The Viet Minh evolves into the North Vietnamese Army

  The Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh (Vietnam Independence League), or Viet Minh as it would become known to the world, was a Communist front organization founded by Ho Chi Minh and others in South China in 1941. Ho Chi Minh had chosen the southern part of China, next to the Vietnamese border, as his refuge from persecution by the French whom he had opposed for years. The Viet Minh were initially formed to secure Vietnamese independence from French colonial rule. But, when the Japanese occupation began during WWII, the Viet Minh opposed the Japanese with support from the United States and the Republic of China.

  After the Second World War and the end of the Japanese occupation in 1945, the French attempted to reimpose colonial rule on Vietnam. The Viet Minh, still opposing the re-occupation of Vietnam by France, launched a long and bloody guerrilla war against French colonial forces in what came to be known as the First Indochina War. In 1950, the People's Republic of China extended diplomatic recognition to the Viet Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam and sent weapons and military advisors to assist the Viet Minh in its war with the French. China's ability to aid the Viet Minh declined when Soviet aid to China was reduced following the end of the Korean War in 1953 but, they continued to provide materiel and technical support to the Vietnamese communists worth hundreds of millions of dollars probably with the thought; a divided Vietnam at odds with itself posed less of a military threat to them. The Viet Minh, under the leadership of General Vo Nguyen Giap, decisively defeated the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 bringing rise to the first draft of the 1954 Geneva Accords. The armistice ending the war was negotiated by French Prime Minister Pierre Mendès and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai who, fearing U.S. intervention, urged the Viet Minh to accept a partition at the 17th parallel. On August 1, the armistice ending the war went into effect. The triumphant Viet Minh marched into Hanoi as the French prepared to withdraw their forces. The Viet Minh formally took over Hanoi and control of North Vietnam on Oct. 11, 1954.

  Under the provisions of the agreement Vietnam was to be temporarily split into approximately equal halves. separated by a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) running along the 17th parallel. The northern half was to be governed by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, which had been secured by Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh, and the southern half would be governed by the non-communist State of Vietnam until 1956. In 1956 the two zones were to be reunified with internationally supervised elections being held. This was not to be because Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic and staunchly anti-communist, had become premier of the State of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and disliked the Geneva Accords. He effectively consolidated his power in the south and by mid 1955, had gained control of most of South Vietnam. In July, he declared his refusal to permit the elections called for at Geneva which led to an increased insurgency by the north into the south.

  China continued supplying rice which allowed North Vietnam to pull military-age men from the rice paddies and other areas by imposing a military draft beginning in 1960. In 1962, China agreed to supply Hanoi with 90,000 rifles and guns free of charge and, in 1965, sent anti-aircraft units and engineering battalions to North Vietnam to repair and rebuild roads and railroads, and to perform other engineering works damage caused by American bombing, . This freed the combined Viet Minh military units and the People’s Liberation Armed Force (PLAF) which had evolved into the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN): known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) by the Americans, for combat in the south. When North Vietnamese regular units were committed to combat in the south in increasing numbers, the United States became increasingly involved by committing ground units in the place of previously used U.S. advisors. Vietnam was not reunited until April 1975, when North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon