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To What Extent Did Guerrilla Tactics Of The Vietcong Enable Them To Achieve Victory?

4050 words - 16 pages

Ben DunnTo what extent did guerrilla tactics of the Vietcong enable them to achieve victory?Its critical strategic position in south east Asia bordered by China, Cambodia and Laos made Vietnam of great significance to Western and Communist powers. France conquered the country between 1858 and 84 and it became part of France's Indo-China empire which included Cambodia, Laos and Annam.Vietnamese nationalists were very frustrated by Bao Dai's collaboration with foreign imperialists and Ho Chi Minh became leader and established the Vietminh (Independence) League which was committed to ridding the country of the Japanese and French.At the end of World War ll, France struggled to reassert control in and to restore Bao Dai. This led to bitter fighting and the final defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu. The Vietminh were nationalists and communists, who treated the ordinary Vietnamese people with the respect they hadn't received from their French or Japanese colonial masters and also promised a fairer distribution of wealth, power and national freedom.Apart from Ho Chi Minh, another key figure in the Vietminh as General Giap, who had met Ho in 1940 and shared a hatred of the French. Between them they built up groups, 'cadres' of dedicated people who shared their beliefs and by 1944 Giap had trained several hundred cadres, who were well practised in hiding from the French in the jungle and surviving on insects and roots. From 1944 Giap commanded the Vietnamese Liberation Army and forces of around 5,000 and at the time was on good terms with the Americans who armed him with weapons to use against the Japanese. After the Japanese defeat he continued to improve the Democrat republic of Vietnam army's armaments and in 1946 the Vietminh declared war on the French.Giap's tactics for defeating the French began with guerrilla warfare designed to demoralise and confuse the enemy, it was completely revolutionary style of warfare to French whose experience was based on methods employed during World War l and ll. Giap's next phase was the move to set piece battles as his army grew in strength.This sounded a warning bell for the United States. In February 1950 Senator Joseph McCarthy whipped up the country into a state of anti-communist hysteria. When communist North Korea mobilised against South Korea, the US persuaded the United Nations to intervene to stop the spread of communism. They feared this was the thin end of the communist wedge which could eventually turn the whole of Southeast Asia red.The structure of Giap's army was also revolutionary. Army divisions were each supported by porters who carried supplies and ammunition over the difficult terrain. All were united by a longing for freedom which meant they were able to endure hardship and survive in hostile terrain. A psychological approach was also used which gave soldiers clear guidelines on how they should deal with civilians. It was important to keep them on side. In addition the policies of land...

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