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The Viet Minh ~ Viet Cong
This Page Last Updated ~ 13 November 2017
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Viet Minh ~ 1941 to 1951
Viet Minh in full, VIET NAM DOC LAP DONG MINH HOI, English - League For The Independence Of Vietnam, the organization that led the struggle for Vietnamese independence from French rule.

The Viet Minh was formed in China in May 1941 by Ho Chi Minh. Although led primarily by Communists, the Viet Minh operated as a national front organization open to persons of various political persuasions.

     In late 1943 members of the Viet Minh, led by General Vo Nguyen Giap, began to infiltrate Vietnam to launch guerrilla operations against the Japanese, who occupied the country during World War II. The Viet Minh forces liberated considerable portions of northern Vietnam, and after the Japanese surrender to the Allies, Viet Minh units seized control of Hanoi and proclaimed the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The French at first promised to recognize the new government as a free state but failed to do so.On Nov. 23, 1946, the first Indochina War began. The Viet Minh had popular support and was able to dominate the countryside, while the French strength lay in urban areas. As the war neared an end, the Viet Minh was succeeded by a new organization, the Lien Viet, or Vietnamese National Popular Front.
     In 1951 the majority of the Viet Minh leadership was absorbed into the Lao Dong, or Vietnamese Workers' Party (later Vietnamese Communist Party), which remained the dominant force in North Vietnam. Elements of the Viet Minh joined with the Viet Cong against the US supported government of South Vietnam and the United States in the Vietnam War (or Second Indochina War) of the late 1950's, '60's, and early '70's.
Viet Cong ~ 1951 to 1975
Viet Cong, in full VIET NAM CONG SAN, English - Vietnamese Communists, formally the People’s Liberation Armed Force (PLAF), known to Americans as the Viet Cong (VC). The guerrilla force that, with the support of the North Vietnamese Army, fought against South Vietnam (late 1950's -1975) and the United States (early 1960's -1973).

     The name is said to have first been used by South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem to belittle the rebels.

     Though beginning in the mid-1950's as a collection of various groups opposed to the government of President Diem, the Viet Cong became in 1960 the military arm of the National Liberation Front (NLF).

     In 1969 the NLF joined other groups in the areas of South Vietnam that were controlled by the Viet Cong to form the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG). The movement's principal objectives were the overthrow of the South Vietnamese government and the reunification of Vietnam under Communist doctrine.

     The early insurgent activity in South Vietnam against Diem's government was initially conducted by elements of the Hoa Hao and Cao Dai religious sects. After 1954 they were joined by former elements of the southern Viet Minh, a Communist-oriented nationalist group. The overwhelming majority of the Viet Cong were subsequently recruited in the south, but they received weapons, guidance, and reinforcements from North Vietnamese Army soldiers who had infiltrated into South Vietnam. During the so-called Tet Offensive of 1968, the Viet Cong suffered devastating losses and their ranks were later filled primarily by North Vietnamese soldiers. For the most part, the Viet Cong fought essentially a guerrilla war of ambush, terrorism, and sabotage; they used small units to maintain a hold on the countryside, leaving the main population centers to government authorities.
     Under terms of the agreement reached at the peace negotiations held in Paris in 1971 - 1973, the PRG won acknowledgment of its authority in areas under its control, pending general elections to determine the future of South Vietnam. The peace agreement soon broke down, however, as both the South Vietnamese government and the PRG began trying to improve their military and territorial positions at each other's expense. Following the full-scale North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam and the subsequent rapid collapse of the government of South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu in the spring of 1975, the PRG assumed power as the government of South Vietnam; the following year, when reunification of the country was accomplished, the PRG joined other political groups in forming a National United Front. Real governmental power was subsequently exercised by the Vietnamese Communist Party.
Who Were the Viet Cong?

They were the farmer in a rice paddy.

The woman in the marketplace.

The teenager selling soda on the side of the road.

The fisherman on a sampan.

A member of the South Vietnamese Armed Forces or National Police.

They were tough fighters in the jungle.

A Viet Cong was a Vietnamese, indistinguishable from loyal Vietnamese except by their ideology and actions.

     The Viet Cong included hard core political cadre, main force regular troops from the south, local troops, part time guerrillas, and men, women and children terrorized or indoctrinated into helping. Weather he is a South Vietnamese trained in the North and then sent south, or someone recruited locally, the VC was told that he was fighting a war of Nationalism to liberate Vietnam from Vietnamese traitors, from American aggressors and imperialist, and from colonialism.

     The average VC were peasants, accustomed to privation and a bare existence. They were subjected to continuous communist indoctrination and surveillance by political cadre and fellow cell members. Behind the VC was a classic organization controlled and supplied from from Hanoi with the objective of subduing all of Vietnam under communism.

     All direction ultimately came from the Central Committee of North Vietnam’s Lao Dong (Communist Party). From its headquarters in Hanoi, the lines of control ran to committees and cells in South Vietnam’s districts, villages and hamlets.

     The Central Office, South Vietnam (COSVN), operating under Hanoi, was the highest VC headquarters in South Vietnam. Under COSVN were six military regions that directed political and military actions.

     Viet Cong forces, as separate from the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), consisted of two basic elements, paramilitary and the full military.

Paramilitary VC was generally a local civilian, part time soldier, who's military duties did not take him far from his home. He was used in village defense or to support regular VC or NVA forces in local operations. They filled the role as scouts, guides, and spies. In the early years of the war the VC had little training, were armed with few and primitive weapons, and usually wore the peasants black pajamas. As the war progressed and the Hanoi government in the North sent more and more NVA into the south, VC training, equipment and weapons became more sophisticated. They were the forces which were generally identified as "Guerrillas." Like classic guerrillas, they may live near their homes, appear to be peasants by day but take up their hidden arms and equipment by night.
VC Regional Forces were full time soldiers but not always uniformed. They relied mainly on guerrilla tactics and depended on the local area for logistical support during the early years. Later their local logistical provisions were strengthened by supplies transported down the Ho Chi Minh Trail with the NVA forces, and stored in Laos and Cambodian sanctuaries.

VC Main Force Battalions were elite full time troops. They wore uniforms such as khaki shorts, shirts, hats and carried the latest NVA gear and weapons, with their primary fatigue uniforms being the black pajamas. Their training and Communist political indoctrination was provided by NVA cadre in the sanctuaries in neighboring Laos and Cambodia. They conducted their operations over a larger area. The Viet Cong used terror as a calculated weapon. Bombings, kidnapping, assassinations, sabotage, harassment actions, all planned and executed to destroy local and higher governmental influence, and to coerce the local populace into cooperating with the Viet Cong. These campaigns were in later years directed towards the Allied Forces for much the same reasoning.

     During the final years of the war before the fall of the south, the remaining vestiges of the Viet Cong infrastructure were all but eliminated as a fighting and Nationalistic ideology political force by the Communist government in Hanoi. This was done to strengthen their hold and influence on the southern populace of the country.

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