South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, Vietnamese: Việt Nam Cộng Hòa; French: République du Viêt Nam, lit. Vietnam[ese] Republic), was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western Bloc during part of the Cold War. It received international recognition in 1949 as the "State of Vietnam" (a self-governing entity in the French Empire), which was a constitutional monarchy (1949–1955). This became the "Republic of Vietnam" in 1955. Its capital was Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). South Vietnam was bordered by North Vietnam to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast.
The Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed on 26 October 1955, with Ngô Đình Diệm as its first president, after having briefly served as premier under Emperor Bao Dai who was exiled. Its sovereignty was recognized by the United States and 87 other nations. It had membership in several special committees of the United Nations, but its application for full membership was rejected in 1957 because of a Soviet veto (neither South nor North Vietnam were members of the UN during the Vietnam War, but the united Vietnam became a member state in 1977). South Vietnam's origins can be traced to the French colony of Cochinchina, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam which was Cochinchina [Nam Kỳ], a subdivision of French Indochina, and the southern half of Central Vietnam or Annam [Trung Kỳ] which was a French protectorate. After the Second World War, the anti-Japanese Viet Minh guerrilla forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, proclaimed the establishment of a Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi in September 1945, issuing a Declaration of Independence modeled on the U.S. one from 1776.
In 1949, anti-communist Vietnamese politicians formed a rival government in Saigon led by former emperor Bảo Đại. Bảo Đại was deposed by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm in 1955, who proclaimed himself president after a referendum. Diệm was killed in a military coup led by general Dương Văn Minh in 1963, and a series of short-lived military governments followed. General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu then led the country after a U.S.-encouraged civilian presidential election from 1967 until 1975. The beginnings of the Vietnam War occurred in 1959 with an uprising by the newly organized National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (Viet Cong), armed and supported by the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam, with other assistance rendered by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact communist satellites, along with neighboring People's Republic of China and North Korea. Larger escalation of the insurgency occurred in 1965 with the landing of United States regular forces of Marines, followed by Army units to supplement the cadre of military advisors guiding ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) southern forces. A regular bombing campaign over North Vietnam was conducted by offshore U.S. Navy airplanes, warships, and aircraft carriers joined by Air Force squadrons through 1966 and 1967. Fighting peaked up to that point during the Tet Offensive of February 1968, when there were over a million South Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam. Later on the war turned into a more conventional fight as the balance of power became equalized. An even larger, armored invasion commenced during the Easter Offensive following US ground-forces withdrawal, and had nearly overran some major northern cities until beaten back.
Despite a truce agreement under the Paris Peace Accords, concluded in January 1973, after a torturous five years of on and off negotiations, fighting continued almost immediately afterwards. The North Vietnamese regular army and Viet Cong launched a major second combined-arms invasion in 1975, termed the Spring Offensive. Communist forces overran Saigon on 30 April 1975, marking the end of the Republic of Vietnam. On July 2, 1976, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Republic of Vietnam
Việt Nam Cộng Hòa (Vietnamese)
Motto: "Tổ Quốc – Danh Dự – Trách Nhiệm"
(English: "Fatherland – Honor – Duty")
Anthem: "Tiếng Gọi Công Dân"
(English: "Call to the Citizens")
and largest city
|Recognised national languages||French|
|Ngô Đình Diệm|
|Nguyễn Văn Thiệu|
|Trần Văn Hương|
|Dương Văn Minh|
• 1963–1964 (first)
|Nguyễn Ngọc Thơ|
• 1975 (last)
|Vũ Văn Mẫu|
|26 October 1955|
|2 November 1963|
|27 January 1973|
|30 April 1975|
|173,809 km2 (67,108 sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+8 (Saigon Standard Time (SST))|
|Today part of||Vietnam|
The official name of the South Vietnamese state was Việt Nam Cộng hòa (Republic of Vietnam) and the French name was referred to as République du Viêt Nam. The North was known as the "Democratic Republic of Vietnam".
Việt Nam (Vietnamese pronunciation: [vjə̀tnam]) was the name adopted by Emperor Gia Long in 1804. It is a variation of "Nam Việt" (南越, Southern Việt), a name used in ancient times. In 1839, Emperor Minh Mạng renamed the country Đại Nam ("Great South"). In 1945, the nation's official name was changed back to "Vietnam". The name is also sometimes rendered as "Viet Nam" in English. The term "South Vietnam" became common usage in 1954, when the Geneva Conference provisionally partitioned Vietnam into communist and non-communist parts.
Other names of this state were commonly used during its existence such as Free Vietnam and the Government of Viet Nam (GVN).
Before World War II, the southern third of Vietnam was the concession (nhượng địa) of Cochinchina, which was administered as part of French Indochina. A French governor-general (toàn quyền) in Hanoi administered all the five parts of Indochina (Tonkin, Annam, Cochinchina, Laos, and Cambodia.) while Cochinchina (Nam Kỳ) was under a French governor (thống đốc), but the difference from the other parts was that most indigenous intellensia and wealthy were naturalized French (Tourane of Đà Nẵng in the central third of Vietnam also enjoyed this privilege because this city was a concession too.) The northern third of Vietnam (then the colony (thuộc địa) of Tonkin (Bắc Kỳ) was under a French resident general (thống sứ). Between Tonkin in the north and Cochinchina in the south was the protectorate (xứ bảo hộ) of Annam (Trung Kỳ), under a French resident superior (khâm sứ). A Vietnamese emperor, Bảo Đại, residing in Huế, was the nominal ruler of Annam and Tonkin, which had parallel French and Vietnamese systems of administration, but his influence was less in Tonkin than in Annam. Cochinchina had been annexed by France in 1862 and even elected a deputy to the French National Assembly. It was more "evolved", and French interests were stronger than in other parts of Indochina, notably in the form of French-owned rubber plantations. During World War II, Indochina was administered by Vichy France and occupied by Japan. Japanese troops overthrew the French administration on 9 March 1945, Emperor Bảo Đại proclaimed Vietnam independent. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Emperor Bảo Đại abdicated, and Viet Minh leader Hồ Chí Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in Hanoi and the DRV controlled almost the entire country of Vietnam. In June 1946, France declared Cochinchina a republic, separate from the northern and central parts. A victorious Chinese communist army arrived in Vietnam's northern part of parallel 17. Hồ purged non-communist politicians from the DRV. The French Indochina War began on 19 December 1946, with the French regaining control of Hanoi and many other cities.
The State of Vietnam was created through co-operation between anti-communist Vietnamese and the French government on 14 June 1949. Former emperor Bảo Đại accepted the position of chief of state (quốc trưởng). This was known as the "Bảo Đại Solution". The colonial struggle in Vietnam became part of the global Cold War. In 1950, China, the Soviet Union and other communist nations recognised the DRV while the United States and other non-communist states recognised the Bảo Đại government.
In July 1954, France and the Viet Minh (later the Viet Cong) agreed at the Geneva Conference that the State of Vietnam would rule the territory south of the 17th parallel, pending unification on the basis of supervised elections in 1956. At the time of the conference, it was expected that the South would continue to be a French dependency. However, South Vietnamese Premier Ngô Đình Diệm, who preferred American sponsorship to French, rejected the agreement. When Vietnam was divided, 800,000 to 1 million North Vietnamese, mainly (but not exclusively) Roman Catholics, sailed south as part of Operation Passage to Freedom due to a fear of religious persecution in the North.
