GIAP'S GUERRILLA WARFARE
General Vo Nguyen Giap in People's War People's Army presents a detailed account of the philosophy and strategy of the Vietnamese in their war against the Japanese and French. This account of the Vietnamese victory and strategy and Mao's concepts serve as a reasonable foundation to explore the Marine response to the guerrilla war conducted by the Viet Cong (VC) against the Government of Vietnam (GVN) and the United States in the late 1960's. Giap obviously learned much for the writings of Mao and applied them accordingly. His writing helps to clarify and enhance many of the points Mao addresses in Guerrilla Warfare.
Giap views guerrilla war as a protracted effort and cites the wars against the Japanese and French as examples. He calls for patience and the realization that success is not rapid. He says that they slowly 'nibbled' away at the Japanese and French strength while the Vietnamese slowly gained strength. He offers, '... our strategy and tactics had to be those of a people's war and of a long-term resistance.'(4:29)
Referring to the defeat of the French, Giap says, 'People's war, long-term war, guerilla (sic) warfare developing step-by-step into mobile warfare, such are the most valuable lessons of the war of liberation in Vietnam.'(4:49) Giap breaks guerrilla warfare into three phases: defense, equilibrium, and offense. Initially, the guerrillas are involved at a low level struggle with the enemy, As the guerrillas rise in strength a level of balance between forces is reached. Finally, when the guerrillas have reached a level of superiority in forces, they go on the offensive in a conventional, mobile scenario of ever increasing proportions. While there is a slow evolution from guerrilla activity to mobile, large-unit operations, Giap contends that guerrilla activity is still useful to support conventional operations in this last phase. However, he, like Mao, recognizes that only through mobile conventional warfare can the enemy be destroyed.
Giap presents only subtle differences from Mao in the organization of forces, basically dividing them into guerrilla forces, regional forces, and conventional forces. He advises that under certain circumstances conventional forces can be used to conduct guerrilla operations. The guerrilla defends and polices his local village, operates in the enemy's rear, provides logistical and intelligence support to main forces. He also establishes new bases to expand the support from the people and provide fresh recruits for the main forces. Here lies another important point for Giap; he says, '... our Resistance War must be the work of the entire people. Therein lies the key to victory.'(4:43) Emphasizing the close relationship of the army with the people, he goes so far as to use Mao's analogy of the fish and water, the fish being the army and the water being the people.