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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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,[5] and were much more capable of fulfilling ambush and small-unit movement, reconnaissance and detection roles than larger, slow-moving conventional forces.[6]

Girl volunteers of the People's Self-Defense Force of Kien Dien, a hamlet of Ben Cat district 50 kilometers north of Sai - NARA - 541865
Female members of the People's Self-Defense Force of Kien Dien, in Bến Cát District. The PSDF was a more local-level force responsible for guarding hamlets and homes.
South Vietnamese Regional Force
Popular Self Defense Force Members, 1969 (16240515848)
Popular Self-Defence Forces head to regions to inspect possible Viet Cong infiltration during the Tet Offensive.
Activeearly 1960s-1975
CountrySouth Vietnam
Nickname(s)Ruff-Puffs (used by American Forces)
EngagementsWar in Vietnam


From 1965-1969, the ARVN took over most security operations as the Americans and other allies fought the main force war against the PAVN and NLF. When U.S. forces began to withdraw in 1969, the ARVN took on the task of fighting the communists, the Regional Forces and Popular Forces took on new importance. For the first time, they were deployed outside their home areas and were sometimes attached to ARVN units.

By 1973 the Popular forces consisted of 8,186 platoons. Charged primarily with local defense, they were too lightly armed and equipped to withstand attacks by PAVN units supported by tanks and artillery. They were overwhelmed during the 1975 Spring Offensive and dissolved.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Wiest, Andrew (October 2009). Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN. NYU Press. pp. 73–77. ISBN 9780814794678.
  3. ^ Jr, Ronald B. Frankum (2011-06-10). Historical Dictionary of the War in Vietnam. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810879560.
  4. ^ Wiest, Andrew (October 2009). Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN. NYU Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780814794678.
  5. ^ Krepinevich, Andrew F. (1986-05-01). The army and Vietnam. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 219–222. ISBN 9780801828638.
  6. ^ Emerson, Gloria (1970-08-16). "'Ruff Puffs,' Vietnamese Militia, Hunt Enemy by Night". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
Battle of Binh Gia

The Battle of Binh Gia (Vietnamese: Trận Bình Giã) was conducted by the Viet Cong (VC) and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) from December 28, 1964, to January 1, 1965, during the Vietnam War in Bình Giã. The battle took place in Phước Tuy Province (now part of Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province), South Vietnam.

The year of 1964 marked a decisive turning point in the Vietnam War. Following the ousting of President Ngô Đình Diệm in 1963, South Vietnam's top army generals continued to vie with each other for control of the country's military-dominated government instead of combating the emerging forces of the VC. The fragility of the South Vietnamese government was reflected on the battlefield, where its military experienced great setbacks against the VC. Taking advantage of Saigon's political instability, leaders in Hanoi began preparing for war. Even though key members of North Vietnam's Politburo disagreed on the best strategy to reunite their country, they ultimately went ahead to prepare for armed struggle against the South Vietnam government and the American occupation.Towards the end of 1964, the VC commenced a series of large-scale military operations against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). As part of their Winter-Spring Offensive, the VC unleashed its newly created 9th Division against the ARVN forces at Bình Giã, fighting a large set-piece battle for the first time. Over a period of four days, the PAVN 9th Division held its ground and mauled the best units the ARVN could send against them, only breaking after intense attack by U.S. bombers.

Go Tell the Spartans

Go Tell the Spartans is a 1978 American war film directed by Ted Post, starring Burt Lancaster, and based on Daniel Ford's 1967 novel Incident at Muc Wa, about U.S. Army military advisors during the early part of the Vietnam War in 1964, a time when Ford was a correspondent in Vietnam for The Nation.

The story was inspired by a futile special forces operation in 1964 at Tan Hoa in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, an objective that turned out to be an abandoned settlement containing only a field, an abandoned airstrip and three or four French gravestones. The graves inspired the film's title, taken from Simonides's epitaph to the three hundred soldiers who died fighting Persian invaders at Thermopylae, Greece: "Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie."

The choice of film's name thus constitutes a deliberate "spoiler" by the film makers, telling anyone familiar with the source of the quote that the film's soldier characters - like the Spartans at Thermopylae - had been sent to their deaths.

Lewis William Walt

Lewis William Walt (February 16, 1913 – March 26, 1989), also known as Lew Walt, was a United States Marine Corps four-star general who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Walt was decorated several times, including two Navy Crosses for extraordinary heroism during World War II, one for leading the attack on "Aogiri Ridge" during the Battle of Cape Gloucester (New Britain); the ridge was renamed "Walt's Ridge" in his honor.

M1 carbine

The M1 carbine (formally the United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1) is a lightweight, easy to use, .30 carbine (7.62x33 mm) semi-automatic carbine that was a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and well into the Vietnam War. The M1 carbine was produced in several variants and was widely used by not only the U.S. military, but by military, paramilitary and police forces around the world. It has also been a popular civilian firearm.

The M2 carbine is the selective-fire version of the M1 carbine capable of firing in both semi-automatic and full-automatic. The M3 carbine was an M2 carbine with an active infrared scope system.Despite having a similar name and appearance, the M1 Carbine is not a carbine version of the M1 Garand rifle. They are different firearms, and they use different ammunition. On July 1, 1925, the U.S. Army began using the current naming system where the "M" is the designation for Model and the "number" represents the sequential development of equipment and weapons. Therefore, the "M1 rifle" was the first rifle developed under this system. The "M1 carbine" was the first carbine developed under this system. The "M2 carbine" was the second carbine developed under the system, etc.

