When comparing the belligerent forces of the Second Indochinese conflict it is clear that the anti-Communist forces in the South held the major advantages over their Communist counterparts in the North. Based on personnel strength, the anti-Communist forces, known as the Free World Military Forces, outnumbered the Communist forces, composed of the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong by more than 2:1; a force of almost 2 million against one consisting of less than 800,000.1 In addition to a trained military personnel edge, the Free World Forces boasted the modern military machine that was the US Armed Forces. Finally, the powerful American economy which again, supported the South, could not be matched by the North. Given these, how could the North possibly stand a chance at conquering the South and defeating their capitalist ally, the United States?
However, for what the North lacked in firepower, they more than adequately countered with ingenuity and creativity.2 One of the militants fighting for the North Vietnamese cause, the Viet Cong, engaged in guerrilla warfare against it’s Southern enemies.3 Specifically, the Viet Cong skillfully and successfully employed hundreds of thousands of booby traps to weaken the attacking American Forces.4 The production of both explosive and non-explosive booby traps coupled with the efficacy of the techniques employed by the Viet Cong when using these weapons allowed the North to gain a significant upper hand when combatting the United States Armed Forces in Vietnam.5 Furthermore, for all the success that the booby traps had in wounding and killing, these found success in inflicting psychological trauma in the enemies of the Viet Cong and of the North Vietnamese. Ultimately, these practices allowed the Communist forces to succeed against the Anti Communists in the Vietnam War.6
The guerrilla Vietnamese forces first utilized booby traps in the First Indochinese War against French colonial forces between 1946 and 1954.7 A land mine or booby trap is “a hidden [explosive or non explosive] charge having its firing mechanism so placed that it is detonated when an apparently harmless object is disturbed by an unsuspecting person”.8 By using improvised explosive and non explosive devices, the Viet Minh were able to weaken and demoralize, enemy soldiers, in addition to inflicting heavy casualties. 9Drawing on experience from the earlier use of booby traps in the first Indochinese major conflict, the Viet Cong improved on these tactics as guerrilla fighters against the the Free World Military Forces on the Indochinese peninsula.10
As previously discussed the North Vietnamese were at a disadvantage when comparing American resources to their own. With limited arm manufacturing and alliances the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army relied on captured French and Japanese weapons.11 It is only later in the conflict that Soviet and Chinese weapons were heavily relied upon.12 Given their financial constraints, the...