Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 11:41 (GMT+7)
Logistics operations in the 1968 Spring General Offensive and Uprising applied and developed

During the 1968 Spring General Offensive and Uprising, our military and people, especially logistics branch, closely followed the strategic plan, overcame many difficulties to secretly and proactively prepare and conduct logistic operations to support our fighting forces across the South, contributing to the victory of the whole campaign. The experience gained from these logistics operations is still very valuable for today.

The 1968 Spring General Offensive and Uprising was a strategic plan made by our Party, which was aimed at a breakthrough in the conflict and bringing our resistance war in the South to a new turning point. The key objective of the campaign was launching strategic strikes, combining military offensive with popular uprising, against the most important enemy targets in urban areas in the South during the Tet Holiday of 1968. To do so, our force had to covertly, simultaneously and urgently transport a tremendous amount of supplies, weapons and equipment to many areas across the South, especially cities and towns – which were controlled by the enemy, far from our strategic supply lines, and we also had almost no forward logistic contingents in these areas. This was really a huge challenge for our logistic units.

Basing on the strategic plan’s outlines and assessments, our force proactively took preliminary steps for logistic preparation for the General Offensive and Uprising. That said, the Politburo and Central Military Commission ordered our units to make preparation for logistic work at all levels from very early stages (from late 1967). The main focus was increasing strategic transport activities and logistical and technical material supplies; strengthening and complementing logistic contingents in all areas of operations, especially in the South East, Region 5, Tri – Thien – Hue Area; expanding logistic bases and moving logistic depots closer to urban areas; and constructing new secret logistic depots and gradually transporting weapons into cities and towns, etc.

In compliance with orders from the Politburo and Central Military Commission, the General Department of Logistics mobilized many units to stockpile supplies in south Region 4 for 559 Corps to transport supplies to the battlefield. By October, 1967, the total amount of supplies stored at the entrances of Route 12 and Route 20 (Quang Binh) was up to over 14,000 tons. At the same time, we expanded our strategic transport network, dispatched 5 additional mechanized transport battalions, 1,382 trucks and several air defense artillery, combat engineer and communication units to 559 Corps. By late 1967, 559 Line was expanded to Cha Van to deliver supply to Region 5 and to C4 Line in North East Cambodia to supply units in the South. During the dry season 1967 – 1968, 559 Corps, under unfavorable weather condition and heavy enemy bombings, managed to deliver 60,650 tons of supplies, tripling the amount of the previous dry season, stockpiling a large amount of logistic supplies for critical battlefields.

Not only strategic logistic contingents made preparation for the upcoming campaign, logistic units in all battlefield also focused on reorganizing structure, increasingly building bases and depots in rear areas, accumulating logistic reserve and improving self-supply capability. In the South East – one of the most critical regions of the 1968 Spring General Offensive and Uprising – the regional logistic division was reorganized and divided into 2 lines: the forward line directly supported combat operations, including 5 logistic units deployed around Saigon City; the rear line, including 4 units, simultaneously acquired supplies in Cambodia and from 559 Corps (mainly medical supply and weapons) at Serepok to deliver for forward logistic units. Before the campaign, the regional logistic division managed to stored 5,554 tons of general supplies and 5,078 tons of weapons. Logistic contingents in regions, sub-regions and provinces also had plans to mobilize on-site supplies for their own combat units. In the South, Military Regions 8 and 9 expanded logistic bases in Nuoc Trong, Ba Ho, Chau Thanh, Tra On and Cho Gao, establishing a coherent logistic network surrounding Can Tho City and close to My Tho Province. In Military Region 5, Central Highlands and Tri – Thien area, our forces also adjusted and expanded logistic bases to provinces; organized contingents to acquire supplies from the strategic line, established depots in adjacent areas to prepare for upcoming offensives into cities and towns. Besides, via public and secret channels, many logistic contingents were dispatched into towns and cities to cooperate with on-site units to establish secret logistic depots. With the assistance of civilians and by means of different creative methods, we managed to avoid the enemy intelligence network and enemy checkpoints to transport a large amount of weapons to hundreds of rendezvous points in suburban areas and inside cities without triggering any alarm. Not only prepared for the General Offensive and Uprising, the General Department of Logistics also successfully made preparation for Route 9 – Khe Sanh Campaign – a strategic offensive designed to distract, attract, hold and eliminate a large proportion of enemy force, creating favorable condition for our offensives and uprisings in other battlefields.

