People's Army of Vietnam

The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN; Vietnamese: Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam), also known as the Vietnamese People's Army (VPA), is the military force of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The PAVN is a part of the Vietnam People's Armed Forces and includes: Ground Force (including Strategic Rear Forces), Navy, Air Force, Border Defence Force, and Coast Guard. However, Vietnam does not have a separate Ground Force or Army branch. All ground troops, army corps, military districts and specialised arms belong to the Ministry of Defence, directly under the command of the Central Military Commission, the Minister of Defence, and the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army. The military flag of the PAVN is the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with the words Quyết thắng (Determination to win) added in yellow at the top left.

During the French Indochina War (1946–1954), the PAVN was often referred to as the Việt Minh. In the context of the Vietnam War (1959–1975), the army was referred to as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). This allowed writers, the U.S. military, and the general public, to distinguish northern communists from the southern communists, or Viet Cong. However, both groups ultimately worked under the same command structure. The Viet Cong was considered a branch of the VPA by the North Vietnamese.[3] In 2010 the PAVN undertook the role of leading the 1,000th Anniversary Parade in Hanoi by performing their biggest parade in history. It is widely recognized as one of the most battle-hardened and best trained militaries in Asia.

People's Army of Vietnam
Quân đội Nhân dân Việt Nam
Flag of the People's Army of Vietnam
Flag of Vietnam People's Army. Slogan translates as "Determined to win."
Founded22 December 1944
Service branchesVietnam People's Army insignia.png Ground Forces[N 1]
Vietnam People's Navy emblem.svg Navy
Vietnam People's Air Force emblem.svg Air Force
Vietnam Border Defense Force insignia.jpg Border Defence Force
Vietnam Marine Police insignia.jpg Coast Guard
HeadquartersHanoi, Vietnam
Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of the Central Military CommissionState President and General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng
Minister of DefenceGeneral Ngô Xuân Lịch
Chief of StaffColonel General Phan Văn Giang
Military age18–25 years old (18–27 for those who attend colleges or universities)
Conscription24 months for all able-bodied men
Active personnel482,000 active[1]
Reserve personnel5,000,000 reserve [1]
BudgetUS $7.8 billion (Military Balance 2013)
Percent of GDP5% (2013 est.)
Domestic suppliersViettel Mobile
Z111 Factory

Hong Ha shipbuilding company (Z173)

189 Shipbuilding Company (Z189)
Song Thu Shipbuilding Company (Z124)
Service Flight Corporation
Group 559
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Vietnam
RanksMilitary ranks of Vietnam


Before 1945

The first historical record of Vietnamese military history dates back on the era of Hồng Bàng, the first recorded state in ancient Vietnam to have assembled military force. Since then, military plays a crucial role on developing Vietnamese history due to its turbulent history of wars against China, Champa, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

The Southern expansion of Vietnam resulted with the destruction of Champa as an independent nation to a level that it didn't exist anymore; total destruction of Luang Prabang; the decline of Cambodia which resulted to Vietnam's annexation of Mekong Delta and wars against Siam. In most of its history, the Royal Vietnamese Armed Forces was often regarded to be one of the most professional, battle-hardened and heavily trained armies in Southeast Asia as well as Asia in a large extent.


Vietnam People's Army date establishment
General Võ Nguyên Giáp on the date of the PAVN's establishment in 1944. Chief of General Staff Hoàng Văn Thái wearing a pith helmet and holding the flag.
General Staff in Battle of Dien Bien Phu.jpeg
Vietnam General Staff in First Indochina War and Vietnam War, from left: Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng, President Ho Chi Minh, General Secretary Trường Chinh and General Võ Nguyên Giáp

The PAVN was first conceived in September 1944 at the first Revolutionary Party Military Conference as "armed propaganda brigades" to educate, recruit and mobilise the Vietnamese to create a main force to drive the French colonial and Japanese occupiers from Vietnam.[4] Under the guidelines of Hồ Chí Minh, Võ Nguyên Giáp was given the task of establishing the brigades and the Armed Propaganda Unit for National Liberation came into existence on 22 December 1944. The first formation was made up of thirty one men and three women, armed with two revolvers, seventeen rifles, one light machine gun, and fourteen breech-loading flintlocks.[5] The United States' OSS agents, led by Archimedes Patti – who was sometimes referred as the founding father of the PAVN due to his role, had provided ammunitions as well as logistic intelligence and equipments and they had also helped training these soldiers which was later become the vital backbone of the later Vietnamese military to fight the Japanese occupiers as well as the future wars.

The group was renamed the "Vietnam Liberation Army" in May 1945.[6] In September, the army was again renamed the "Vietnam National Defence Army".[6] At this point, it had about 1,000 soldiers.[6] In 1950, it officially became the People's Army of Vietnam.

Võ Nguyên Giáp went on to become the first full general of the VPA on 28 May 1948, and famous for leading the PAVN in victory over French forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and being in overall command against U.S. backed South Vietnam at the Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.