MP 40

The MP 40 (Maschinenpistole 40) is a submachine gun chambered for the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge. It was developed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by the Axis powers during World War II.

Designed in 1938 by Heinrich Vollmer with inspiration from its predecessor the MP 38, it was heavily used by infantrymen (particularly platoon and squad leaders), and by paratroopers, on the Eastern and Western Fronts. Its advanced and modern features made it a favorite among soldiers and popular in countries from various parts of the world after the war. It was often erroneously called "Schmeisser" by the Allies, although Hugo Schmeisser was not involved in the design or production of the weapon. The weapon's other variants included MP 40/I and the MP 41. From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.1 million were produced by Erma Werke.

Operation Georgia

Operation Georgia was a US Marine Corps security operation around the An Hoa Industrial Complex in western Quảng Nam Province, lasting from 21 April to 10 May 1966.

Operation Jay

Operation Jay was a U.S. Marine Corps and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) search and destroy operation on the Street Without Joy, northern Thừa Thiên Province, lasting from 25 June to 2 July 1966.

Ron Kovic

Ronald Lawrence Kovic (born July 4, 1946) is an American anti-war activist, writer, and former United States Marine Corps sergeant, who was wounded and paralyzed in the Vietnam War. He is best known as the author of his 1976 memoir Born on the Fourth of July, which was made into the Academy Award–winning 1989 film directed by Oliver Stone.Kovic received the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay on January 20, 1990, 22 years to the day that he was wounded in Vietnam, and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category.He is the uncle of internet personality Adam Kovic.

United States Marine Corps Special Operations Capable Forces

The United States Marine Corps is assigned by the National Command Authority to be primarily the Department of Defense's expeditionary force-in-readiness, and the Department of the Navy's contingent landing force—amphibious by nature. Before 2006 (i.e., the formation of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC)), the Marine Corps was the only branch of the Armed Forces that did not have any of its special warfare elements participating in the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), due to confining its special operations capabilities only for the purpose to the Fleet Marine Force.President Ronald Reagan approved the establishment of USSOCOM in April 1987; a month later the other military branches reassigned their own respective special operations forces (SOF) units to the USSOCOM Headquarters in Tampa, Florida at MacDill Air Force Base. However, as the Marine Corps was reluctant to release control of Marine units, its specialized assets assigned to the FMF's Marine Air-Ground Task Forces remained separate and have evolved to fulfill a separate niche of tasks, specific and limited in scope, in direct support of a Marine Expeditionary Units' commander.

This evolution occurred due to the direction of Commandant of the Marine Corps General Alfred M. Gray, who announced on 5 February 1988, that in response to the current and projected realities of the world, they were changing the designations of the Marine Air-Ground Task Forces that constitute its fighting formations. The word "amphibious" was replaced by "expeditionary". The new term signified that the Marine Corps would not be limited to amphibious operations but rather would be capable of a wide spectrum of operations in littoral areas around the world, in conventional and unconventional warfare.Because of its status in expeditionary warfare, the Marine Corps fundamentally bases its combative strategy on its ground combat element—all air/ground elements are primarily organic support to the Marine infantry—arguing that strategic bombing does not win battles. Its assigned expeditionary roles assigned by the Unified Combatant Command requires it to be fully trained and functional either as a quick reaction or show of force to any place and environment around the globe within 24 hours. To become adaptive to the Fleet Marine Force protocol, it established its own specialized assets to support the Navy/Marine force commanders to suit its maritime (amphibious) light-infantry capabilities.

Despite the similarities in name, the label of Special Operations Capable does not refer to the wider concept of Special Operations, such as those undertaken by the United States Special Operations Forces. The Marine Corps' special operations force is the Marine Raider Regiment, which was created in 2006.

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.

Weapons of the Vietnam War

This article is about the weapons used in the Vietnam War, which involved the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) or North Vietnamese Army (NVA), National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (NLF) or Viet Cong (VC), and the armed forces of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), United States, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Thailand, and the Australian, New Zealand defence forces, and a variety of irregular troops.

Nearly all United States-allied forces were armed with U.S. weapons including the M1 Garand, M1 carbine, M-14 and M-16. The Australian and New Zealand forces employed the 7.62 mm L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle as their service rifle, with the occasional US M16.

The PAVN, although having inherited a variety of American, French, and Japanese weapons from World War II and the First Indochina War (aka French Indochina War), were largely armed and supplied by the People's Republic of China, the Soviet Union, and its Warsaw Pact allies. In addition, some weapons—notably anti-personnel explosives, the K-50M (a PPSh-41 copy), and "home-made" versions of the RPG-2—were manufactured in North Vietnam. By 1969 the US Army had identified 40 rifle/carbine types, 22 machine gun types, 17 types of mortar, 20 recoilless rifle or rocket launcher types, nine types of antitank weapons, and 14 anti-aircraft artillery weapons used by ground troops on all sides. Also in use, primarily by anti-communist forces, were the 24 types of armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery, and 26 types of field artillery and rocket launchers.

ARVN Sub-branches
Air bases
Coup attempts
and mutinies
Ranks and insignia

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