Le Duan, Thu Vao Nam [Letters to the South] (Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Su That, 1965), 119-162
To Southern Central Department
The Politburo has recently met to look into the current situation and issue the new resolution for the South. I would like herein to discuss further specific aspects of some issues which could not be fully addressed in the resolution.
1. First is the new characteristics of the war
We all agree that the reason why the US had to bring another thousands of troops into the South is that they basically failed in the "special war," and also failed heavily in the sabotage of the North. The fact that they brought further force into the South makes it all the more clear that they are now in a passive political and military position not only in the South and in the North, but around the world as well.
With the US bringing another 150-200 thousand or more American troops to the South, the war in the South has moved to a new stage, having new characteristics; and for us, new issues have arisen.
To say the war has new characteristics does not mean that the US has changed all their political and military conspiracy for the South and for the whole of Viet Nam. The US´s war in the South still remains a neo-colonialist war, but is now waged with new methods and new forces. That was voiced by McNamara himself in the speech addressed to the US´s Defense Sub-Committee, "Although our methods have changed, our objectives stay the same."
Nevertheless, the US´s policy of "escalation" in Viet Nam depends on many conditions, for instance whether their objectives change often, how the comparison of force between us and them changes, whether in-country and international circumstances are favorable for them. As for us, given the enemy´s current situation and our strength, we keep affirming that we can control the enemy in the South and are determined to defeat them on this main battleground. In these circumstances, the North is still the battleground for the US to wage the sabotage war. From now on the US may raise the level of attacks further. But, no matter how bad the damage may be, the North is determined to defeat the US´s sabotage war. In the South we should correctly assess the fact of the US´s bringing in their soldiers. As mentioned above, the US has to bring 150-200 thousand soldiers into the South since they are getting in a more and more passive and failing position in many aspects. But that also proves that the US is more determined in clinging to the South. The US has gradually realized that their bringing in of troops in the immediate future is not yet going to lead to an all-out war which would make them face directly the larger countries in the socialist system. The force they are directly faced with is still the Vietnamese people. The US also realized that if they loose in the South, they not only loose to the Vietnamese people but also fail in the international arena. The Viet Nam issue has become one with international significance. Our people are now facing the US, the leading imperialist country, humankind´s most fierce enemy. Our people´s struggle is now taking place in one of the heated areas, with hard conflicts; it is the focus of the struggle between two forces - revolutionary and counter-revolutionary - in the world at present. Therefore, our people are now undertaking the nation´s sacred duty, and simultaneously taking the noble international duty.
However, we should look at the fact that the US is bringing a few hundred thousand troops with advanced weapons i nto the South while our people´s revolutionary war is strong and wide-spread from Quang Tri to Ca Mau, from mountains, rural lowlands to municipal areas; while their puppet troops are receiving deadly blows, the puppet power is deteriorating. Therefore, when bringing American soldiers into the South, the US hopes first to keep the puppet troops and puppet power rom perishing rapidly and to protect some key sites, preventing and preparing for our large attacks; also, with the added force, they will counter-attack step by step, aiming to regain the active role and create new strength. But it is clear that the situation does not allow them to do as such.
In deed, the US is bringing troops in while we are deploying our forces all over the South; the three types of soldiers have been formed; the three strategic areas have been established and reinforced. Militia and guerrilla forces and provincial and district armies are now being built into strong fists and have conquered key strategic sites. In all battlegrounds, the guerrilla war is going high; we have gained the active position and are now attacking the enemy. Therefore, although the enemy is now trying to concentrate their forces to counter-attack, they will be forced to scatter their forces to deal with us and turn back to the defensive position.
2. As to the forces. The US used to rely mainly on the puppet troops, but as the puppet troops by themselves are losing their foothold, the US has to rely on two strategic forces of American troops and puppet troops to wage their war. Though their numbers have not caught up with the puppet troops, with vast weaponry, high mobility, the American troops have become the core force for fighting and are the leaning point of the puppet troops. The American troops have an important political duty of keeping the puppet troops and puppet power from perishing; and simultaneously occupying strategic areas, preserving their position in the whole battleground and step by step counter-attacking to kill our core forces.
However, the puppet troops are still a large force with important political and military duties of providing reliance for the puppet power at the central and lower levels. The puppet troops are responsible for regaining the areas they have lost, patching the deteriorated puppet power system, gaining power of control over the low-lands, eliminating our guerrilla and local soldier forces, and with American troops conducting large troop mobilization to attack our core forces in order to regain the active role. Given changes in the enemy´s force and their new strategic plans, we acknowledge that in this period, the war in the south simultaneously bear the features of "limited war" and "special war". While emphasizing that "limitedness" is an increasing form and manifestation of the war, we cannot underestimate the "specialness" remained in the war, because the latter is closely associated with the US´s neo-colonialism.
3. We make the above-mentioned acknowledgment in order to work out strategic directions and tasks aiming at defeating the US´s political goals and win over their military forces.
From the analysis above, we identify our immediate battling target in the South is not mainly puppet troops, but both American and puppet troops. We have to continue to kill and deteriorate the puppet troops, considering that one of the main factors in overthrowing the puppet power, in order to sabotage an important reliance point of the US. Simultaneously, we have to defeat the American troops, breaking the core force of the invading war, weakening the US to such a degree that they cannot stand up for the puppet troops and the puppet power, meaning they cannot fulfill their political duty; also letting the US know that even if they reinforced the invading troops, they will inevitably come to complete failure.
The dialectic relation in this issue is fighting with American troops to create the conditions for defeating puppet troops; and vice versa, defeating puppet troops to create the conditions for fighting and defeating American troops. And defeating puppet and American troops aims at breaking the enemy´s military forces; defeating the political goal of the invading war and defeating the US´s military strategy. We have set forth an all-round task of defeating the enemy on all these three aspects. And only when we defeat the enemy on all these three aspects do we win the war which is both "limited" and "special" in this stage. As a matter of course, in fighting with the enemy we will attack and destroy the weaker parts before the stronger. Therefore, as to the fighting targets, first we have to aim at destroying the puppet troops, and at the same time seek ways to weaken and kill American troops so as to facilitate our weakening and destroying puppet troops. Weakening and destroying American troops is necessary for keeping our active position in the whole battleground, and that has become reality.
