NORTH VIETNAMESE ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF VAN TIEN DUNG ON DRV MILITARY STRATEGY

Created: 7/18/1967

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NORTH VIETIWESE ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF VAN TIEM tXJNG

ON DRV MILITARY STRATEGY

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article by North Vietnamese Army Chief of Staff Lt. Oen. Van Tien Dung, published in the June magazine of the DRV army organBAH DAH, presents an analysis of the air-defense war which la notable for its directness and Dung echoes his past articles in vigorously defending Vietnamese "people's war" tactics. He describes foreign assistance as "very important" and says it has never been so great, but he argues forcefully against uncritical acceptance of foreign military doctrine or dependence on modern weapons alone. The article is generally consistent with positions Dung has taken before on foreign aid, modern weapons, and indigenous military theory; what prompted the exposition of his views at thia time and, specifically, what bearing the article may have on developments in DRV relations with the Soviet Union are left unclear.

Dung's article..la. alsoFhaBia..on the close link ^between, the war in the Horth and the war in the South. Dung inaistsjihat the "war .of. destruction" against the Horth wl!Il"'end' onlyaafter the "war of aggression" in South Vietnam incompletelythesis only rarely voiced-by DRV leaders in the past. Dung's stress on this point now raises questions about his attitude toward DRV Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh's suggestion last JanuaryDRV talks mightalt in the bombing.

Hanoi media gave Dung's article extensive publicity,it in installments in the domestic service fromoune. IHftH DAH published it onhn, and the VIETNAM HEWS AGENCY transmitted lt onndune. Prior articles by Dung publicized in Hanoi media sinceU are listed in the appendix to this report.

CALL FOR BASIC RELIANCE ON PEOPLE'S WAR, BACKED BY BLOC AID

In hie latest article Dung repeats the standard DRV position that North Vietnam must rely mainly on its own strength in the war, while at the same time "striving to struggle for international assistance." The DRV's response. air attacks, according to Dung, has been based on the traditional Vietnamese strategy

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of people's war. Ha maintains that the party's "creativeof people's var in the new circumstances of the "war of destruction" has not only marked an advance in the party's theory of people's war but has also "brought some sharp changes in current military theory applied by many developed countries of the worldthe theory concerning the role of an air force, missiles, and various means and methods against modern weapons and means."

Dung asserts that while "reality has shown that we must and can,limited extent, equip our people's armed forces withand means such as jet aircraft andt thelt has also demonstrated that "jet aircraft and missilesomnipotent" or suitable to all conditions. Therefore, heparty has not Just built up its air force and missilehas developed air-defense artillery of all sites andthe effectiveness of infantry arms to copedds polemically that "this is not an unusual phenomenon, buttime and even today it has caused great surprise to manytheoreticians who have blindly revered modern weapons_: --

Dung claims not only that the DRV has developed an original strategy of air defense, but that the DRV armed forces have createdclever, and versatile" combat methods and tactics. "Even our air force and missilee saya, "can creatively develop our original Vietnamese combat methods which are suitable to Vietnamese conditions and are not dogmatic and imitative." Dung doesthat the armed forces have "learned the techniques and experience of the fraternalnd he says "we must study and grasp some scientific and technical knowledge to be able to properly use the new weapons andut he argues that "the basic problem deciding the success of air defense lies first of all in the thorough understanding and execution of the party's guideline on the direction of people's wariew to creating original offensive and defensive methods for our air-defense forces."

Aa IHAlf DAH article had contained one of Dung's most extensive defenses of traditional Vietnamese military doctrine against unnamed domestic and foreign opponents who, be argued, put undue emphasishe DRV's need for modern weapons. Inrtlcle Dung pointed out the need to modernize the DRV armed forces, but his main quarrel was with those who "advocate purely military and technical actions, praise modern techniques and weaponry, and reduce the importance of the political factor, the

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morale factor, and the masses." Be was particularly critical of those who rejected Vietnamese experience and sought guidance from foreign military doctrines.

In hisprior to the air war and the Inception of large-scale bloc militaryexpressed much stronger opposition than he does in his more recent writings to reliance on foreign countries for weapons as well as strategy. Rather than acknowledging, as he does now in effect, that socialist countries will help supply necessary modern arms,k he advocated reliance on the DRV economy "to solve the problems of weaponry and armaments for our army." He explained that "with the spirit of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and with the help of socialist countries, we are gradually realizing the socialist industriallration of our country in North Vietnam" and that "our industry will create the conditions under which it can supply and modernize our amy."

Dung'sk article aeeaed pointed at theonth after Pham Van Dong's visit to Moscow to meet the new Soviet leaders and two months before Kosygin's visit to Hanoi for talks on Sovlet-BRV relations and Soviet assistance. But be also directly reprimanded Vietnamese "comrades" who "follow the fighting techniques of an army which is well equipped with modern weapons" and who are therefore "busy with calculations of how toun, how to calculate the forceain army in the confrontation with another main army, and so forth." He condemned them for "falling to see the realistic economic, topographical, material, and technical factors in using weapons and armaments of our own army and forces" and for "wanting to use the fighting standardsoreign regular army and apply then to our army* and henceour own precious experiences of the past and the present In South Vietnam." While admonishing that we should learn from the experiences of our fraternalung said the learning should be "selective."

In the more than two years since the start of. air strikes at the DRV, Dungwith less candor and less polemically than in his latestthe question of the role of modern weapons and laid claim to the use of "unique" Vietnamese air defenses. For example,5 KHAN DAH article he reasoned as follows In explainingelatively weak North Vietnam was able to "defeat" the United States' modern tactics and technical means:

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Our amed forces and people hare heightened the absolutespirit and have used the collective strength and collective intelligence to discover and apply the highly skillful, creative, and clever tactics that are unique to Vletnaa. These tactics rely on the strength of the combative spirit and have fully used and developedigh degree all kinds of our weapons and means to limit the strong point and exploit the weak point of aircraft, warships, and various kinds of modern techniques, such aa. Air force's guided missiles.

In an article in the6 HOC TAP Dung also alluded briefly to the dangers of dogmatism in military doctrine, declaring that "lt is necessary to base oneself continuously on the principle ofeak force totronger one and to overcome all tendencies to rely on weapons, totrong force to striketrong force, and to apply fighting techniques mechanically and dogmatically." In the same article Dung compared the party's "military science of people's war" with the United State's "rotten bourgeois military art" and claimed that it was the "science" of people's war which allowed DRV pilots with no previous combat experience to. planes and helped the militia shoot. jets with rifles.

ANALYSIS OF. WAR AGAINST THE NORTH

Maintaining that successful prosecution of the war dependsorrect understanding of the enemy's plans and capabilities. Dung proceeds to discuss. position in some detail. In general terms, he ssys that since the United States is fighting an "unjust" war against an Independent country belonging to the socialist camp, it has become "politically Isolated" and has been forced to limit Its military actions and to resort to "deceptive political and diplomatic tricks." In fact, he says, the "basic weakness" of. Air Force is its inability to "freely develop itshich is "restricted" by the political Isolation of the United States. While Dung does not spell out the view that the United States la inhibited by the power of the bloc, be suggests this in stating that "the present balance of the international forces" is one of the factors forcing. Air Force to "escalate step by step" and preventing it from "attacking the Horth massively and swiftly through strategic, large-scale, and surprise bombing."

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I Dung also cites the DRV's "strong resistance" and allegedn. military capacity aa factors inhibiting. aire repeats the optimistic view, periodically expressed intatements, that tbe number. aircraft is "limited, aircraft losses have surpassed productivethe number of bombs land sheila isprofessional pilots have graduallylost and the shortage of pilots has become serious, and,articular,. Navy has to employ the pilots oftrategic defense"

- Dung had addressed himself to similar questions in his5 KHAN DAK article and concluded, among other things, that

. imperialists have the habit of boasting that they are rich in money, veapons, ammunition, and planes. But their Strategic Air Force ia limited. . Imperialists* losses in planes and pilots have reflected their heavyin the military field.

LINK BnWEEN THE WARS IN THE NORTH AND IN THE SOUTH

In his latest article. Dung says more explicitly than he has Inwritings that there will be no end to the air strikes against the Berth until after the United States is completely defeated in the South.* Since the "enemy" has not "resigned himself to being defeated in thehe argument runs, "he certainly does not yet renounce bis plots and acts of destroying the Forth." Dung's past writings have reflected the view that the war in the South governs the course. actions against North Vietnam and have conveyed strong opposition to any tendency to divorce the two In his article published in HHANung said that along with fighting In the Horth, "wholehearted support" Bhould be given to the South and that the defeat of the United States and "liberation of South Vietnam" would bring about the defeat of. war against the North.

