"Little Consideration... to Preparing Vietnamese Forces for Counterinsurgency Warfare"? History, Organization, Training, and Combat Capability of the RVNAF, 1955-1963

dc.contributor.authorNguyen, Triet M.
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation is a focused analysis of the origins, organization, training, politics, and combat capability of the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) from 1954 to 1963, the leading military instrument in the national counterinsurgency plan of the government of the Republic of Viet Nam (RVN). Other military and paramilitary forces that complemented the army in the ground war included the Viet Nam Marine Corps (VNMC), the Civil Guard (CG), the Self-Defense Corps (SDC) and the Civil Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) which was composed mainly of the indigenous populations in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. At sea and in the air, the Viet Nam Air Force (VNAF) and the Viet Nam Navy (VNN) provided additional layers of tactical, strategic and logistical support to the military and paramilitary forces. Together, these forces formed the Republic of Viet Nam Armed Forces (RVNAF) designed to counter the communist insurgency plaguing the RVN. This thesis argues the following. First, the origin of the ARVN was rooted in the French Indochina War (1946-1954). Second, the ARVN was an amalgamation of political and military forces born from a revolution that encompassed three overlapping wars: a war of independence between the Vietnamese and the French; a civil war between the Vietnamese of diverse social and political backgrounds; and a proxy war as global superpowers and regional powers backed their own Vietnamese allies who, in turn, exploited their foreign supporters for their own purposes. Lastly, the ARVN failed not because it was organized, equipped, and trained for conventional instead of counterinsurgency warfare. Rather, it failed to assess, adjust, and adapt its strategy and tactics quickly enough to meet the war’s changing circumstances. The ARVN’s slowness to react resulted from its own institutional weaknesses, military and political problems that were beyond its control, and the powerful and dangerous enemies it faced. The People’s Army of Viet Nam (PAVN) and the People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF) were formidable adversaries. Not duplicated in any other post-colonial Third World country and led by an experienced and politically tested leadership, the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (DRVN) and the National Front for the Liberation of Southern Viet Nam (NFLSVN) exploited RVN failures effectively. Hypothetically, there was no guarantee that had the US dispatched land forces into Cambodia and Laos or invaded North Vietnam that the DRVN and NFLSVN would have quit attacking the RVN. The French Far East Expeditionary Corps (FFEEC)’ occupation of the Red River Delta did not bring peace to Cochinchina, only a military stalemate between it and the Vietnamese Liberation Army (VLA). Worse yet, a US invasion potentially would have unnerved the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which might have sent the PLAF to fight the US in Vietnam as it had in Korea. Inevitably, such unilateral military action would certainly provoke fierce criticism and opposition amongst the American public at home and allies abroad. At best, the war’s expansion might have bought a little more time for the RVN but it could never guarantee South Vietnam’s survival. Ultimately, RVN’s seemingly endless political, military, and social problems had to be resolved by South Vietnam’s political leaders, military commanders, and people but only in the absence of constant PAVN and PLAF attempts to destroy whatever minimal progress RVN made politically, militarily, and socially. The RVN was plagued by many problems and the DRVN and NFLSVN, unquestionably, were amongst those problems.
dc.publisherUniversité d'Ottawa / University of Ottawa
dc.subjectVietnamese History
dc.subjectVietnam War
dc.subjectAmerican history
dc.subjectUS Foreign Policy
dc.subjectSoutheast Asia
dc.subjectSouth Vietnamese military
dc.subjectRepublic of Vietnam Armed Forces
dc.subjectArmy of the Republic of Vietnam
dc.subjectVietnamese National Army
dc.subjectCao Dai Paramilitary Force
dc.subjectHoa Hao Paramilitary Force
dc.subjectBinh Xuyen Paramilitary Force
dc.subjectFrench Indochina War
dc.subjectColonial History
dc.subjectcommunist revolutionary warfare
dc.subjectCivil-Military Relations
dc.subjectStrategic Studies
dc.subjectPolitical History
dc.subjectInternational Relations
dc.subjectModern Warfare
dc.subjectMilitary History
dc.subjectMilitary Intelligence
dc.subjectMilitary Coup d'etat
dc.subjectMilitary Advisory Assistance Group Vietnam
dc.subjectMilitary Assistance Command Vietnam
dc.subjectAsymmetrical Warfare
dc.subjectVietnamese Politics
dc.subjectCold War History
dc.subjectNgo Dinh Diem
dc.subjectNgo Dinh Nhu
dc.subjectHo Chi Minh
dc.subjectVo Nguyen Giap
dc.subjectEdward Lansdale
dc.subjectThe Battle of Ap Bac
dc.subjectViet Nam Air Force
dc.subjectViet Nam Navy
dc.subjectViet Nam Marine Corps
dc.title"Little Consideration... to Preparing Vietnamese Forces for Counterinsurgency Warfare"? History, Organization, Training, and Combat Capability of the RVNAF, 1955-1963
dc.faculty.departmentHistoire / History
dc.contributor.supervisorLessard, Micheline
dc.contributor.supervisorPerras, Galen
uottawa.departmentHistoire / History
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -