Vietcong military forces in Vietnam war

Who was called Vietcong? A forces of Vietnamese Communist, of course. US command in Vietnam war developed this very often used short-cut. Vietnamese Communist were organised in that time in National Liberation Front, and Vietcong was the military branch commanded by the Central Office for South Vietnam.

Vietcong soldier - demonstration at Chu-chi tunnels

It is believed that main force of Vietcong units were  local peasants. But in reality main force were uniformed, regular soldiers, mainly from north Vietnam. Regional forces were also full-time (in war time), but operated (mainly only ) within their own districts. In time of strong American pressure, they would break down into smaller units. And after that easily scatter.

Vietcong has recruited soldiers from local districts. Mainly young teenagers. Boys and girls as well. Many were motivated by idealism, others had been pressured or shamed into joining.

Local guerrillas were given only a basic training. But in a case if they were recruited to a main force unit, they could receive up to a month of advanced instruction – about tactics, weapons, radio. And all training courses included political instruction.

By the mid-1960s,  Vietcong troops were armed with Chinese versions of the Russian AK-47 sub-machine gun. Very infrequently they have had heavy machine guns. Guns very valued for defence against American helicopters.

Many weapons, including “Booby traps” and mines, were home-made in villages. The materials used for making ranged from scavenged tin can to discarded wire, but the most important ingredients were provided by the enemy. After frequent air-raids volunteers retrieved the duds. And the peasant´s dangerous business of creating new weapons began.

Booby trap used in Vietnam war


Local forces also designed primitive weapons, some designed to frighten intruders, but others were extremely dangerous. “Punji traps” or “Booby traps” were sharp spikes hidden in pits. Those could easily disable American soldiers. ”Punji and Booby traps” were more or less often contaminated to increase the risk of infection.

Vietcong soldier makes Booby traps

Vietcong forces, following the example of Chinese guerillas before them, had always given the highest priority to creating safe base areas. They had training grounds, logistics centres and headquarters. They also offered secure sanctuaries for bad war times. In remote districts, swamps or forests, there were few problems to build this kind of places. But nearby Saigon (the capital city of South Vietnam in time of Vietnam war) it was much more difficult. The answer was to build enormous systems of underground tunnels.

There were complexes big and small scattered across the country. Each villager had to dig no less than three feet of tunnel a day. There was even a standard handbook specifying how tunnels were to be built. The biggest tunnel systems were in the Iron Triangle and the Cu Chi District, only 20 miles from Saigon.


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