For the time being, fighting with American troops and puppet troops is both important. We completely agree with Mr. Nam Cong and brothers on this. But we would like to remind us of one thing: while deploying force for fighting, we should aim at destroying puppet troops first, because of the enemy´s forces, the puppet troops are weaker. In fighting American troops, we have to choose their weak points to attack, or cases where they are weak to destroy them. For stronger points or in cases where they are stronger, temporarily we have to avoid them - of course this is not an absolute rule. Along with attacking the US´s weak points, we have to seek effective methods and approaches to destroy their stronger points, prevent ing them from making full use of their advantage of advanced weaponry and technology.
As for the task and abilities of the battlegrounds, we have to acknowledge clearly that: in mountainous battlegrounds in general and the No. 5 area´s mountainous battleground in particular, the increasingly important main fighting target is the American troops, because the American troops and the vassal troops are getting a more and more important role with the task of facing us directly in these areas. At the same time, we have to pay attention to fighting the puppet troops. Because these areas are mountainous, the US still uses some puppet troops for keeping the towns or uses the puppet troops in some cases where American troops are not able to adapt to.
In the lowland battlegrounds, especially the Southern delta, our main and most important fighting target is the puppet troops. Going into smaller battlegrounds, as well as going into each battle, we have to base our prioritization on the case, whether there are only American troops or only puppet troops, or both, if both which are present in larger numbers, and even their time and methods of appearing, their tasks they have, etc. So as to determine which type of troops is our specific target and our methods of fighting them.
Because of the enemy´s division of work in each battleground and the relations between their different types of troops and our specific fighting target in each battleground, our different battles vary, but we have to keep in mind that fighting American troops is to facilitate our fighting puppet troops, and one battleground against American troops helps another battleground against puppet troops; and vice versa, fighting puppet troops is to facilitate our fighting American troops and one battleground against puppet troops helps another battleground against American troops.
I would like to move on to talk about our directions and strategic intentions, our conditions, abilities and forms of struggle to defeat American troops and the puppet troops, moving towards truly getting hold of the mountains and forests, and the lowland rural areas, encircling the enemy, dividing them up and moving on to all-out attack, all-out insurrection, gaining municipal areas, wining the deciding victory.
1. Previously, we correctly predicted that when the enemy was losing and we winning, the US might bring in hundreds of thousands of American soldiers into the South. The Resolution of the Ninth Central Conference (term III) on the South clarified that "special war" was the form of war most suited for the US´s neo-colonialism; however if the "special war" did not help them win, they might use "limited war". Based on this assessment, we set forth the direction of restricting and winning the enemy in the "special war," and simultaneously preparing for the possibility of the enemy´s waging the "limited war."
Restricting the enemy and winning them in the South is the main task, is our major strategy. This strategy has to reflect in our political, military and diplomatic activities. With the current balance of forces in our country, in South-East Asia and in the world, our capability of restricting and winning the enemy in the South is still real, and also we have to prepare and be ready to fight them if they expand the war to the North with ground troops. For the time being, the probability for the US to expand the war with ground troops to the North exists, but is small, because the US is hesitant to face our forces in the North and the whole socialist faction, and they now have to cope with the increasing anti-aggression war movement of the American people. The US is also afraid of being further isolated, given the increasing pro-Viet Nam movement of the world´s forces for national independence, democracy and peace. Among the other imperialist countries, there are some not supportive of the US´s policies; some are supportive of these policies, but are not willing and able to cooperate with the US in expanding the war; but they both want opportunities to grab the areas with US influence.
The US´s aggression war in the South can also gradually change into a "limited war" with the number of ground troops equal to that they used in Korea, but probably with a larger air force. But no matter what scale and degree the war may develop into, our revolutionary force in the South, with active assistance by the North, shall be able to and have to defeat the US and their henchmen in this "special war." The concept "special" here does not bear the usual American meaning. I use this word to describe a war in which the US is not able to use their whole strength and finally have to acknowledge a moderate failure to avoid a heavier defeat and dangerous consequences they are not yet fully aware of. In the present international context, the balance of forces, specifically in Viet Nam and South-East Asia, the strength of the socialist system, of the movements for national independence, for peace and for democracy in the world, as well as the serious conflicts among the imperialist countries do not allow the US the expand the war to any scale at will.
The US has brought more than one hundred thousand troops into the South, which makes a new situation. We have to keep track of the development of the war so as to make timely plans to cope in order to ensure definite victory in any situation. Our strategic guideline of the revolutionary war in the South is to struggle in the long term, based on our own strength. This guideline was decided upon based on the grounds as follows: First, we have to use the weak to fight the strong. Second, the process of the South´s revolution from the onset to the point of achieving basic objectives is a long process. Third, the US is a rich powerful and warlike imperialist country, we have to forecast many different possibilities of war development, especially forecast the degree and scale of the war.
The patterns of the war over the last years and the complexion of the war in the present stage prove that this strategic guideline is totally correct. Given the serious crisis of the "special war," we decided to use the methods of struggling in the long term, taking advantage of opportunities, working hard to achieve the determining victory in a relatively short period of time. The situation of the South for the past year shows clearly that this strategic direction has encouraged the revolutionary war to win more and more large victories. We have quickly changed the balance of forces in a manner in favor of us; overachieved objectives of overthrowing strategic hamlets, and of expanding the liberated areas; wiped out more than 30 battalions, disintegrated an important component of the puppet army. In the No. 5 area, we have gained the active position and changed the complexion of the battleground, shifted from the defensive position to the attacking position. We are able to win over the enemy in the "special war;" that is clear and for sure.
This guideline has another aspect which should be more clearly understood. When raising the resolution to obtain determining victory, we are setting a task of obtaining a one-step basic victory in the specific circumstances of the war. This is clearly different from the total victory in any case. With the same sense, in the last stage of the resistance war against the French, we consider the Dien Bien Phu and the whole 1953-1954 winter-spring struggle a determining victory, not a total victory.