In July 1955, Diệm announced in a broadcast that South Vietnam would not participate in the elections specified in the Geneva accords. As Saigon's delegation did not sign the Geneva accords, it was not bound by it. He also said the communist government in the North created conditions that made a fair election impossible in that region. This view was supported by the International Control Committee, in the circumstances prevailing in 1955 and 1956 – anarchy of the Sects and of the retiring Viet Minh in the South, the 1956 campaign of terror from Hanoi's land reform and resultant peasant uprising around Vinh in the North.
Diệm held a referendum on 23 October 1955 to determine the future of the country. He asked voters to approve a republic, thus removing Bảo Đại as head of state. The poll was supervised by his younger brother, Ngô Đình Nhu. Diệm was credited with 98 percent of the votes. In many districts, there were more votes to remove Bảo Đại than there were registered voters (e.g., in Saigon, 133% of the registered population reportedly voted to remove Bảo Đại). His American advisors had recommended a more modest winning margin of "60 to 70 percent". Diệm, however, viewed the election as a test of authority. On 26 October 1955, Diệm declared himself the president of the newly proclaimed Republic of Vietnam. The French, who needed troops to fight in Algeria, completely withdrew from Vietnam by April 1956.
Diệm attempted to stabilise South Vietnam by defending against Viet Cong activities. He launched an anti-communist denunciation campaign (To Cong) against remnants of the communist Viet Cong. He acted against criminal factions by launching military campaigns against three powerful main sects; the Cao Đài, Hòa Hảo and the Bình Xuyên organised crime syndicate whose military strength combined amounted to approximately 350,000 soldiers.
Throughout this period, the level of US aid and political support increased. In spite of this, a 1961 US intelligence estimate reported that "one-half of the entire rural region south and southwest of Saigon, as well as some areas to the north, are under considerable Communist control. Some of these areas are in effect denied to all government authority not immediately backed by substantial armed force. The Viet Cong’s strength encircles Saigon and has recently begun to move closer in the city."  The report, later excerpted in The Pentagon Papers, continued:
The Diệm government lost support among the populace, and from the Kennedy administration, due to its repression of Buddhists and military defeats by the Viet Cong. Notably, the Huế Phật Đản shootings of 8 May 1963 led to the Buddhist crisis, provoking widespread protests and civil resistance. Diệm was overthrown in a coup on 1 November 1963 with the tacit approval of the US.
Diệm's removal and assassination set off a period of political instability and declining legitimacy of the Saigon government. General Dương Văn Minh became president, but he was ousted in January 1964 by General Nguyễn Khánh. Phan Khắc Sửu was named head of state, but power remained with a junta of generals led by Khánh, which soon fell to infighting. Meanwhile, the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 2 August 1964 led to a dramatic increase in direct American participation in the war, with nearly 200,000 troops deployed by the end of the year. Khánh sought to capitalize on the crisis with the Vũng Tàu Charter, a new constitution that would have curtailed civil liberties and concentrated his power, but was forced to back down in the face of widespread protests and strikes. Coup attempts followed in September and February, the latter resulting in Air Marshall Nguyễn Cao Kỳ becoming prime minister and Nguyễn Văn Thiệu becoming nominal head of state.
Kỳ and Thieu functioned in those roles until 1967, bringing much-desired stability to the government. They imposed censorship and suspended civil liberties, and intensified anticommunist efforts. Under pressure from the US, they held elections for president and the legislature in 1967, Thiệu being elected president with 34% of the vote in a widely criticised poll.
On 31 January 1968, the NVA and the Viet Cong broke the traditional truce accompanying the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday. The so-called Tet Offensive failed to spark a national uprising, and was militarily disastrous. By bringing the war to South Vietnam's cities, however, and by demonstrating the continued strength of communist forces, it marked a turning point in US support for the government in South Vietnam. The new administration of Richard Nixon introduced a policy of Vietnamization to reduce US combat involvement. Thiệu used the aftermath of the Tet Offensive to sideline Kỳ, his chief rival, and ran for re-election unopposed in 1971.
In accordance with the Paris Peace Accords signed with North Vietnam on 27 January 1973, US military forces withdrew from South Vietnam. North Vietnam was allowed to continue supplying communist troops in the South, but only to the extent of replacing materials that were consumed.
The communist leaders had expected that the ceasefire terms would favour their side. But as Saigon began to roll back the Viet Cong, they found it necessary to adopt a new strategy, hammered out at a series of meetings in Hanoi in March 1973, according to the memoirs of Trần Văn Trà. As the Viet Cong's top commander, Trà participated in several of these meetings. A plan to improve logistics was prepared so that the North Vietnamese Army would be able to launch a massive invasion of the South, projected for 1976, before Saigon's army could be fully trained. A gas pipeline would be built from North Vietnam to Viet Cong headquarters in Lộc Ninh, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Saigon.
On 15 March 1973, US President Richard Nixon implied that the US would intervene militarily if the communist side violated the ceasefire. Public reaction was unfavorable, and on 4 June 1973 the US Senate passed the Case–Church Amendment to prohibit such intervention. The oil price shock of October 1973 caused significant damage to the South Vietnamese economy. A spokesman for Thiệu admitted in a TV interview that the government was being "overwhelmed" by the inflation caused by the oil shock, while an American businessman living in Saigon stated after the oil shock that attempting to make money in South Vietnam was "like making love to a corpse". One consequence of the inflation was the South Vietnamese government had increasing difficulty in paying its soldiers. The Viet Cong resumed offensive operations, and by January 1974 it had recaptured the territory that it had lost earlier. After two clashes that left 55 South Vietnamese soldiers dead, President Thieu announced on 4 January that the war had restarted and that the Paris Peace Accord was no longer in effect. There were over 25,000 South Vietnamese casualties during the ceasefire period.
In August 1974, Nixon was forced to resign as a result of the Watergate scandal, and the US Congress voted to reduce assistance to South Vietnam from $1 billion a year to $700 million. By this time, the Ho Chi Minh trail, once an arduous mountain trek, had been upgraded into a drivable highway with gasoline stations.
In December 1974, the communists of North Vietnam launched an invasion first at Phuoc Long to test two things: how much strengths and weaknesses the ARVN soldiers preparedness on the elevated terrain combat and the U.S military response on PAVN invasion. With the U.S unable to send soldiers to South Vietnam, ARVN soldiers in Phuoc Long couldn't defend any longer the siege around the districts near provincial capital Phuoc Long. PAVN soldiers, with a lot of ammunition and supplies, successfully captured many of the districts around the provincial capital of Phuoc Long weakening ARVN resistance in stronghold areas. President Thieu later abandoned Phuoc Long in early January 1975. As a result, Phuoc Long was the first provincial capital to fall to North Vietnamese communists.
In 1975, the communists of North Vietnam launched an offensive in the South, which became known as the Ho Chi Minh Campaign. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam unsuccessfully attempted a defence and counterattack. It had few remaining operational tanks and artillery pieces, as well as a shortage of spare parts and ammunition. The NVA had a vastly greater supply of new equipment and ammunition. As a consequence, South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was forced to withdraw key army units from the Central Highlands, which exacerbated an already perilous military situation and undercut the confidence of the ARVN soldiers in their leadership.
The retreat became a rout. The cities of Huế, Da Nang and Da Lat in central Vietnam quickly fell, and the North Vietnamese advanced southwards. As the military situation deteriorated, ARVN troops started deserting. By early April, South Vietnam had lost almost 3/5th of the land.
