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Tuesday, July 20, 2021, 07:28 (GMT+7)
Combining local people’s warfare with main corps’ operations during the resistance war against the U.S.

Our people’s resistance war against U.S., for national salvation provides us with many valuable lessons on military strategies and campaign-level, tactical arts, amongst which combining local people’s warfare with main corps’ operations is a typical example that should continue to be further studied, developed and applied to the war to defend the Homeland (if it occurred).

Bringing into play the nation’s tradition of fighting foreign invaders, particularly in the resistance war against the French, our Party successfully applied and combined local people’s warfare with main corps’ operations during the resistance war against the U.S. imperialists. This could be seen as the peak of Vietnamese military art and people’s war and made significant contributions to completely defeating the U.S. force and its lackeys on the Southern battlefield and their air attacks against North Vietnam.

A close, harmonious combination of local people’s warfare and main corps’ operations clearly demonstrates the art of mobilising all people and the entire country to carry out the war with the two military and political forces and the two forms of armed and political struggle across the three strategic areas. In this regard, revolutionary violence was combined with the masses’ uprisings, while offensives were associated with uprisings to annihilate enemy troops and gain the initiative at the same time. Local people’s warfare and main corps’ operations were closely combined with and supported each other to develop. More specifically, local people’s operations were conducted extensively across areas by local armed forces and the militia and guerilla force via small-scale, secret, surprising battles aimed at dispersing and pinning the enemy down, and creating opportunities and a favourable condition for the main force to deal significant military blows to the enemy via strategic, key, decisive battles as the basis for effectuating a reversal on the battlefield and developing local people’s warfare. That combination is manifested in a number of fundamental issues as follows.

First, develop local armed forces and build powerful main corps to satisfy the requirements set by the war. To respond to an empire which had never faced any defeat anywhere on a global scale, with its economic and military potential that was much stronger than our country, our Party advocated “bringing into play the ideology on a war by all people and arming the entire people to have an elite revolutionary army and encourage all people to take part in fighting the enemy by all means and all weapons in their hands.” To be more specific, the South would focus on building the political and revolutionary armed forces, facilitating the development of the political system and the militia and guerilla force in each commune, hamlet, and locality, organising the movement of “Dong Khoi” extensively and quickly transforming it into a revolutionary war. Meanwhile, local armed forces in the South would develop comprehensively to meet the requirements of extensive operations and provide support for the main force to attack and annihilate enemy troops on the whole battlefield. On the building of main corps, our Party advocated establishing the Liberation Army of South Vietnam and developing main units on the spot, including battalions and regimes of the military regions of Southeast Region, Central South Region, Southwest Region, and Saigon - Gia Dinh, while founding and deploying main divisions in the North to the Southern battlefield. In the beginning of the war, the number of members of our main units had been much smaller than that of the enemy (a ratio of 1 to 10). However, in a short time, our armed forces were developed rapidly in terms of quantity, quality, materiel, and combat morale. By the end of 1961, there were 24,500 soldiers from local military units at provincial and district levels, there were about 100,000 members of the guerilla and self-defence force, and there were 11 battalions under the military regions. We were capable of organising tactical battles and gradually developing them into campaign and strategic-level ones.

Second, build a local people’s war posture in line with the main corps’ posture and establish the people’s war posture across the country, with a focus on the South battlefield. In response to a large number of the U.S. expeditionary troops in the South, we quickly built an extensive people’s war posture in which the main mobile force and the local armed forces played a core role on the entire battlefield, under the motto of “establishing our posture and destroying the enemy’s posture.” When the enemy isolated our force from mountainous areas to rural ones, we built anti-U.S. belts around their bases, even within their lines, established “buffer zones” in the suburbs, and constructed the system of fortifications and battlefields with spikes and mines in order to set up “a net from heaven to earth,” smash the enemy’s plot of segmentation, and threaten them at any moment, anywhere. When the enemy strengthened their force and hoped to take the initiative, we pushed them into passivity, bogged them down, and forced them to make choices between occupation and manoeuvre, between dispersal and concentration, between defence and offensive as well as between “search and destroy” and “pacify,” thereby leading to a complete reversal on the battlefield and putting them in passive defence. On the contrary, we managed to gain the initiative in offensive and counter-offensive. It should be noted that we succeeded in building the strategic position of our mobile corps and forming three powerful main groups in the three directions of Tri Thien, Central Highlands, and Southeast Region to regularly threaten the enemy, strategically isolate them in both ends (Tri Thien and the Southeast Region), and readily attack the middle (the Central Highlands).

