During World War II, the U.S. collaborated with the resistance group the Vietminh and their leader, Ho Chi Minh, in their fight against Japan. In the postwar period, however, the U.S. feared Communist expansion into Southeast Asia. In 1954, as France withdrew its forces in defeat, the Geneva Accords established the countries of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Vietnam was partitioned into north and south sectors until elections to be held by 1956. Fearing a victory by Ho Chi Minh, the Eisenhower administration collaborated with the South Vietnam leadership to prevent elections and subsequently sent military aid and advisors. Under President John F. Kennedy, the number of "advisors" increased to more than 16,000, some of whom engaged in counterinsurgency efforts and actual combat. Although Kennedy opposed large scale U.S. involvement, his successor, Lyndon Johnson, began regular bombings and escalated troops to more than 500,000 by 1967. Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, scaled back to 39,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam by September 1972, but initiated bombing raids into Cambodia in 1969 and sent ground troops there in 1970. The U.S. and North Vietnam reached a cease-fire agreement in January 1973, and the South Vietnamese regime fell in April 1975. More than one million people died during the war, including an estimated 925,000 North Vietnamese, 184,000 South Vietnamese, and 57,000 American soldiers. In the following excerpt, Leslie Gelb, a State Department official during the Vietnam War and Defense Department official afterward, offered an insider's appraisal to a Senate committee of the reasons for the U.S. involvement.