Vietnam People's Army
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2008)|
|Vietnam People's Army
Quân đội Nhân dân Việt Nam
Flag of Vietnam People's Army
|Founded||December 22, 1944|
|Service branches|| Ground Forces[N 1]
Border Defense Force
|Chairman of Central Military Commission
|General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng
President Trương Tấn Sang
|Minister of Defence||General Phùng Quang Thanh|
|Chief of Staff||Colonel General Đỗ Bá Tỵ|
|Military age||18–25 years old|
|Conscription||18 months, none enforced|
|Active personnel||Ground Forces: 412,000
Air Forces, Navy, Border Defence Force, Marine Police: unknown
|Deployed personnel||Paramilitary: 40,000|
|Budget||US $4 billion (Military Balance2007)|
|Percent of GDP||2.5% (2009 est.)|
|Domestic suppliers||Hong Ha shipbuilding company (Z173)
|Foreign suppliers|| India
|History||Military history of Vietnam
|Ranks||Vietnamese military ranks and insignia|
The Vietnam People's Army (VPA; Vietnamese: Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam), also known as the Vietnamese People's Army and the People's Army of Vietnam, is the army of Vietnam. The VPA is a part of Vietnam People's Armed Forces. The VPA includes: Ground Force (including Strategic Rear Forces), Navy, Air Force, Vietnam Border Defense Force, and Vietnam Marine Police. However, Vietnam does not have a specific separate Ground Forces or Army branch. All of the ground troops, army corps, military districts, and specialized arms belong to the Ministry of Defence (Vietnam), directly under command of the Central Military Commission, Minister of Defence, and General Staff (Vietnam People's Army).
Communist Party of Viet Nam leaders of the People's Army of Vietnam absolute and direct all aspects; the centralized leadership of the Party is unified into the Central Executive Committee that directly, often the Politburo, the Secretariat (Charter of CPV - Article 25).
The name People's Army can be traced to President Ho Chi Minh's phrase "born from people, for people to fight and for people to serve". The word People are also present in many names of such organizations in Vietnam such as the People's Public Security, Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuracy. One other name for the army that Vietnamese named by love is Uncle Ho's soldiers (Bộ đội Cụ Hồ). The military flag of the Vietnam People's Army is the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with the words Quyết thắng (Determination to Win) added in yellow at the top left.
During the French Indochina War (1946–1954), the VPA was often referred to as the Việt Minh. In the context of the Vietnam War (1959–1975), the army was referred to as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). This allowed writers, the U.S. military, and the general public, to distinguish northern communists from the southern communists, or Viet Cong. However, northerners and southerners were always under the same command structure. According to Hanoi's official history, the Vietcong was a branch of the VPA. In 2010 the Vietnam People's Army undertook the role of leading the 1,000th Anniversary Parade in Hanoi by performing their biggest parade in Vietnam's history.
The predecessor of the VPA was the Armed Propaganda Unit for National Liberation which consisted of 34 fighters headed by Vo Nguyen Giap who later became the first full General of the VPA on May 28, 1948. Giap was a famous military commander known for leading the VPA to victories over French forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and against US backed South Vietnam in the Fall of Sai Gon in April 30, 1975. This Propaganda Unit was formed under the guidelines of President Hồ Chí Minh on December 22, 1944 with the aim to introduce its members as main force to drive the French colonialists and Japanese occupiers from Vietnam. The group was renamed the "Vietnam Liberation Army" in May 1945. In September, the army was again renamed the "Vietnam National Defence Army." At this point, it had about 1,000 soldiers. In 1950, it was officially named after People's Army of Vietnam.
French Indochina War 
On January 7, 1947, its first regiment, the 102th 'Capital' Regiment, was created for operations around Hanoi. Over the next two years, the first division, the 308 Division, later well known as the Pioneer Division formed by the 88th Tu Vu Regiment and the 102nd Capital Regiment. By late 1950 the 308 Division had a full three infantry regiments, when it was supplemented by the 36th Regiment. At that time, the 308 Division was also backed by the 11th Battalion that later became the main force of the 312th Victory Division. In late 1951, after launching three campaigns against three French strongpoints in the Red River Delta, the VPA refocused on building up its ground forces further, with five new divisions, each of 10–15,000 men, created: the 304 Glory Division at Thanh Hoa, the 312th Victory Division in Vinh Phuc, the 316th Bong Lau Division in the northwest border region, the 320th Delta Division in the north Red River Delta, the 325th Binh Tri Thien Division in Binh Tri Thien province. Also in 1951, the first artillery Division, the 351th Division was formed, and later, before Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, for the first time in history, it was equipped by 24 captured 105mm US howitzers supplied by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The first six divisions (308th, 304th, 312nd, 316th, 320th, 325th) became known as the original VPA 'Steel and Iron' divisions. In 1954 four of these divisions (the 308th, 304th, 312nd, 316th, supported by the 351th Division's captured U.S. howitzers) defeated the French Union forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, ending 83 years of French rule in Indochina.