French Indochina War

On 7 January 1947, its first regiment, the 102nd 'Capital' Regiment, was created for operations around Hanoi.[7] Over the next two years, the first division, the 308th Division, later well known as the Pioneer Division, was formed from the 88th Tu Vu Regiment and the 102nd Capital Regiment. By late 1950 the 308th Division had a full three infantry regiments, when it was supplemented by the 36th Regiment. At that time, the 308th Division was also backed by the 11th Battalion that later became the main force of the 312th Division. In late 1951, after launching three campaigns against three French strongpoints in the Red River Delta, the PAVN refocused on building up its ground forces further, with five new divisions, each of 10–15,000 men, created: the 304th Glory Division at Thanh Hóa, the 312th Victory Division in Vinh Phuc, the 316th Bong Lau Division in the northwest border region, the 320th Delta Division in the north Red River Delta, the 325th Binh Tri Thien Division in Binh Tri Thien province. Also in 1951, the first artillery Division, the 351st Division was formed, and later, before Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, for the first time in history, it was equipped by 24 captured 105mm US howitzers supplied by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The first six divisions (308th, 304th, 312th, 316th, 320th, 325th) became known as the original PAVN 'Steel and Iron' divisions. In 1954 four of these divisions (the 308th, 304th, 312nd, 316th, supported by the 351st Division's captured US howitzers) defeated the French Union forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, ending 83 years of French rule in Indochina.

Vietnam War

Vietnamese troops in Vietnam War, 1967

Soon after the 1954 Geneva Accords, the 330th and 338th Divisions were formed by southern Vietminh members who had moved north in conformity with that agreement, and by 1955, six more divisions were formed: the 328th, 332nd, and 350th in the north of the DRV, the 305th and the 324th near the DMZ, and the 335 Division of soldiers repatriated from Laos. In 1957, the theatres of the war with the French were reorganised as the first five military regions, and in the next two years, several divisions were reduced to brigade size to meet the manpower requirements of collective farms.

By 1958 it was becoming increasingly clear that the South Vietnamese government was solidifying its position as an independent republic under Ngô Đình Diệm who staunchly opposed the terms of the Geneva Accord that required a national referendum on unification of north and south Vietnam under a single national government, and North Vietnam prepared to settle the issue of unification by force.

Infiltrators on the move in Laos down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

In May 1959 the first major steps to prepare infiltration routes into South Vietnam were taken; Group 559 was established, a logistical unit charged with establishing routes into the south via Laos and Cambodia, which later became famous as the Ho Chi Minh trail. At about the same time, Group 579 was created as its maritime counterpart to transport supplies into the South by sea. Most of the early infiltrators were members of the 338th Division, former southerners who had been settled at Xuan Mai from 1954 onwards. Regular formations were sent to Southern Vietnam from 1965 onwards; the 325th Division's 101B Regiment and the 66th Regiment of the 304th Division met US forces on a large scale, a first for the PAVN, at the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. The 308th Division's 88A Regiment, the 312th Division's 141A, 141B, 165A, 209A, the 316th Division's 174A, the 325th Division's 95A, 95B, the 320A Division also faced the US forces which included the 1st Cavalry Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the 173d Airborne Brigade, the 4th Infantry Division, the 1st Infantry Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. Many of those formations later became main forces of the 3rd Division (Yellow Star Division) in Binh Dinh (1965), the 5th Division (1966) of 7th Military Zone (Capital Tactical Area of ARVN), the 7th (created by 141st and 209th Regiments originated in the 312th Division in 1966) and 9th Divisions (first Division of National Liberation Front of Vietnam in 1965 in Mekong Delta), the 10th Dakto Division in Dakto – Highland in 1972 south of Vietnam.

Emblem VPA
Vietnam People's Army signals

General Trần Văn Trà one-time commander of the B2 Front (Saigon) HQ confirms that even though the PAVN and the NLFV were confident in their ability to defeat the regular ARVN forces, US intervention in Vietnam forced them to reconsider their operations. The decision was made to continue to pursue "main force" engagements even though "there were others in the South – they were not military people – who wanted to go back to guerrilla war," but the strategic aims were adjusted to meet the new reality.

We had to change our plan and make it different from when we fought the Saigon regime, because we now had to fight two adversaries — the United States and South Vietnam. We understood that the U.S. Army was superior to our own logistically, in weapons and in all things. So strategically we did not hope to defeat the U.S. Army completely. Our intentions were to fight a long time and cause heavy casualties to the United States, so the United States would see that the war was unwinnable and would leave.[8]

Viet Cong002
Captured photo shows VC crossing a river in 1966.

During the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Tết holiday starting on 30 January 1968, the PAVN launched a general offensive in more than 60 cities and towns throughout south of Vietnam against the US Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam-(ARVN), beginning with operations in the border region to try and draw US forces and ARVN troops out of the major cities. In sequential coordinated attacks, the U.S Embassy in Saigon, Presidential Palace, Headquarters of ARVN and ARVN's Navy, TV and Radio Stations, Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Saigon were attacked and invaded by commando forces known as "Dac Cong".

This offensive became known as the "Tet Offensive".

The offensives caught the world's attention day-by-day and demoralised the US public and military, both at home and abroad. The PAVN sustained heavy losses of its main forces in southern military zones. Some of its regular forces and command structure had to escape to Laos and Cambodia to avoid counterattacks from US forces and ARVN, while local guerrillas forces and political organisations in South Vietnam were exposed and had a hard time remaining within the Mekong Delta area due to the extensive use of the Phoenix Program and were never restored.

Although the PAVN lost militarily to the US forces and ARVN in the south, the political impact of the war in the United States was strong.[9] Public demonstrations increased in ferocity and quantity after the Tet Offensive. Onwards from 1970, the 5th, 7th, and 9th divisions had fought in Cambodia against US forces, ARVN, and Cambodian Prime Minister Lon Nol's troops but they had gained new allies: the Khmer Rouge and guerrilla fighters supporting deposed Prime Minister Sihanouk. In 1975 the PAVN were successful in aiding the Khmer Rouge in toppling the Lon Nol's US-backed regime, despite heavy US bombing.

After the withdrawal of most United States' combat forces from Indochina because of the Vietnamization strategy, the PAVN launched the ill-fated Easter Offensive in 1972. Although successful at the beginning, the South Vietnamese repulsed the main assaults with U.S. air support. Still North Vietnam gained significant territories.

Nearly two years after the full United States' withdrawal from Indochina in accord with the terms of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, the PAVN launched a Spring Offensive aimed at uniting Vietnam. Without direct support of its US ally, and suffering from stresses caused by dwindling aid, the ARVN was ill-prepared to confront the highly motivated PAVN, and despite numerical superiority of the ARVN in tactical aircraft, armoured vehicles and overwhelming three to one odds in regular troops, the PAVN quickly secured victory within two months and captured Saigon on 30 April 1975, effectively ending the 70 years of conflict stemming from French colonial invasion of the 19th century and unifying Vietnam.

Sino-Vietnamese conflicts (1975–1990)

Towards the second half of the 20th century the armed forces of Vietnam would participate in organised incursions to protect its citizens and allies against aggressive military factions in the neighbouring Indochinese countries of Laos and Cambodia, and the defensive border wars with China.

  • The PAVN had forces in Laos to secure the Ho Chi Minh Trail and to militarily support the Pathet Lao. In 1975 the Pathet Lao and NVA forces succeeded in toppling the Royal Laotian regime and installing a new, and pro-Hanoi government, the Lao People's Democratic Republic,[10] that rules Laos to this day.
  • Parts of Sihanouk's neutral Cambodia were occupied by troops as well. A pro US coup led by Lon Nol in 1970 led to the foundation pro-US Khmer Republic state. This marked the beginning of the Cambodian Civil War. The PAVN aided Khmer Rouge forces in toppling Lon Nol's government in 1975. In 1978, along with the FUNSK Cambodian Salvation Front, the Vietnamese and Ex-Khmer Rouge forces succeeded in toppling Pol Pot's Democratic Kampuchea regime and installing a new government, the People's Republic of Kampuchea.[11]
  • During the Sino-Vietnamese War and the Sino-Vietnamese conflicts 1979–90, Vietnamese forces would conduct cross-border raids into Chinese territory to destroy artillery ammunition. This greatly contributed to the outcome of the Sino-Vietnamese War, as the Chinese forces ran out of ammunition already at an early stage and had to call in reinforcements.
  • While occupying Cambodia, Vietnam launched several armed incursions into Thailand in pursuit of Cambodian guerillas that had taken refuge on the Thai side of the border.

Both in Cambodia and in Laos, the heavily armed and battle-hardened People's Army of Vietnam were a valuable ally to the Pathet Lao and the Khmer Rouge forces, providing economic and military aid, also with new weapons, technologies and intelligence. Some claimed that just like the US Army's relationship with the ARVN, Kingdom of Laos and the Khmer Republic, the PAVN was the real power standing behind them and played key roles in bringing both the Khmer Rouge and Pathet Lao to power. When Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge began the Cambodian Genocide, targeting Vietnamese as well, it was instrumental in toppling his regime.

Modern deployment

The PAVN has been actively involved in Vietnam's workforce to develop the economy of Vietnam, to co-ordinate national defence and the economy, as for the result of its long-relationship of Vietnamese economic development within military history. The PAVN has regularly sent troops to aid with natural disasters such as flooding, landslides etc. The PAVN is also involved in such areas as industry, agriculture, forestry, fishery and telecommunications. The PAVN has numerous small firms which have become quite profitable in recent years. However, recent decrees have effectively prohibited the commercialisation of the military. Conscription is in place for every male, age 18 to 25 years old, though females can volunteer to join.

International presence

The Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of National Defence organises international operations of the PAVN.

Apart from its occupation of half of the disputed Spratly Islands, which have been claimed as Vietnamese territory since the 17th century, Vietnam has not officially had forces stationed internationally since its withdrawal from Cambodia and Laos in early 1990.

The Center for Public Policy Analysis and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as Laotian and Hmong human rights organisations, including the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. and the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., have provided evidence that since the end of the Vietnam War, significant numbers of Vietnamese military and security forces continue to be sent to Laos, on a repeated basis, to quell and suppress Laotian political and religious dissident and opposition groups including the peaceful 1999 Lao Students for Democracy protest in Vientiane in 1999 and the Hmong rebellion.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22] Rudolph Rummel has estimated that 100,000 Hmong perished in genocide between 1975 and 1980 in collaboration with PAVN.[23] For example, in late November 2009, shortly before the start of the 2009 Southeast Asian Games in Vientiane, the PAVN undertook a major troop surge in key rural and mountainous provinces in Laos where Lao and Hmong civilians and religious believers, including Christians, have sought sanctuary.[24][25]

In 2014, Vietnam had requested to join the United Nations peacekeeping force, which was later approved. The first Vietnamese UN peacekeeping officers were sent to South Sudan, marked the first involvement of Vietnam into a United Nations' mission abroad.


Vietnam People's Army structure
PAVN's structure

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the President of Vietnam, though this position is nominal and real power is assumed by the Central Military Commission of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam. The secretary of Central Military Commission (usually the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam) is the de facto Commander and now is Nguyễn Phú Trọng.

The Minister of National Defence oversees operations of the Ministry of Defence, and the PAVN. He also oversees such agencies as the General Staff and the General Logistics Department. However, military policy is ultimately directed by the Central Military Commission of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.

Vietnam People's Army General Staff insignia
Insignia of the General Staff
  • Ministry of Defence: is the lead organisation, highest command and management of the Vietnam People's Army.
  • General Staff Department: is leading agency all levels of the Vietnam People's Army, command all of the armed forces, which functions to ensure combat readiness of the armed forces and manage all military activities in peace and war.
  • General Political Department: is the agency in charge of Communist Party affairs – political work within PAVN, which operates under the direct leadership of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Central Military Party Committee.
  • General Military Intelligence Department: is an intelligence agency of the Vietnamese government and military.
  • General Logistical Department: is the agency in charge to ensure the full logistical and military unit.
  • General Technical Department: is the agency in charge to ensure equipped technical means of war for the army and each unit.
  • General Military Industry Department: is the agency in charge guide task to defence perform and production.

Service branches

The Vietnamese People's Army is subdivided into the following service branches:

  • Vietnam People's Army insignia.png Vietnam People's Ground Forces (Lục quân Nhân dân Việt Nam)
  • Vietnam People's Navy emblem.svg Vietnam People's Navy (Hải quân Nhân dân Việt Nam)
  • Vietnam People's Air Force emblem.svg Vietnam People's Air Force (Không quân Nhân dân Việt Nam)
  • Vietnam Border Defense Force insignia.jpg Vietnam Border Defence Force (Biên phòng Việt Nam)
  • Vietnam Marine Police insignia.jpg Vietnam Coast Guard (Cảnh sát biển Việt Nam)

The People's Army of Vietnam is a "triple armed force" composed of the Main Force, the Local Force and the Border Force. As with most countries' armed forces, the PAVN consists of standing, or regular, forces as well as reserve forces. During peacetime, the standing forces are minimised in number, and kept combat-ready by regular physical and weapons training, and stock maintenance.

Vietnam People's Ground Forces

Within PAVN the Ground Forces have not been established as a full Service Command, thus all of the ground troops, army corps, military districts, specialised arms belong to the Ministry of Defence, under the direct command of the General Staff. The Vietnam Strategic Rear Forces (Lực lượng dự bị chiến lược) is also a part of the Ground Forces. The VPGF is widely regarded as probably one of the best armies in Southeast Asia, and also one of the most prominent armies in Asia.


Infantry Armour Artillery Special Operation Force Motorized Infantry Engineer Medical Corps Signal
Vietnam People's Army Officer
Vietnam People's Army Tank and Armored
Vietnam People's Army Artillery
Vietnam People's Army Commado
Vietnam People's Army Armored Infantry
Vietnam People's Army Engineers
Vietnam People's Army Medical Corps
Vietnam People's Army Information
Transport Technology Chemical Ordnance Military Court Ensemble Military Athletes Military Bands
Vietnam People's Army Driving
Vietnam People's Army Technology
Vietnam People's Army Chemistry
Vietnam People's Army Ordnance
Vietnam People's Army Military Court
Vietnam People's Army Ensemble
Vietnam People's Army Military Sport
Vietnam People's Army Military Band

Military regions

The following military regions are under the direct control of the General Staff and the Ministry of Defence:

Vietnam Military Regions
Vietnam Map with eight Military Districts and four Corps
Duyet binh
PAVN soldiers during a parade in 2015.
Vietnam self-produced Scud-B tactical ballistic missiles[26]

Main force

Vietnam People's Army
Emblem VPA
Flag of the People's Army of Vietnam
Ministry of Defence
Vietnam People's Army General Staff insignia.jpgGeneral Staff
Vietnam People's Army insignia.png Ground Force
Vietnam People's Air Force insignia.png Air Force
Vietnam People's Navy insignia.png Navy
Vietnam Border Defense Force insignia.jpg Border Guard
Vietnam Marine Police insignia.jpg Coast Guard
Ranks of the Vietnamese Military
Ground Force ranks and insignia
Air Force ranks and insignia
Navy ranks and insignia
Border Guard ranks and insignia
Coast Guard ranks and insignia
History of the Vietnamese Military
History of Vietnamese military ranks
Military history of Vietnam
Duyet binh-012
PAVN reconnaissance troops in 2015.

The Main Force of the PAVN consists of combat ready troops, as well as support units such as educational institutions for logistics, officer training, and technical training. In 1991, Conboy et al. stated that the PAVN Ground Force had four 'Strategic Army Corps' in the early 1990s, numbering 1–4, from north to south.[27] 1st Corps, located in the Red River Delta region, consisted of the 308th (one of the six original 'Steel and Iron' divisions) and 312th Divisions, and the 309th Infantry Regiment. The other three corps, 2 SAC, 3 SAC, and 4 SAC, were further south, with 4th Corps, in Southern Vietnam, consisting of two former PLAF divisions, the 7th and 9th.

From 2014 to 2016, the IISS Military Balance attributed the Vietnamese ground forces with an estimated 412,000 personnel. Formations, according to the IISS, include 8 military regions, 4 corps headquarters, 1 special forces airborne brigade, 6 armoured brigades and 3 armoured regiments, two mechanised infantry divisions, and 23 active infantry divisions plus another 9 reserve ones.

Combat support formations include 13 artillery brigades and one artillery regiment, 11 air defence brigades, 10 engineers brigades, 1 electronic warfare unit, 3 signals brigades and 2 signals regiment.

Combat service support formations include 9 economic construction divisions, 1 logistical regiment, 1 medical unit and 1 training regiment. Ross wrote in 1984 that economic construction division "are composed of regular troops that are fully trained and armed, and reportedly they are surbordinate to their own directorate in the Ministry of Defense. They have specific military missions; however, they are also entrusted with economic tasks such as food production or construction work. They are composed partially of older veterans."[28] Ross also cited 1980s sources saying that economic construction divisions each had a strength of about 3,500.

In 2017, the listing was amended, with the addition of a single Short-range ballistic missile brigade. The ground forces according to the IISS, hold Scud-B/C SRBMs.[29]

1st Corps – Binh đoàn Quyết thắng (Corps of Determined Victory):

First organised on 24 October 1973 during the Vietnam War, the 1st Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign that ended the war. It is stationed in Tam Điệp District, Ninh Bình. The combat forces of the corps include:

2nd Corps – Binh đoàn Hương Giang (Corps of the Perfume River):

First organised on 17 May 1974 during the Vietnam War, the 2nd Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign that ended the war. Stationed in Lạng Giang District, Bắc Giang. The combat forces of the corps include:

  • 304th Division
  • 306th Infantry Division
  • 325th Division
  • 673rd Air Defence Division
  • 203rd Tank Brigade
  • 164th Artillery Brigade
  • 219th Engineer Brigade
Quân đội duyệt binh ở Trường Sa
Vietnamese troops on Spratly Island

3rd Corps – Binh đoàn Tây Nguyên (Corps of the Central Highlands):

First organised on 26 March 1975 during the Vietnam War, 3rd Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign and the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. Stationed in Pleiku, Gia Lai. The combat forces of the corps include:

  • 10th Infantry Division
  • 31st Infantry Division
  • 320th Infantry Division
  • 312th Air Defence Regiment
  • 273rd Tank Regiment
  • 675th Artillery Regiment
  • 198th Commando Regiment
  • 29th Signal Regiment
  • 545th Engineer Regiment

4th Corps – Binh đoàn Cửu Long (Corps of the Mekong):

First organised 20 July 1974 during the Vietnam War, 4th Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign and the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. Stationed in Dĩ An, Bình Dương. The combat forces of the corps include:

Local forces

Local forces are an entity of the PAVN that, together with the militia and "self-defence forces," act on the local level in protection of people and local authorities. While the local forces are regular VPA forces, the people's militia consists of rural civilians, and the people's self-defence forces consist of civilians who live in urban areas and/or work in large groups, such as at construction sites or farms. The current number stands at 3–4 million part-time soldiers.

Vietnam Coast Guard

As mentioned above, reserves exist in all branches and are organised in the same way as the standing forces, with the same chain of command, and with officers and non-commissioned officers. It is modeled after the United States Coast Guard with some Vietnamese characteristics.

Ranks and insignia

  • The Highest ranks – General Officers:
Ranks Translation Ground Forces Air Force Navy Border Defence Vietnam Coast Guard
Vietnam Ground Forces symbol.jpg
Air Force wings
Anchor Navy.jpg
Vietnam Border Defense Force symbol.jpg
Anchor Marine Police.jpg
Đại tướng Army General
Vietnam People's Army General.jpg
Thượng tướng/
Đô đốc
Colonel General/
Admiral (Navy)
Vietnam People's Army Colonel General.jpg
Vietnam People's Air Force Colonel General.jpg
Vietnam People's Navy Admiral.jpg
Trung tướng/
Phó Đô đốc
Lieutenant General/
Vice Admiral (Navy)
Vietnam People's Army Lieutenant General.jpg
Vietnam People's Air Force Lieutenant General.jpg
Vietnam People's Navy Vice Admiral.jpg
Vietnam Border Defense Force Colonel General.jpg
Vietnam Marine Police Lieutenant General.jpg
Thiếu tướng/
Chuẩn Đô đốc
Major General/
Rear Admiral (Navy)
Vietnam People's Army Major General.jpg
Vietnam People's Air Force Major General.jpg
Vietnam People's Navy Rear Admiral.jpg
Vietnam Border Defense Force Major General.jpg
Vietnam Marine Police Major General.jpg


Russian BM-21 Grad in Saint Petersburg
BM-21 launch vehicle (Russian: БМ-21 "Град"), (Grad) a Soviet truck-mounted 122 mm multiple rocket launcher.

From the 1960s to 1975, the Soviet Union, along with some smaller Eastern Bloc countries, was the main supplier of military hardware to North Vietnam. After the latter's victory in the war, it remained the main supplier of equipment to Vietnam. The United States had been the primary supplier of equipment to South Vietnam; much of the equipment abandoned by the US Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) came under control of the re-unified Vietnamese government. The PAVN captured large numbers of ARVN weapons on 30 April 1975 after Saigon was captured.

Now, Russia remains as the biggest arms-supplier for Vietnam, even after 1986, there are also increasing arms sales from other nations, notably from India, Turkey, Israel, Japan, South Korea and France. In 2016, President Barack Obama announced the lift of the lethal weapons embargo on Vietnam, which has increased Vietnamese military equipment choices from other countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and the other Western countries as well, which could enable a faster modernization of the Vietnamese military.



  1. ^ In the Vietnam People's Army, the Ground Force hasn't been established as an independent Command, all of the ground forces, army corps, specialised arms belong to the Ministry of Defence (Vietnam), under directly command of General Staff (Vietnam People's Army).


  1. ^ a b International Institute for Strategic Studies (3 February 2014). The Military Balance 2014. London: Routledge. pp. 287–289. ISBN 9781857437225.
  2. ^ "History – The Hmong". Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  3. ^ Military History Institute of Vietnam,(2002) Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975, translated by Merle L. Pribbenow. University Press of Kansas. p. 68. ISBN 0-7006-1175-4.
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  7. ^ Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, The NVA and Vietcong, Osprey Publishing, 1991, p.5
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  11. ^ David P. Chandler, A history of Cambodia, Westview Press; Allen & Unwin, Boulder, Sydney, 1992
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  17. ^ "Vietnam, Laos: Military Offensive Launched At Hmong". Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
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  20. ^ "President Obama Urged To Address Laos, Hmong Crisis During Asia Trip, Student Protests in Vientiane". Archived from the original on 21 September 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  21. ^ "Hmong: Vietnam VPA, LPA Troops Attack Christians Villagers in Laos". 26 January 2010. Archived from the original on 7 July 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  22. ^ "Laos, Vietnam Peoples Army Unleashes Helicopter Gunship Attacks on Laotian and Hmong Civilians, Christian Believers". 11 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  23. ^ Statistics of Democide Archived 4 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Rudolph Rummel
  24. ^ "Vietnam, Laos Crackdown: SEA Games Avoided By Overseas Lao, Hmong in Protest". 7 December 2009. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  25. ^ – Press Release Distribution (26 November 2009). "SEA Game Attacks: Vietnam, Laos Military Kill 23 Lao Hmong Christians on Thanksgiving". Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  26. ^ "Worldwide Ballistic Missile Inventories – Arms Control Association". Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  27. ^ See also "Modern Military of Vietnam". Defence Talk. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  28. ^ Russel R. Ross, 'Military Force Development in Vietnam," Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1984, 17.
  29. ^ IISS Military Balance 2017, 338–9.


  • Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, 'The NVA and Vietcong', Osprey Publishing, 1991.
  • Military History Institute of Vietnam,(2002) Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975, translated by Merle L. Pribbenow. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1175-4.
  • Morris, Virginia and Hills, Clive. 'Ho Chi Minh's Blueprint for Revolution: In the Words of Vietnamese Strategists and Operatives', McFarland & Co Inc, 2018.
  • Tran, Doan Lam (2012). How the Vietnamese People's Army was Founded. Hanoi: World Publishers. ISBN 978-604-7705-13-9.

External links

1st Military Region (Vietnam People's Army)

1st Military Region of Vietnam People's Army, is directly under the Ministry of Defence of Vietnam, tasked to organise, build, manage and commander fights against foreign invaders to protect the North East of Vietnam. The north-east region of Vietnam, borders with the Guangxi of China. In 1979, Chinese army with 5 infantry corps, 17 infantry divisions, launched a huge invasion in this military zone, occupied the Lạng Sơn and Cao Bằng. The headquarters of the 1st Military Zone is in Thái Nguyên.

