Page 4 of 7 FirstFirst 1234567 LastLast
Results 46 to 60 of 97

Thread: General Giap is dead

  1. #46
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jan 07
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    9,091
    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Vo did nothing that the IJA, the KMT during the Burma Road Campaigns, the British Indian Army, and even the Qing before them did not do. Vo had a foot army, not a mechanized/motorized force. Their water came from the land, not being hauled around. Their artillery were mostly animal driven, not human pulled. The only thing that stands him as a competent general, aside from reading the enemy right, was his ability to deliver artillery ammunition when and where he needed and even here, it must be put into context, he had artillery regiments, not artillery divisions, something the Chinese already had in good practice.

    What's more, the scale must be understood. His biggest commitement was 70,000 men. More often than not, it was never more than half that at other engagements. While nothing to scoff at, it pales against the 200-300 thousand men commitement that the real logistics standards were set and measured against.
    Sir,

    I'm afraid I'm fighting on too many fronts here and will have to retire from the field. Giap faced a unique set of circumstances against the French & handled them very well for the most part. I'll leave you & BM to fight out the details.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  2. #47
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jan 07
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    9,091
    Quote Originally Posted by cataphract View Post
    In your counterfactual, the Vietnamese nationalists enlist Chinese (i.e. KMT) aid to set up a government. The Chinese civil war spills over into Vietnam, and past humiliations revisit Vietnam. Remember that Ho Chi Minh was far more afraid of the Chinese than he ever was of the French or the Americans.
    That is a possibility, but only one. My point was that the idea of a single possible path for Vietnamese independence is a victory of propaganda over fact. It remains one of the great tragedies of history that nationalist groups were not well enough organized to seize power in 1945 & declare independence. That might have sent Vietnam & the whole region down a very different & much better path.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  3. #48
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jan 07
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    9,091
    Quote Originally Posted by troung View Post
    French logistics played a major role in forcing that as well
    True, but said something about Giap's success that the French were non longer able to venture out of the Delta by roads in significant numbers.

    Giap own logistics, among other things, hampered him in 1951 with long windows between major assaults.
    Indeed they did. I think I made some reference to 1951 earlier. Giap's logistics allowed him to move large amounts of men & equipment, but not quickly. The 1951 assaults showed the limits of the PAVN's abilities when it came to attacking the French on their 'home turf' in the Delta. An attempt to do too much too soon. To give credit, it wasn't a mistake he repeated.

    Have you read Porch's book on the FFL? The chapters on the Vietnam War were interesting, calling the Legion to task for a general decline in efficiency, lack of training, poor leadership, and a fetish for paratroopers at the expense of mechanization/technical services. Truth be told the author spends much of the book giving their historical legend a much needed, and surprisingly balanced, kick in the teeth.
    Haven't read it. The FFL deserve all the kickings they get. After '58 & the coup in Algeria a lot of them should have been strung up. Whatever their failings, however, they were still a pretty handy fighting force in 1950 & were up against men who were largely without combat experience. If the PAVN victory was not as impressive as it seems on the surface it was still a blow to French prestige & military power in Indochina.
    Last edited by Bigfella; 08 Oct 13, at 13:06.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  4. #49
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 Aug 03
    Posts
    7,996
    True, but said something about Giap's success that the French were non longer able to venture out of the Delta by roads in significant numbers.
    I'll give you that. Though without heavy Chinese/Russian support the losses in Lorraine might have bitten pretty hard. For those who support the concept of guerrilla warfare he espoused, sort of says a lot for a peoples war which ended up relying on nation states.

    Indeed they did. I think I made some reference to 1951 earlier. Giap's logistics allowed him to move large amounts of men & equipment, but not quickly. The 1951 assaults showed the limits of the PAVN's abilities when it came to attacking the French on their 'home turf' in the Delta. An attempt to do too much too soon. To give credit, it wasn't a mistake he repeated.
    Sadly one can say each side blundered its way through the war. France puts it's hand on the block at RC4, Giap sticks his out in 1951, Lorraine followed by Na San, onto to Geneva and France lost DBP/GM100 and GM42.

