Vietnam People’s Army

Vietnam People’s Army

Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam

The Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) (Vietnamese: Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam) is the official name of the armed forces of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. During the Second Indochinese War (Vietnam War) (1957–1975), the U.S. referred to it as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), or People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and this term is commonly found throughout Vietnam War-related subjects. The VPA was not the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (also known as VC) (although certain elements disguised as such occasionally and after the reunification of the country in 1976, all former VC forces that had not been demobilized were incorporated into the VPA). During the war against the French (First Indochina War, 1946-1954), the VPA was often referred to as the Việt Minh even though Việt Minh was the name of the overall independence movement that preceded the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945. The VPA now includes the: Vietnam People’s Ground Forces (including VPA Strategic Rear Forces and Border Defence Forces), Vietnam People’s Navy (including VPN Naval infantry), Vietnam People’s Air Force, and Vietnam People’s Coast Guard.


Ready to protect the country


The predecessor of the VPA was the Armed Propaganda Unit for National Liberation, an organization that was formed by President Hồ Chí Minh on December 22, 1944 to drive the French colonialists and Japanese occupiers from Vietnam.


First Vietnam people's Army
First Vietnamese People’s Army

General Võ Nguyên Giáp was the first Commander and commander-in-chief of VPA and the fourth Minister of National Defence (after Chu Van Tan, Phan Anh, Ta Quang Buu). This force was to launch many offensives, and eventually survive counter-attacks by United States forces in what was known as the Vietnam War in the United States.


Victory at Dien Bien Phu, the first small, weak army defeated an empire



This tank had ended the longest 30-year war

They would also participate in incursions into Cambodia, toppling the genocidal Khmer Rouge in 1979. After that VPA had a big war with PLA (Chinese Army). In this war, Chinese has a severe loses when facing with a well-armed and experienced army.


At least 400 Chinese tanks were destroyed

During peaceful periods, the VPA has actively been involved in Vietnam’s workforce to develop the economy of Vietnam, in order to coordinate national defense and the economy. The VPA has regularly sent troops to aid with natural disasters such as flooding, landslides etc. The VPA is also involved in such areas as industry, agriculture, forestry, fishery and telecommunications.

The VPA has numerous small firms which have become quite profitable in recent years. However, recent decrees have effectively prohibited the commercialisation of the military.


Minister of National Defense oversees operations of the VPA and is the Commander-in-Chief. He also oversees such agencies as the General Staff and the General Logistics Department. However, military policy is ultimately directed by the Central Military Commission of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.

The VPA is composed of a main force and local forces. As with most countries’ armed forces, the VPA consists of standing, or regular, forces as well as reserve forces. During peacetime, the standing forces are minimized in number, and kept combat-ready by regular physical and weapons training, and stock maintenance.


The Vietnam People’s Army comprises various units of the main forces (Chủ lực), local forces (Địa phương) and the People’s Defence Forces (Dân quân-Tự vệ).

It is subdivided into the following branches and sub-branches:

* Vietnam Ground Force (Lục quân)

* Vietnam Border Defense Force (Lực lượng Biên phòng)

* Vietnam People’s Navy (Hải quân Nhân dân Việt Nam) consists of:

o (Naval Infantry (aka Marines))

o Vietnam People’s Coast Guard (Bộ đội Biên phòng Việt Nam)

* Vietnam People’s Air Defense and Air Force (Phòng không-Không quân nhân dân Việt Nam).

As mentioned above, reserves exist in all branches and are organized in the same way as the standing forces, with the same chain of command, and with officers and non-commissioned officers.

Note:Vietnam Strategic Rear Force (Lực lượng dự bị chiến lược) is also a part of the ground force.

International presence

The Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of National Defense organizes international operations of the VPA.

Apart from its occupation of half of the disputed Spratly Islands, which have been claimed as Vietnamese territory since the 17th century, Vietnam has not had forces stationed internationally since its withdrawal from Cambodia and Laos in early 1990.

There is some evidence to suggest that Vietnamese forces were sent to Laos to quell the recent rebellion.


Main Force

The main force of the VPA consists of combat ready troops, as well as educational institutions for logistics, officer training, and technical training. The current number stands at 450,000 regular soldiers.


Hard practice makes the big victory

Osprey Publishing’s ‘The NVA and Vietcong'(1991) says the VPA Ground Forces had four ‘Strategic Army Corps’ in the early 1990s, numbered 1-4 from north to south.[1] 1 SAC, in the Red River Delta region, consisted of the 308th (one of the six original ‘Steel and Iron’ divisions) and 312th Divisions and the 309th Infantry Regiment. The other three corps, 2 SAC, 3 SAC, and 4 SAC, were further south, with 4 SAC, in what was South Vietnam, consisting of two former PLAF divisions, the 7th and 9th.


Su-27, Eagle of the Vietnam sky

Local Forces

Local forces are an entity of the VPA that, together with the militia and “self-defense forces,” act on the local level in protection of people and local authorities. While the local forces are regular VPA forces, the militia consists of rural civilians, and the self-defense forces consist of civilians who live in urban areas and/or work in large groups, such as at construction sites or farms. The current number stands at 3-4 million part-time soldiers.


From the 1960s to 1991, the Soviet Union was the main supplier of military hardware to Vietnam:

* 2000 tanks

* 1700 APC

* 7000 pieces of artillery and mortars

* 5000 pieces of artillery

* 158 missile complexes

After 1975 the NVA inherited equipment abandoned by the US Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam, many imported from the United States. Since 1991, the Chinese have been the biggest supplier of military goods to Vietnam.

The Vietnamese have also produced their own equipment and repaired existing equipment.



* T-54/55 Main battle tank (900)

* T-62 Main battle tank (200)

* T-72 Main battle tank (120~150)

* PT-76 Amphibious tank (300)

* Type-59 Main battle tank (350)

* T-34 Medium tank

* SU-100 Tank destroyer

* Type-63 Amphibious tank

* M-48 Main battle tank (20)

* M-41 Light tank

* M-24 Light tank



* BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle

* BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle

* BTR-50 Wheeled armoured personnel carrier

* Type-63 armoured personnel carrier

* M-113 armored personnel carrier

* BTR-40 armored car

* BTR-152 wheeled APC

* BTR-60 wheeled APC (400)

* BRDM-1 reconnaissance vehicle

* BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicle

* V-150 wheeled armoured personnel carrier



* ZIL-130 general purpose truck

* ZIL-131 general purpose truck

* ZIS-151 general purpose truck – various platforms

* UAZ-469 all terrain vehicle

* KrAZ-255 general purpose truck

* MAZ-537 tank transporter

* M-35 cargo truck

* M-151 Jeep


Infantry Weapons

* TT-33 Pistols

* Type-54 Pistols

* PM Pistols

* M-1911A1 Pistols

* Type-56 – AK47 variant

* AK-47 Assault rifle

* AK-74 Assault rifle (in limited service with the Vietnamese Naval Infantry)

* AKM Assault rifle

* M-16 Assault rifle

* M-14 Rifle

* AKS-74U Carbine

* CAR-15 Carbine

* M-1 Carbine

* Chicom SKS 56

* PPSh-41 Submachine gun

* PPS-43 Submachine gun

* Flag of France France MAT-49 Mod submachine gun

* M-3A1 Submachine gun

* Uzi Submachine gun

* PM-63 Submachine gun

* MP-5 Submachine gun (Used by police )

* SVD Sniper Rifle

* DShK Heavy machine gun

* DP Light machine gun

* SG-43 Machine gun

* RPD Light machine gun

* RPK Light machine gun

* PK Machine Gun

* M2-HB Heavy Machine Gun

* M-60 Machine Gun

* RPG-2 rocket propelled grenade system

* RPG-7V rocket propelled grenade system

* M-72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon

* M-79 Grenade Launcher



* ZSU-57-2 57mm self propelled anti-aircraft gun

* ZSU-23-4 23mm self propelled anti-aircraft gun

* 61-K 37mm Air defense gun

* ZSU-23-2 23mm towed anti-aircraft gun

* SPG-9 73mm Recoilless gun

* B-10 82mm Recoilless gun

* B-11 107mm Recoilless gun

* M-40 106mm Recoilless gun

* 2S1 122mm Self-propelled artillery gun

* 2S3 152mm Self-propelled artillery gun

* D-20 152mm howitzer gun

* D-30 122mm howitzer gun

* M-46 130 mm towed field gun

* M-144 155mm howitzer gun

* BM-13 16tubes 132mm multiple rocket launchers

* BM-14 16tubes 140mm multiple rocket launchers

* BM-21 40tubes 122mm multiple-launch rocket system

* SS-1 Scud B/C Tactical ballistic missiles



* Lavochkin SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile system

* Isayev SA-3 Goa surface-to-air missile system

* SA-7 Grail surface-to-air missile system

* SA-9 Gaskin self-propelled surface-to-air missile

* Almaz SA-20A Gargoyle surface-to-air missile system

* Nudelman AT-2 Swatter anti-tank missile

* Kolomna AT-3 Sagger anti-tank missile



* Mil Mi-24 Hind – attack helicopters

* Mil Mi-4 Hound – transport helicopters

* Mil Mi-6 Hook – heavy transport helicopter

* Mil Mi-8 Hip – transport helicopters

* Mil Mi-17 Hip-H – transport helicopters

* Bell UH-1A Iroquois – utility helicopter



The Vietnam People’s Army consists of:

* Military manpower – military age: age for compulsory service: 18-27 years old; conscript service obligation – 18 months

* Military manpower – availability:

o males age 15-49: 21,341,813 (2005 est.)

* Military manpower – fit for military service:

o males age 15-49: 16,032,358 (2005 est.)

* Military manpower – reaching military age annually:

o males: 915,572 (2005 est.)

* Military manpower – total troops:

o 9,564,000 (2nd)

* Military expenditures: $1 billion (FY2002)

* Military expenditures – percent of GDP: 0.5% (FY2002)


(From wikipedia)

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