Thiệu requested aid from US President Gerald Ford, but the US Senate would not release extra money to provide aid to South Vietnam, and had already passed laws to prevent further involvement in Vietnam. In desperation, Thiệu recalled Nguyễn Cao Kỳ from retirement as a military commander, but resisted calls to name his old rival prime minister.
In 1974 China attacked South Vietnam in the Paracel Islands, further weakening South Vietnam's army. Morale was low in South Vietnam as the PAVN quickly advanced. Nguyễn Văn Thiệu resigned on 21 April 1975, and fled to Taiwan. He nominated his Vice President Trần Văn Hương as his successor. A last-ditch defense was made by the ARVN 18th Division at the Battle of Xuân Lộc led by Major General Lê Minh Đảo. After only one week in office, Trần Văn Hương handed over the presidency to General Dương Văn Minh ("Big Minh"). Minh was seen as a more conciliatory figure toward the North, and it was hoped he might be able to negotiate a more favourable settlement to end the war. The North, however, was not interested in negotiations, and its tanks rolled into Saigon largely unopposed which led to the Fall of Saigon. Acting President Minh unconditionally surrendered the capital city of Saigon and the rest of South Vietnam to North Vietnam on 30 April 1975.
During the hours leading up to the surrender, the United States undertook a massive evacuation of its embassy in Saigon, Operation Frequent Wind. The evacuees included US government personnel as well as high-ranking members of the ARVN and other South Vietnamese who were seen as potential targets for persecution by the Communists. Many of the evacuees were taken directly by helicopter to multiple aircraft carriers waiting off the coast. An iconic image of the evacuation is the widely seen footage of empty Huey helicopters being jettisoned over the side of the carriers, to provide more room on the ship's deck for more evacuees to land. The evacuation was forced to stop by the US Navy. All the Marines and diplomats were evacuated, but thousands of South Vietnamese citizens waited in vain at the US embassy compound, and one block away at the former USAID and CIA office space in the Pittman Apartment House on 22 Gia Long Street atop the roof for helicopters that never came.
Mekong Delta: The Last Region
In the Mekong Delta, Can Tho and most of the provinces were intact and strongly kept control by aggressive ARVN soldiers. Many of ARVN soldiers were strong morale on the last days of South Vietnam to prevent VC taking over any provincial capital. Despite VC skirmishes attacks, many of ARVN units manage to defend many important places for days until President Minh ordered ARVN soldiers to disband. When Saigon was about to fell to communists, Brigadier General Le Van Hung planned a secret map places in jungles and military bases that would continue prolong counterattack against VC for few months until PAVN/VC reach a ceasefire hoping to keep several places for South Vietnam. There Hung sent remaining ARVN soldiers and officers to secret places to stabilize across Mekong places. However, when President Duong Van Minh surrender, many of Can Tho residents oppose a strong resistance against outnumbered VC soldiers. Summoning to say goodbye to ARVN soldiers, staffs, and his family, Le Van Hung committed suicide at his bedroom. On the same day, Brigadier General Tran Van Hai, who defend strongly to maintain control in Mỹ Tho and Định Tường province, committed suicide in Dong Tam Base. The next morning, Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam, who direct military operations to protect whole Mekong Delta, committed suicide at IV Corps headquarter in Can Tho. Remaining ARVN soldiers in Mekong Delta later surrender to VC shortly after three ARVN generals suicide.
The Geneva Accords promised elections in 1956 to determine a national government for a united Vietnam. In 1957, independent observers from India, Poland, and Canada representing the International Control Commission (ICC) stated that fair, unbiased elections were not possible, reporting that neither South nor North Vietnam had honored the armistice agreement.
After promising not to do so during the 1964 election campaign, in 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to send in much larger numbers of combat troops, and conflict steadily escalated. The NLF ceased to be an effective fighting organization after the Tet Offensive in 1968 and the war was largely taken over by regular army units of North Vietnam. Following American withdrawal from the war in 1973, the South Vietnamese government continued fighting until its unconditional surrender to the Viet Cong on 30 April 1975, the day of the surrender of Saigon. North Vietnam controlled South Vietnam under military occupation, while the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, which had been proclaimed in June 1969 by the NLF, became the nominal government. The North Vietnamese quickly moved to marginalise non-communist members of the PRG and integrate South Vietnam into the communist North. The unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam was declared on 2 July 1976. The Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam in Washington donated 527 reels of South Vietnamese-produced film to the Library of Congress during the embassy's closure following the Fall of Saigon, which are in the Library to this day.
South Vietnam went through many political changes during its short life. Initially, former Emperor Bảo Đại served as Head of State. He was unpopular however, largely because monarchical leaders were considered collaborators during French rule and because he had spent his reign absent in France.
In 1955, Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm held a referendum to decide whether the State of Vietnam would remain a monarchy or become a republic. This referendum was blatantly rigged in favour of a republic. Not only did an implausible 98% vote in favour of deposing Bảo Đại, but over 380,000 more votes were cast than the total number of registered voters; in Saigon, for instance, Diệm was credited with 133% of the vote. Diệm proclaimed himself the president of the newly formed Republic of Vietnam. Despite successes in politics, economics and social change in the first 5 years, Diệm quickly became a dictatorial leader. With the support of the United States government and the CIA, ARVN officers led by General Dương Văn Minh staged a coup and killed him in 1963. The military held a brief interim military government until General Nguyễn Khánh deposed Minh in a January 1964 coup. Until late 1965, multiple coups and changes of government occurred, with some civilians being allowed to give a semblance of civil rule overseen by a military junta.
In 1965, the feuding civilian government voluntarily resigned and handed power back to the nation's military, in the hope this would bring stability and unity to the nation. An elected constituent assembly including representatives of all the branches of the military decided to switch the nation's system of government to a Semi-Presidential system. There was a bicameral National Assembly consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives, which came into being in 1967. Military rule initially failed to provide much stability however, as internal conflicts and political inexperience caused various factions of the army to launch coups and counter-coups against one another, making leadership very tumultuous. The situation within the ranks of the military stabilised in mid-1965 when the Republic of Vietnam Air Force chief Nguyễn Cao Kỳ became Prime Minister, with General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu as the figurehead chief of state. As Prime Minister, Kỳ consolidated control of the South Vietnamese government and ruled the country with an iron fist.
In June 1965, Kỳ's influence over the ruling military government was solidified when he forced civilian prime minister Phan Huy Quát from power. Often praising aspects of Western culture in public, Ky was supported by the United States and its allied nations, though doubts began to circulate among Western officials by 1966 on whether or not Ky could maintain stability in South Vietnam. A repressive leader, Ky was greatly despised by his fellow countrymen. In early 1966, protesters influenced by popular Buddhist monk Thích Trí Quang attempted an uprising in Quang's hometown of Da Nang. The uprising was unsuccessful and Ky's repressive stance towards the nation's Buddhist population continued.
In 1967, South Vietnam held its first elections under the new system. Following the elections, however, it switched back to a presidential system. The military nominated Nguyễn Văn Thiệu as their candidate, and he was elected with a plurality of the popular vote. Thieu quickly consolidated power much to the dismay of those who hoped for an era of more political openness. He was re-elected unopposed in 1971, receiving a suspiciously high 94% of the vote on an 87% turn-out. Thieu ruled until the final days of the war, resigning in April 1975. Dương Văn Minh was the nation's last president and unconditionally surrendered to the Communist forces a few days after assuming office.
South Vietnam was formerly a member of ACCT, Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), IMF, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat), Interpol, IOC, ITU, League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LORCS), UNESCO and Universal Postal Union (UPU).
