Most of the fighting in the Vietnam war took place in jungles. The Viet Cong were mostly peasants who were recruited from local villages or cities. Their having lived in these areas prior to the war gave them superior knowledge of the land, which they used to plant traps and plan ambushes. Additionally, they were not tied down by as rigid of a military structure as the US, so they were able to fight independently and wage their own private wars. Lastly, they planned many--MANY--ambushes so the element of surprise was crucial as well.
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May 29, 2018
The Viet Cong had been fighting for an Independent nation for a long time and had many assets. If you go there its worth seeing the Chu Chi tunnels.
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The French colonized Vietnam in the late 1800s. It had been a Nation for many centuries and had a independent nation identity as the Viet People. The Viet people are a particular racial group found in the area. In the modern Vietnamese Government you have to be of the Viet racial group to get ahead.
The French sent a number of promising Viet students to France for an education in the early 20th Century. These students were intended to become mid level bureaucrats in the colonial government. The French education of liberty and human rights created some exceptional leaders for the liberation movement.
The communists under Ho Chi Minh began to actively resist the French and Japanese during World War 2 from bases in China. They had good success at this. There were a large group of Viet Minh followers (precursor to the Viet Cong) by the end of the War.
The Americans and the British supported the re-establishment of the French Colony and the fighting for independence continued. The Viet Minh combat techniques and troop quality improved over time. Equipment from China and the Soviet Union began to pour in as part of the Cold War and the Communist take over of China.
During the French phase of the Vietnam War the Viet Minh began to tunnel extensively. By the American phase many areas were large networks of tunnel. The Americans built a base for the 25th infantry division without noticing the tunnels underneath it. Local farmers were expected to make 1 meter of tunnel per day. In areas where the soil was appropriate there became extensive networks of tunnels complete with underground sleeping quarters, kitchens, workshops, as well as many false entrances leading to traps.
The French and the Americans could not destroy these underground bases despite extensive effort to do so and they became sanctuaries inside the country.
The obtaining of supplies from Communist countries, the Cold War which encouraged proxy fighting, the pre-existing nation of the Viet people and its determination to have its own independent country were all assets. There also was the hard working, patient, resourceful nature of the Viet people and their determination to win at all costs and no matter how long it took. They also had exceptional leaders.