Vietnam War 
Soon after the 1954 Geneva Accords, the 330th and 338th Divisions were formed by southern Vietminh members who had moved north in conformity with that agreement, and by 1955, six more divisions were formed: the 328th, 332th, and 350th in the north of the DRV, the 305th and the 324th near the DMZ, and the 335 Division of regroupees who had returned from Laos. In 1957, the 'interzones' of the war with the French were reorganised as the first five military regions, and in the next two years, several divisions were reduced to brigade size to meet the manpower requirements of collective farms. In May 1959 the first major steps to prepare infiltration routes into South Vietnam were taken; Group 559 was established, a logistical unit charged with establishing routes into the south via Laos and Cambodia, which later became famous as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. At about the same time, Group 579 was created as its maritime counterpart to transport supplies into the South by sea. Most of the early infiltratees were members of the 338th Division, former southerners who had been settled at Xuan Mai from 1954 onwards. Regular formations were sent to Southern Vietnam from 1965 onwards; the 325th Division's 101B Regiment and the 66th Regiment of the 304th Division met U.S. forces on a large scale, a first for the VPA, at the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. The 308th Division's 88A Regiment, the 312th Division's 141A, 141B, 165A, 209A, the 316th Division's 174A, the 325th Division's 95A, 95B, the 320A Division also faced the US forces which included the 1st Cavalry Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the 173d Airborne Brigade, the 4th Infantry Division, the 1st Infantry Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. Those VPA formations were seen as extremely brave forces by the US forces. Many of those formations later became main forces of the 3rd Division (Yellow Star Division) in Binh Dinh (1965), the 5th Division (1966) of 7th Military Zone (Capital Tactical Area of ARVN), the 7th (created by 141st and 209th Regiments originated in the 312th Division in 1966) and 9th Divisions (first Division of National Liberation Front of Vietnam in 1965 in Mekong Delta), the 10th Dakto Division in Dakto – Highland in 1972 south of Vietnam.
By Lunar New Year eve of 1968, the VPA launched a general offensive in more than 60 cities and towns throughout south of Vietnam against the US Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam-(ARVN). The US Embassy in Sai Gon, Presidential Palace, Headquarters of ARVN and ARVN's Navy, TV and Radio Stations, Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Sai Gon were attacked and invaded by commando forces known as "Dac Cong". The offensives caught the world's attention day-by-day and extremely demoralised the US public and military, both at home and abroad. The VPA sustained heavy losses of its main forces in southern military zones, its guerrillas, and its political hubs in South Vietnam. Some of its regular forces and command structure had to escape to Laos and Cambodia to avoid counterattacks from US forces and ARVN. Local guerrilla forces and political hubs in South Vietnam suffered heavy losses and had a hard time remaining within the delta area due to the extensive use of the Phoenix campaigns and military movements of the US Army and ARVN. These series of coordinated attacks came to be known as the "Tet Offensive."
Although the VPA lost militarily to the US forces and ARVN in the south, the political impact of the war in the United States was strong. Public demonstrations increased in ferocity and quantity after the Tet Offensive. Onwards from 1970, the 5th, 7th, and 9th divisions had fought in Cambodia against US forces, ARVN, and Cambodian Prime Minister Lon Nol's troops but they had gained new allies: the Khmer Rouge and guerrilla fighters supporting deposed Prime Minister Sihanouk. In 1975 the VPA were successful in aiding the Khmer Rouge in toppling the Lon Nol's US-backed regime, despite heavy US bombing.
In early 1975, nearly two years after the United States' withdrawal from South Vietnam (according to the terms of the Paris Peace Accords), the VPA launched a campaign to unite Vietnam. However, when the US left, with a steady decline in US funded equipment and supplies to the government of South Vietnam, the Saigon government could not muster enough force to stand against the PVA. With the near collapse of the ARVN, the Northern forces quickly secured victory within 2 months in 1975.
Military activities (1975–1990) 
Towards the second half of the 20th century the armed forces of Vietnam would participate in organized incursions against the neighboring Indochinese countries of Laos, Cambodia and China.
- The VPA had forces in Laos in order to secure the Hochiminh Trail and to militarily support the Pathet Lao. In 1975 the Laotian forces succeeded in toppling the Royal Laotian regime and installing a new, and pro-Hanoi government, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, that rules Laos to this day.