Thanks to the careful preparation and close coordination, when the General Offensive and Uprising broke out, our logistic units were able to effectively support combat troops, especially in providing weapons, provisions, and medical aid for spearhead contingents in critical areas such as Saigon City, for our occupation force in 25 days of defending Hue City, and many other places under heavy attacks from the enemy. Besides, logistic support from civilians also played a very important role. Secret and on-site logistic depots provided great contributions to combat activities. People in cities, towns, and suburbs actively took part in transporting ordnance; providing provisions and medical supplies, and medical evacuation, etc. The assistance of our people was truly a crucial factor in the success of logistic work in the General Offensive and Uprising.

Logistic work in the General Offensive and Uprising Spring 1968 gave us many valuable lessons. The most notable was the experience of closely following strategic plans and the actual condition of the battlefield to proactively prepare logistic resources; upholding the power of popular support; and combining military logistics with voluntary logistic activities conducted by the people to create an extensive logistic network across all areas, especially in critical areas of operation.

In today’s duty of protecting the motherland, we continue to study and apply these lessons to logistic work, closely following the Party’s principles of all-people national defense, people’s warfare and all-people logistics and grasping the actual condition of the country and requirements and standards of military and national defense tasks. To that end, we constantly develop comprehensive approaches to build up logistic network and capacity for people warfare; proactively preparing logistic resources in advance to fulfill all demands from the task of national defense in the new era. Our main focus is pushing ahead the work of building on-site logistic resources; planning and constructing strategic, operational and defense zone-level logistic bases, etc., to create an extensive, sustainable and coherent logistic network, which closely combines mobile logistics with on-site logistics and ensures flexibility and independence for logistic work in every strategic regions, zones and areas. Also, people’s and defense zone logistic work will serve as the fundamental, while modernized and standardized military logistic work will serve as the core element for overall logistic activities. To do so, we must continue to combine socio-economic development with national defense and security enhancement under the guidelines of Politburo’s Resolution 28 – NQ/TW (tenure X), and Government’s Decree 152/2007/ND-CP and Decree 02/2016/ND-CP, especially in strategic areas, border areas and islands. The logistic branch, particularly General Department of Logistics, must advise Ministry of National Defense to plan and construct strategic and operational logistic bases in the new strategic deployment layout. Also, it must counsel provincial authorities to combine socio-economic development with logistic network and logistic capacity building for defense zones; and continue to invest in constructing defense zones’ logistic bases as planned. Besides, the branch must study and develop appropriate building and operational mechanisms for logistic work in defense zones; and market-friendly on-site resource mobilization mechanism for national defense tasks.

Most importantly, there must be synchronized methods to strengthen Military Logistic Branch, capable of playing the key role in conducting logistic activities and fulfilling near-term and long-term tasks. Logistic units at all levels must continue to effectively implement the Central Military Commission’s Resolution 623-NQ/QUTW on “Military logistic work until 2020 and beyond”. To that end, they must further conduct reorganization for  logistic contingents as guided in “Organizational restructure for Vietnam People’s Army during 2016 - 2020” initiative, and focus on building high quality logistic human resources and further research, innovate and procure new generation logistic equipment to improve its mobility and capacity. Due to the demanding requirements of national defense tasks, logistic units at all levels must further uphold the spirit of “thinking and preparing in advance”, proactively developing, amending and complementing logistic documents for combat, search and rescue, and natural disaster relief missions. At the same time, the branch must increasingly conduct logistic drills to be prepared for any scenario; work with local authorities to improve the quality of logistic reservist force and proactively make comprehensive logistic preparation to avoid being passive in any circumstance. Besides, logistic doctrine must be further studied and developed to keep pace with the advancement of science, technology and military arts, and to be compatible with new military equipment and appropriate with the Party’s new perspectives on national defense. These activities will serve as the basis for improving the effectiveness of logistic work and contributing to the military’s accomplishment in any mission.

Lieutenant General Duong Van Ra, Head of General Department of Logistics, VPA

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