Furthermore, we proactively built a people’s war posture to protect the North’s airspace and waters, while combining the all people’s air defence posture with the Air Defence - Air Force Service’s air defence posture to establish a solid, multi-line, multi-layer, multi-tier air defence posture, aimed at shattering the U.S. air attacks from far to near, from high to low, in various directions.

Third, combine local armed forces’ operations using three spearheads in three strategic areas with the main force’s battles and campaigns to change the complexion of the battlefield. With the operational art of using three spearheads, namely political struggle, armed struggle, and enemy agitprop, our local armed forces combined military attacks with political struggle in all places, with “not only tens of thousands of battles launched by the local military force and the guerilla and self-defence force, but also tens of thousands of the people’s large-scale and small-scale political struggles.” At the same time, our force in charge of enemy agitprop strongly attacked enemy troops’ will and fighting morale. Under the motto of “destroying one and demoralising ten,” we both fought the enemy and conducted the work of enemy agitprop to disintegrate enemy troops. In the three strategic areas (mountainous, rural, and urban ones), our local armed forces took advantage of terrain and support from the people to “carry out small-scale, independent, flexible operations destroying a large number of the enemy’s troops and means of war.” With the guerrilla warfare, we attacked the enemy at any moment, in any place, by all weapons, in their front, on their flanks, and behind them, thereby terrifying them.

With the effective support from the local armed forces, our main force conducted a series of battles and campaigns, such as Ba Gia, Binh Gia and Dong Xoai in the Spring and Summer of 1965 on various scales and terrains, while closely combining offensive, counter-offensive with defence to defeat the U.S. special war strategy. At the same time, we launched large-scale operations, such as Plei Me, Khe Sanh, Route 9 - Southern Laos, Quang Tri, and Northern Central Highlands. In each campaign, we used superior strength than the enemy, flexibly transformed the posture, enticed them into our prepared posture, and forced them to fight in our own way. The U.S. also had to admit that they had not been able to fight in their own way. Thanks to the creative, flexible, unique application of methods of combat, particularly the combination of local people’s warfare and main corps’ operations, we managed to break down the enemy’s offensives and operations, destroy a large number of enemy troops and means of war, and change the complexion on the battlefield in our favour.

Fourth, combine main corps’ strategic offensives with the masses’ uprisings to gain victory across the battlefield and end the war. In the resistance war against the U.S., strategic-scale operations included the 1968 Spring General Offensive and Uprising, the strategic offensive of 1971, and the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising. Besides, we organised a series of strategic campaigns, such as Central Highlands, Tri Thien - Hue, Da Nang, and especially the historic strategic Ho Chi Minh Campaign in tandem with local people’s warfare and the masses’ uprising movement in both rural and urban areas to create the synergy against the enemy. It is worth noting that in the historic Ho Chi Minh Campaign, we used 4 main corps (1, 2, 3, and 4) and the Group 232 (the Military Zone 8) in 5 main directions to encircle, isolate, and completely annihilate the enemy. The main force’s offensives provided a prerequisite for developing local people’s warfare and simultaneous, extensive uprisings in the Mekong River Delta and the Southeast Region across the South. Our military and people launched attacks on the enemy’s rear and logistics bases, airports, harbours, and urban areas, while promoting the synergy created by military and political struggle, enemy agitprop, and the masses’ uprising to destroy the Saigon army, overthrow the Saigon puppet regime, and gain a complete victory.  

Our people’s resistance war against the U.S., for national salvation, with our glorious, proud victory is receding further into history, but lessons on combining local people’s warfare with main corps’ operations remain valuable and should be studied, developed, and applied to the war to defend the Homeland (if it occurred).

Sr. Col. DO QUANG VINH, PhD, Infantry Officer College No.1

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