Account for Viet Minh victory in the first Indochinese war The People’s Army of Vietnam was able to defeat the French in the first Indo-china war due a variety of reasons. It was a combination of Vietnam’s strong sense of nationalism and popular support of the people that made a major contribution to its success. Also the support provided form overseas allies such as China, its military tactics used and the mistakes made by the French made the Viet Minh victory inevitable.
A leading factor was Vietnam’s strong sense of nationalism the popular support from the Vietnamese people was a major contributor to why Vietnam was able to defeat the French in Indochina. Nationalism united the majority of Vietnam in the quest for independence. It also gave the Vietnamese population the determination and inspiration to defeat the French. This is shown through the view of Ho Chi Minh that “We have a secret weapon… Our secret weapon is nationalism” giving a sense that nationalism was an advantage that helped defeat France in the war.
Vietnamese nationalism arose ever since French colonised in Indochina. In addition Nationalism further grew through propaganda, political parties such as the Vietnamese Nationalist Party and the Indochinese Communist Party and through Ho Chi Minh. The resistance groups heavily relied on the support of the people as they could provide them with the necessities such as food, shelter and information about the French. Besides that, the Vietnamese people assisted the army by transporting artillery and ammunition manually. As mentioned by Giap “in war there are two factors, human being and weapons.
Ultimately though, human beings are the decisive factor” justifying that popular support was indeed of great importance and was a major reason for Vietnamese victory against the French. The assistance of other countries such as Chinas provision of finance and artillery also proved to be a prime reason for Vietnam’s victory against the French. According to Qiang Zhai even though Vietnam won the war because they were fighting for a cause, however without Chinas assistance the Vietnamese could not have defeated the French as soon as it did.
The injection of Chinese aid gave the People’s army an unprecedented advantage over the French Expeditionary Corps as mentioned by Qiang Zhai that the Chinese offered training classes for the Viet Minh and as a result, the Viet Minh Army became much more professional. Now with new patrons in Moscow and Beijing, Ho’s guerrilla fighters were rarely short fighter were rarely short of food, ammunition and medicine which was transported through a supply line linked from Kunming to Cochin China known as the Ho Chi Minh trail.
The provision of artillery and ammunition allowed the Viet Minh to move from guerrilla fighting to conventional warfare. Another noteworthy cause for the success of the Vietnamese against the French was the tactics used by the Viet Minh. Because of their small numbers and inexperienced members, the resistance groups such as the Can Vuong resorted guerrilla and mobile war fare by avoiding head on clashes, launching lightning attacks and then dispersing like a flash all while disguised as civilians and mingling with the people making it difficult to be identified by the French.
They used three tactics of guerrilla warfare which were surprise attack, ambush and harassment. They did this by launching sudden attacks at the French weak points, they cut communication lines, disrupted French supply lines and subverting and weakening French operation, harassed the enemy while they were sleeping and wore down their strength causing them weakness and distress. Their use of mobile warfare allowed them to manoeuvre with flexibility at all times and react to all potential advantages. They were able to do this due to their strong knowledge of their homeland and its terrain and its inexpensive nature.
The Vietnamese resistance tactics were successful because they drew on their strengths and they inflicted heavy psychological impacts on the French. Ultimately the conventional military strategies and tactics used by the French were no match against Ho’s small groups of guerrillas and propaganda teams which operated at night and worked with rather than against the people in a common national cause. The mistakes made by the French were a crucial factor which contributed to the Vietnamese victory in the first Indochina war. In 1949 the First Indo china war was unpopular in France.
An expected quick victory had not been materialised which divided the French home front and strengthened the cause of antiwar groups in Paris. The French aimed to deprive the Viet Minh of supplies and force them into a conventional set piece battle where the superior French fire power would see them victorious. However, efforts by the French were hampered by the political unrest in France and the limited economic resources available to them and also because the French tactics did not take into account how the enemy works.
The French severely underestimated the Viet Minh which eventually cost them the war. Colonel Charles Piroth stated “no Viet Minh canon will be able to fire three rounds before being destroyed by my artillery. ” However they did not consider the Peoples army’s knowledge of the local conditions and terrain, even in the selection of Dien Ben Phu the French believed that the thick jungle surrounding it and along with the step mountains would make it impossible for the Viet Minh to deploy artillery and that they would be able to destroy and artillery the Viet Minh managed to get up the mountains.
However they were proven wrong once the Vietnamese managed to transport their artillery up the mountains and built trenches to camouflage their artillery making it virtually impossible to be sighted by the French which ultimately led to the destruction of the French military camps at Din Bien Phu. Overall French underestimation of the Vietnamese led to their loss of the first Indochinese war.
In conclusion the Vietnamese were able to achieve a successful victory against the French due to the nationalism and popular support, the assistance of foreign alliances, the tactics used by the Viet Minh and the French underestimation of the Vietnamese people. Overall these factors all contributed to an inevitable victory for the Vietnamese.