The new issue is that in the present situation when the US has brought into the south hundreds of thousands of American troops to cooperate with half a million puppet troops, will we be able to obtain the determining victory in the period of a few immediate years? In another situation, if the war in the South develops into a large-scale "limited war" with 300, 400 or 500 thousand American troops, what will be our strategic direction and our capability of winning?
For the first situation, we appraise that on the foundation of full awareness of the guideline of struggling in the long term, we are capable of winning a determining victory in a relatively short period of time. For the second situation, if the US brings in around half a million American troops, shifting from "special war" to large scale "limited war" in the South and the enemy may bring ground troops on attacks at the North (though the probability at present is small), in the present situation, given the US´s capability and ours and all the political, military and economic conditions, we strongly believe that the US cannot struggle with us for long or win over us; in the long resistance war we shall definitely win the final victory.
In both situations, our strategic guideline is correct and we have sufficient conditions for winning.
2. About obtaining determining victory in the period of a few immediate years, I would like to express my thoughts as follows: We consider the US´s bringing hundreds of thousands of American and vassal troops into the South an important step in the development of the war. In this stage, the US has certain political and military objectives and the American troops have their own strong and weak points. In the face of this situation, the resolution of the Politburo addressed many issues. I hereby would merely discuss further our tasks of fighting the American troops and the puppet troops, political struggling and the possibility of moving to all-out attack, all-out insurrection in the new situation.
In the first part of this letter, I have mentioned our new fighting targets and the relations between fighting the American troops and the puppet troops. I am now talking specifically about the requirements and abilities of fighting the puppet troops and the American troops. In the military respect, it is easier to destroy the puppet troops than the American troops, for the American troops have not had much fighting with us, thus are optimistic and proud of their weapons, and also have their nationalist pride unwounded. The puppet troops have lost a lot of battles, are now in low mentality, little enthusiasm to fight. Therefore, we have to raise our resolution to wipe out the puppet troops and disintegrate them as fast as possible. On the other hand, in the propagation work, we have to emphasize the slogan "Find the Americans to kill." On specific battlegrounds, we have to study thoroughly the methods most suited for destroying the American troops. With the guerrilla forces encircling the American troops´ bases, we have to strongly encourage bravery in military struggling and praise our sisters and brothers so as to heighten their resolution for killing American troops.
As for the issue of fighting with and winning over the puppet troops, reality of fighting of the last few years show us ways to conduct this task. Although there remains over half a million puppet troops, with the reinforcement of the American troops, we affirm that we are capable of basically wiping out and disintegrating them. In mountainous areas, with the guideline of mainly using military force, our core troops with relatively strong blows have wiped out and disintegrated many mobile units of the puppet troops. On this battleground today, though the American troops are taking an increasingly important role, we are still capable of destroying puppet troops in areas they occupy or when they are on the move, along with destroying the fighting American troops. In lowlands, with the guideline of integrated political and armed struggling, with the three spearhead-attack, especially with the wide-spread guerrilla war and partial insurrection, local soldiers, militia and guerrilla and revolutionary public we have wiped out one relatively important component of the puppet power machinery in villages and communes, destroyed the strategic hamlet system and defeated many of the enemy´s raids. Today, when the US has brought hundreds of thousands of foreign troops into the South, the puppet army can bring more force to the lowlands and be strongly supported by American air fire. Our struggle is taking place in more fierce conditions, but if we have good and flexible combat methods, we will definitely continue to attack the enemy successfully in the low lands.
In order to defeat the puppet troops in the lowlands, it is essential that we preserve and expand the areas we master. In order to do as such, we first have to build and deploy reasonably our armed forces on the battlegrounds, in each district, each province, and each military area. It is imperial to heighten the strength and combat skills of local soldiers; mobilize strong and wide-spread networks of guerrillas; build combat villages and communes, harness guerrillas with common weapons (such as spikes, mines, rifles, grenades), help the guerrillas to be able to fight the enemy when they come into the villages, or the communes, and also coordinate with local soldiers and core soldiers to kill large numbers of the enemy´s soldiers.
We have to strengthen and develop the people´s political soldiers, mobilize the people to become masters of the villages and the communes, sustain and encourage production to ensure food security, and invest human and material resources in killing the enemies to keep the village, to keep the country. We have to implement well the policy of solidarity of the whole people, step by step solve the peasants´ land problem; know thoroughly the Party´s policies in rural areas, point our spear-head at the US imperialist and the merciless landlords, henchmen of the enemy. Along with promotion of production and struggling, we have to look after health care, education and cultural and social activities.
In the rural battlegrounds, we have to set tasks appropriate for each area; make plans for coordination of struggling of different forces and different areas. We have to understand and keep in mind the guideline of being the master so as to kill the enemy, killing the enemy to strengthen our position of master. That is to say we have to conduct firm defense, strong attacks, always keep the active position, protect and develop our force, counter-attack the enemy in all forms to obtain and keep each hamlet, each village, each commune; step by step expand areas under our control, contract areas controlled by the enemy. In order to combat the enemy´s policy of "pacification" of rural areas, we have to reduce their advantages in the lowlands, coordinate well the three spearheads, enhance our guerrilla war, and simultaneously encourage political struggle and agitation and propaganda among the enemy troops; we have to consolidate and develop combat villages, dig underground shelters, build underground passage ways to avoid air fire and to fight with the enemy.
Recently, in some areas around Sai Gon - Cho Lon, Long An, My Tho, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, etc. - the enemy has focused their extremely fierce raids, but because we had reasonably deployed our forces, and coordinated well our different activities, initiated attacking the enemy, we obtained and preserved the power of the master, and claimed a large toll of the enemy´s lives. On the contrary, in some other areas of Tri-Thien and the west region of the South, the above mentioned actions were not done well, therefore defense was not firm, attacking was not strong, and we also suffered heavy loss on our force.
Coordinating our attacks on the enemy both in mountainous areas and in the lowlands, in the short-term, we shall try to disintegrate about 300-400 puppet troops, of which at least 70-80 battalions shall be destroyed. That is one requirement in our plan for obtaining the determining victory. Fighting the puppet troops has to go along with fighting and winning the American troops. Because the US has brought into the South an additional hundreds of thousands of troops, our people´s course of American Resistance and National Salvation shall be longer in time and even fiercer. But on the other hand, the more American troops come in, the more of their living force we will destroy. The more American troops are destroyed, the faster the puppet troops will disintegrate; the US´s hope to win with combat will collapse; the American people´s movement against the American dirty war in Viet Nam will go high.
In the near future will we be capable of destroying an important part of the American troops? I believe that we do. Our victory in the recent Van Tuong battle is a lively evidence. In this battle, the US chose the battleground, used 9000 troops, concentrated their advantage of fire-power and war facilities. But two of our core battalions defeated them badly; our loss is one twentieth theirs. If the Ap Bac battle in early 1963 showed the capability of defeating the American troops´ "helicopter mobilization," "tank mobilization" techniques in support of the puppet troops´ raids in the low lands, if the Binh Gia battle in late 1964 marked a step of growing up of our core troops in destroying the large combat units of the core puppet troops, then the Van Tuong battle has rhetorically proved that we are capable of defeating the American troops when they are at an absolute advantage in terms of weapons and fire-power. And after Van Tuong, there occurred continuously other battles where we defeated American troops gloriously.
At present we have some abilities to combat American troops in mountainous and sub-mountainous battlegrounds when they move out of their defense works, also we have techniques of fighting American troops inside their bases and around their bases. In order to do this we have to know the American troops´ strengths and weaknesses. Combat on mountainous battlegrounds is, to American troops, compulsory. Since here their advantages with weapons and technology are reduced, their weaknesses easily revealed. But for us, mountains and forests are our base, where our military force has been built strongly, are battlegrounds we are used to, where we are at an advantage which helps us destroy both American troops and puppet troops. So as to defeat American troops in mountainous areas, we have to become the master of mountains and forests. We have long talked about being the master of mountains and forests, but in fact, there are many large mountain and forest areas which have not been occupied by the enemy or up to which the enemy has not moved their troops, so there exist no enemy troops.
As for us, in these areas, we also do not have sufficient force to be the master. That is why there are cases in which the enemy troops marched into the mountains, into the forests, attack deeply in our bases, such as that of Do Xa in 1963, and Bien Hoa, Thu Dau Mot this September-October, and we could not destroy major forces, just made some scattered damage. That means we have not really become the master of mountains and forests. In order to become the real master of mountains and forest, we have to be full aware of the following issues: First, we have to implement correctly the Party´s policies on ethnic groups in the mountains, and build ethnic people´s villages into combat villages. Second, we have to "transplant" people into non-populated or scarcely-populated areas, and build successfully an on-site armed force to be the master of all the mountainous areas. Third, we have to quickly build strong core units, well armed, highly mobile and fully provided with food and ammunition.
Our characteristics of the revolutionary war, the war for national liberation and our strategic directions for the Anti-US Resistance war require our military and political forces to be the master of our struggle, which means we have to keep a strong foothold on the battlegrounds, in the mountains as well as the lowlands, to attack the enemy rather than fight and retreat, leaving the land, leaving the people behind. Mountains and forests have favorable topography for building a master´s position; the more we can master mountain and forest areas, the stronger positions of a master we can have on other battlegrounds.
Hence, we have to see fully the importance of "transplanting" people in mountainous areas; we have to organize strong guerrilla teams who produce as well as fight the enemy, and at the same time deploy reasonably our armed forces to gain the active role, counter-attack strongly the enemy´s large raids, firmly protecting our bases. In areas too scarcely populated and where there are yet no guerrillas and militia, we should put in a small portion of core soldiers to help built militia and guerrilla force as well as local soldiers. Then not only can we be the master of the mountains and forests, but also we can restrain the enemy and kill more enemy troops when they attack.
Parallel with forming networks of guerrillas and local soldiers, we have to urgently build the regular soldier force into strong fists, comprising of light corps, with high combat morale and high levels of knowledge of technology and combat methods and techniques, with strong fire-power (including personal weapons, combat support fire-power, air defense fire-power and light artillery), capable of fast mobility, with relatively sufficient stock of food and ammunition.
In order to be active in combating the enemy, we often use the technique of snaring the enemy into coming so as to destroy them, such as attacking barracks, or encircling barracks to kill reinforce troops, destroy transport routes to kill reinforce troops, attack puppet troops to entice American troops to come to kill them, etc. Here I want to raise the point of counter-attacking to destroy the enemy, to defeat the enemy´s attack. So far we have not been able to do this. In most cases when the enemy initiated an attack into a mountain and forest area, they only meet with scattered small fighting, our military forces have not been able to conduct any counter-offensive.
How do we understand active and passive in counter-attacking and fighting off raids? Usually when making plans for attacking and deploying forces to move into an area they want to raid, the enemy keeps the active role, which is the active role in the first stage. But on the battleground chosen by the enemy, if we master the area, deploy forces and arrange the battle readily, be active in fighting off the raid, then the enemy may gradually loose the initial active role and turned into passive resisting. More over, when the enemy is about to finish or has just finished the raid, if we have reserve force, and plan definitely to counter-attack, we may push the enemy into a totally passive position, causing heavy damage to the enemy for they are in the process of retreating, thus are not prepared in terms of mentality and force to cope with our attack.
In the Second World War, Stalin raised the famous view of strategic counter-attack, campaign counter-attack, and often mentioned the concept "counter-attack with the character of attacking." Stalingrad is one famous counter-attack campaign. All the campaigns conducted in 1943, 1944 and early 1945 belonged in the Red Army´s strategy of counter-offensive in the territory of the Soviet Union and attacking outside the Soviet Union´s borders into the den of the fascists in Germany.
During the resistance war against the French, we defeated the enemy´s grand attacks in the Viet Bac campaign (1947) and in the Hoa Binh campaign, which are our counter-attack campaigns defeating the enemy´s attacks. In the South, the battle where we destroyed the puppet battalion in Phu Tuc (Chau Thanh district, Ben Tre province, 1964) when they came back from a raid may be considered one form of counter-attack to defeat the enemy´s attacks for raids.