    Haven't read it. The FFL deserve all the kickings they get. After '58 & the coup in Algeria a lot of them should have been strung up. Whatever their failings, however, they were still a pretty handy fighting force in 1950 & were up against men who were largely without combat experience.
    With so much hagiography anything which discusses their size relative to the other colonial forces, the hype machine they propagated and their actual accomplishments (still at times impressive) - comes off as removing the wind from their sails even if the author was not seeking to write a hit piece.

    If the PAVN victory was not as impressive as it seems on the surface it was still a blow to French prestige & military power in Indochina.
    Well the increasingly poor quality of French forces, to the point where VM main force units were better armed at the company level (something few rebel groups can say) and below, isn't as much as an excuse for French defeats but a sign of the force the CEFEO was deploying and a sign of foreign support. That was what the French showed brought to the game and by the end they could rarely win firefights outside of the range of their artillery (often times not even within in). The army which fought in Algeria militarily had it's shit together to a better degree (had a different and very destructive set of problems though) - though faced a much smaller military threat and had access to helicopters, more French manpower, more armor and more CAS.
    Last edited by troung; 09 Oct 13, at 04:37.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  5. #50
    Defense Professional
    Military Professional
    desertswo's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 May 13
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona USA
    Posts
    1,703
    There was a French officer who had served with the Foreign Legion in my War College class. Our seminar sort of picked apart the American involvement in the war, and it's a very different story than the one I grew up watching on the evening news in the 60s and early-70s. I had never realized what a crushing defeat had been laid upon both the North Vietnamese regulars and the Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive, but instead of hearing about that, we were "treated" to the famous photo of the Saigon Chief of Police summarily executing a Viet Cong prisoner, without ever learning the "Why" of it. it seems he had it coming, but we never knew that. If there was a way to spin things in a bad light, the American media did it.

    Anyway, something I had never been aware of that I learned from this officer was that those Legionaries at Dien Bin Phu had more than a few former Wehrmacht and Waffen SS troops among their numbers. Then after having their asses handed to them there, they went to Algeria and got their asses kicked again. I would think going 0 for 3 in wars would be enough for one lifetime.

  6. #51
    Officer of Engineers
    Guest
    I know I'm guilty of this but while I appreciate that we have been too concentrated to fight WWIII to fight Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, and Iraq properly, unintentionally we have elevated the likes of Mao, Vo, Peng, Bin Ladden to the status of Patton, Zukhov, and Von Manstein. Vo does not stand with the true Captains of WWII,

    Like the Empires of old, Vietnam, Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan are Colonial Wars. None of their Generals have any idea (and I'm including China, Israel, and South Africa into this) how truly horrific WWIII is.

    Vo was right in one respect that the Americans were not willing to bleed for Vietnam the way Vietnamese was willing to bleed for Vietnam ... but he truly has no idea how much blood that we were going to shed for WWIII. Vietnam was not even on the scales.

    Like Robert E Lee, a true examination of Vo and of the Vietnamese left nothing to be learned. They merely re-enforced a lesson the Russians had taught the world during Napoleon's march to Moscow - that you can win by merely outbleeding the enemy.

    I can name three Asian Generals above Vo: Rie, Peng, and Sundarji.
    Last edited by Officer of Engineers; 09 Oct 13, at 04:33.

