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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.
- CIA activities in Vietnam : Add brief definition or description
- CIA transnational human rights activities : Add brief definition or description
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff : The senior member of the uniformed services of the United States, statutory senior military adviser to the President and Secretary of Defense; currently Admiral Mike Mullen; policy developer and adviser not in the operational chain of command
- 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
- Duong Van Minh : Vietnamese general who led the 1963 overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem and final President of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975.
- 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
- Ellsworth Bunker : United States Ambassador and chief of the United States Mission to the Republic of Vietnam, (April 28, 1967 — May 11, 1973).
- 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.
- 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
- Joint Chiefs of Staff : The staff committee of the most senior members of the U.S. military services, charged with policy advice, doctrinal development, and preparedness rather than operational control of forces
- Joint warfare in South Vietnam 1964-1968 : The period of the Vietnam War in which large numbers of foreign ground troops, primarily but not exclusively U.S., allied with the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam against the People's Army of Viet Nam and the Viet Cong
- 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"
- Lieutenant colonel : A military rank in the middle of the "field officer" grades, who might command a battalion, or be a deputy chief of staff (e.g., for operations or logistics) of a division, or be the executive officer (i.e., second-in-command) of a brigade
- Lucien Conein : (1919-1998), a U.S. clandestine operations officer working both for the Office of Strategic Services and the Central Intelligence Agency; he was the direct contact to the 1963 coup against Ngo Dinh Diem.
- 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
- Nguyen Khanh : An Army of the Republic of Vietnam general who led the 1964 coup that overthrew the 1963 coup that replaced Ngo Dinh Diem, but was subsequently deposed and left the country in 1965
- 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.
- Richard Holbrooke : United States diplomat, currently the U.S. special envoy to South Asia, including Afghanistan; director, National Endowment for Democracy; Director, Atlantic Council
- Robert Komer : U.S. national security official (1922-2000), best known for heading the U.S. pacification program during the Vietnam War, in the Johnson Administration
- South Vietnamese Buddhist crisis and coup of 1963 : Events, in South Vietnam, beginning with Buddhist protests and suppression in May 1963, and culminating with the overthrow and killing of President Ngo Dinh Diem in October
- 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
- U.S. Republican Party, history : Add brief definition or description
- 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.
- 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