Vo Nguyen Giap is acknowledged as one of history's great generals and in honour of his 100th birthday today, Viet Nam News publishes excerpts written by Viet Nam People's Army Colonel Ho Ngoc Son that help explain his military genius.
General Vo Nguyen Giap visits the northern province of Dien Bien in 2004 on the 50th anniversary of the victory against the French at the Dien Bien Phu Battle. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
General Giap's renown can be attributed to five major reasons:
His status as an expert in people's wars of national liberation in both Viet Nam and the world.
The war policy of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and the Ho Chi Minh Military Policy emphasised the importance of launching a comprehensive and long-lasting people's war of resistance.
People's war requires the building of an armed force consisting of guerrillas, a local army and regular army with the regular army playing the key role.
Weapons are the most important factor, yet personnel and politics are also decisive. It is important to launch guerrilla warfare combined with conventional war with tactics that use the weak to fight the strong; a small force to fight a big force, and an elite force to fight a major force.
Gen Giap conducted the people's war in Viet Nam in a very creative way. He gave the political training of his soldiers special attention. A deep love of their homeland and loyalty to the revolution ideology made the soldiers ready to sacrifice their lives for national freedom.
In addition, the solidarity between the soldiers and people was akin to that of water and fish.
Gen Giap successfully combined the military struggle with the political, economic, diplomatic and cultural struggle to achieve victories on two fronts – the war of resistance and national construction.
At the front, the Viet Nam's People's Army deployed the strategy of military and politics; armed attacks with the political struggle of the people, and agitation among enemy troops.
The battle could take place anywhere: the mountains, the deltas or urban areas. In the rear, the focus was on building a strong foundation for the front. The Vietnamese people's war reached a peak of the military arts. One of its major victories was that it defeated and foiled the many war strategies of the strong 20th-century imperialists.
|President Nguyen Minh Triet, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong yesterday wished General Vo Nguyen Giap good health and longevity on his 100th birthday. |
The leaders showed their deep gratitude for the general and his contributions to the struggle for national liberation and re-unification, as well as national construction and defence.
They affirmed the Party, State and people's determination to build the country and reach the goal of a prosperous people, a strong nation, and an equitable, democratic and civil society.
Gen Giap's scientific ideology for the building of the armed forces was very special, creative and comprehensive.
Starting from zero, Gen Giap formed many fighting and logistics units in a poor, backward country. He was successful in gathering around him many talented people from the rank and file who were able to perform their duties well in any circumstances. Gradually, these units were built into the elite Vietnamese people's armed forces. It was the general who initiated the idea of building the Truong Son Trail, also known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail, as well as the "sea route" between northern and southern Viet Nam.
Armed forces units walked thousands of kilometres to the battle fronts. Communications and transport were very rudimentary. People were the means of supplying logistics and ammunition from the rear to the front. The logistics of the Middle Ages defeated the modern logistics of the United States and France.
Gen Giap's judgement in selecting the enemy's weakest point for attack was acute.
Gen Giap was very careful about comparing enemy strengths with that of the revolutionary forces.
He never underestimated enemy strength. His tactic was to begin with small-scale attacks. He identified the enemy's greatest weakness was that their war was unjust. They were not used to Viet Nam's climate; their knowledge of the country's geography did not match that of revolutionary forces and they did not have the support of the people. In a people's war, every one, including the old and the young, are freedom fighters. Rudimentary weapons, ranging from a piece of wood, bamboo and even paddy leaves, can be used to attack the enemy. Gen Giap always forced the enemy to change their tactics and follow his way of fighting.
The world's acknowledgement of Gen Giap as a teacher of military strategy and tactics.
Gen Giap never made mistakes in his military strategy in more than 30 years as military commander. Acting in accord with the leadership of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and directly from President Ho Chi Minh and the Politburo, he forced 10 French and US generals to commit strategic errors that led to their defeat.
The seven French generals were Philippe Leclerc, Ea'tienne Va LLuy, C. Blaijot, M. Cargentier, Delattre de Tassigny, Raoal Salan,and Henri Navarre, and the three US generals were W.C. Westmoreland, C. Abrams and F.C. Weyand.
Gen Giap studied the military doctrine of the proletarian and capital classes as well as the Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War; China's war against Japan; Clausewitz's military theory and Napoleon's battles. He successfully applied the results of his studies to the wars against the French colonialists and the US imperialists. His military and literary works have helped the world's military historians understand people's war and identify why the French and the American invaders were defeated.
Gen Giap did not attend any military schools. He learned from reality. His judgements were based on facts. His theory of "the decisive battle" in military doctrine has drawn the special attention of military strategists and researchers.
He said "We could defeat the enemy when it had large numbers of well-equipped troops. We could also defeat the enemy even when they thought that they would win the battle if we had adopted sounds tactics based in reality." His doctrine "decisive battle" at Dien Bien Phu in 1954; the "Dien Bien Phu of the air" in 1972, and the Ho Chi Minh Campaign in 1975 proved the success of his tactics.
Gen Vo Nguyen Giap's very special characteristics.
For Gen Giap homeland, the nation and the Party are the most important. He has always been alert to difficulties and challenge.
He has always put the interest of the nation and the people above all. He has done his best to narrow the divergence and contradictions so as to overcome mistakes and errors that might harm his homeland and the nation.
He is a general with genius military talent and virtue that has won him high prestige among the army and people. He has won the hearts and minds of the people, cadres and Party members.
He is a very modest man.
His contribution to the nation cannot be measured, but he has never talked about himself. He has instead spoken highly about the achievements of the people, the armed forces, the Party and President Ho.
During his reception for visiting Indian Field Marshal Me'hra in February, 1989, his guest was full of praise for him. But Gen Giap replied: "If there was no good and clear-sighted collective leadership, the people and the heroic army, we – the commanders – cannot make victories ourselves no matter how good we are."
Following President Ho's moral example, Gen Giap has lived a very simple life. His guest room is the place where he has received many important foreign delegations, yet the furniture is very simple. He takes the train to his native village and visited the Dien Bien Phu battle field by a commercial flight. He is a close friend to the people, military officers, soldiers and the people.
In the military arena, he is a decisive man, yet very democratic and humane.
In difficulty situations, Gen Giap always exhibited his intelligence and bravery and always said that on the battlefield, soldiers were the key factor in deciding victory. That's the reason he holds high the spirit of democracy. He is an active listener and respects other people's opinions. All this has helped him create strong solidarity and invincible strength in the people's war.
He is a disciplined man, but very kind and generous. He considers the soldiers and army officers as family members. He shared the sadness and happiness with his men and with the people during war. Many times he told his officers "War is not something that you can make an adventure. You should not win victory at any cost. A good commander is the one who can defeat the enemy at the lowest cost in lives. People's lives are invaluable."
Directed by President Ho and the Politburo, the Vietnamese people and their armed forces and the Vietnamese people led by Gen Giap won many resounding victories against invaders.
These victories helped change the third world and led to the collapse of old and new colonialism.
The people of five continents know Vo Nguyen Giap as a legendary general. His military genius will stand for all time.
He is an excellent disciple of President Ho, a general of the people and the eldest brother of the Viet Nam People's Army. — VNS