Commander: Lt. Gen. Phan Văn Giang

Political Commissar: Lt. Gen. Nguyễn Sỹ Thăng

Deputy Commander cum Chief of Staff Commander: Maj. Gen. Phạm Thanh Sơn

304th Division (Vietnam)

The 304 Division is an infantry division of the People's Army of Vietnam. It was established in January 1950 at Thanh Hoa.

4th Corps (Vietnam People's Army)

4th Corps (Vietnamese: Quân đoàn 4) or Cửu Long Corps (Vietnamese: Binh đoàn Cửu Long, literally: Corps of Cửu Long or "Corps of the Mekong") is one of the four regular army corps of the People's Army of Vietnam. First organized in 1974 during the Vietnam War, 4th Corps had a major role in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign and the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. Today the corps is stationed in Dĩ An, Bình Dương.

Commander: Maj. Gen. Nguyễn Hoàng

Political Commissar: Maj. Gen. Nguyễn Trọng Nghĩa

5th Infantry Division (Vietnam)

The VC 5th Infantry Division was a division of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War and later became part of the People's Army of Vietnam. The division consisted of the 274 Regiment and 275 Regiment plus supporting units. Formed in August 1965 the VC 5th Division's headquarters was located in Northeast Phuoc Tuy in the May Tao Mountains, the 274th Regiment's headquarters was located in the Hat Dich area and the 275th Regiment's headquarters was also located in the May Tao Mountains. The division operated in the Bien Hoa, Dong Nai, Phuoc Tuy and Long Khanh provinces. North Vietnamese regulars also reinforced the division during operations.As part of the campaign against Saigon it was tasked with isolating the eastern provinces by interdicting the main roads and highways, including national routes 1 and 15 and provincial routes 2 and 23. It this role it proved a major challenge to the ARVN, with the 275th Regiment successfully ambushing a South Vietnamese battalion near Binh Gia on 11 November 1965. The division or elements participated in the Battle of Long Tan against Australian Army forces, as well as a number of other actions. Other notable battles included the battles of Bien Hoa, Long Binh, Snuol, and Loc Ninh. Later in the war the division also operated in Cambodia.

Presently, the 5th Division is under the 7th Military Region.

7th Infantry Division (Vietnam)

The 7th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed in 1966 in the Mekong Delta region from the 141st Infantry Regiment and the 209th Infantry Regiment which were detached from the 312th Division.

7th Military Region (Vietnam People's Army)

The 7th Military Region of Vietnam People's Army, is directly under the Ministry of Defence of Vietnam, tasked to organise, build, manage and command armed forces defending the South East Vietnam.

Command Headquarters: Ho Chi Minh City

Commander: Lieutenant General Võ Minh Lương

Political Commissar: Lieutenant General Phạm Văn Dỹ

Deputy Commander cum Chief of Staff: Major General Lê Bửu Tuấn (2015)

9th Division (Vietnam)

The 9th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed from Viet Cong units in 1964/5 in the Mekong Delta region.

Firebase Bird

Firebase Bird was a U.S. Army firebase located in the Kim Son Valley in southern Vietnam during the Vietnam War.In December 1966 Bird was occupied by C Battery 6th Battalion, 16th Artillery and B Battery 2nd Battalion, 19th Artillery and defended by elements of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry. On the early morning of 27 December after preparatory mortar fire Bird was attacked by 3 Battalions of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 22nd Regiment. The PAVN quickly breached the perimeter and occupied all the 155mm and some of the 105mm gun pits. The remaining guns of 2/19 Artillery were then used to fire Beehive rounds directly at the PAVN stopping the attack. Supporting artillery fire was called in from nearby Firebase Pony and helicopter gunships also arrived to give supporting fire, forcing the PAVN to retreat.U.S. losses at Firebase Bird were 27 dead and 67 wounded, more than 60 percent of the defenders, while the U.S. claimed that PAVN losses in the attack and a four-day pursuit of the attackers were 267 dead.B Battery 2/19 Artillery was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for its actions, while SSGT Delbert O. Jennings would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.The attack on Bird was the subject of the book Bird by military historian S.L.A. Marshall. Today the base has reverted to jungle.

General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army

The General Staff (Vietnamese: Bộ Tổng tham mưu) is the commanding and managing organisation of the Vietnam People's Army, the paramilitary forces, militia and other activities relating to defence of Vietnam. The General Staff was established on 7 September 1945, right after the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the first Chief of the General Staff was General Hoàng Văn Thái. During the Second Indochina War, Vietnam War, Cambodian-Vietnamese War, Sino-Vietnamese War and other skirmishes, the General Staff always had an essential role in organising, commanding the armed forces and planning, operating military campaigns for the Ministry of Defence and the Government of Vietnam. The current Chief of the General Staff is Senior Lieutenant General (AKA Colonel General) Phan Văn Giang who also holds the position of Deputy Minister of Defence.

Hanoi Capital City Special High Command of the People's Army of Vietnam

Hanoi Capital High Command (Vietnamese: Bộ tư lệnh Thủ đô Hà Nội) of the People's Army of Vietnam, is directly under the reponsbility of the Ministry of Defense of Vietnam, tasked to organise, build, manage and command armed forces defending the capital of Vietnam.