In the coming dry season, with additional military force and mobile means of transportation, the US will certainly conduct attacks into the mountainous and sub-mountainous battlegrounds, with American troops as the main force, accompanied by puppet troops and vassal troops, aiming at gaining the active position, winning some successes so as to increase their political influence and pushing us into a passive position, the defensive role. To confront the enemy´s new operations, we have to prepare on all aspects to counter-attack. We should consider the American troops´ attacks in the dry season good opportunities for us to destroy the American-puppet military force, especially American troops.
Counter-attacking when the enemy attacks means knowing well the methods of fighting the enemy outside their defense works. In order to do this, we have to know the situation well, prepare thoroughly the battleground and the forces, trap the enemy into the pre-arranged battle, grab opportunities, take the initiative to attack the enemy when they do not expect it. This method has a lot of advantages over attacking barracks and killing reinforcement troops. So as to the techniques, we do not conduct head-on attacks, but use more flexible techniques, such as attacking on the sides, exhausting the enemy troops, splitting them up to destroy them. The important thing is we have to coordinate well the three forces, know the combat situation, and the most important is have sufficient reserve force.
Along with plans for active counter-attacks, we must have plans for active attacking, as we did in the recent periods of winter-spring and spring-summer. But, in carrying out the plans of active attacking, which are usually attacking sites, killing reinforcement troops, if we do not have certain reserve force to throw in the battle at the concluding point, after our attack, the enemy may pull their force together and counter-attack us, forcing us to take a defensive position or retreat. This is what has often happened in the end in our campaigns, for example in Binh Gia and Dong Xoai, etc. Battles. If we had prepared a reserve force to deliver heavy blows in the last minutes, we would have achieved greater victories.
Grasping thoroughly the directions of attacking, active attacking for the sake of defense, is our view of strategies and combat methods in revolutionary war. Only when we have a thorough internalization of this view can we understand the content of our counter-attacking, can we see the ability to destroy American as well as puppet troops when they are in an operation outside their defense works and come into our mountain and forest areas. These are the battlegrounds where the enemy´s advantages of air fire and tankers are reduced, and where our soldiers can highly mobilize our combat morale and advantages in our combat methods and techniques.
To clarify further our methods of counter-attacking, I am discussing further the reserve force and guidelines for using the reserve force. Looking at the whole development, we acknowledge that in order to carry out a long-term war, we have to build our forces from small-scale to large-scale, in each area and over the whole national battleground; we have to use different combat forms from scattered guerrilla struggle to large-scale operations, wear out and destroy the enemy in small and large numbers; we have to build stronger and stronger technical reserve force as well as strategic reserve force.
In any battle or campaign using large or small numbers of troops, we have to prepare a reserve force to help us gain the active position and to ensure victory. Especially when fighting with American troops, we have to use the reserve force well to face with the possibility that the enemy attack suddenly with air force or with ground force coming through air way. Confronted with these strengths of the American troops, when counter-attacking the enemy, if we use a regiment, we should have at least one or two regiments as reserve, if we use one battalion, we should have at least one or two battalions as reserve, to fight with troops landing from the air. For us, the reserve force comprises not only of core troops, but also guerrillas. Guerrillas are a force of regular combat, and also a reserve force. When the enemy attack into our area, the guerrillas follow the enemy to fight with them. After our core force has counter-attacked, guerrilla teams may act as a reserve force, who continues to pursue the enemy. We not only need military reserve forces, but we also have to build strong political reserve forces which are to coordinate with our military forces to deliver the enemy with unexpected blows when we conduct all-out offensives, all-out insurrections. To preserve sources of our forces, the local party committees have to encourage the people to struggle with the enemy´s schemes and maneuvers of mobilizing people into their force.
In the upcoming time, the American troops will take advantage of the dry season to start the first counter-attacks to obtain some military and political victories, trying to stop the collapse of the puppet troops and the puppet power. We have to coordinate more tightly the battlegrounds, initiate our attacks and counter-attacks with the combat morale of Van Tuong, Binh Gia and Ba Gia, win resoundingly over the American troops in the dry season, to open a new struggle between our soldiers and our people with the US in the new period.
Though the American troops are in smaller numbers than the puppet troops, they have great fire-power, and bases with large supplies of modern war facilities, fuel and ammunition right in our country. Therefore, damaging the US´s bases, airports and large warehouses and wiping out large units of puppet troops and American troops is all valuable actions. There are 3 tactics to fight against the American troops inside and outside their military base:
- use special forces (commando) in combination with or without firepower and assault troops.
- shell from the outside
- use the guerrilla and local troops to make a belt outside their base
For the last few months, with these 3 tactics, we have destroyed and weakened the American troops´ energy and weapons a great deal. These tactics demonstrate the creativity, bravery and skillfulness in technique and strategy of our armed force. Therefore, we should promptly strengthen and encourage our soldiers to develop the above-mentioned tactics which, we hope, will further destroy the American troops, weapons and facilities; make it difficult for their transportation and force them to accept losing more soldiers in exchange for maintaining their military base.
Using special forces (commando) is our unique way of fighting. We should quickly increase the number of these commandos, train and organize them into a very professional corps which will be used to fight the enemy´s head office. It is important that we use specialized commando groups as well as strong explosives and common weapons to target at the enemy´s weapons and fuel storage, airports, ships, and places where a lot of American troops gather.
Recently, the American Commanding Staff in the South have come to a conclusion: with the level of accuracy of shelling and fighting in the Bien Hoa airport battle, VCs are able to attack any American military bases in the South. This statement proves the necessity to develop this war technique. We should organize and teach many units how to use all kinds of guns such as mortars, recoilless guns, cannons used in the mountain and other far-distance weapons for the purpose of further shelling the American military bases. With the weapons we already have and the new coming firepower, we will launch sudden attacks to win a major victory making it more confusing and difficult for the Americans to maintain their military base in the South.
Based on new ideas of the armed force in Da Nang, Chu Lai, it is necessary to expand the establishment of the guerrilla and local soldiers belt surrounding American military bases, using war techniques such as blockade, snipe and one-to-one fighting in order to weaken their energy and strength. This belt should be built thick, solid, with many layers to fight and shoot the enemy when they get out of their base to investigate. The guerrillas and local soldiers need good training so that they will be familiar with what is going on inside or outside the American military base, familiar with tactics and rules of working of the American troops; familiar with many kinds of weapons so as to kill each soldier and small unit of the enemy. When the opportunity comes, we can also use the special mobile troops to attack further into large units of the enemy.
