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Sunday, January 21, 2018, 16:39 (GMT+7)
The role of the special elite force in 1968 Tet General Offensive and Uprising and Comando force development in new era

In the 1968 Tet General Offensive and Uprising, our Party utilized various forces, among which, an exceptionally qualified force played a critical role, which was to paralysed the Command Center of the enemy, making a tremendous contribution to our general victory. Applying the lessons to the development of a powerful and modern commando force is an urgent need at present.

According to our plan, which was approved by the Politburo, the Central Military Commission (CMC) and most directly, the Central Executive Committee of the People’s Revolutionary Party (or Central Office for South Vietnam – COSV) and the South Command, commandos and rangers would open the campaign and launch direct strikes at the enemy’s central headquarters. This was a unique and creative characteristic of the Party’s leadership in terms of arts of war and also proved the exceptional strength of the forces as well as the concrete trust of our Party and CMC in them during this campaign in particular and the entire resistance war against the U.S. in general. In delivering this mission, our commando and ranger forces overcame a mountain of challenges and hazards, even made supreme sacrifices, to opportunely finish preparing forces, postures, etc, especially in transporting and planting standby groups in enemy’s cities, while ensuring secrets, safety under heavy guard of the enemy.

Thanks to those special efforts, right after attack order was released, the elite forces opened the campaign by simultaneous, bold, ingenious and valiant raids on cities and towns across the South. Notably, in Saigon, our commandos and rangers carried out exact attacks against various central headquarters of U.S. and Saigon Government, which included President’s Palace, the U.S. Embassy, Police General Office, radio center, Tan Son Nhat Airport, etc. Especially, No.11 Ranger Team with only 17 rangers attacked, occupied and took control of the U.S. Embassy in 6 hours, shocking the entire America. Not only did the commando and ranger units attack and destroy considerable key forces of the enemy, they also, in collaboration with other forces, made a lot of strikes against other important targets at city neighborhoods and outer circle, wiping out a large number of the enemy’s forces and weapons, thereby making a valuable contribution to our victory. In an assessment of 1968 Tet General Offensive and Uprising in general and great performances of the commando and ranger forces in particular, our Party asserted that: the root and most important factor of such successful, bold and surprising raids in a large area was our excellently brave officers, commandos and rangers, who had absolute trust in their commanders, steely determination in delivering their orders, and genuine willingness to devote their lives to our course of nation liberation.

Thoroughly grasping defence, military guidelines of our Party, the Party’s Committee and High Command of Commandos have undertaken all missions, developed reliable special forces and achieved desired successes. However, to fulfil new requirements of national defence course, commando force need to understand new situations, stay unified and be creative in employing comprehensive measures to develop a “Revolutionary, regular, elite, and towards modern” Commando Corps.

Commandos’ skill performance during the 50th Anniversary of the Corps’ Traditional Day (March 19th 1967 - March 19th 2017) (photo:

To complete such exceptionally important mission, Party’s Committee and High Command of Commando Corps have determined that, first of all, they need to focus on developing a “politically elite” Corps, a quality that will serve as a foundation for the improvement of its general quality and combat power. This is the foremost mission of commando forces, which will help them to “be exceptionally politically steadfast, exceptionally determined, and absolutely faithful to our Nation, Party, Government and people”, willing to overcome all difficulties and hazards and sacrifice themselves for the cause of national defence. To successfully deal with extremely hostile activities of adversaries, the complicated developments in the East Sea, the negative effects of market regime, and the worries about the enemy’s superiority in terms of weapon quality and quantity, Party’s Committee and High Command of Commando Corps have directed subordinate bodies, units and college to innovate their political education programs in the way more detailed, effective, suitable and practical to learners. The programs, which emphasize Marxism – Leninism, Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, the defence and military guidelines of our Party, the missions of our Army and Commando Corps, and the conspiracies and measures of our enemies, will improve the political will, determination, responsibility of the Corps’ officers and soldiers and help them ready to accept and accomplish all kinds of task. Moreover, the Commando High Command highlights the importance of shaping their thinking and enhancing their trust in our Party, their commanders at all levels and the art of war of this special force in new combat conditions. Besides, the High Command regularly organizes training courses for Party’s Committees and organizations at all levels to improve their leadership abilities, following the Project of organization streamlining, the 12th Central Party Committee’s No.4 Resolution of Party Building and Rectification, No.5 Direction of the 12th Politburo for Intensifying Ho Chi Minh’s Morals and Style Learning and Following, and the canvas “To follow the traditions and to devote talents, deserving to be Uncle Ho’s Soldiers”. Those courses underscore the quantity and political quality of leading officers who will be sent to key units, such as counter-terrorism forces, those who are in charge of protecting important political events, and those stationed at border areas and islands. Furthermore, the High Command also directs its bodies and units, especially the key ones, to guarantee internal security, and to intensify security examination and entrance selection in order to avoid planted and incited individuals, thereby ensuring absolute security for all bodies, units and organizations of the Commando Corps.

