During the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century the United States has fought five ground wars. The record of these military efforts—all accompanied by acrimonious debates about how many ground troops were needed for “victory”—has not been impressive: One was a win, one could be considered a draw, and three were, or obviously will be, defeats.
The Gulf War (1990–91) was an unquestioned victory, due in large part to the ineptitude of the enemy, a six-month, unimpeded military buildup, nearby bases, massive air strikes and close-air support, and other factors rarely found in conflicts.
The Korean War (1950–53) was a draw—the United States and its allies stopped the conquest of South Korea by the North, directly supported by China and the Soviet Union. But North Korea was neither destroyed nor forced to surrender. And, technically, a state of war continues to exist in 2013.
The Vietnam War (1962–75) was a defeat for the United States.