- Parts of Sihanouk's neutral Cambodia were occupied by troops as well. A pro US coup led by Lon Nol in 1970 led to the foundation pro-US Khmer Republic state. This marked the beginning of the Cambodian Civil War. The VPA aided Khmer Rouge forces in toppling Lon Nol's government in 1975. In 1978, along with the FUNSK Cambodian Salvation Front, the Vietnamese and Ex-Khmer Rouge forces succeeded in toppling Pol Pot's Democratic Kampuchea regime and installing a new government, the People's Republic of Kampuchea. Unlike in Laos, the PRK/SOC state would not be recognized by the United Nations, despite the genocidal record of the regime that had been overthrown.
- During the Sino-Vietnamese War and the Sino-Vietnamese conflicts 1979-1990, Vietnamese forces would conduct cross-border raids into Chinese territory in order to destroy artillery ammunition. This greatly contributed to the outcome of the Sino-Vietnamese War, as the Chinese forces ran out of ammunition already at an early stage and had to call in reinforcements.
- While occupying Cambodia, Vietnam launched several armed incursions into Thailand in pursuit of Cambodian guerillas that had taken refuge on the Thai side of the border.
Both in Cambodia and in Laos, the heavily armed and battle-hardened Vietnam People's Army were a valuable ally to the Pathet Lao and the Khmer Rouge forces, providing economic and military aid, also with new weapons, technologies and intelligence. Some claimed that just like the US Army's relationship with the ARVN, Kingdom of Laos and the Khmer Republic, the VPA was the real power standing behind them and played key roles in bringing both the Khmer Rouge and Pathet Lao to power.
During peaceful periods, the VPA has actively been involved in Vietnam's workforce to develop the economy of Vietnam, to coordinate national defense and the economy. The VPA has regularly sent troops to aid with natural disasters such as flooding, landslides etc. The VPA is also involved in such areas as industry, agriculture, forestry, fishery and telecommunications. The VPA has numerous small firms which have become quite profitable in recent years. However, recent decrees have effectively prohibited the commercialisation of the military. A conscription is in place for every male, age 18 to 25 years old, though females can volunteer to join.
International presence 
The Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of National Defense organizes international operations of the VPA.
Apart from its occupation of half of the disputed Spratly Islands, which have been claimed as Vietnamese territory since the 17th century, Vietnam has not officially had forces stationed internationally since its withdrawal from Cambodia and Laos in early 1990.
Some pro-Hmong organizations claimed that since the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese forces are sent to Laos repeatedly to quell the Hmong rebellion. Rudolph Rummel has estimated that 100,000 Hmong perished in genocide between 1975 and 1980 in collaboration with Vietnam People's Army. For example, in late November 2009, shortly before the start of the 2009 Southeast Asian Games in Vientiane, the Vietnamese army undertook a major troop surge in key rural and mountainous provinces in Laos where Lao and Hmong civilians and religious believers, including Christians, have sought sanctuary.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the President of Vietnam, though this position is nominal and real power is assumed by the Central Military Commission of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam. The secretary of Central Military Commission (usually the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam) is the de facto Commander and now is Nguyễn Phú Trọng.
The Minister of National Defense oversees operations of the Ministry of Defence, and the VPA. He also oversees such agencies as the General Staff and the General Logistics Department. However, military policy is ultimately directed by the Central Military Commission of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.
- Ministry of Defence: is the lead organization, highest command and management of the Vietnam People's Army.
- General Staff Department: is leading agency all levels of the Vietnam People's Army, command all of the armed forces, which functions to ensure combat readiness of the armed forces and manage all military activities in peace and war.
- General Political Department: is the agency in charge of Communist Party affairs – political work in the People's Army, which operates under the direct leadership of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Central Military Party Committee.
- General Military Intelligence Department: is an intelligence agency of the Vietnamese government and military.
- General Logistical Department: is the agency in charge to ensure the full logistical and military unit.
- General Technical Department: is the agency in charge to ensure equipped technical means of war for the army and each unit.
- General Military Industry Department: is the agency in charge guide task to defense perform and production.
Service branches 
The Vietnamese People's Army is subdivided into the following service branches:
- Vietnam People's Ground Forces (Lục quân Nhân dân Việt Nam)
- Vietnam People's Navy (Hải quân Nhân dân Việt Nam)
- Vietnam People's Air Force (Không quân Nhân dân Việt Nam)
- Vietnam Border Defense Force (Biên phòng Việt Nam)
- Vietnam Marine Police (Cảnh sát biển Việt Nam)
The Vietnamese People's Army is a "triple armed force" composed of the Main Force, the Local Force and the Border Force. As with most countries' armed forces, the VPA consists of standing, or regular, forces as well as reserve forces. During peacetime, the standing forces are minimized in number, and kept combat-ready by regular physical and weapons training, and stock maintenance.