  7. #52
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 Aug 03
    Posts
    7,996
    Anyway, something I had never been aware of that I learned from this officer was that those Legionaries at Dien Bin Phu had more than a few former Wehrmacht and Waffen SS troops among their numbers. Then after having their asses handed to them there, they went to Algeria and got their asses kicked again. I would think going 0 for 3 in wars would be enough for one lifetime.
    The Legion, a minority within the CEFEO, had a large German cadre (at times around sixty percent of recruits coming in), but it must be kept in mind by 1954 the majority of those were too young to have "fought" in WW2. Difficulties in even getting enough Germans/other Europeans led to large numbers of Vietnamese filling out companies and battalions of the FFL.

    without ever learning the "Why" of it. it seems he had it coming, but we never knew that. If there was a way to spin things in a bad light, the American media did it.
    I don't disagree.
    Last edited by troung; 09 Oct 13, at 04:34.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  8. #53
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jan 07
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    9,091
    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    I had never realized what a crushing defeat had been laid upon both the North Vietnamese regulars and the Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive, but instead of hearing about that, we were "treated" to the famous photo of the Saigon Chief of Police summarily executing a Viet Cong prisoner, without ever learning the "Why" of it. it seems he had it coming, but we never knew that. If there was a way to spin things in a bad light, the American media did it.
    Mike,

    One of the chapters in my unfinished PhD thesis on media coverage of the Vietnam War is about that photograph. Fair to say I have read virtually everything it is possible to find on it. I have also looked at copies of the newspapers it appeared in at the time with the full context in which it appeared. it was properly reported at the time but as the image was reproduced the original story became lost.

    I made some lengthy posts on this a few years back. You might find this thread interesting. This post was a response to an article posted there, but in the post below I reproduced a copy of my thesis chapter. It isn't too long but contains a lot of background to the events in question & more info on the fascinating character of General Loan. You might find it interesting.

    http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/war...hs-do-lie.html

    USSWisconsin,

    The article is actually no better than the journalism it criticizes. It is riddled with factual errors & sloppy journalism.

    First, Bay Lop was a pseudonym. His name was Ngyuen Van Lem. That was known well before this article was written & a google search would have revealed it. I weep no tears for him, he was a ruthless man who was prepared to murder civillians & met the end he most likely expected.

    Second, context WAS given, so was background. I have personally viewed the NY Times, WashPo & numerous smaller newspapers in the US & Australia for that day. In all of them the prisoner is identified as a 'VC suspect' (correct based on the avail info) or a 'Vietcong Officer'. The quote from Loan identifiying him as having killed 'many of your people...' was in all the major papers, as were allegations that the man killed family members of local police. Again, all of this can be easily checked. I know because I have done it myself.

    Had he done that he would also have noticed that many papers ran a photo nearby of a clearly emotional ARVN soldier carrying the body of a child. I'm not 100% sure if it was supposed to be one of the children alleged to have been killed, but I think it was. In any case, a reader might reasonably link the two. More 'context'.

    It is worth pointing out that not only is the original allegation about lack of background & context incorrect, it ignores a rather curious fact. In this case the context & background were entirely derived from the people responsible for the killing of this man without any time to check them. In terms of journalistic standards this sort of thing would be excoriated if the people whose word you were taking were the 'enemy'. Yet the word of a man with Loan's reputation was reported without context - that he was (among many things) a murderous thug. For most of the audience 'chief of Police' conjurs up an idea a very long way away fropm what the General was. In this case (speaking broadly not just about the article) all of this appears to have gone entirely without comment. Hell, even I missed it until now (might have to re-write my chapter).

    Third, lets not get all weepy for Nguyen Ngoc Loan. he was a man of insane bravery & deeply held anti-communist committments. I also have no reason to doubt that within certain quarters in the RVN he was popular. He was also a brutal thug who was the enforcer for what was then one of the largest heroin traffiking organisations in the world. He also killed political & military opponents of his patron - Nguyen Cao Ky. Indeed, there was actually a second camera crew on site that day (CBS I think). The Vietnamese camera man refused to film the execution because he knew who Loan was & feared that he might come after him. In a good many ways Loan was no better than the man he killed.

    Again, most of this is easy enough to find out. At least those reponsible for the original images can plead 'fog of war' for any misunderstanding. Mr Currie has no such excuse, which either means he is lazy, pushing an agenda or both.

