The Việt Nam People’s Army, serving faithfully during war and peace

December 15, 2019 - 08:25

On December 22, 1944, 75 years ago, the Việt Nam Liberation Army Team, the first major unit of the revolutionary armed forces and predecessor of the Việt Nam People's Army, was founded in a northern jungle following a direction of President Hồ Chí Minh.


The Việt Nam Liberation Army Team, the predecessor of the Việt Nam People's Army, was established on December 22, 1944 with a total of 34 members under the command of General Võ Nguyên Giáp. VNA/VNS File Photo

On December 22, 1944, 75 years ago, the Việt Nam Liberation Army Team, the first major unit of the revolutionary armed forces and predecessor of the Việt Nam People's Army, was founded in a northern jungle following a direction of President Hồ Chí Minh.

The team was directed by General Võ Nguyên Giáp and consisted of 34 members armed with only 34 small guns of various kinds.

They were born in poor families which had suffered from the oppression of foreign invasion and feudalism. Their patriotism and hatred of the enemy made them a solid block that could defeat all their enemies.

Witnessing the birth of that army, General Giáp wrote: “On 22 December 1944 at 5pm, the Vietnamese Liberation Army was born ... Our feeling in those sacred moments was hard to describe ... we forgot that we were 34 people with rudimentary rifles, but we thought this was a powerful force that no power could subdue, and it was ready to crush its enemy."

Win the first battle

The army saw the importance of winning its first battle and planned attacks against the French in the northern province of Cao Bằng.

The bold and clever attacks were launched at Phai Khắt fort at 17:00 on December 25, 1944 and Nà Ngần fort the next morning at 07:00, destroying the two French forts, killing two army chiefs, capturing the enemy soldiers and seizing all weapons and other military equipment.

Winning two such battles over the French opened a new era for the army.

From then on, the army together with the people won many other battles in the nine-year resistance against French colonialism.

In the words of revolutionary poet Tố Hữu, the army scored a glorious victory "widely known throughout the five continents and agitating the earth" with the Điện Biên Phủ battle in 1954.

The victory confirmed the strength of the army and completely ended the first Indochina war.

Resistance war against the Americans

After years of war, the 1975 General Offensive and Uprising ended successfully, leading to the ultimate victory of the South Việt Nam liberation war and the reunification of the country.

“Faster, much faster, bolder, much bolder, making use of every minute, every hour to rush to the front to liberate the South while being determined to win the total victory,” General Võ Nguyên Giáp ordered the advancing army.

The resounding triumph of the war against the US and the Sài Gòn regime and the reunification of the country created a turning point in national history, opening a new chapter of national independence and socialism.

Border wars

On January 7, 1979, the Vietnamese People’s Army in co-ordination with the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation, liberated Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh, overthrowing the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, 

Earlier this year, Associate Professor Trần Đức Cường, president of Việt Nam Historical Science Association and lead author of a 15-book collection of Việt Nam’s History, spoke at a conference on Việt Nam's border war with China 40 years ago.

Việt Nam, shortly after painstaking efforts to reunify the country in 1975 after 30 years of struggle, only wanted peace and stability to rebuild the war-ravaged country, he said. 

But this dream had to be set aside, as Việt Nam faced border violations from both Cambodía's Khmer Rouge in the southwest and the Chinese force in the north, he added.

National construction and defence

The historic victory in 1975 opened a new era of liberation and unification for the whole country but the consequences of the war caused challenges for the Army and people nationwide.

However, with its strength and determination, the army, with support from the people, has completed all tasks assigned by the Party, the Government and people, making great contributions to development and national protection.

The army has helped strengthen the implementation of the national đổi mới (renewal) programme over the last three decades. 

Soldiers have been very active in helping local people fight poverty, build a new countryside and overcome the consequences of natural disasters.

World peacekeeping missions

Ministry of Defence guidelines put a focus on protecting the territory, independence and sovereignty of the country, Colonel General Nguyễn Chí Vịnh, deputy defence minister, told Tuyên Giáo (Dissemination and Education) magazine late last year about the international mission of Việt Nam’s military.

He said Việt Nam fought wars to regain independence, freedom, and reunification, and the country values the elements and factors to achieve peace.

"First, we always try to maintain peace and friendship with international friends. Second, we take advantage of peace and friendship to win the support of other countries. Third, even with those who still have different views with us, we are always willing to talk in peace with them as long as they respect Việt Nam’s independence and sovereignty," he said.

Over the past five years, Việt Nam has sent 29 delegations on two peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and the Central African Republic to work as liaison officers, military observers and staff officers.

Over 75 years, with the victories in the glorious history of the nation as bright symbols of the army of the people, the army has built up the beautiful traditions of President Hồ's soldiers. VNS