Monday, September 15, 2008
This term was originally applied by Diem’s regime to Communist troops left in hideouts in South Vietnam (about 10,000) after the Geneva Conference of 1954.
The term also appeared in newspapers in Saigon beginning in 1956.
The Viet cong, in full Vietnam Congsan (Vietnamese Communists in English), were trained and supported by the government of communist North Vietnam.
The official Vietnamese history gives the group’s name as the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam or the Liberation Army of South Vietnam. Many writers shorten this to NLF (National Liberation Front).
The Vietcong were grouped into three categories: regular forces operating under the command of the communist leadership in the South, full time guerillas organized into companies serving under provincial leadership, and then a part time self-defense militia, composed of units orgnized into platoons and squads used primarily for village defense.
In order to counter that, the US troops tried to clear the villages by simply burning them down. Napalm and poisonous defoliant were also used to clear the forests that provided cover. By using these methods, over 1 million civilians were killed.
The Vietcong avoided destruction by digging and moving into tunnels. And attempts by US forces to clear those tunnels were extremely dangerous and usually led to death or injury.
Communist forces were armed with Soviet and Chinese weaponry. Many of Vietcong guerrilla units were often equipped with Western infantry weapons either captured from ARVN units or requisitioned through illicit purchase or from French stocks during the first Indochina war.
The Chinese versions of the Russian AK-47 submachine guns were used by most main force Vietcong troops by mid-1960s. They also used a range of effective Chinese and Soviet medium and light machine guns, and infrequently, heavy machine guns.
Many of their well-known war tactics include setting booby traps and landmines, ambushing US patrols, guerrilla war, and planting bombs in towns.
The Vietcong’s best-known action was the Tet Offensive – it riveted the attention of the world’s media for weeks. They attacked cities, towns and villages in the South.
The organization was disbanded in 1976, after South and North Vietnam united under communist rule.
at 11:53 AM