    Nguyen Van Lem got the end he deserved. Nguyen Ngoc Loan got off lightly. Lets save our tears for people more deserving. I'm sure we could find millions in Indochina over tha last 55 years.

    Below are a few paragraphs from my unfinished PhD thesis. They might shed some light on General Loan.
    Last edited by Bigfella; 09 Oct 13, at 08:22.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  9. #54
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jan 07
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    9,091
    Quote Originally Posted by troung View Post
    I'll give you that. Though without heavy Chinese/Russian support the losses in Lorraine might have bitten pretty hard. For those who support the concept of guerrilla warfare he espoused, sort of says a lot for a peoples war which ended up relying on nation states.
    I think he had pretty much abandoned the 'guerrilla war' bit as the main axis of fighting by 1950, no matter what the rhetoric. I think he was in some Mao-inspired ;stage' by then where the guerrillas get heavy weapons & engage in set-piece battles.


    Sadly one can say each side blundered its way through the war. France puts it's hand on the block at RC4, Giap sticks his out in 1951, Lorraine followed by Na San, onto to Geneva and France lost DBP/GM100 and GM42.
    Plenty of stuff ups to go around, but Giap seemed to learn his lessons more effectively. probably helps that the French kept changing commanders & the best of them died of cancer. Hard to imagine De Lattre doing anything as boneheaded as DBP.

    With so much hagiography anything which discusses their size relative to the other colonial forces, the hype machine they propagated and their actual accomplishments (still at times impressive) - comes off as removing the wind from their sails even if the author was not seeking to write a hit piece.
    Sounds like the equivalent to Mark Kram's 'Ghosts of Manila' on Muhammad Ali - an overdue corrective.

    Well the increasingly poor quality of French forces, to the point where VM main force units were better armed at the company level (something few rebel groups can say) and below, isn't as much as an excuse for French defeats but a sign of the force the CEFEO was deploying and a sign of foreign support. That was what the French showed brought to the game and by the end they could rarely win firefights outside of the range of their artillery (often times not even within in).
    France was stretched from the start. Too many unwilling subjects to bring back under their enlightened rule, not enough military or economy to get it done. The clock was always ticking one way or another.

    The army which fought in Algeria militarily had it's shit together to a better degree (had a different and very destructive set of problems though) - though faced a much smaller military threat and had access to helicopters, more French manpower, more armor and more CAS.
    In military terms Algeria was singularly impressive, but it is also a classic example of how winning the war can sometimes cost you the peace. A useful corrective to those who focus too heavily on affairs military & miss the politics. What it took to win the war cost France any chance of staying in Algeria. Read 'wolves in the city' when I was young. Nothing about the behaviour of the French military or the pieds noirs in Algeria makes me weep much for their loss.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  10. #55
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jan 07
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    9,091
    This is a more detailed assessment of Giap. I can't vouch for the accuracy of every word (I suspect Troung will find any mistakes ), but it is a good overview of Giap's performance against the French. The author is Shaun Darragh, a former US soldier turned author who I have encountered elsewhere. While we don't always agree, he is one of the better informed persons I have encountered on post-WW2 Vietnamese history. His wife was from Sth Vietnam, so he has access to additional insights and has more 'skin in the game' than most veterans.

    Shaun Darragh is a retired Special Forces officer and DIA field Intelligence Analyst who served in Vietnam, Panama, Mexico, Central and South America, and Korea between 1968 and 2007. In Vietnam, he served on both a Special Forces A Team, and in the II Corps MIKE Force, a 2000 man Mobile Strike Force composed of Malayo-Polynesian and Mon-Khmer hill tribesmen. The Dega is his first novel, and received first prize for unpublished historical fiction in the Florida Writer’s Association 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. It has been highly recommended by U.S. Special Forces and Australian Army Training Team - Vietnam veterans as a novel in which many of the characters will be instantly recognizable, while at the same time spinning an enjoyable and fast paced yarn which conveys the complexity and realities of the Vietnam War in the Central Highlands.
    In a different post the author made a salient point about Giap's worst defeats - most (or all) came against Jean De Lattre de Tassigny, one of the most talented generals of his era & a man of considerably more experience than Giap.

