PANO – As the entire Party, people and army’s anti-American resistance war entered the most difficult time with the direct involvement of the US troops in the battle in Southern Vietnam from 1965, General Nguyen Chi Thanh was appointed as Secretary of the Central Committee for Southern Vietnam cum Political Commissar of the Southern Vietnam Liberation Army.
Some within the liberation army and people in Southern Vietnam hesitated, as the enemy was armed to the teeth with modern weapons and equipment, and wondered urgently if we could fight the American troops and how we could win against them.
However, General Nguyen Chi Thanh and leaders of the Central Committee for Southern Vietnam found exact answers for these questions.
With fine strategic vision and dialectical thinking, General Nguyen Chi Thanh pointed out that while the US was the millionaire of dollars, Vietnam was the millionaire of revolutionary heroism. His simple and straightforward statement contributed to strengthening troops and people’s confidence for combat against the foreign invaders for the national independence, democracy, peace and social progress.
In addition, in spite of a large number of troops and modern weapons, the US always remained passive in the Southern Vietnam battlefield, as its troops confronted a lot of difficulties in deploying their traditional combat formations.
From these points, General Nguyen Chi Thanh affirmed: “In Vietnam, the US troops are not invincible. All Vietnamese soldiers and people should heighten their determination and launch constant attacks on the invaders to bring into play our strength and mobile ability. Vietnam should win this fight right at the initial stage.”
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In an attack on American troops on Thanh mountain (Quang Nam province) on May 26th 1965, Vietnamese troops and people in Zone 5 wiped out nearly a marine company. This first victory of Vietnam over American soldiers consolidated the “dare to fight and to win” spirit of Vietnamese troops and people in Southern Vietnam.
After that, the victory at the battle of Van Tuong (called Operation Starlite) on August 18th 1965 in Binh Hai commune, Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province, proved that the Vietnamese were able to defeat the American invaders, despite their most modern weapons and equipment.
General Nguyen Chi Thanh, who had been directly responsible to the Party and President Ho Chi Minh on leading the revolutionary cause in Southern Vietnam, showed his firm determination and decisive character of “bearding the lion in his den”. The general’s stance also greatly consolidated the Vietnamese troops and people’s confidence to fight and to win the US troops.
Since then, many military strategies like “Attack by grabbing the enemy’s belts” and “Finding and eliminating as facing the enemy” came into being and then were multiplied among the armed forces in the South.
Despite vanquishing the US units at company and battalion levels, the small scale battles were not enough to expel the invaders. As a result, General Nguyen Chi Thanh nurtured the establishment of regular mobile divisions in preparation for combating against the enemy.
Accordingly, the general assigned missions to grasp situations in the Southern battlefield to pave the way for the debut of Divisions 3 and 9 on September 2nd 1965, Division 2 on September 30th 1965, Division 5 on November 23rd 1965 and Division 1 on December 20th 1965, as well as some commando battalions and regiments.
Recognizing the rapid establishment of the regular units of the Southern Vietnam Liberation Army, the enemy immediately deployed more troops to the battlefield in the dry seasons from 1965 to 1967 in order to regain a positive position in combat.
After analysing both sides’ situations, especially the US Government and people’s, General Nguyen Chi Thanh underlined that the US troops remained on the defensive. Besides, he also called on Vietnamese troops and people not to be subjective and underestimate the enemy, while well applying military strategies into practice.
Thanks to General Nguyen Chi Thanh’s timely, daring and creative instructions, the revolutionary troops and people in the South gradually foiled the enemy’s two dry-season counter-attacks and part of their “localized war” strategy in the Vietnam War.
These victories cleared the way for the General Offensive and Uprising of Spring 1968, forcing the US and the allies to shift to the “Vietnamization” strategy (July 1969), aimed at ending the American involvement in the war.
Written by Dr. Colonel Nguyen Huy ThucTranslated by Van Hieu