The South Vietnamese government was regularly accused of holding large quantity of political prisoners, of which the exact number was a source of contention. Amnesty International, in a report in 1973, gave the estimation of number of South Vietnam's civilian prisoners ranging from 35,257 (as confirmed by Saigon) to 200,000 or more. Among them, approximately 22,000–41,000 were accounted "communist" political prisoners. Robert F. Turner disputed the figure of 200,000, claiming the actual number to be "at the worst [...] a few hundred or so."
Following the surrender of Saigon to North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces on 30 April 1975, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam officially became the government of South Vietnam. Democratic Republic of Vietnam and Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam were merged to become the current Socialist Republic of Vietnam through the 1976 election, which was held on 25 April 1976.
On 26 October 1956, the military was reorganised by the administration of President Ngô Đình Diệm who established the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN, pronounced "arvin"). Early on, the focus of the army was combating the guerrilla fighters of the Viet Cong, or National Liberation Front, an insurgent movement supplied by North Vietnam. The United States, under President Kennedy sent advisors and a great deal of financial support to aid ARVN in combating the Viet Cong. ARVN and President Diệm began to be criticised by the foreign press when the troops were used to crush southern religious groups like the Cao Đài and Hòa Hảo as well as to raid Buddhist temples, which Diệm claimed were harbouring Communist guerrillas.
In 1963, Ngô Đình Diệm was assassinated in a coup d'état carried out by ARVN officers led by Dương Văn Minh ('Big Minh'), supported by the CIA. In the confusion that followed Big Minh took power, but was only the first in a succession of ARVN generals to assume the presidency of South Vietnam in a period of intense political instability. During these years, the United States began taking full control of the war against the NLF and the role of the ARVN became less and less significant. They were also plagued by continuing problems of severe corruption among the officer corps. Although the US was highly critical of them, the ARVN continued to be entirely US armed and funded.
The ability of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to effectively root out the Viet Cong counterinsurgency is questionable in this period. In 1963, at the Battle of Ap Bac, some 1,400 ARVN troops alongside 10 US-piloted Piasecki H-21 and 5 US-piloted Bell UH-1 Iroquois were defeated by 350 Viet Cong guerrillas, more than 83 were KIA, 5 helicopters downed and 10 damaged. This would be pivotal as it demonstrated the ability of the Viet Cong to counter helicopter assault with concentrated small-arms, recoil-less rifle and RPG fire. The Battle of Dong Xoai in 1965 was considered another defeat, as the Viet Cong captured an area and ambushed a force deployed to recapture it before melting away when reinforcements arrived. These two tactics would form a basis for Viet Cong strategy during the America intervention. Generals had also tended to be political appointees and corruption was rampant.
Starting in 1969, President Nixon started the process of so-called "Vietnamization", withdrawing American forces and leaving the ARVN to fight the war against the North Vietnamese. Slowly, ARVN began to expand from its counter-insurgency role to become the primary ground defense against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. From 1969 to 1971 there were about 22,000 ARVN combat deaths per year. Starting in 1968, South Vietnam began calling up every available man for service in the ARVN, reaching a strength of a million soldiers by 1972. In 1970 they performed well in Cambodia and were executing 3 times as many operations as they had during the American war period. However, the officer corps was still the biggest problem, and after the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, the ARVN lacked necessary military supplies and weapons as a result of a cutback of US financial aid and assistance.
Relations with the public also remained poor as their only counter to Viet Cong organising was to resurrect the Strategic Hamlet Program, which many peasants resented. However, forced to carry the burden left by the Americans, the South Vietnamese army actually started to perform rather well, and in 1970 was winning the war against the Communists, though with continued American air support. The exhaustion of the North was becoming evident, and the Paris talks gave some hope of a negotiated peace, if not a victory for the North Vietnamese. Since 1973, the war shifted in favour of the Viet Cong, who were better equipped, funded and aided by their communist allies, the USSR and the China, than the South was by the Americans.
The most crucial moment of truth for the ARVN came with General Võ Nguyên Giáp's 1972 Easter Offensive, the first all-out invasion of South Vietnam by the communists. It was code-named Nguyễn Huệ after the Vietnamese emperor who defeated the Chinese in 1789. The assault combined infantry wave assaults, artillery and the first massive use of tanks by the North Vietnamese. ARVN took heavy losses, but to the surprise of many, managed to hold their ground.
US President Nixon dispatched more bombers to provide air support for ARVN when it seemed that South Vietnam was about to be overrun. In desperation, President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu fired the incompetent General Hoàng Xuân Lãm and replaced him with ARVN's best commander, General Ngô Quang Trưởng. He gave the order that all deserters would be executed and pulled enough forces together so that the North Vietnamese army failed to take Huế. Finally, largely as a result of US air and naval support, as well as determination by ARVN soldiers, the Easter Offensive was halted.
After the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, all US armed forces withdrew from South Vietnam and theoretically the war officially ended, however clashes between ARVN and Viet Cong forces continued.
In 1975, the North Vietnamese again invaded the South. Lacking US air support, the ARVN could not hold them back. City after city fell to the Communists with ARVN soldiers joining the civilians trying to flee south. The North called this the "Ho Chi Minh Campaign". All resistance crumbled. Faced with few viable options, the South tried to form a coalition government that would be palatable to the Communists, one that favoured negotiated peace and neutrality. The new coalition government was headed by General Dương Văn Minh (Big Minh), one of the organisers of the coup in November 1963, with the full support of the CIA and President Kennedy, that killed President Ngô Đình Diệm. General Cao Văn Viên, then Colonel and Commander of the Airborne Brigade, had been captured and held by the Big Minh faction and threatened with execution unless he ordered his troops to join the coup. He refused and was held captive until the end of the coup and was released only because of his close friendship with one of the coup leaders.
Because the new coalition government would be headed by Big Minh, General Vien immediately submitted his resignation to then President of South Vietnam Trần Văn Hương, who succeeded President Thieu as President. President Huong, knowing the 1963 coup history, granted General Vien's resignation request, (Vien had submitted his resignation to President Thieu many times and had always been turned down). General Vien then escaped to the US as a civilian once his resignation was effective and formalised.
The situation in South Vietnam further deteriorated, except on Mekong Delta. The ARVN tried to defend Xuân Lộc, their last line of defence before Saigon. General Le Minh Dao defended there for two weeks to prevent PAVN soldiers from overrun provincial capital. The ARVN forces were greatly outnumbered by the advancing North Vietnamese army. Xuân Lộc was taken and on 30 April 1975, initiated the Fall of Saigon. The North Vietnamese army captured the city, placing the Viet Cong flag over the Independence Palace. General Dương Văn Minh, recently appointed president by Trần Văn Hương, unconditionally surrendered the city and government bringing the Republic of Vietnam and also the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to an end.
In the Mekong Delta, most of the ARVN forces were intact and aggressive with an extensive military operations to prevent VC from taking over any regional districts. Weeks before South Vietnam ceased to exist, VC soldiers made a skirmishes attacks in random places but ARVN soldiers managed to repulsed VC attacks at targeted roads and provincial capitals. Despite VC captured several outposts and attacks any road routes, ARVN soldiers defended really well significantly to hold on many regional capitals until President Duong Van Minh from the radio ordered Armed Forces of Republic of Vietnam to surrender and disperse. Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam, who plan to continue counterattack after Saigon capitulated, decided to follow President's order and shortly disbanded military units. General Nam commit suicide at IV Corps headquarter on May 1, 1975. Although ARVN military operations in Mekong Delta ceased to exist, many of ARVN soldiers defended strongly well with great intelligence to stop VC from taking over important places. It was consider the last defense of stronghold Mekong Delta should South Vietnamese government retreat to Can Tho.