    Giap as a General:
    I’m sure better eyes have looked at Giap’s accomplishments and failures, but I’d like to add some tidbits.

    Was Giap a competent general? The record supports an argument that he was. He was not Ho Chi Minh’s guerrilla warfare expert, nor did he fight a guerrilla war. That title goes to Nguyen Binh, the second highest ranking PAVN general, who was in charge of operations in Cochinchina from 1945-5. Giap’s reputation rests on his handling of conventional forces. It was, after all, conventional battles and campaigns that gave the PAVN half and then all of Vietnam. The reasons both men shone so differently may be nothing more than their adaptations to their particular theaters of war. From 1946-54, South Central and Southern Vietnam were secondary theaters. North Vietnam was the decisive theater because it was the closest to China. So, from that perspective, what was Vo Nguyen Giap’s record as a conventional commander. I will ignore his first real defeat, the December 1946 Offensive, because it was a decision made on purely political reasoning.

    Giap’s first major victory.

    Giap’s first conventional battle was the Colonial Route 4 offensive between Cao Bang and That Khe along the Chinese border in September – October 1950. In late May 1950, Giap sent in a brigade of the 308th Division in an exploratory attack against the Dong Khe citadel between Cao Bang and That Khe. The post might have held except for a loss of nerve of the acting commander, who abandoned it without orders. Two companies of Moroccans were lost save for a single platoon whose lieutenant had refused to abandon his position. In mid-September 1950 two VM regiments overran the post again, and annihilated its two companies of Legionnaires. The French General Staff now ordered the evacuation of all upper RC-4 garrisons. The plan was that they would meet at Dong Khe and move down RC-4 together. Giap couldn’t have paid the French to come up with a better supporting plan. Between 16 September, when the southernmost elements ran into a heavy firefight at Lung Phai hill, and 10 October 1951, when the last elements of the 3rd Colonial Paracommandos were annihilated 10 kilometers west of RC-4, Giap’s regulars and regional forces destroyed nine elite French battalions, their worst colonial disaster since the fall of Quebec.

    Giap’s first major defeat.

    Heads fell and a new French general was sent in. Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. A month after his arrival, Giap moved on Hanoi. His first objective was Vinh Yen, 30 kilometers north of the city. The French knew he was coming, and sent in two mobile groups who anchored their defense on a series of hills rising above the plain. To draw the French out, Giap first attacked the small garrison of Bao Chuc. As expected, a mobile group rushed to their rescue, only to fall into an ambush near Dao Tu. The French suffered heavy losses, but air and artillery allowed them to disengage. Their withdrawal placed them with their backs to a marsh, leaving a five kilometer wide gap east of Vinh Yen. On 14 January 1951 De Lattre flew into Vinh Yen to take command of the battle himself. He also ordered multiple battalions airlifted in from south Vietnam. On 15 January, Mobile Group 1 pushed through VM lines to take Hill 157 which commanded the road to Vinh Yen. On 16 January, both mobile groups pushed up into several neighboring hills, this time against light opposition. By 1500, Giap’s forces seemed to have disappeared only to suddenly emerge from the Tam Dao hills at 1700, dragging their heavy mortars and machineguns in a push to break through to Hanoi. For the very first time, Giap was to use the same human wave technique that was unnerving U.S. forces in Korea. As the French fell back, De Lattre called for massive air support, and napalm came into use as well. On the morning of 17 January 1951 it looked like another Giap victory. But a new Mobile Group made it in and the constant air strikes and napalm baths were telling. On the night of January 17/18, Giap’s troops withdrew. There would be no Viet Minh victory parades that Tet holiday.

    Giap’s second major defeat.

