During the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese Regional Forces were roughly akin to militias. Recruited locally, they fell into two broad groups - Regional Forces and Popular Forces (The RFPF's, called Ruff-Puffs by American forces). During the early 1960s the Regional Forces manned the country-wide outpost system and defended critical points, such as bridges and ferries. There were some 9,000 such positions, half of them in the Mekong Delta region. In 1964, the Regional Forces were integrated into the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and placed under the command of the Joint General Staff.
When U.S. forces began to withdraw from South Vietnam during 1969 and the ARVN began the task of fighting the communist main force units, Regional forces took on a new importance. For the first time, they were deployed outside their home areas and were sometimes attached to ARVN units. By 1973 the Regional Forces had grown to 1,810 companies. Charged primarily with local defense, they were too lightly armed and equipped to withstand attack by regular People's Army of Vietnam units supported by tanks and artillery.