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2019|December 11, Wednesday

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The North Vietnamese Army in the Vietnam War

The North Vietnamese Army in the Vietnam War

Some estimates say that the triumphant army of the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), lost around 1 million troops in the conflict. The American losses were 58,000. Soldiers of the NVA regarded the Australian special forces as their deadliest enemies. Not surprisingly, some of them were indigenous Australians who took to living in the jungle like a duck to water. They did not bother sleeping in the mud and were good at stalking their enemies. Due to a lack of helicopters, North Vietnamese soldiers injured in the jungle had little chance to get to a hospital behind the front lines. Incidentally, 80 percent of the patients of these hospitals suffered from malnutrition, tropical disease or nervous exhaustion. The NVA used bicycles to supply its fighting units. 10 bikes could carry as many supplies as a one-million-dollar US helicopter did. During the war, many NVA soldiers had a tattoo on their arms that said: “Born in the North to Die in the South.” Once a North Vietnamese was conscripted he had to stay in the army until the end of the conflict. In contrast, a conscripted US soldier had to serve for a year in Vietnam. Due to the aerial superiority of the U.S. Air Force, NVA units had to learn how to cook their meals without smoke. The oven was placed in a pit that was connected to a long ditch in which a tube was placed to lead the smoke out. The end of the pipe was covered with leaves, so the smoke was filtered out and rose slowly. NVA troops regularly had to walk days to get to their target areas, as using vehicles was hazardous due to the enemy’s aerial superiority. They moved in small units and often during the night. The leaders of the NVA preferred launching ambushes. The North Vietnamese attacks were fierce and quick; the armed fights usually lasted for only some minutes. Soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army often had to grow their food at their base, so their basic pieces of equipment included scythes as well. The Communist North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh was prepared for a long war. He believed that the American public would not tolerate a long-lasting armed conflict and their troops would finally leave Vietnam.

The North Vietnamese Army in the Vietnam War

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