    Since Haiphong was the nerve center for French logistics in the North, Giap next moved against Haiphong via the Dong Trieu mountains. Fighting started on 23 March 1951, with mobile groups and para battalions being rushed in. It culminated on the night of 29/30 March 1951 with an attack on the Mao Khe mines, defended by a Vietnamese partisan company, which unfortunately for Giap’s forces were within range of French artillery at Dong Trieu. On 31 March the remnants of Giap’s divisions were again in retreat.

    Giap’s third major defeat.

    Two months after Dong Trieu, Giap launched another Red River Delta offensive, this time along the Day river using elements of the 304th, 308th, and 312th Divisions against objectives at Phu Ly, Phat Diem, and Ninh Binh. Giap began the attack on the night of 28/29 May 1951. De Lattre responded b y rushing in his ground and naval reserves. After 48 hours of heavy combat, the Viet Minh broke contact, but did not withdraw. On 4 June, Giap’s troops emerged from the region’s Karst hills to move on Ninh Binh, Yen Phuc, and Yen Cu Ha. Fighting was again heavy, and Giap’s forces took some objectives, but were pushed back from others. With daylight French aviation was able to intervene. De Lattre could claim victory, but among the dead was his only son, a loss he not recover from.

    Giap is checked at Nghia Lo.

    With one stunning victory, but three losses within a year, Giap’s future must have been on the line. The Muong tribal capital of Hoa Binh, some 60 kilometers west of Hanoi at the foot of the Black River highlands, had been evacuated in the wake of the Colonial Route 4 disaster. The Viet Minh had quickly moved in, but the French still held the Black River highlands. Key to French defences was the Thai settlement of Nghia Lo, garrisoned by the 1st Thai Battalion. Taking Nghia Lo and other related objectives would test Giap’s reconstituted divisions. French intelligence correctly judged Giap’s designs, and General Salan ordered the Franco-Thais to dig in for a fight. As the 312th Division moved into position, Salan dropped in three parachute battalions to cut Viet Minh lines of supply and attack their flanks. After a series of heavy fights between 2 and 6 October 1951, the Viet Minh withdrew. But the future of the Black River highland garrisons was in doubt. Giap had lost this round, but his divisions were still in good shape and they would return just over a year later to overrun Nghia Lo in a single night and force the evacuation of all outlying garrisons.

    Hoa Binh, a second major victory:

    De Lattre, back in Indochina, was now ready to go on the offensive. His did so at Hoa Binh, key to Giap’s line of communications to northern Central Vietnam. It would be fought in three phases, one of which would be under French control and the others under Giap’s. The initial assault to take Hoa Binh back went off like clockwork. On 10 November 1951 Foreign Legion Paras jumped in to Cho Ben and the edge of the Red River Delta southeast of Hoa Binh. On 14 November, three parachute battalions jumped into Hoa Binh itself, while riverine forces moved up river and mobile forces converged by road to link up. On 19 November De Lattre was in Hoa Binh passing out medals. On 22 November 1951 operation was officially over.

    Giap had other ideas as De Lattre knew he would. While Giap began moving forces into the area and the Paras returned to Hanoi, De Lattre split the area into three sector commands; Hoa Binh itself, the Black River, and Colonial Route 6. Giap’s first target was the Black River. Beginning on 9 December 1951, Viet Minh attacks were directed at the seven French bases running up along both banks from the Red River at La Phu south to Tu Vu. Mountain peaks near the river ranged from 2300 to 4200 feet in height. In early December 1951, two Viet Ming divisions moved into the area. Their mission: target lines of communication and strong points. The French struck the first blow on 9 December, but by 10 December elements of that force were engaged in heavy hand to hand combat at Xom Sui. Only air power saved them from annihilation. At 2130 that night, Tu Vu received barrages of heavy mortar fire, followed by human wave attacks. Supported by tanks, they beat off wave after wave, but at 0340 on 11 December 1951, the 88th Regiment penetrated their inner perimeter. The Moroccan garrison withdrew to a sandbar in the river from where, supported by artillery firing into their old post, they held. An attack on a nearby artillery fire base also failed. Giap now changed his tactics. Shelving the idea of overrunning French strong points, he returned to cutting roads and attacking riverine traffic from positions that favored the ambush of relieving forces. Through the rest of December and into January 1952, fighting raged up and down the Black River which was no longer passable to resupply runs. The French had won each battle, but only because they had withdrawn to avoid heavier casualties. With the Black River effectively shut down, Giap turned his attention to Colonial Route 6.