Dung maintains Id his latest article that the problem of insuring communications and transportation is the "central task" of all the

* This position baa rarely been spelled out by DRV leaders. It was, however, taken by DRV Defense Minister Vo Nguyen Giap in an article for the5 Issue of the party Journal TUYExi HUAN (FflOPAGAHDA ANDs well aa by Hong Chuong, editor of the party theoretical Journal HOC TAP,OC TAP

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party and people. And be claims that "in defiance of enemy attacks, we have considerably Increased the assistance of the great rear to the great" North Vietnamese spokesmen rarely claim so directly that the DRV is increasing assistance to the South. For example, an article under the pseudonym Truong Son, also published In the7 QUAfi DOI NHAN DAN magaxlne, attributed to Western nevB reports the statement that North Vietnam was giving "greater and more effective assistance" to the South. And an? Lao Dong Central Committee circular for Kay Day, published In NHAN DAN onpril and carried by VNA onh, said Bomevhat ambiguously that "in North Vietnam the armed forces and peoplencreasing their economic and national defense potential to defeat. war of destruction, and at the same time are making every effort to increase the forces for the South Vietnam revolution."

In hisL KHAN DAN article. Dung had attacked opponents who he apparently believed were too concerned with the safety of the North and who may have counseled against too great Involvement in the South. Dung declared then that

we oppose those who want peace but who refuse to countenance war; those who only consider the situation of North Vietnam without considering South Vietnam, too; those who only see the rear without seeing the front also; and those who only pay attention to building up and training the army without grasping the notion that the army must be ready for combat and must also fight hard. We should criticize and overcome attitudes which reflect pacifism and relaxation in combat determination and readiness and vigilance. *"

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ATTACK ONORECASTS OF MILITARY VICTORY

Dung's stress on the notion that the "war of destruction" will end only when the Americans are defeated in the South seemswith theanuary suggestion by DRV Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trlnh, in his responseuestion from Australian Journalist Wilfred Burehett,DRV talks might follow an unconditional halt in. air strikes against the North. Dung says "we must never slacken our vigilance, we must combat all Illusions and tendencies toward taking temporary action andait-and-see attitude, and we must protect and strengthen ourn order torotracted fight." receding passage, Dung ssys that "recently the enemy at times has de-escalated, and in the future he may at times de-escalate, and he bas also stopped

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bombing at various periods." Aad be goes on to claim that theecause of bis military setbacks, vas forced "to conduct peychological warfare and to spread the illusion about peaceful negotiations."

Dung's remarks may simplyifference in emphasis, deriving from his roleilitary loader, rather than Indicatingto foreign Minister Trinh's suggestion. It could be argued that Trinh's proposal wasesture aimed at world public opinion and that the DRV leadership was in basic agreement in assuming that the United States would not stop bombing the DRV while the war continues on its present course In the South. But the thrust of Dung's remarks seem polemical; and it should be noted that bis writings have consistently warned against "illusions" about negotiations and have stressed, more than Is usual inilitary victory over the United States la possible. One of Dung's bitterest attacka on the idea of negotiations was In his5 SHAN DAN article:

U.S. military activities can Intimidate only chicken-hearted people. Their "good will for peace" can deceive only those who do notevolutionary spirit oremlrevolu-tlonary spirit, but cannot deceive and intimidate our people who know too well the intimate thoughts of the imperialists and who have gloriously defeated any aggressor. At this time, to let ourselves ba trapped by the "peace negotiations" of the Americans is to let them continue to massacre our people, partition our country forever, and prepare for furtherthe war.

While this statement does not rule out negotiations at some later date, aubsequent articles by Dung seem in effect to foreclose the possibilityegotiated settlement at any time by stressing that the communists canilitary victory in South Vietnam. This view had been expounded by Dung in an article in the6 QUAN DOI NHAN DAN, broadcast in the domestic service onarch and belatedly transmitted by VNA onay. Dungin that article that the South Vietnamese "army and people" had created "dependable conditions" which would "leadilitarynder any circumstances." The article was devoted to an analysis of the balance of forces in Vietnamto prove this point, and it concluded that confidence in Vietnamese ability to defeat the United States both militarily and politically "is firmly baaed on scientic knowledge and haa been confirmed by facts."