Hand in hand with military war, it is important to educate and lead the populations living around the American military bases politically so as they will fight politically with the Americans. This is to curtail the mop-up operations of the American troops and protect the life and property of the people.
This upcoming spring and summer, we are aiming for killing about 10,000 Americans as already planned and for the next few years, we should at least kill 40,000 to 50,000 Americans. This is a new goal which will determine our victory. Along with trying to lessen the Americans´ strength, we should try to cause great loss for the American aircraft, at the same time, curb their activities. This is the common goal for both the North and the South, and thus an important step toward our victory.
In the North, our troops and people have fought very well, shooting down many American aircraft. In the South, although our air defense force is limited, our armed force has come up with many effective ways of fighting, shooting down many aircraft, burning many storage of weapons and fuel and thus put the enemy´s operations under control. It is important that we review and introduce experiences in shooting down American aircraft as well as in avoiding them; encourage units, corps and branches to rival with each other to shoot down more American aircraft.
Shooting down American aircraft must go together with shooting down American pilots. According to American pilots whom we arrested here in the North and other sources of documents, it is our strong firepower and the level of accuracy of shooting that the Americans are now short of knowledgeable pilots to operate the sophisticated kinds of aircraft in any weather and under any fighting condition. Thus, it is very important that we pay attention to arresting American pilots when their aircraft are shot down; we should also attack fiercely the airport and residence of these men.
3. Regarding the "Revolution" issue, a question is raised: Is there a possibility for a revolution if the U.S. government decides to bring in more troops to occupy some areas of the South ?
To make this issue more clear, we should first understand what "revolution" means and then, look back to see if there were any revolutions in the South over the last few years. Revolution means the uprising of the people in rural and urban areas by using their political power or military power, or both political power and military power, in order to overthrow the local authorities or central government. Revolution also means the rebel of large or small units of the enemy to take against the puppet government and be on our side.
If we all agree upon the definition of revolution like above, then over the last few years, in the South people and some units of the puppet troops have launched many revolutions. Most of these revolutions are based on political power in combination with military power of the people in mountainous areas of Division 5 and the Southern Delta in late 1959 and early 1960, winning local authorities. These are the first domestic revolutions. The uprising of people in the Delta of Division 5 is our second revolution. Generally speaking, that the majority of the rural people rise to destroy the strategic camps, oppression, and develop guerrilla war to deal with the enemy is very common and spread all over rural area of the South over the last few years. The uprising of urban people and movements of students, religious groups, working groups led to the replacement of the puppet government which something that the U.S. government does not want to happen. These can be considered trials for a real revolution in urban area. Another kind of revolution of small scale is the rebel of some small units of the puppet troops against their government and commanding staff, to take our side and joint the National Liberation Front.
If "revolution" is understood in this sense, then we will win a major victory in the upcoming months. Both the puppet and American troops are losing seriously, so why not the people in the temporarily-occupied areas and the puppet troops rise to have a revolution?
There is a possibility for a revolution like I just said. A realistic direction for us to win the war in the South is that we definitely have to have general attack. Indeed, it is important to smash the defense strength of the enemy in any revolution; on the contrary, if we want to destroy the enemy thoroughly, a general military attack must be assisted by various revolutions at different degrees of the people and soldiers. During the October Revolution of the Russians, workers and an important part of the Russian Royal army rose to rebel in many cities to win the political power under the instructions of the Communist party while the Russian army was losing substantially abroad. Our August Revolution was successful because the French and Japanese both lost in their battles and millions of people, under the guidance of our Party, unanimously rose to win the government throughout the country.
In the South, from late 1959 to early 1960, the uprisings of rural people were successful and are still going on because it is done hand in hand with the increasingly strong military attacks of the armed force in the form of guerrilla war. The reason why students´ movements in Hue, Da Nang and Sai Gon during the last few months did not transform into a revolution is because its lack of military attacks to destroy and smash the enemy to pieces, also these movements are not given guidelines by the Party.
At present, thousands of U.S. troops are brought in the South, however, in areas where the American troops are occupying, there is no reason to think that the people can not rise to rebel. A good example is the rebel of the Korean students against Ly Thua Van while there were thousands of American troops in Korea at that time.
Moreover, as I already analyzed above, the American troops will definitely fail to keep the puppet government and troops from losing seriously and they will be destroyed as well. In this case, people located next to the enemy and some of the puppet troops can rise to rebel. This is a realistic expectation, if local parties and authorities have good leadership of the political war and military proselytizing; combine these two techniques with military war to have enough strength in fighting with the enemy. And we call the combination of military attacks, uprisings of urban people and rebellions of some of the puppet troops for the purpose of overthrowing the puppet troops and ending the war is a general attack and revolution.
However, one difference from the August Revolution is that if the general attack will develop in the South during a period of time, including many attacks and many activities, the uprisings of the people in urban areas and rebellions of the puppet troops will also occur during a period of time through many rebellions and struggles. The reality of the South´s revolutionary situation and our knowledge of historic war experience of other countries have demonstrated the necessity and possibility of combining military attacks with political war in order to succeed in this war.
Therefore, we should not think simply that the revolution will happen all at once and briskly like during the August Revolution; but it is important that we learn from the August Revolution a significant lesson to be applied to the Southern revolution at the new development stage. That is to combine military with political war.
With such concept, I completely agree with you and our colleagues of Division 5 that, though the U.S. government brings thousands of troops in, it is still possible for us to launch a general attack and revolution. In cities or provincial towns how we are going to combine the revolution with military attacks depends on the situation in each geographic area. In small provincial towns where there are a lot troops of the enemy like Tay Nguyen, we may rely mainly on military attacks with the help of people. In densely populated areas with a small number of troops of the enemy, rebellions of the people in combination with military attacks at certain degree play a decisive role. In provincial towns where a lot of troops occupy, it is essential to combine military attacks and people´s rebellions well. In Sai Gon, Hue, Da Nang, where there large populations and troops of the enemy reside in, our troops can pull them to our places and attack them, at the same time, with good organization of our forces, assistance from the armed force from the suburban, and mutiny of the puppet troops, the people can rise to siege control of every part of the city, and set up a government of the people in a appropriate form.