    During the Black River fighting, Colonial Route 6 was relatively quiet. Other than the occasional ambush by Regional forces, no heavy fighting occurred until January 1952 when Giap moved two divisions and several independent regiments in. They began with direct attacks on French garrisons, then withdrew to cut the road. Fighting was heavy through January with the Viet Minh taking the heaviest casualties, given French superiority in air, artillery, and tanks. But by 11 January 1952 Colonial Route 6 was closed. The French did clear it section by section from east to west. By 29 January it was cleared all the way to Hoa Binh. De Lattre in the meanwhile had died. On 30 January 1952, Giap launched another series of attacks along Colonial Route, shutting it down again. Again he was beaten back. But it was never for long. Salan had 19 elite battalions tied down just to keep the road open and Hoa Binh manned. So when intelligence reported that Giap had three divisions preparing for another try at Hoa Binh, and two already moving on the Red River Delta, Salan cut his losses. By 25 February 1952 those battalions were back in the Delta, and Giap had won the watershed campaign of the First Indochina War.

    Giap overruns Black Thai highlands and is checked at Na San.

    Both the French and Viet Minh stayed busy in 1952, concentrating their main efforts in the Red and Mekong River Deltas as the Viet Minh expanded their base and the French sought to forge a Vietnamese state that would attract true Nationalists. On 13 October 1952 Giap launched a new Black River highlands offensive, overrunning Nghia Lo on 18 October 1952, then branching out to attack neighboring posts. Major Bigeard’s 6th Colonial paratroops, half of which were Vietnamese, jumped in to nearby Tu Le on 16 October. While Nghia Lo fell, Bigeard recovered the other nearby garrisons, and barely escaping encirclement, led them in a running gunfight down to the upper Black River, where he reported in to Colonel Gilles at Na San on 23 October. The French meanwhile sought to cut Giap’s momentum by attacking supporting Viet Minh logistics bases in the Viet Tri region with paratroops, riverine forces, and mobile groups. Achieving some tactical success, this did nothing to slow Giap’s drive in the highlands.

    Salan had ordered Na San held, so Gilles set about building an air land base ‘hedgehog’ consisting of the airfield and some 30 mutually supporting combat outposts, called support points (P.A.) by the French. Well dug in with good fields of fire and protected by layers of barbed wire aprons, they were manned by 11 infantry battalions and 6 artillery batteries. Parachute battalions constituted their reserve, and these conducted raids and clearing operations well beyond the camp. Giap accepted the challenge, but he approached it cautiously. It wasn’t until 23 November 1952 that he sent a single battalion from the 308th Division against Na San in a probing attack. They were cut to ribbons, but the lessons were reviewed and a new attack set for the night of 30 November. This time the lead elements were small groups carrying Bangalore torpedoes. Under cover of their own mortars, they blasted holes through the barbed wire aprons in many places. Two bastions fell, PA’s 24 and 22 bis, both retaken in dawn attacks by the 3rd Colonial Paras. While Gilles redistributed his reserves, Giap prepared another attack, this time from the south and southwest sides. Launched on the night of 1 December, they had the bad luck to take on PA’s manned by the Legion, among the best field fortification engineers in the Fench Army . Those Viet Minh who got through the mine fields and barbed wire were cut down by interlocking bands of machinegun fire. Those behind behind them were raked by artillery. None of the targeted outposts were penetrated. Giap left more than 500 bodies in the wire, while Gilles’ losses amount to a dozen dead and thirty seriously wounded. Though he’d lost far more men in the Hoa Binh campaign, Giap could recognize when the prize wasn’t worth it. Pulling back from Na San, he rotated enough forces around the camp to keep the French holed up there, but chose to rest his troops for further battles to come, specifically a Spring Offensive into Laos. Eventually the French abandoned Na San on their own, moving the troops out before the rainy season make air support questionable.

