AskDefine | Define Vietcong

Extensive Definition

Victor Charlie redirects here. For other uses, see VC.
The Vietcong, or VC, was a guerrilla army that fought the United States and the South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War (1959-75). It included both soldiers recruited in South Vietnam and regular army North Vietnamese.
The name Vietcong is from Vietnamese Việt Cộng, which is short for Việt Nam Cộng Sản ("Vietnamese communist"). The term was created by United States Information Agency officials for use by Ngo Dinh Diem, the first president of South Vietnam. It was used during the Denounce the Communists Campaign of the early 1960s and soon displaced "Vietminh" as the popular name for communist guerrillas. American forces referred to members as Victor Charlie or simply as Charlie, from the NATO phonetic alphabet.
From 1960 to 1969, the Vietcong was more formally known as the National Liberation Front, a loose translation of the Vietnamese name Mặt trận Dân tộc Giải phóng miền Nam Việt Nam (literally, National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam). In 1969, the Vietcong created the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, often abbreviated as PRG. Although the NLF was never officially abolished, the name was no longer used after PRG was created. After the communist victory in 1975, the PRG was briefly the actual government of South Vietnam. It was dissolved in 1976 when North and South were officially unified.
The Vietcong's military wing was known as the People's Liberation Armed Forces. (PLAF). The PLAF was, according to the official history, strictly subordinate to the Lao Dong Party's General Staff in Hanoi.


The NLF was nominally independent of the North Vietnamese armed forces and although the leadership of the group was communist, the NLF was also made up of others who were allied with the Front against the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. The NLF was organized in 1960 at the direction of the Lao Dong Party, which, in 1962, also formed a southern communist, the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP). Ultimate control of the PRP, NLF and associated front organizations rested with Hanoi throughout the conflict. As the war with the Americans progressed, North Vietnamese personnel increasingly formed the military staff and officer corps of the NLF as well as directly deploying their own forces. The PAVN official history refers to the PLAF as simply "part of the PAVN". From the start, Communist cadres also formed the majority of the decision-making strata of the organization, though non-Communists, encouraged by the initial chair, Ho Chi Minh, were also involved in this process.
The NLF organization grew out of the nationalist Việt Minh organization during the First Indochina War. By the time the NLF began fighting the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the insurgency had a national infrastructure throughout South Vietnam. Rather than having to create "liberated zones" as in a classic insurgency, the NLF was already in control of such zones at the start of the war. The US/ARVN response - conducting large-unit conventional campaigns and simultaneous counter-insurgency operations - was ineffective largely due to the fact that the NLF infrastructure in many areas was already 20 years old.

Further reading

  • Marvin Gettleman, et al. 1995. "Vietnam and America: A Documented History". Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3362-2. (See especially Part VII: The Decisive Year. Discussions of Tet from Westoreland, Hunt and the Pentagon papers are presented as well as Seymour Hersh on My Lai.)
  • Truong Nhu Tang. 1985. "A Viet Cong Memoir". Random House. ISBN 0-394-74309-1. (See Chapter 7 on the forming of the NLF, and chapter 21 on the communist take-over in 1975.)
  • Frances Fitzgerald. 1972. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-28423-8. (See the description in Chapter 4. 'The National Liberation Front'.)
  • Douglas Valentine. 1990. The Phoenix Program. New York: William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0-688-09130-X.
  • Merle Pribbenow (transl). 2002 "Victory in Vietnam. The official history of the people's army of Vietnam". University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1175-4
Vietcong in Catalan: Front Nacional d'Alliberament del Vietnam
Vietcong in Czech: Národní fronta osvobození Jižního Vietnamu
Vietcong in Danish: Nationale front for befrielsen af Sydvietnam
Vietcong in German: Nationale Front für die Befreiung Südvietnams
Vietcong in Estonian: Việt Cộng
Vietcong in Spanish: Frente Nacional de Liberación de Vietnam
Vietcong in French: Front national pour la libération du Viêt Nam
Vietcong in Korean: 남베트남 해방민족전선
Vietcong in Indonesian: Viet Cong
Vietcong in Italian: Viet Cong
Vietcong in Hebrew: וייטקונג
Vietcong in Georgian: ვიეტ კონგი
Vietcong in Swahili (macrolanguage): Umoja wa Kizalendo kwa Ukombozi wa Vietnam Kusini
Vietcong in Lithuanian: Vietkongas
Vietcong in Hungarian: Dél-Vietnami Nemzeti Felszabadítási Front
Vietcong in Malay (macrolanguage): Barisan Pembebasan Kebangsaan
Vietcong in Dutch: Vietcong
Vietcong in Japanese: 南ベトナム解放民族戦線
Vietcong in Norwegian: Front National de Liberté (Vietnam)
Vietcong in Norwegian Nynorsk: FNL
Vietcong in Polish: Vietcong
Vietcong in Portuguese: Vietcongue
Vietcong in Romanian: Việt Cộng
Vietcong in Russian: Национальный фронт освобождения Южного Вьетнама
Vietcong in Albanian: Vietcong
Vietcong in Simple English: National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
Vietcong in Slovak: Národný front oslobodenia Južného Vietnamu
Vietcong in Serbian: Вијет Конг
Vietcong in Finnish: Etelä-Vietnamin kansallinen vapautusrintama
Vietcong in Swedish: FNL
Vietcong in Thai: แนวร่วมปลดปล่อยแห่งชาติเวียดนามใต้
Vietcong in Vietnamese: Mặt trận Dân tộc Giải phóng miền Nam Việt Nam
Vietcong in Turkish: Vietnam Ulusal Kurtuluş Cephesi
Vietcong in Chinese: 越南南方民族解放陣線
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