Here, I only want to outline our general goals, general attacks and revolution will surely develop much more interestingly and variably than what I planned here, as the people´s creativity is unlimited in any revolution.
The war in the South is developing at a fast pace. We always have to understand the situation, especially changes which may make a turning point. Not all the time, we estimate the development process of things accurately, but we can be in control of the situation. That´s because on a daily basis, we are guiding the war based on our war rules, at the same time, on the enemy´s intentions that we guess.
I would like to spend time in this part discussing issues related to our upcoming tasks, however, before going into detail, I would like to reiterate the building of guerrilla bases to create a battlefield to destroy the enemy in the mountainous areas including Phuoc Long, Phuoc Thanh, Quang Duc, Lam Dong. I many times stress with the Central Committee that the mountainous area is an important strategic location for our defense as well as attack. We should put efforts in building this place into a very solid guerrilla base making it convenient to protect the Central Committee and ensure the guidance of the Central Committee and into a battlefield, where our main armed force can obliterate the enemy a whole lot, at the same time put the Sai Gon regime under a heavy pressure.
At present, this area is facing a number of difficulties such as the scattered population, lack of food and transportation. But because of its strategic location, we must overcome these difficulties. We need to get more people from deltas here to self-produce food, at the same time, turn them into small guerrilla or local troop units. This is can be achieved if we determine to get the populations that the enemy is trying to gather to place in their occupied area. By doing so, we will create a rear with people, food, armed force and semi-armed force at spot as our reserve force.
Besides bringing more people and pushing for self-production, we should try to get more rice from the Cambodian markets, and organize better transportation for the rice. We will try to open more roads so as to increase the amount of weapons carried from the North to overcome logistics difficulties for this area as well as for the whole area of the South.
When developing the Resolution of the Politburo, it is important to pay attention to the followings:
1. At present, it is imperative to gain and have control in the battlefield. We should always attack and self-defense at the same time; increasingly expand our authorities of the mountainous, rural, delta areas leading to have control over some parts of urban and suburban. If we want to gain and keep control, we must arrange the armed and political forces suitably. Coordinate different battlefields, spread thin the American and puppet troops to attack easily; blockade, divide their troops to destroy easily; ruin the enemy´s major and small transportation routes; at the same time, concentrate and move our armed force to destroy every large unit of the American and puppet troops.
2. To coordinate different battlefields, it is important to understand the location of strategic areas, our target objects and assign tasks appropriate to each battlefield. The battlefield in the delta is due to wear the enemy´s troops out, destroy and curtail them, preserve the reserves of people and assets for us. The battlefield in the mountainous area is due to weaken and curb the enemy, mainly the American main force and puppet troops, at the same time perfect and expand our guerrilla base. In each small battlefield, it is important to determine where and which unit is in charge if spreading the enemy thin, curbing and destroying them, and which one is in charge of weakening their energy. For example, in the delta, our guerrillas, local soldiers and political force of the people are supposed to curb, destroy the enemy´s troops in certain areas so that the provincial soldiers and the main force can destroy and wear them out in another area. In the mountainous area, the question is how to coordinate between wearing out and destroying the enemy, between the main and minor battlefields. For example, the Thi-Thien mountainous area of Division 6 is responsible for spreading the enemy thin, curbing them so that our main force under the auspices of the Commanding Staff and Division 5 can destroy the enemy in the mountainous area in Division 7 and Tay Nguyen.
3. Coordinate 3 types of troops, apply our various tactics and warfare techniques. Here, I will not repeat ways of coordinating different troops and forms of tactics but only emphasize the importance of these issues. Reality in the South has showed that our people´s armed force can wear out and destroy the enemy regardless who they are and where they are stationed. And even the enemy admitted that our military is about the best in the world. That´s because our people´s armed force, besides having a wonderful fighting spirit and strong political belief, can coordinate 3 different kinds of army, knowing how to apply various tactics and warfare tactics suitable for the people of Vietnam and the country itself. Saying that does not mean that all the army units fight well everywhere at any time. The truth is our people´s armed force is not developed evenly in terms of number and quality. Some localities and units make mistakes in fighting. We should gear up all our efforts to build all kinds of well-equipped troops and forces, strengthen political, ideological education, and military training. Especially, we should gradually review and draw a lesson about people´s war, guerrilla war, especially experience in ways of fighting, so that we can promptly introduce these experiences to increase fighting capacity of all the battlefields and units.
4. Control the reserve force and know how to defeat the enemy suddenly. In part II, I already talked about the reserve force, therefore here I only remind you of considering it as a rule in using troops within the scope of a battlefield, an operation or in each battle. Knowing how to defeat the enemy suddenly is an important factor for an eventual victory. This is a warfare tactic which every commander should be familiar with. Defeating the enemy suddenly does not mean that we win a victory by chance or luck, but it involves ideas, preparations and plans in advance in order to overcome all difficulties. Our belief in the revolution must be absolute and our will to win must be high. To defeat the enemy suddenly, we should, tactically, train combating units well; keep our tactical strategy confidential; promptly discover the enemy´s bases; use tactical maneuvers, control and use the reserve force; know when to begin and end fighting. To defeat the enemy suddenly, tactically, we must keep our strategic guidelines and intentions confidential; know how to build the reserve force within the main force; at the same time, build a reserve force within the political force in large urban. Furthermore, we have to grasp the opportunity, take advantage of the opportunity when the enemy is nervous and falling apart in the battlefield or when the U.S. government and the puppet government are in crisis politically and economically.
5. Thoroughly carry out the policy of fighting the enemy both politically and militarily. The issue of attacking the enemy militarily is discussed extensively above, therefore, I just talked about the possibility and necessity to strengthen the political war. Reality shows that even though the U.S. brings in more troops to Vietnam, it is possible that they will fail to weaken our political power. In fact, our political power is likely to be enhanced and the U.S. will be isolated and fail miserably. Recent reports of the Commanding Committee of Division 5 proved that statement. Reasons for such a possibility to be real are:
- The more troops the U.S. brings in, the more military bases it builds, the larger area it occupies, the more sophisticated weapons it uses, the more bomb B.52 it throws, the more chemical poisons it uses, the worse the conflict between our people and them becomes, the more our people hate them.