    In summary, those are Giap’s credentials for Dien Bien Phu. He will always be remembered as its victor, and justifiably so. But he was also the architect of defeats at Vinh Yen, Dong Trieu, the Day River battles, the first Nghia Lo, and Na San. That doesn’t make him any less a general. All of the great American generals suffered losses, and the respected ones accepted their defeats and learned from them. Then there are those, like MacArthur, who never admitted to a defeat. Giap certainly learned from his. But Dien Bien Phu was only a partial victory. The Viet Minh won half of the country, while what became the Republic of Vietnam received the other half largely through the efforts of the French and those Vietnamese who fought in their ranks. And therein lay some of the seeds for future discord in RVN politics and within ARVN ranks.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  11. #56
    Military Enthusiast Senior Contributor
    Join Date
    15 Aug 03
    Posts
    5,349
    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post

    I can name three Asian Generals above Vo: Rie, Peng, and Sundarji.
    Do not forget Sam Maneshaw.

  12. #57
    Regular
    Join Date
    13 Oct 13
    Location
    Texas and Viet Nam
    Posts
    65
    John McCain: He Beat Us in War but Never in Battle - WSJ.com

    "Near the end of our meeting, I made another attempt to test Giap's candor. I asked him if it were true that he had opposed Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia. He dismissed that too, with something like, "the party's decisions are always correct."

    With that, our meeting came to an end. We stood up, shook hands, and as I turned to leave, he grasped my arm, and said softly, "you were an honorable enemy."

    I don't know if he meant that as a comparison to Vietnam's other adversaries, the Chinese, the Japanese or the French, who had killed his wife, or if it was an implicit recognition we had fought for ideals rather than empire and that our humanity had played a part in our defeat. Maybe he just meant to flatter me. Whatever his meaning, I appreciated the sentiment."
    John McCain

    GEN Hal Moore had more personal contact with Giap and has written about it in his books.

    As a retired Sargent, I defer to those with personal knowledge and superior rank

  13. #58
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Contrary by Nature.
    zraver's Avatar
    Join Date
    22 Oct 06
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14,401
    Quote Originally Posted by Blademaster View Post
    Do not forget Sam Maneshaw.
    Manekshaw?

    Also Yamashita and Homma.

  14. #59
    Military Enthusiast Senior Contributor
    Join Date
    15 Aug 03
    Posts
    5,349
    A rebuttal to the western criticism about Gen. Giap and his disregard for human casualties.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/op....html?ref=asia

  15. #60
    Officer of Engineers
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Blademaster View Post
    A rebuttal to the western criticism about Gen. Giap and his disregard for human casualties.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/op....html?ref=asia
    A completely idiotic and stupid response to the human wave assertion. Nothing in the rebuttal contradicts Vo's complete disregard for military casualties starting from the 1st Indochina War onwards.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 20 Nov 13,, 01:34
  2. Who was a better General?
    By Speedy in forum The World Wars
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 30 Dec 08,, 04:10
  3. Greatest general of the German general staff
    By astralis in forum The World Wars
    Replies: 43
    Last Post: 15 Nov 07,, 11:30
  4. Who is better general?
    By Dogukan in forum Ancient, Medieval & Early Modern Ages
    Replies: 108
    Last Post: 10 Mar 07,, 04:07
  5. Assault With A Dead (yes, dead) Weapon
    By THL in forum International Economy
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08 Jun 06,, 22:12

Share this thread with friends:

Share this thread with friends:

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •