Military history of Vietnam
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Army and warfare made their first appearance in Vietnamese history during the 3rd millennium BC. Throughout thousands of years, wars played a great role in shaping the identity and culture of people inhabited the land which is modern day Vietnam. Along with Myanmar, and a lesser extent, Thailand, Vietnam is regarded as one of the most militaristic countries in Southeast Asia. There is even a higher level believed Vietnam might be the most militaristic nation in Southeast Asia, and one of Asia and the world's most militaristic countries.
The military history of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam began when Japan invaded French Indochina and soon defeated the French resistance. Since then, Vietnam has fought in many conflicts in Indochina.
Hong Bang period
Weapons are the most common Bronze Age artifacts found so far. The presence of arms in many tombs of upper-class people indicates the existence of a warrior class in Dong Son society during the Hong Bang period.
Ngo to Ho period
Warfare during this 1500-year period was characterized by a combination of amphibious and land assaults. Owing to the fragmented terrain and long coast line of the country, maneuvers by boats were favoured by most military forces who had fought in Vietnam. Small-scale coastal and border raids were frequent. Domestic violence as well as foreign incursions were equally common. It is possible that during this period that Vietnam was at its height of power, first by defeating the southern Han in 937 AD. Then they emerged and decisively defeated the neighboring kingdoms of Khmer Empire, Champa, and the Song dynasty.
In the 13th century, the Vietnamese defeated the great Yuan dynasty of the Mongol empire three times, and it was seen as one of the most famous historical victories of Vietnam. In an extent, the Vietnamese successes repel of Mongol invasion, had been recognized as the main factor which would have saved all Southeast Asia from Mongols.
Later Le period
Vietnam received firearms from Ming dynasty rule over Vietnam. The conquest of Champa was contributed when Vietnam's north received gunpowder weapons from the Ming dynasty along with Neo-Confucianist thought.
Around 15th-16th century, firearms started to gain dominance on Vietnam's battlefields. Rivaling feudal lords were quick to adopt these new deadly weapons. Tactics were changed to accommodate guns and cannons and soon the country had as many guns as it could afford. Throughout the time, the Vietnamese state also annexed the Southern region of the declining Khmer Empire which would become Vietnam today.
Tay Son period
Future Emperor Quang Trung, along with Nguyễn Nhạc and Nguyễn Lữ, had successfully united all Vietnam after a century being divided between the Trịnh Lords and Nguyễn Lords. Following with it, the Vietnamese also successfully crushed the Siamese at the Battle of Rạch Gầm-Xoài Mút and decisively, the Battle of Ngọc Hồi-Đống Đa against Qing Chinese force. Thus, this had been also registered as Vietnamese military victories.
French invasion of Indochina
Japanese invasion of French Indochina
The Japanese invasion of French Indochina was a successful Japanese campaign against the French colonial power in Southeast Asia. The invasion was a part of a greater strategy which was meant to surround and isolate China. Following the fall of the French in Indochina, Viet Minh began its campaign against the Japanese occupiers, using guerrilla tactics. The conflict ended when Japan surrendered to the United States, following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- First Indochina War
Following the allied victory in World War II, France was hoping to regain control over its former colony in Indochina, which was also claimed by the Viet Minh. France attempted to invade and reoccupy Vietnam, but after nine years of war, the French gave up and retreated from Indochina. This resulted in Indochina being divided into four countries: North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea.
- Laotian Civil War
The Laotian Civil War began in 1953 when war escalated between the government forces and Pathet Lao, which received support from North Vietnam and China. In addition to their desire to impose a communist government in Laos, Vietnam also wanted to control the strategically important areas in Laos. The conflict ended in 1975, when Pathet Lao seized power in Laos, ending the Kingdom of Laos.
- North Vietnamese invasion of Laos
The North Vietnamese invasion of Laos begun in 1958 as a mixed result of boundary disputes and the Hanoi Regime's desire to control the Ho Chi Minh-path. The invasion was a success, and North Vietnam secured control over important parts of Laos.
- Vietnam War
The Vietnam War started when North Vietnam and the Viet Cong attacked South Vietnam, seeking to reunite the country by force. This led to an American intervention, which lasted until 1973, when they withdrew their forces from Vietnam following a peace treaty. The war went on, and in 1975 North Vietnam emerged victorious.
- Cambodian Civil War
The Cambodian Civil War was a mixed result of the Khmer Rouge's desire to establish a communist regime in Cambodia, eventually dragging Cambodia into the Vietnam War due to the North Vietnamese support for the Khmer Rouge and their use of Cambodian soil to stage attacks into South Vietnam. The US heavily bombed PVA, VC and Khmer Rouge position in Cambodia. Khmer Rouge was aided militarily by the North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, and won the war in 1975.
- Hmong Insurgency
When the Laotian Civil War ended in 1975, the government of Laos started to persecute the Hmong-tribes, who had been fighting alongside the United States in the Vietnam War. Vietnam has participated in the persecution, which has led to thousands of Hmong fleeing to the United States and Thailand. Although the Hmong no longer poses a military threat to the government of Laos, they are still categorized as "bandits" by the authorities.
- Civil unrest in South Vietnam
After the Vietnam War was over, some groups in South Vietnam refused to accept the Hanoi regime as the legitimate government of Vietnam. The resistance lasted until the 1980s, when the rebellion ultimately failed.
- Cambodian-Vietnamese War
When the Vietnam War ended, the Khmer Rouge, which then controlled Cambodia, claimed the Mekong Delta being a historical part of Cambodia. When Vietnam refused to cede the delta to Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge responded by conducting several border skirmishes, infiltrations and sabotage. By the late 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia, and after two weeks of fighting, Vietnamese forces captured Pnomh Penh. Vietnam occupied Cambodia until 1988.
- Vietnamese border raids in Thailand
The Vietnamese border raids in Thailand were a Vietnamese attempt to stop the Khmer Rouge from using Thailand as a base when fighting against Vietnam and the Vietnamese-friendly regime in Pnomh Penh. This nearly led to a war, as Vietnamese troops often penetrated into Thai territory, chasing Khmer Rouge guerrillas. This often resulted in clashes between Vietnamese and Thai forces. However, this never led to a war.
In response to Vietnam's 1978 invasion and occupation of Cambodia (which ended the rule of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge), the People's Republic of China launched a brief punitive military campaign against Vietnam, lasting from 17 February – 16 March. Chinese forces entered northern Vietnam and captured several cities near the border. On March 6, 1979, China declared that the gate to Hanoi was open and that their punitive mission had been achieved, before withdrawing their troops from Vietnam. Both China and Vietnam claimed victory in the war; as Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989, it can be said that China was unsuccessful in their goal of dissuading Vietnam from involvement in Cambodia. 
After China withdrew from Vietnam in 1979, border conflicts continued to occur. These conflicts often involved cross-border raids and battles, and claimed thousands of lives from both sides. The conflict subsided in 1990, without an outbreak of war.
- Thai-Laotian Border War
The Thai-Laotian Border War began in 1987, when Thailand invaded parts of Laos claimed by the former. Laos responded with force, and the Thai forces were pushed back to the border. During this brief war, Vietnam reinforced its communist ally, and helped them in their war against Thailand. The war ended with a ceasefire in 1988, when Laos had successfully regained all lost ground, and pushed the Thai forces out of the disputed territory.
- Trưng Sisters
- Bà Triệu
- Lý Bí
- Triệu Việt Vương
- Ngô Quyền
- Đinh Bộ Lĩnh
- Lê Hoàn
- Lý Thường Kiệt
- Trần Hưng Đạo: notable for the repellion of Mongol invasions to Vietnam twice
- Trần Quang Khải
- Trần Khánh Dư
- Lê Lai: the General who disguised as Lord Lê Lợi against the Ming
- Lê Lợi
- Nguyễn Huệ, Nguyễn Nhạc and Nguyễn Lữ
- Trương Định
- Võ Nguyên Giáp: probably one of Vietnamese greatest military commanders in the history
Late Đông Sơn metal lamellae (3rd - 1st century BC).
Armour of Nam Việt (with reconstructed replica) in the 2nd century BC
Replicas of traditional bladed weapons serve as decorations in Vietnam.
- Military Technology Transfers from Ming China and the Emergence of Northern Mainland Southeast Asia (c. 1390-1527) Sun Laichen Journal of Southeast Asian Studies Vol. 34, No. 3 (Oct., 2003), pp. 495-517 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of Department of History, National University of Singapore Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20072535 Page Count: 23
- Michael Arthur Aung-Thwin; Kenneth R. Hall (13 May 2011). New Perspectives on the History and Historiography of Southeast Asia: Continuing Explorations. Routledge. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-1-136-81964-3.
- Jeff Kyong-McClain; Yongtao Du (2013). Chinese History in Geographical Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-0-7391-7230-8.
- Concerning US backing, as Henry Kissinger in "On China" (p. 372) noted that "American ideals had encountered the imperatives of geopolitical reality".
- O'Dowd, Edward C. Chinese Military Strategy in the Third Indochina War: The Last Maoist War. Routledge. ISBN 9781134122684.
- Westad, Odd. Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465056675.
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