There were four AM and one FM radio stations, all of them owned by government (VTVN), named Radio Vietnam. One of them was designated as a nationwide civilian broadcast, another was for military service and the other two stations included a French language broadcast station and foreign language station broadcasting in Chinese, English, Khmer and Thai. Radio Vietnam started its operation in 1955 under then president Ngo Dinh Diem, and ceased operation on 30 April 1975, with the broadcast of surrender by Duong Van Minh during the Fall of Saigon. The radio stations across the former South were later reused by the communist regime to broadcast their state-run radio service.
Television was introduced to South Vietnam on 7 February 1966 with black-and-white FCC system. Covering major cities in South Vietnam, started with a one-hour broadcast per day then increased to six hours in the evening during the 1970s. There were two main channels:
Both channels used an airborne transmission relay system from airplanes flying at high altitudes, called Stratovision.
Writing in The Christian Science Monitor in 1970, Dan Sutherland remarked: "Under its new press law, South Vietnam now has one of the freest presses in Southeast Asia, and the daily paper with the biggest circulation here happens to be sharply critical of President Thieu ... since the new press law was promulgated nine months ago, the government has not been able to close down Tin Sang or any other newspaper among the more than 30 now being published in Saigon."
Before surrendering, the South was divided into forty-four provinces (tỉnh, singular and plural).
The South was divided into coastal lowlands, the mountainous Central Highlands (Cao-nguyen Trung-phan) and the Mekong Delta. South Vietnam's time zone was one hour ahead of North Vietnam, belonging to the UTC+8 time zone with the same time as the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Mainland China, Taiwan and Western Australia.
Apart from the mainland, the Republic of Vietnam also administered parts of the Paracels and Spratly Islands. China seized control of the Paracels in 1974 after the South Vietnam navy attempted an assault on PRC-held islands.
South Vietnam maintained a capitalist free-market economy with ties to the West. It established an airline under the Head of State Bảo Đại named Air Vietnam. The economy was greatly assisted by American aid and the presence of large numbers of Americans in the country between 1961 and 1973. Electrical production increased fourteen-fold between 1954 and 1973 while industrial output increase by an average of 6.9 percent annually. During the same period, rice output increased by 203 percent and the number of students in university increased from 2,000 to 90,000. US aid peaked at $2.3 billion in 1973, but dropped to $1.1 billion in 1974. Inflation rose to 200 percent as the country suffered economic shock due the decrease of American aid as well as the oil price shock of October 1973.The unification of Vietnam in 1976 was followed by the imposition of North Vietnam's centrally planned economy in the South. The country made no significant economic progress for the next twenty years. After the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of Soviet aid, the leadership of Vietnam accepted the need for change. Their occupation armies were withdrawn from Laos and Cambodia. Afterward, the country introduced economic reforms that created a market economy in the mid-1990s. The government remains a collective dictatorship under the close control of the Communist Party.
A 2017 study in the journal Diplomatic History found that South Vietnamese economic planners sought to model the South Vietnamese economy on Taiwan and South Korea, which were perceived as successful examples of how to modernize developing economies.
The Vietnamese language was the primary official language and was spoken by the majority of the population. Despite the end of French colonial rule, the French language still maintained a strong presence in South Vietnam where it was used in administration, education (especially at the secondary and higher levels), trade and diplomacy. The ruling elite population of South Vietnam was known to speak French as its primary language. With US involvement in the Vietnam War, the English language was also later introduced to the armed forces and became a secondary diplomatic language. Languages spoken by minority groups included Chinese, Khmer and other languages spoken by Montagnard groups.
Cultural life was strongly influenced by China until French domination in the 18th century. At that time, the traditional culture began to acquire an overlay of Western characteristics. Many families had three generations living under one roof. The emerging South Vietnamese middle class and youth in the 1960s became increasingly more westernised, and followed American cultural and social trends, especially in music, fashion and social attitudes in major cities like Saigon.
State of Việt Nam
| Republic of Việt Nam
Provisional Revolutionary Government
The 1958 Asian Games, officially the Third Asian Games (Japanese: 第3回アジア競技大会) and commonly known as Tokyo 1958, was a multi-sport event held in Tokyo, Japan, from 24 May to 1 June 1958. It was governed by the Asian Games Federation. A total of 1,820 athletes representing 20 Asian National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Games. The program featured competitions in 13 different sports encompassing 97 events, including four non-Olympic sports, judo, table tennis, tennis and volleyball. Four of these competition sports – field hockey, table tennis, tennis and volleyball – were introduced for the first time in the Asian Games.
This is the first time that Japan hosted the Asian Games.Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN; Vietnamese: Lục quân Việt Nam Cộng hòa), also known as the South Vietnamese army (SVA), were the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 until the Fall of Saigon in 1975. It is estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties (killed and wounded) during the Vietnam War.The ARVN began as a post-colonial army trained and closely affiliated with the United States and had engaged in conflict since its inception. Several dramatic changes occurred throughout its lifetime, initially from a 'blocking-force' to a more modern conventional force using helicopter deployment in combat. During the U.S. intervention, the role of the ARVN was marginalised to a defensive role with an incomplete modernisation, and transformed again most notably following Vietnamization as it was up-geared, expanded and reconstructed to fulfil the role of the departing U.S. forces. By 1974, it had become much more effective with foremost counterinsurgency expert and Nixon adviser Robert Thompson noting that Regular Forces were very well-trained and second only to U.S. and IDF forces in the free world and with General Creighton Abrams remarking that 70% of units were on par with the U.S. Army. However, the withdrawal of American forces through Vietnamization meant the armed forces could not effectively fulfil all the aims of the program and had become completely dependent on U.S. equipment, given it was meant to fulfill the departing role of the United States.At its peak, an estimated 1 in 9 citizens of South Vietnam were enlisted and it had become the fourth-largest army in the world composed of Regular Forces and more voluntary Regional Militias and Village-level militias.Unique in serving a dual military-civilian administrative purpose in direct competition with the Viet Cong political and armed wing, the PLAF. The ARVN had in addition became a component of political power and notably suffered from continual issues of political loyalty appointments, corruption in leadership, factional in-fighting and occasional open conflict between itself.After the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese army (NVA), the ARVN was dissolved. While some high-ranking officers had fled the country to the United States or elsewhere, thousands of former ARVN officers were sent to reeducation camps by the communist government of the new, unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Five ARVN generals commit suicide on Black April to avoid captured by PAVN/VC.Buddhist crisis
The Buddhist crisis (Vietnamese: Biến cố Phật giáo) was a period of political and religious tension in South Vietnam between May and November 1963, characterized by a series of repressive acts by the South Vietnamese government and a campaign of civil resistance, led mainly by Buddhist monks.The crisis was precipitated by the shootings of nine unarmed civilians on May 8 in the central city of Huế who were protesting a ban of the Buddhist flag. The crisis ended with a coup in November 1963 by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, and the arrest and assassination of President Ngô Đình Diệm on November 2, 1963.Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon, or the Liberation of Saigon, was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong on 30 April 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period to the formal reunification of Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.The PAVN, under the command of General Văn Tiến Dũng, began their final attack on Saigon on April 29, 1975, with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces commanded by General Nguyễn Văn Toàn suffering a heavy artillery bombardment. This bombardment at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport killed the last two American servicemen killed in combat in Vietnam, Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge. By the afternoon of the next day, the PAVN had occupied the important points of the city and raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace. The city was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City, after the late North Vietnamese President Hồ Chí Minh.
