.S. support for a coup against Diem.
- G. Frederick Reinhardt : First U.S. Ambassador, after the Geneva Accords ending French rule, to the Republic of Vietnam
- George Kennan : United States diplomat, authority on Soviet thinking, and head of the Policy Planning Staff of the United States Department of State.
- Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. : (1902-1985) was a representative and Senator from Massachusetts, Vice Presidential nominee (1960) and ambassador to Vietnam.
- John Paul Vann : Influential field operator in the Vietnam War, first as a United States Army advisor and lieutenant colonel, who later worked for the Agency for International Development in a role with the authority of a major general
- Le Duc Tho : A member of the Politburo of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, who was the true, not public, senior negotiator at the Paris Peace Talks, although listed as "special adviser"
- Le Van Kim : A South Vietnamese general, of neutralist ideology, who distinguished himself in pacification operations but was later frozen out of politics and command
- Maxwell Taylor : U.S. Army officer who commanded Airborne units in the Second World War, he rose to full general and Chief of Staff of the Army. Recalled from retirement by John F. Kennedy, he took on a number of politicomilitary roles including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Ambassador to South Vietnam.
- Military Assistance Command, Vietnam : Headquarters for most U.S. combat and support units assisting the Republic of Vietnam
- Neil Sheehan : A Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist most known for his work on the Vietnam War, considered one of the key sources of truth by some and as a biased opponent by others. He received the Pentagon Papers and oversaw the publication of these classified historical documents in the New York Times. He is also known for his complex biography and war history of John Paul Vann, A Bright and Shining Lie.
- Ngo Dinh Diem : President of the Republic of Vietnam from shortly after its creation, to his overthrow and death in the Vietnam War, Buddhist crisis and military coup of 1963. He was of the Catholic minority, ascetic and autocratic, and strongly anti-Communist
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization : Intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949, with its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
- Paratroop : A subset of air assault military forces, which arrive at a tactical objective by deliberately parachuting from aircraft
- Paul Harkins : General in the United States Army, who headed the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam between 1962 and 1964.
- Phan Quang Dan : A Vietnamese nationalist whose political career started under France, in opposition under Ngo Dinh Diem, and through the end of South Vietnam
- Strategic Hamlet Program : A program for rural security and counterinsurgency, under the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem and directed by his brother and advisor Ngo Dinh Nhu; its success or failure was considered a metric for the Diem government
- The Two Vietnams after Geneva : The period following the 1954 Geneva meeting that partitioned Vietnam into North and South.
- Tran Van Don : Vietnamese military officer who fought against the Viet Minh with the French, then became a general under Ngo Dinh Diem, but participated in the 1963 overthrow of Diem
- United States Air Force : One of the uniformed services of the United States, with principal responsibility for land-based long-range and high-performance aircraft, as well as land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles
- United States Mission to the Republic of Vietnam : The combination of all U.S. official organizations in Vietnam; during the Vietnam War, it included the military, as opposed to the separate chains of command in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Viet Cong : The military wing of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF); a generic term for Communist forces in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War
- Viet Minh : A short name for the Communist-dominated national revolutionary movement that overthrew the colonial government of French Indochina
- Vietnam War : A post-colonial independence/Cold War conflict between communist North Vietnam against South Vietnam, assisted by the United States (1955-1975), to unify Vietnam; won by North Vietnam in 1975.
- Walter Bedell Smith : General in the United States Army, who was chief of staff to Dwight D. Eisenhower as the allied commander of the European Theater of Operations in the Second World War. After the war, he served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Director of Central Intelligence and Undersecretary of State.
- Wars of Vietnam : The broad context of warfare in the modern area of Vietnam, of which the Vietnam War (1962-1975) is best known, but involves colonization, Japanese occupation, decolonization, and post-1975 but related warfare among Vietnam, Cambodia and China
- William Colby : A U.S. intelligence and special operations officer eventually becoming Director of Central Intelligence (1973-1976).
- World Bank : Collective name for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and its affiliates: the International Finance Corporation, organized in 1950 to provide long-term project financing to developing countries; and the International Development Association, formed in 1960 to make long-term loans at low interest rates.