Vietnam People's Ground Forces 
In the Vietnam People's Army, Ground Forces haven't been established as a full Command, thus all of the ground troops, army corps, military districts, specialized arms belong to the Ministry of Defence (Vietnam), under directly command of the General Staff (Vietnam People's Army). The Vietnam Strategic Rear Forces (Lực lượng dự bị chiến lược) is also a part of the Ground Forces.
|Infantry||Tank & Armored||Artillery||Commando||Armored Infantry||Sapper||Medical Corps||Information|
|Transport||Technology||Chemistry||Ordnance||Military Court||Ensemble||Military Sports||Military Bands|
Military Districts 
- 1st Military District: command the North East of Vietnam. Headquarters: Thai Nguyen
- 2nd Military District: command the North West of Vietnam. Headquarters: Viet Tri, Phu Tho
- 3rd Military District: command the Red River Delta. Headquarters: Hai Phong
- 4th Military District: command the North Central of Vietnam. Headquarters: Vinh, Nghe An
- 5th Military District: command the South Central Vietnam include the Tay Nguyen and Southern Central coastal provinces. Headquarters: Da Nang
- 7th Military District: command the South East Vietnam. Headquarters: Ho Chi Minh City
- 9th Military District: command the Mekong Delta. Headquarters: Can Tho
- High Command of Capital Hanoi: command the capital of the state. Headquarters: Ha Noi
Main force 
The main force of the VPA consists of combat ready troops, as well as support units such as educational institutions for logistics, officer training, and technical training. In 1991, Conboy et al. stated that the VPA Ground Force had four 'Strategic Army Corps' in the early 1990s, numbering 1–4, from north to south. 1st Corps (Vietnam People's Army), located in the Red River Delta region, consisted of the 308th (one of the six original 'Steel and Iron' divisions) and 312th Divisions, and the 309th Infantry Regiment. The other three corps, 2 SAC, 3 SAC, and 4 SAC, were further south, with 4th Corps (Vietnam People's Army), in what was South Vietnam, consisting of two former PLAF divisions, the 7th and 9th.
The IISS Military Balance 2008 attributes the Vietnamese ground forces with an estimated 412,000 personnel. Formations, according to the IISS, include nine military districts, 14 corps headquarters, 10 armoured brigades, three mechanised infantry divisions, and 67 infantry divisions whose strengths range from 5,000 to 12,500. The 2008 IISS estimate of 14 corps headquarters appears to be too high. Vietnamese Wikipedia entries suggest that a number of other corps headquarters, including the 5th, 14th, and 68th, have indeed existed in the past, but now have been disbanded.
Smaller formations include 17 independent infantry regiments, one airborne brigade, various đặc công brigades and battalions of both of land combat – Đặc công bộ, urban combat – Đặc công biệt động and water-based combat – Đặc công nước (special task force units with unique high-level guerrilla offensive combat tactics, sometimes incorrectly identified as "Sappers"; previously there had been a commando hunting force of this branch during Vietnam war, which has now evolved into an anti-terrorist force), more than 10 brigades of field artillery, eight divisions and more than 20 independent brigades of engineers, and 10–16 economic construction divisions.
1st Corps Binh đoàn Quyết thắng (Corps with Determination to win):
First organized on October 24, 1973 during the Vietnam War, 1st Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign that ended the war. Stationed in Tam Điệp District, Ninh Binh. The combat forces of the corps include:
- 390 Division
- 308 Division
- 312th Infantry Division
- 320 Infantry Division
- 367th Air Defence Division
- 202nd Tank Brigade
- 45th Artillery Brigade
- 299th Engineers Brigade
First organized on May 17, 1974 during the Vietnam War, 2nd Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign that ended the war. Stationed in Lang Giang District, Bac Giang. The combat forces of the corps include:
- 304 Division (earlier took part in Battle of Ia Drang)
- 306th Infantry Division
- 325th Infantry Division
- 673rd Air Defence Division
- 203rd Tank Brigade
- 164th Artillery Brigade
- 219th Engineers Brigade
First organized on March 26, 1975 during the Vietnam War, 3rd Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign and the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. Stationed in Pleiku, Gia Lai. The combat forces of the corps include:
- 10th Infantry Division
- 31st Infantry Division
- 320th Division
- 312th Air Defence Regiment
- 273rd Tank Regiment
- 675th Artillery Regiment
- 198th Special Force Regiment
- 29th Signal Regiment
- 545th Engineers Regiment
4th Corps Binh đoàn Cửu Long (Corps of Cuu Long):
First organized July 20, 1974 during the Vietnam War, 4th Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign and the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. Stationed in Dĩ An, Bình Dương. The combat forces of the corps include:
- 9th Infantry Division
- 7th Infantry Division
- 324th Infantry Division
- 71st Air Defence Regiment
- 24th Artillery Regiment
- 429th Special Force Regiment
- 550th Engineers Regiment
Local forces 
Local forces are an entity of the VPA that, together with the militia and "self-defense forces," act on the local level in protection of people and local authorities. While the local forces are regular VPA forces, the militia consists of rural civilians, and the self-defense forces consist of civilians who live in urban areas and/or work in large groups, such as at construction sites or farms. The current number stands at 3–4 million part-time soldiers.
