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A look back at 60 years of the Liberation Army of South Vietnam

The Liberation Army of South Vietnam (LASV) was founded in the early stage of our resistance war against the U.S. imperialists, for national salvation, which expressed our Party’s creativity in the building of the revolutionary armed forces. Under the Party’s leadership, the LASV was unceasingly developed to cooperate with our military and people across the country in completely liberating the South and unifying the country.

Taking a look back at the LASV’s process of construction, combat and development in the resistance war against the U.S., for national salvation, we should concentrate on several issues as follows.

1. The establishment of the LASV was a historical inevitability and a sound policy of our Party

In spite of the signing of the Geneva Accords, our Southern people’s struggle was still extremely intense as our enemy determinedly sabotaged the Accords. They used the anti-revolutionary armed forces to suppress our people’s movement. Against that backdrop, our Party decided to change the revolutionary strategy from political struggle to the combination of political struggle and armed struggle.

In June 1965, the Politburo issued the Resolution on the South’s situation and task, emphasising that we must maintain and develop the armed forces to a certain degree, but they must be placed under the Party’s leadership as a prerequisite. To that end, according to our Party, it is necessary to consolidate the existing and semi-armed forces, construct more bases, and at the same time build the system of mass organisations as the basis for maintaining and developing the armed forces. In December 1956, the Southern Regional Committee released the Resolution on the organisational and operational method of the self-defence armed forces. That sound policy played a decisive role in developing the self-defence armed forces in the South. To stimulate the development of the revolution in the South, in January 1959, the 2nd Party Central Committee’s 15th Meeting decided to “liberate the South from the yoke of imperialism and feudalism.” That decision provided a solid foundation for building and making the Southern armed forces capable of playing a core role in the people’s revolutionary struggle. In the Dong Khoi Movement (1960), the organisation of the three-category armed forces appeared. More specifically, military units were stationed within war zones, armed units were in provinces and districts, and self-defence and guerilla units were in communes. However, there was a difference in forms and names of those forces within each locality. The organisation of the armed forces and military commands to direct the force build-up and the combat process became a matter of urgency. To deal with that issue, the Politburo decided that the revolutionary armed forces in the South would be called “Liberation Army of South Vietnam.” In January 1961, the General Military Commission released the Directive on establishing the LASV. The Directive stipulated that “the LASV is part of the Vietnam People’s Army founded, built, educated and led by the Party,” and it would be comprised of three categories, namely the main force, the local force, and the militia and guerilla force. According to the Directive, the establishment of the LASV must be rapid but suitable for the situation to respond to complications and the building of concentrated units must be the main task; however, great value must be attached to building the local force and the militia and guerilla force.

On February 15th, 1961, within the War Zone D, the LASV was officially founded with the unification of revolutionary armed forces and directly operated on the Southern battlefields. It was placed under the all-round leadership of the Party Central Committee, particularly the Central Office for South Vietnam. It was subject to the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of National Defence, and especially the Military Commission of the Central Office for South Vietnam. It was assigned to play a core role in the people’s armed struggle, combine armed struggle with political struggle, and successfully fulfil the people’s national democratic revolution to liberate the South and unify the country.

A unit of the LASV (photo:

2. The LASV’s new developments in organisation and combat capacity

Immediately after its foundation, the LASV focused on building the main force, the local force, and the militia and guerilla force, with priority given to developing mobile main units. After one year, the LASV managed to build 5 regiments in the Southeast Region and the War Zone 5, providing a foundation for its development. Units of the LASV both built their force and conducted small and medium-scale battles. Typical example was the battle of Ap Bac with an impressive victory leading to the movement of “emulating Ap Bac, destroying the enemy, achieving more feats of arms” across the South.

In 1964, the LASV succeeded in building one main artillery unit equivalent to a regiment, 2 infantry regiments, and the main Artillery Regiment 4 of the Military Region 9. Moreover, 2 regiments from the North were deployed to the Central Highlands Region together with the rapid development of local, militia and guerilla units, which helped increase the LASV’s combat strength in all three strategic regions. Battles at company and battalion levels were developed into regiment-level operations. Typical examples included the Campaign Binh Gia (we first used 2 regiments to defeat the enemy’s tactics of “helicopter transport” and “armoured vehicle transport”), the Campaign Dong Xoai, and the Campaign Ba Gia, marking the development in combat organisation, command, and capacity, making contributions to defeating the U.S. “Special War” strategy.

In order to remedy the situation, the U.S. hurriedly deployed more troops and allied forces to South Vietnam. Against that backdrop, between 1965 and 1966, the LASV proactively quickly developed 9 regiments into 6 divisions, while arranging them into three main mobile groups on battlefields properly. Advocating the philosophy of attacking, the LASV enhanced the main force’s operations combined with the militia and guerilla force’s extensive activities to step by step win small-large victories and especially a significant victory in the 1968 Tet General Offensive and Uprising that dealt a death blow to the enemy’s “Local War” strategy and forced the U.S. to enter into negotiations with us in Paris. In that period, the LASV developed its combat method in a diverse, creative manner.

In 1969, the U.S. adopted the “Vietnamisation War” strategy with a view to gradually withdrawing American troops from South Vietnam and letting the Army of Saigon take the main role on battlefields. At that time, the LASV encountered a lot of difficulties in personnel and logistics support. To maintain force and combat, the LASV was organised into many components in rural, mountainous bases and adjacent areas. In such a situation, President Ho Chi Minh sent a letter to call for our military and people’s determination to fight for “independence and freedom,” “drive American troops away,” and “topple the Saigon puppet regime.” In April 1969, the Politburo issued the Resolution on new situation and task, while encouraging our military and people to move forward to a decisive victory. Grounded on that Resolution, the Central Military Commission and the General Command decided to quickly build main units of the LASV and deploy a large number of main units from the North to the South. Between 1969 and 1971, in addition to force development, the LASV actively maintained combat coordination with military forces and peoples of Laos and Cambodia, thereby continuously winning victories and changing the complexion of war on Indochina.

Under resolutions by the Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, in 1972, the LASV launched strategic offensives in Tri Thien, the Southeast Region, and the Central Highlands Region and obtained resounding victories that forced the U.S. to sign the Paris Accords (January 1973), commit itself to respecting Vietnam’s independence, unification, and territorial integrity, and at the same time withdraw all American troops and allied forces from South Vietnam. After the signing of the Paris Accords, there were rapid changes on battlefields of the South. In October 1973, the Politburo decided to develop our main units into corps in preparation for the LASV to launch large-scale offensives in the South. Correctly analysing the situation, the Politburo was determined to mount the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising. To that end, the LASV together with our military and people conducted the Campaigns, namely Central Highlands, Tri Thien, Hue - Da Nang, Xuan Loc, and especially Ho Chi Minh, wining numerous victories, completely liberating the South, unifying the country. The Great Spring Victory of 1975 proved the LASV’s developments in combat organisation, command, and coordination as well as its capacity to closely combine military attacks with the masses’ uprisings and successfully conduct strategic battles to end a war.

In 15 years of construction and combat (1961-1976), the LASV in cooperation with our military and people across the country surmounted all hardships to defeat the U.S. imperialism and its lackeys, completely liberate the South, unify the country, gloriously fulfil the historical mission entrusted by our Party, State and people, and make contributions to bolstering the tradition of the heroic Vietnam People’s Army.

Maj. Gen. NGUYEN HOANG NHIEN, PhD, Head of the Military History Institute of Vietnam

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