List of Vietnamese records in swimming

The Vietnamese records in swimming are the fastest ever performances of swimmers from Vietnam, which are recognised and ratified by the Vietnam Aquatic Sports Association (Hiệp hội thể thao dưới nước Việt Nam VASA).

All records were set in finals unless noted otherwise.

Ministry of Defence (Vietnam)

The Ministry of Defence (Vietnamese: Bộ Quốc phòng) is the governmental ministry of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that manages, coordinates and supervises military affairs, including all military units, paramilitary units, and similar agencies in the country. The major office of the Ministry of Defence is located within the ancient Hanoi Citadel. The ministry is operated under the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as well as other various laws.

The Ministry publishes the newspaper Quân Đội Nhân Dân together with the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

South Vietnamese Popular Force

During the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese Popular Force (nghĩa quân) (sometimes abbreviated RF/PF or PF) consisted of local militias that protected their home villages from attacks by first Viet Cong forces and later by People's Army of Vietnam units. Originally called the Civil Guard and the Self-Defense Corps, they were integrated into the Army of the Republic of Vietnam in 1964 and placed under the command of the Joint General Staff. The Popular Force was one of two broad groups of militia, the other being the Regional Forces (địa phương quân). The American forces referred to both groups collectively as "Ruff-Puffs" referring to the abbreviation RF/PF. Popular Forces themselves are divided between larger and better organised Popular Forces as well as the much more provisional People's Self-Defense Forces and resembled the Local Force and village-guerrilla level component of the Viet Cong. These units served on a voluntary, part-time basis and together with South Vietnamese Regional Force members, were the lowest paid and numbered almost 500,000 in 1974.Initially very poorly-trained, and recruited on a voluntary basis as part-time village or area militiamen, these forces often-times bore the brunt of People's Army of Vietnam and PLAF incursions, and essentially served as front-line standing forces. The abrupt U.S ground-force intervention in the war had caused many to become sidelined, due to the ARVN Regular Army being sidelined and fulfilling regional defence roles, despite being the most immediately capable of defending against guerrilla insurgency. These units became gradually better-trained and equipped during Vietnamization, and experienced doubled the casualties of Army of the Republic of Vietnam Regular Forces from 1970 on-wards. Nevertheless RF/PF units were responsible for inflicting an estimated 30% of the total People's Army of Vietnam and Viet Cong casualties throughout the war, and were much more capable of fulfilling ambush and small-unit movement, reconnaissance and detection roles than larger, slow-moving conventional forces.

Trần Văn Trà

Nguyễn Chấn, known as Trần Văn Trà (1918 – April 20, 1996) was a Vietnamese general. He was a commander in the Vietcong; a member of the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party (Workers' Party of Vietnam) from 1960 to 1982; a lieutenant general in the army of the North Vietnam; chairman of Military Affairs Committee of the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN) (1964–1976).

Vietnam Border Defence Force

Vietnam Border Defence Force (Vietnamese: Bộ đội Biên phòng Việt Nam) is branch of the Vietnam People's Army, as the core, responsible management and protection of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, order and national boundaries on the mainland, islands, sea and at the gate as shall by law and is a force members in provincial areas of defence, border districts of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Vietnam Coast Guard

Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG; Vietnamese: Cảnh sát biển Việt Nam, lit. "Sea police of Vietnam") is the coast guard of Vietnam. It is a branch of Vietnam's military, the Vietnam People's Army, and falls under the management of the Vietnamese Ministry of Defence. Since its creation in the late 1990s, the Vietnam Coast Guard plays an important role in maintaining sea security and protection of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf boundary. It has dispatched forces in waters in overlapping areas between Vietnam and foreign countries, providing protection and assistance to local fishermen when necessary. In addition, the Vietnam Coast Guard perform search and rescue duties, along with their duties of combating and preventing smuggling, piracy, and trade fraud in Vietnamese waters.

Vietnam People's Armed Forces

The Vietnam People's Armed Forces (VPAF) are the armed forces of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It consists of 3 components: the People's Army of Vietnam which is the military forces of Vietnam, Vietnam People's Public Security which is the security forces of Vietnam and Vietnam Civil Defense Force which is the militia of Vietnam.

Vietnam People's Navy

The Vietnam People's Navy (Vietnamese: Hải quân nhân dân Việt Nam), commonly known as the Vietnamese navy or the Vietnamese People's Navy, is the naval branch of the Vietnam People's Army and is responsible for the protection of the country's national waters, islands, and interests of the maritime economy, as well as for the co-ordination of maritime police, customs service and the border defence force.

Văn Tiến Dũng

Văn Tiến Dũng (Vietnamese: [van tǐən zǔŋmˀ]; 2 May 1917 – 17 March 2002), born Co Nhue commune, Từ Liêm District, Hanoi, was a Vietnamese general in the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), PAVN chief of staff (1954–74); PAVN commander in chief (1974–80); member of the Central Military–Party Committee (CMPC) (1984-1986) and Socialist Republic of Vietnam defense minister (1980–86).

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