The capture of the city was preceded by Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians who had been associated with the southern regime. The evacuation was the largest helicopter evacuation in history. In addition to the flight of refugees, the end of the war and the institution of new rules by the communists contributed to a decline in the city's population.Gallantry Cross (South Vietnam)
The Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross also known as the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross or Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (Vietnamese: Anh-Dũng Bội-Tinh) is a military decoration of the former Government of South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam). The medal was created on August 15, 1950 and was awarded to military personnel, civilians, and Armed Forces units and organizations in recognition of deeds of valor or heroic conduct while in combat with the enemy.
Individuals who received the medal, ribbon, and a citation were personally cited at the Armed Forces, Corps, Division, Brigade or Regiment level. The Republic of Vietnam authorized members of units and organizations that were cited, to wear the Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Emblem with Palm and Frame (no medal is authorized).Joint warfare in South Vietnam, 1963–1969
In the Vietnam War, after the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem and John F. Kennedy in late 1963 and the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 and the continuing political instability in the South, the United States made a policy commitment to begin joint warfare in South Vietnam, a period of gradual escalation and Americanization, involving the commitment of large-scale combat forces from the United States and allied countries. It was no longer assumed the Republic of Vietnam could create a desirable situation without major external assistance. This phase of the war lasted until the election of Richard Nixon, and the change of U.S. policy to Vietnamization, or giving the main combat role back to the South Vietnamese military.
The North Vietnamese term for the large-scale introduction of U.S. ground forces, in 1965, is the Local War, according to Gen. Trần Văn Trà, the [North Vietnamese] Party concluded, the "United States was forced to introduce its own troops because it was losing the war. It had lost the political game in Vietnam....the situation allows us to shift our revolution to a new stage, that of decisive victory." The Party issued a resolution to this effect, which was transmitted, in October 1967, to the Central Office for South Vietnam and to key officials of the major commands in the South. They were directed to begin detailed planning for what was to become the Tet Offensive. Note that there was a delay of approximately two years between the Politburo decision and the directive to begin planning, so it can be asked if the Politburo did actually make the broad strategic decision in 1965, or some time later, as they grew more aware of the effect of U.S. operations.
Robert McNamara suggests that the overthrow of Dương Văn Minh by Nguyễn Khánh, in January 1964, reflected different U.S. and South Vietnamese priorities.
And since we still did not recognize the North Vietnamese and Vietcong and North Vietnamese as nationalist in nature, we never realized that encouraging public identification between Khanh and the U.S. may have only reinforced in the minds of many Vietnamese that his government drew its support not from the people, but from the United States.Leaders of South Vietnam
This is a list of leaders of South Vietnam, since the establishment of the Autonomous Republic of Cochinchina in 1946 until the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975, and the reunification of Vietnam in 1976.Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm (; Vietnamese: [ŋō ɗìn jîəmˀ] (listen); 3 January 1901 – 2 November 1963) was a Vietnamese politician. He was the final prime minister of the State of Vietnam (1954–55), and then served as President of South Vietnam from 1955 until he was deposed and killed during the 1963 military coup.
Diệm was born into a prominent Catholic family, the son of a high-ranking civil servant, Ngô Đình Khả. He was educated at French-speaking schools and considered following his brother Ngô Đình Thục into the priesthood, but eventually chose to pursue a civil-service career. He progressed rapidly in the court of Emperor Bảo Đại, becoming governor of Bình Thuận Province in 1929 and interior minister in 1933. However, he resigned the latter position after three months and publicly denounced the emperor as a tool of the French. Diệm came to support Vietnamese nationalism, promoting an anti-communist and anti-colonialist "third way" opposed to both Bảo Đại and communist leader Hồ Chí Minh. He established the Can Lao Party to support his political doctrine of Person Dignity Theory.
After several years in exile, Diệm returned home in July 1954 and was appointed prime minister by Bảo Đại, the head of the Western-backed State of Vietnam. The Geneva Accords were signed soon after he took office, formally partitioning Vietnam along the 17th parallel. Diệm soon consolidated power in South Vietnam, aided by his brother Ngô Đình Nhu. After a rigged referendum in 1955, he proclaimed the creation of the Republic of Vietnam, with himself as president. His government was supported by other anti-communist countries, most notably the United States. Diệm pursued a series of nation-building schemes, emphasising industrial and rural development. From 1957, he was faced with a communist insurgency backed by North Vietnam, eventually formally organized under the banner of the Việt Cộng. He was subject to a number of assassination and coup attempts, and in 1962 established the Strategic Hamlet Program as the cornerstone of his counterinsurgency effort.
Diệm's favoritism towards Catholics and persecution of South Vietnam's Buddhist majority led to the "Buddhist crisis" of 1963. The violence damaged relations with the United States and other previously sympathetic countries, and his regime lost favour with the leadership of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. On 1 November 1963, the country's leading generals launched a coup d'état with assistance from the CIA. He and his younger brother Nhu initially escaped, but were recaptured the following day and murdered on the orders of Dương Văn Minh, who succeeded him as president. Diệm has been a controversial historical figure in historiography on the Vietnam War. Some historians have considered him a tool of the United States, while others portrayed him as an avatar of Vietnamese tradition. Some recent studies have portrayed Diệm from a more Vietnamese-centred perspective as a competent leader focused on nation building and the modernisation of South Vietnam.North Vietnam
North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) (Vietnamese: Việt Nam Dân Chủ Cộng Hòa), was a country in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1975.
Vietnamese revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh declared independence from French Indochina on 2 September 1945 and announced the creation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. France reasserted its colonial dominance and a war ensued between France and the Viet Minh, led by President Ho Chi Minh. The Viet Minh ("League for the Independence of Vietnam") was a coalition of nationalist groups, mostly led by communists. In February 1951, the communists announced the creation of the Lao Động Party (Labour Party), gradually marginalizing non-communists in the Việt Minh.Between 1946 and 1954, the Việt Minh captured and controlled most of the rural areas of Vietnam. In 1954, after the French were defeated, the negotiation of the Geneva Accords ended the war between France and the Việt Minh and granted Vietnam independence. The Geneva Accords divided the country provisionally into northern and southern zones, and stipulated general elections in July 1956 to "bring about the unification of Viet-Nam". The northern zone was commonly called North Vietnam, and the southern zone was commonly called South Vietnam.