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expressed similar views in an article in the party Journal HOC TAP in April of this year. Asking rhetorically whether the Vietnamese "people" would defeat the United States militarily. Dung stated that the military victories of the people's war in the South and throughout the country have made it unmistakably clear that in Vietnam. imperialists have sustained and are sustaining heavy military defeats and will surely face complete defeat." He added that the Vietnamese experiencetruth of our era": mall nation "is fully able to. imperialism"

Dung's Insistence that air strikes will end only. defeat In the South caeca against the background of periodic repetitions in Eanoi propaganda of the Trinh formulaessation of bombing withDRV talks. The formula appeared most recently inune account9 Hay Trinh Interview with Japanese Journalists.* Most notably, the editorial in the April HOCon the occasion of the second anniversary of the DRV's fourquoted Trinh's statement and declared that it "clearly repeated the unchanged stand of our government and people and reflected our government's good will for peace." An article by Trinh in the same issue of the Journal did not directly spell out the substance of his January remark, but Trinh complained that the United States was calling for reciprocal action before it would agree to stop bombing, despite the fact that "onanuary we pointed out once again our extremely correct stand and attitude." Trinh's remarks in the HOC TAP article on the efficacy of negotiations under proper circumstances stand in sharp contrast to Dung's stress on avictory. Trinh wrote:

When the time and place for peace negotiations are right, the revolutionary vanguard must weigh and eklllfully coordinate various aspects of the struggle for peace. As Lenin taught us. It is necessary tolearsighted patience and to be extremely objective, to ponder many factora at home and In the world, and, at the same time to take into account also the experience acquired by various revolutionary movements.

* DRV media have not mentioned an intervieworrespondent of the Austrian CP organ VOLKSSTIMME, published inuly issue of that paper, in which Trinh is reported to have recalled the formula.

Dung's statement in his latest article that "the military,and diplomatic offensives of the people's war in both parts of

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our country are coordinated more and more smoothly and closely,developedeems noteworthy in the light oftreatments of Trinh's January formula in North andcommunist media. The South Vietnam Liberation Frontacknowledge the substance of Trinh's proposal. IBERATION PRESS AGENCY interview with Vicethe NFLSV Central Committee Presidium fiuynh Tan Phat inpurported to support Trinh's statements but in factthe exchangeDRVhe only knownFront propaganda of the formula linking. talks withcessation of the air strikes was in Liberationof the text of Ho Chi Minh's February letter to Front comment on Ho's letter did not raise the.

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APPENDIX

ARTICLES BY GEN. VAN TIEN DUNG PUBLICIZED BY HANOI

Column tvo Indicates those DRV media vhlch are known to have carried the articles; It cannot be takes as an exhaustive listing of all media in which every article appeared. The references to "radio" indicate dissemination by tbe Hanoi radio in Vietw

TRANSLATION

"Some Great Experiences of the People's War Defeating. Imperialists' War of

QUAI DOI IHAI DAN magazine, June

l6 June, NHAHune;une

FBIS2 June

Greatly Victorious in the Military Plaid, theArmed Forces and PeopleSuraly Defeat. Imperialists' Aggressive War"

TAP, April

pril; VNA,pril; HKAN DAN, QUAN DOI NHAN DAN

FBISpril

Shall Certainly Win" [on tbe alleged downing of. plane]

"Having Beenre Being Defeated Militarily In South Vietnam"

ay

ay

QUAI DOI SHAN DAN,arch

radio,arch; VNA,ay

FBIS Daily9 May

FBIS Daily5 April anday

TITLE

AVAILABLE TRANSLATION

(continued!

Anted Forces and People Have Won, Are Winning, and Will Surely and Completely Win Over. Aggressors"

TAP, February

Dally Report,arch

Principles of Combat leader- QUAN DOI NHAN DAS,

ecember

ship and Settle the Relationship Betveen the Demand Forof the Enemy and Protection of Our Positions and the Demand for Maintenance and Improvement of Our Forces"

6

Are Determined to Defeat the War of Destruction of. Imperialists"

"Thoroughly Understand the People's War Line of the Party in Order to beto Defeat. Imperialist Aggressors"

"Let Us Fulfill the Task5 of Consolidating Our Militia and Self-defense Corps andeserve Force"

"Adhere to the Party'sin Buildup and Combat Readiness of the Armed Forces"

DOI NHAN DAN magazine, August

NHANugust

HOC TAP, August

QUAN DOI NHAN DAN,anuary

NHAN DAN, 19

FBIS Daily Report,eptember

,eptember

arch

,

5

of Experiences in Building the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Our Party"

TAP, September

Daily Report,ctober

coKFrnHTZAL

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