Moreover, Commando Corps will be focused to achieve a breakthrough: to improve training activities and combat readiness, considering it as the goal and motivation for them to fulfill their missions. Towards that target, Party Committee and the High Command have thoroughly grasped relevant instructions and resolutions of our Party and the CMC on training and education, including and most directly the CMC’s Resolution 765-NQ/QUTW released on the 20th Dec 2012 titled “To improve training quality in the 2013 – 2020 period and beyond”. Besides, the High Command introduced specialized resolutions on training and education, taking account of their missions, target enemy and operational areas. Then, basing on the documents, subordinate bodies, units and college will draft their own resolutions and training plans as well as make thorough preparation, focusing on new ideas and applicable improvements on training aids. Leadership of the Corps should also organize more training courses for key officers of the bodies, units and college to enhance their higher operational and strategic theory qualification to meet both short- and long-term requirements posed to the Corps. Besides, all commando units and college need to reform their training programs, aiming at fixing remaining flaws and satisfying new practical requirements. Our soldiers are expected to master various and new weapons and equipment as well as martial art and fighting skills, be healthy and strong and good at combat tactics at cell- and group-levels, etc. To improve their fighting skills, the Corps has cooperated with Air Defence and Air Force Corps to hold air mobilization and parachute courses for counter-terrorism force, and maritime tactic courses using covered and semi-covered diving equipment for naval commandos to practice at the Spratly and DK1 rigs. At the same time, other commando forces are required to closely follow their specialized training programs. Commando units have organized many competitions, maneuvers, exhibitions and tactics-combined exercises as well as participated in Maritime Security Exercises in the framework of extended ASEAN defence cooperation for exchanging experience and improving leadership abilities and operational coordination to further ensure timely and effective responses to different threats in different situations.

To strengthen the study and development of commando’s combat tactics is an important mission, which will ensure that their strong points can be brought into play when they are deployed for practical missions. This special force should learn from our traditional as well as global military arts, especially “magical” battles of our ancestors in resistance wars in general and in 1968 Tet General Offensive and Uprising in particular, to develop commando’s combat skills and tactics in the way that they will fit into new situations and the force will be able to prove their strength, taking account of characteristics of each target enemy, operational environment and area, their weapons and missions. In dealing with enemy’s plans, in which internal overthrows could be combined with invasions of border territories and islands, and in regional and global context where terrorism is spreading, our commando force is focusing on studying their specialized combat tactics and strategies for different kinds of battle and war, terrorism prevention and fighting, hostage rescue and other peculiar missions, especially those for naval commandos to attack surface and underwater targets as well as airborne commandos to strike on-land and at-sea targets. Practical examples in this region and over the world suggest that terrorist groups usually conduct surprise attacks, and riots and overthrows often started from demonstrations and chaos with large crowds, which can cause obstructions for public security forces to be deployed. For that reason, the Commando High Command is studying a transportation tactic using helicopters in combination with secret movement tactics, which can help deploy counter-terrorism and riot quelling forces immediately to desired places. Moreover, subordinate bodies, units and college should study and develop better combat tactics at levels of wing, team and inter-team for land commandos, and those at levels of wing and team for counter-terrorism forces and rangers to defend land borders and conduct urban operations. They should also study combat tactics at group and wing levels for naval commandos in independent raids and combined operations against surface and underwater targets, near and distant islands in defending our maritime sovereignty. Furthermore, it is important for them to study new and effective camouflage methods in today’s context, when advanced weapons and equipment are used for reconnaissance duties. In addition, our weapons, equipment and supplies used by commandos need to be improved in the way that they can get smaller, lighter, easier to hide and more flexible. Those are important tasks that Commando Corps need to fulfil to build a special elite force, which can excellently accomplish all assigned missions and deserve the title “The exceptionally elite force – two times awarded Hero of People’s Armed Forces.”

Maj. Gen. Do Thanh Binh, Commander of Commando Corps

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