April 26

This Day in History

Also on This Day

Lead Story
Polio vaccine trials begin, 1954
American Revolution
David Hume is born, 1711
Chrysler and autoworkers' union agree to a deal, 2009
Civil War
Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth dies, 1865
Cold War
Geneva Conference begins, 1954
Girl murdered in pencil factory, 1913
Nuclear explosion at Chernobyl, 1986
General Interest
Nazis test Luftwaffe on Guernica, 1937
Nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, 1986
Maria Shriver marries Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1986
Anita Loos is born, 1888
Studio 54 opens, 1977
Country music star George Jones dies, 2013
Old West
James Beckwourth is born, 1798
Reagan visits China, 1984
Olympic track star Fanny Blankers-Koen is born, 1918
Vietnam War
U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam at five-year low, 1971
Nixon announces additional troop withdrawals, 1972
World War I
Allies sign Treaty of London, 1915
World War II
Rudolf Hess is born, 1894

Vietnam War

Apr 26, 1971:

U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam at five-year low

The U.S. command in Saigon announces that the U.S. force level in Vietnam is 281,400 men, the lowest since July 1966.

These figures were a direct result of President Richard Nixon's new "Vietnamization" strategy, which he had announced at the Midway Conference in June 1969. This strategy was a three-pronged program to disengage the United States from the war in Vietnam. The program required that efforts be increased to improve the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so that they could assume responsibility for the war against the North Vietnamese. Then, as the South Vietnamese became more capable, U.S. forces would be withdrawn from South Vietnam. At the same time, U.S. negotiators would continue to try to reach a negotiated settlement to the war with the communists at the Paris peace talks. The announcement represented a significant change in the nature of the U.S. commitment to the war.

The first U.S. soldiers were withdrawn in the fall of 1969 and the withdrawals continued periodically through 1972. Simultaneously, the U.S. increased the advisory effort and provided massive amounts of new equipment and weapons to the South Vietnamese. When the North Vietnamese launched the massive "Easter Offensive" invasion in spring 1972, the South Vietnamese wavered, but eventually rallied with U.S. support and prevailed over the North Vietnamese. Nixon proclaimed that the South Vietnamese victory validated his strategy.

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