- Though the U.S. is pushing the war harder, they still follow the neo-colonism policy. As our people are very experienced and conscious, they can unveil the enemy´s tricks and mistakes so as to strengthen the political war.
- The more troops the U.S. brings in, the more conflict the puppet government will have making their political, economic and financial situations more difficult; the cost of living of the people in their occupied area is rising; this will induce the people to rise to fight against them.
- The U.S. brings in more troops hoping to win and improve the spirit of the puppet troops and government, but the U.S. troops are losing to the extent that they start talking about negotiations, therefore, conflict between the American and puppet governments is on the rise, the puppet troops are now deteriorating.
- That the U.S. government escalates the war in the South and expands the scope of their bombing in the North will lead the American people and open-minded people in the world to oppose the war more.
Thus, through political war, especially in urban area, we may and should try to gather all classes of people, attract good people in the puppet troops to be part of the war against the Americans, help the country, build a unified nation, target at the American imperialists and Vietnamese traders.
6. Quickly build a political force in the urban area and strengthen our activities in the urban area. First, build an essential force, including the Party´s organizations and people´s groups in each locality and village so that we can easily hide our forces. Try to transform people to party members at spot, at the same time select some party members in the rural area and move them to the urban area. Arrange for party members and patriotic people like young people, students and women to operate in every street, market, school, religious group especially Buddhist group and attract people to appropriate organizations. Rely on the party members and patriotic people, actively build secret guerrilla troops, commandos, special mobile troops and ambush forces to attack the enemy militarily. To attract people and improve the movements in the urban area, it is important to study and create suitable slogans which may divide the puppet troops, at the same time, recruit many people. For instance, anti-terrorism, anti-arresting soldier slogans, anti-chemical poisons, anti-B52 slogans and anti-American involvement in the Vietnam war slogans; demand the establishment of a civil government represented by many political and religious groups.
7. Further strengthen the propaganda among the puppet troops. For the puppet troops, it is important to understand our new policy: target at the American invaders and traders; isolate the cruel officers, convince a large number of people including units to be on our side, or be quiet. Our goal is to divide the puppet troops so that even though they are large in number, only a few of them fight against us fiercely; and though we have fewer troops, we can focus to combat the most stubborn puppet troops and the Americans. By doing so, we already create favorable conditions to unify the farmers, workers and soldiers which will lead to the establishment of some neutral army units during the internal rebellions and later during the general attack and uprisings. For the time being, we should pay attention to calling for the puppet soldiers to go home and make a living, or when fighting with us, join us, or shoot at the puppet troops and bring weapons to us. For puppet officers, it is necessary to increase secret exchange; arrange some important bases to lie in ambush for a long time. Try to persuade some battalions, regiments to leave the puppet troops, be on our side; we will maintain their units and promote officers. Coordinate military and political acts. We should stimulate the populations to propaganda among the puppet troops so as to accelerate their falling-apart. At present, some localities in the South are confused about how to handle the prisoners of war and the fact that more puppet troops are joining us. To solve this problem, we should try to implement 3 tasks as follows:
b¬Bring them back to work in local liberated areas
c¬Recruit some puppet troops or assign them to production units. We should not release the puppet troops prisoners back to their occupied areas as we did before in order to prevent them from being arrested. Of course, for dangerous and cruel men, we must detain them for re-education.
For the American troops and its allies, it is important we let them know that the war is a unjust war for the purpose of invading Vietnam, and that the Vietnamese people and the American people do not have any resentment or conflict. We should try to show them our cooperative attitudes so that they are less cruel and aggressive with our people. Throw leaflets. These leaflets should not be long; we only need to quote what the American papers say about the war and how they oppose the war so that the American soldiers know the truth.
Besides, we should try to arrest many American prisoners of war, and learn how to deal with them. Everything ranging from arresting, managing, educating them, to daily treatment should comply with our set policy. We must strengthen our Party´s guidance over this matter.
8. Determine to defeat the American invaders. We have to encourage all Party members, people, soldiers to try their best to overcome difficulties to destroy a few thousand American soldiers and 50,000 thousand puppet troops; at the same time, ready to fight to the end if the U.S. brings in a few thousand troops more to escalate the war in the South and expand the war throughout the country. Especially pay attention to educating people politically so that they will hate the enemy deeply. We should make it clear about our Party´s guidelines and that we are determined to fight to the end mainly by ourselves and have great confidence in the final victory.
9. Encourage people to contribute to the resistance and pay attention to improving the people´s energy to fight. Within the area that we have control over, it is important that we increase production at the same time protect production. Especially, we should try to increase the rice productivity by 50% and enhance the people´s contribution to the resistance. Bring the people from the delta to the mountainous area to help produce rice, corn, cassavas; at the same time try purchase and transport rice from the delta and foreign markets, to ensure food for the soldiers. It is important to think about how much the people should contribute to the resistance. In the South, I am not sure how much it is but in Division 5, the contribution is quite heavy. Given that the enemy is moping up, destroying and oppressing, if we demand much contribution from the people, they may not sustain it for a long time. To lessen the contribution from the people, over the past years, the Central Committee has been trying to meet the financial requirement of the war in the South. However, our financial resources here are limited, please be thrifty. The issue of providing enough weapons and bullets for the battlefields is of primary concern of the Central Committee and military agencies out here. We are trying to take advantage of all resources within or outside the country, at the same time, overcome difficulties in transportation from the North to the South. Particularly in the South, you should instruct and consolidate the transportation of goods to its destination. Besides, I recommend you pay attention to saving bullets and weapons, at the same time try to get weapons and bullets from the enemy for us.
I have just explained to you some more issues. If there is anything that you disagree, please let us know so that we can discuss further. Good health and victory. B.A. (Le Duan)
Translation by Robert K. Brigham and Le Phuong Anh.