Vietnam People's Air Force 
Vietnam Border Defense Force 
Vietnam Marine Police 
Ranks and insignia 
- The Highest ranks – General Officers:
|Ranks||Translation||Ground Forces||Air Force||Navy||Border Defense||Marine Police|
Phó Đô đốc
Chuẩn Đô đốc
From the 1960s to 1975, the Soviet Union was the main supplier of military hardware to North Vietnam. After the latter's victory in the war, it remained the main supplier of equipment to Vietnam. The United States had been the primary supplier of equipment to South Vietnam; some of the equipment abandoned by the United States Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam came under control of the re-unified Viet Nam's government. The PAVN captured large numbers of South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) weapons on April 30, 1975 after Saigon was merged (integrated).
- 3,000+ tanks: 990 T-55 (to be upgraded to T-55M3) 220 T-62,480 T-72,360 Type 59 and an unknown number of PT-76B light tanks.
- 4,000+ APC: details below, ex Soviet, ex US and IS origin
- 24300 Artillery
- 200 Helicopters
- IISS Military Balance 2008, Routledge for the IISS, London, 2008, p.408
- "HISTORY – The Hmong". Cal.org. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Military History Institute of Vietnam,(2002) Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975, translated by Merle L. Pribbenow. University Press of Kansas. p. 68. ISBN 0-7006-1175-4.
- Early Day: The Development of the Viet Minh Military Machine"
- Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, 'The NVA and Vietcong', Osprey Publishing, 1991, p.5
- "Political lessons – The Vietnam War and Its Impact". Americanforeignrelations.com. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Christopher Robbins, The Ravens: Pilots of the Secret War in Laos. Asia Books 2000.
- David P. Chandler, A history of Cambodia, Westview Press; Allen & Unwin, Boulder, Sydney, 1992
- THE HMONG REBELLION IN LAOS: Victims of Totalitarianism or terrorists?, by Gary Yia Lee, PhD
- "Vietnamese soldiers attack Hmong in Laos". Factfinding.org. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "Joint-Military Co-operation continues between Laos and Vietnam". Factfinding.org. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "Combine Military Effort of Laos and Vietnam". Factfinding.org. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "Vietnam, Laos: Military Offensive Launched At Hmong". Rushprnews.com. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- 2008May20: Laos, Vietnam: Attacks Against Hmong Civilians Mount[dead link]
- "Laos, Vietnam: New Campaign to Exterminate Hmong". Prlog.org. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "President Obama Urged To Address Laos, Hmong Crisis During Asia Trip, Student Protests in Vientiane". Pr-inside.com. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "Hmong: Vietnam VPA, LPA Troops Attack Christians Villagers in Laos". Unpo.org. January 26, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- "Laos, Vietnam Peoples Army Unleashes Helicopter Gunship Attacks on Laotian and Hmong Civilians, Christian Believers". Nickihawj.blogspot.com. February 11, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Statistics of Democide Rudolph Rummel
- "Vietnam, Laos Crackdown: SEA Games Avoided By Overseas Lao, Hmong in Protest". Onlineprnews.com. December 7, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Media-Newswire.com – Press Release Distribution (November 26, 2009). "SEA Game Attacks: Vietnam, Laos Military Kill 23 Lao Hmong Christians on Thanksgiving". Media-newswire.com. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- See also http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6367
- Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, 'The NVA and Vietcong', Osprey Publishing, 1991.
- Military History Institute of Vietnam,(2002) Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975, translated by Merle L. Pribbenow. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1175-4.
- In the Vietnam People's Army, the Ground Force hasn't been established the Command, all of the ground forces, army corps, specialized arms belong to the Ministry of Defence (Vietnam), under directly command of General Staff (Vietnam People's Army).