Supervision of the implementation of the Geneva Accords was the responsibility of an international commission consisting of India, Canada, and Poland. The United States did not sign the Geneva Accords, which stated that the United States "shall continue to seek to achieve unity through free elections supervised by the United Nations to insure that they are conducted fairly". In July 1955, the prime minister of the Republic of Vietnam, Ngô Đình Diệm, announced that South Vietnam would not participate in elections to unify the country. He said that South Vietnam had not signed the Geneva Accords and was not bound by it.After the failure to reunify Vietnam by elections, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam attempted to unify the country by force in the Vietnam War (1955–75). North Vietnam and the Việt Cộng insurgents supported by their communist allies, including the Soviet Union and China, fought against the military of South Vietnam, the United States and other anti-communist military forces, including South Korea, Australia, Thailand, and smaller players. North Vietnam also supported indigenous communist rebels in Cambodia and Laos against their respective U.S.-backed governments. The war ended when North Vietnamese forces and the Việt Cộng defeated South Vietnam and in 1976 united the two parts of the country into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The expanded Democratic Republic retained North Vietnam's political culture under Soviet influence and continued its existing memberships in international organisations such as Comecon.Paris Peace Accords
The Paris Peace Accords, officially titled the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, was a peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973, to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War. The treaty included the governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the United States, as well as the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) that represented indigenous South Vietnamese revolutionaries. US ground forces up to that point had been sidelined with deteriorating morale and gradually withdrawn to coastal regions, not partaking in offensive operations or much direct combat for the preceding two-year period. The Paris Agreement Treaty would in effect remove all remaining US Forces, including air and naval forces in exchange for Hanoi's POWs. Direct U.S. military intervention was ended, and fighting between the three remaining powers temporarily stopped for less than a day. The agreement was not ratified by the United States Senate.The negotiations that led to the accord began in 1968, after various lengthy delays. As a result of the accord, the International Control Commission (ICC) was replaced by the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) to fulfill the agreement. The main negotiators of the agreement were United States National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese politburo member Lê Đức Thọ; the two men were awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts, although Lê Đức Thọ refused to accept it.
The agreement's provisions were immediately frequently broken with no response from the United States. Fighting broke out in March 1973, and North Vietnamese offenses enlarged their control by the end of the year. Two years later, a massive North Vietnamese offensive conquered South Vietnam.Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam
The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam (PRG) was formed on June 8, 1969, by North Vietnam as a purportedly independent shadow government opposed to the government of the Republic of Vietnam under President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Delegates of the National Liberation Front, as well as several smaller groups, participated in its creation.
The PRG was recognized as the government of South Vietnam by most communist states. It signed the 1973 Paris Peace Treaty as an independent entity, separate from both South Vietnam and North Vietnam. It became the provisional government of South Vietnam following the military defeat of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam on April 30, 1975. On July 2, 1976, the PRG and North Vietnam merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.South Vietnam national football team
The Republic of Vietnam national football team (Vietnamese: Đội tuyển bóng đá quốc gia Việt Nam Cộng hòa; French: Équipe du Sud-Vietnam de Football) was the national team of South Vietnam controlled by Vietnam Football Association between 1949 and 1975. It took part in the first two Asian Cups finals (1956 and 1960), finishing fourth both times out of 4 teams.
The only World Cup qualification which South Vietnam entered was the 1974 tournament in West Germany. They were placed in Zone A of the AFC and OFC qualification in Seoul, South Korea. On 16 May 1973 they beat Thailand 1–0 to qualify for Group 1. On 20 May South Vietnam lost their opening game 0–4 to Japan and four days later they lost 1–0 to Hong Kong and were eliminated. Hong Kong and Japan advanced but neither got any further, losing play-offs for the next round to South Korea and Israel respectively.
The team ceased to exist when the North and South regions combined into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. No matches were played between 1976 and 1990 and the first tournament the combined team played was in after 1991. Football record agencies count the South Vietnam matches as part of the all-time record of the Vietnam national team, while considering North Vietnam team to be a separate team for statistical purposes.South Vietnamese military ranks and insignia
South Vietnamese military ranks and insignia was used by the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, specifically the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Originally, visually based around the French ranks, the ranks were changed in 1967 to resemble the US ranks more closely.Tet Offensive
The Tet Offensive (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Tết Mậu Thân 1968), or officially called The General Offensive and Uprising of Tet Mau Than 1968 (Vietnamese: Tổng Tiến công và Nổi dậy Tết Mậu Thân 1968) by North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, was one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, launched on January 30, 1968, by forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam against the forces of the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States Armed Forces, and their allies. It was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The name of the offensive comes from the Tết holiday, the Vietnamese New Year, when the first major attacks took place.The offensive was launched prematurely in the late night hours of 30 January in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam. This early attack allowed South Vietnamese and US forces some time to prepare defensive measures. When the main North Vietnamese operation began the next morning, the offensive was countrywide and well coordinated; eventually more than 80,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops struck more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital. The offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war.
Hanoi had launched the offensive in the belief that the offensive would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. Although the initial attacks stunned both the U.S. and South Vietnamese armies, causing them to lose control of several cities temporarily, they quickly regrouped, beat back the attacks, and inflicted heavy casualties on North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces. The popular uprising anticipated by Hanoi never happened. During the Battle of Huế, intense fighting lasted for a month, resulting in the destruction of the city. During their occupation, the North Vietnamese executed thousands of people in the Massacre at Huế. Around the U.S. combat base at Khe Sanh, fighting continued for two more months. The offensive was a military defeat for North Vietnam though General Westmoreland reported that defeating the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong would require 200,000 more American soldiers and activation of the reserves, prompting even loyal supporters of the war to see that the current war strategy required re-evaluation. The offensive had a strong effect on the U.S. government and shocked the U.S. public, which had been led to believe by its political and military leaders that the North Vietnamese were being defeated and incapable of launching such an ambitious military operation; American public support for the war soon declined and the U.S. sought negotiations to end the war.
The term "Tet Offensive" usually refers to the January–February 1968 offensive, but it can also include the so-called "Mini-Tet" offensive that took place in May and the Phase III Offensive in August, or the 21 weeks of unusually intense combat which followed the initial attacks in January.United States Ambassador to South Vietnam
After World War II, France attempted to regain control of Vietnam, which they had lost to Japan in 1941. Following the First Indochina War, the country was split into two parts, the north and the south. The southern part was named the State of Vietnam under the leadership of Bảo Đại. In 1950, the United States recognized the Bảo Đại government, established diplomatic relations, and sent its first ambassador to Saigon in South Vietnam, officially known as the Republic of Vietnam. The US was opposed to the Communist government of the North, led by Ho Chi Minh, and did not recognize the northern regime.
Following the Vietnam War, the US Embassy, Saigon was closed and all Embassy personnel evacuated on April 29, 1975, just prior to the surrender of South Vietnam to North Vietnamese forces.Viet Cong
The Việt Cộng (Vietnamese: [vîət kə̂wŋmˀ] (listen)), also known as the National Liberation Front, was a mass political organization in South Vietnam and Cambodia with its own army – the People's Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam (PLAF) – that fought against the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War, eventually emerging on the winning side. It had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized peasants in the territory it controlled. Many soldiers were recruited in South Vietnam, but others were attached to the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the regular North Vietnamese army. During the war, communists and anti-war activists insisted the Việt Cộng was an insurgency indigenous to the South, while the U.S. and South Vietnamese governments portrayed the group as a tool of Hanoi. Although the terminology distinguishes northerners from the southerners, communist forces were under a single command structure set up in 1958.The headquarters of the Viet Cong based at Memot came to be known as Central Office for South Vietnam or COSVN by its Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) and South Vietnamese counterparts, a near-mythical "bamboo Pentagon" from which the Việt Cộng's entire war effort was being directed. For nearly a decade the fabled COSVN headquarters, which directed the entire war effort of the Viet Cong was the target of the RVN/US war effort, and which would have collapsed the insurgency war effort. US and South Vietnamese Special Forces sent to capture them usually were killed very quickly or returned with heavy casualties to the point that teams refused to go. Daily B-52 bombings had failed to kill any of the leadership during Operation Menu despite flattening the entire area, as Soviet trawlers were able to forewarn COSVN, whom used the data on speed, altitude and direction to move perpendicular and to move underground.North Vietnam established the National Liberation Front on December 20, 1960, to foment insurgency in the South. Many of the Việt Cộng's core members were volunteer "regroupees", southern Việt Minh who had resettled in the North after the Geneva Accord (1954). Hanoi gave the regroupees military training and sent them back to the South along the Hồ Chí Minh trail in the early 1960s. The NLF called for southern Vietnamese to "overthrow the camouflaged colonial regime of the American imperialists" and to make "efforts toward the peaceful unification". The PLAF's best-known action was the Tết Offensive, a gigantic assault on more than 100 South Vietnamese urban centers in 1968, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. The offensive riveted the attention of the world's media for weeks, but also overextended the Việt Cộng. Two further offensives were conducted in its wake, the mini-Tet and August Offensive. In 1969 the Việt Cộng would establish the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, a shadow-country in South Vietnam intended to represent the organisation on the world stage and was immediately recognised by the communist bloc and maintained diplomatic links with many nations in the Non-Aligned Movement. Later communist offensives were conducted predominantly by newly mechanised PAVN forces, as the ability of the Việt Cộng to recruit among the South Vietnamese became much more limited. The Việt Cộng remained an active military and political front. The organisation was dissolved in 1976 when North and South Vietnam were officially unified under a communist government.
Political and military organization of the Việt Cộng was complex, with a series of well-constructed, overlapping networks, committees and organisations; see strategy, organization and structure. Material aid was primarily provided through the well-established, ingenious Hồ Chí Minh trail, which withstood the most sustained bombing campaign in history while expanding the war effort; see logistics and equipment. They had further developed a complex insurgency warfare method capable of countering overwhelmingly superior numbers and technology, retaining the strategic initiative during much of the war. According to the Pentagon Papers, 90% of large firefights were initiated by the PAVN/VC and 80% were well-planned VC operations throughout most of the war and as early as 1966 US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara expressed doubt about the US ability to win the war (see NLF and PAVN battle tactics).Vietnam Campaign Medal
The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal also known as the Vietnam Campaign Medal (Vietnamese: Chiến Dịch Bội Tinh) is a military campaign medal which was created in 1949, and awarded to French military personnel during the First Indochina War. During the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War), the South Vietnamese government awarded the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device (1960– ) to members of the South Vietnamese military for wartime service and on March 24, 1966, to members of the U.S. military for support of operations in Vietnam. In May 1966, other allied foreign military personnel became eligible for the award.
The medal was awarded for two different periods of service in Vietnam. The first period for the award was from 8 March 1949 to 20 July 1954. The second period was from 1 January 1960 to the end of the Vietnam War (the date was to be given when the war ended and North Vietnam was defeated). On 30 April 1975, Saigon was captured by the North Vietnamese army and South Vietnam surrendered.Vietnam War
The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.
American military advisors began arriving in what was then French Indochina in 1950 to support the French in the First Indochina War against the communist-led Viet Minh. Most of the funding for the French war effort was provided by the U.S. After the French quit Indochina in 1954, the US assumed financial and military responsibility for the South Vietnamese state. The Việt Cộng, also known as Front national de libération du Sud-Viêt Nam or NLF (the National Liberation Front), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, initiated a
guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese government in 1959. U.S. involvement escalated in 1960, and continued in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy, with troop levels gradually surging under the MAAG program from just under a thousand in 1959 to 16,000 in 1963.By 1964, there were 23,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, but this escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer was alleged to have clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft. In response, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authorization to increase U.S. military presence, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels to 184,000. Past this point, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) engaged in more conventional warfare with US and South Vietnamese forces. Every year onward there was significant build-up of US forces despite little progress, with Robert McNamara, one of the principal architects of the war, beginning to express doubts of victory by the end of 1966. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. The U.S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968, proved to be the turning point of the war; despite years of American tutelage and aid the South Vietnamese forces were unable to withstand the communist offensive and the task fell to US forces instead. The Tet Offensive showed that the end of US involvement was not in sight, increasing domestic skepticism of the war. The unconventional and conventional capabilities of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) increased following a period of neglect and became modeled on heavy firepower-focused doctrines like US forces. Operations crossed international borders; bordering areas of Laos and Cambodia were used by North Vietnam as supply routes and were heavily bombed by U.S. forces.
Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began as part of "Vietnamization", which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the communists to the South Vietnamese themselves and began the task of modernizing their armed forces. Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973 as a result of the Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress. The capture of Saigon by the NVA in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities (see Vietnam War casualties). Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3.8 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action. The Sino-Soviet split re-emerged following the lull during the Vietnam War and confllict between North Vietnam and its Cambodian allies in the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea, and the newly-formed Democratic Kampuchea begun almost immediately in a series of border raids by the Khmer Rouge and erupted into the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, with Chinese forces directly intervening in the Sino-Vietnamese War. The end of the war and resumption of the Third Indochina War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the bigger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw an estimated 250,000 people perish at sea. Within the US the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements, which together with Watergate contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s.Vietnamization
Vietnamization was a policy of the Richard Nixon administration to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War through a program to "expand, equip, and train South Vietnamese forces and assign to them an ever-increasing combat role, at the same time steadily reducing the number of U.S. combat troops." Brought on by the Viet Cong's Tet Offensive, the policy referred to U.S. combat troops specifically in the ground combat role, but did not reject combat by the U.S. Air Force, as well as the support to South Vietnam, consistent with the policies of U.S. foreign military assistance organizations. U.S. citizens' mistrust of their government that had begun after the offensive worsened with the release of news about U.S. soldiers massacring civilians at My Lai (1968), the invasion of Cambodia (1970), and the leaking of the Pentagon Papers (1971).
The name "Vietnamization" came about accidentally. At a January 28, 1969, meeting of the National Security Council, General Andrew Goodpaster, deputy to General Creighton Abrams and commander of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, stated that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had been steadily improving, and the point at which the war could be "de-Americanized" was close. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird agreed with the point, but not with the language: "What we need is a term like 'Vietnamizing' to put the emphasis on the right issues." Nixon immediately liked Laird's word.Vietnamization fit into the broader détente policy of the Nixon administration, in which the United States no longer regarded its fundamental strategy as the containment of communism but as a cooperative world order, in which Nixon and his chief adviser Henry Kissinger were focused on the broader constellation of forces and the bigger world powers. Nixon had ordered Kissinger to negotiate diplomatic policies with Soviet statesman Anatoly Dobrynin. Nixon also opened high-level contact with China. U.S. relations with the Soviet Union and China were of higher priority than South Vietnam.
Nixon said Vietnamization had two components. The first was "strengthening the armed force of the South Vietnamese in numbers, equipment, leadership and combat skills", while the second was "the extension of the pacification program [i.e. military aid to civilians] in South Vietnam." To achieve the first goal, U.S. helicopters would fly in support; however, helicopter operations were too much part of ground operations to involve U.S. personnel. Thus, ARVN candidates were enrolled in U.S. helicopter schools to take over the operations. As observed by Lieutenant General Dave Palmer, to qualify an ARVN candidate for U.S. helicopter school, he first needed to learn English; this, in addition to the months-long training and practice in the field, made adding new capabilities to the ARVN take at least two years. Palmer did not disagree that the first component, given time and resources, was achievable. However: "Pacification, the second component, presented the real challenge...it was benevolent government action in areas where the government should always have been benevolently active...doing both was necessary if Vietnamization were to work."
The policy of Vietnamization, despite its successful execution, was ultimately a failure as the improved ARVN forces and the reduced American and allied component were unable to prevent the fall of Saigon and the subsequent merger of the north and south, to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.