Tay Bac Armed Forces with Dien Bien Phu Campaign

17:39 | 04/22/2014

(Bqp.vn) - Winter-Spring Battle 1953-1954, culminating in the victorious Dien Bien Phu campaign ended gloriously our national war resistance against the French colonialists and American intervention. With the victory of Dien Bien Phu, we forced the French government to sign the Geneva Agreement (July 1954), acknowledging the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam as well as Laos and Cambodia, a prelude to the collapse of the old colonialism and marking a new development in the struggle for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress of the people all over the world.

Joining the joy of the national victory, Tay Bac armed force (precursor to the armed force of Military Region 2 today) was extremely proud to have contributed significantly to this glorious victory of the nation in Ho Chi Minh era. Overcoming space and time, the place of Tay Bac and Dien Bien Phu victory were known by the world as historic evidence on utter defeat of colonialism and imperialism in the twentieth century, as President Ho Chi Minh affirmed: “Dien Bien Phu is as a golden glorious landmark of the history. It clearly states where colonialism rolled downhill and disintegrated, and national liberation movements around the world are rising to the complete victory”.

Located in Tay Bac of the northern, with contiguous border with China and Laos, it is a natural geographical place with majestic mountains and forests, and rich resources. Starting from the special geographical, economic, political-social conditions, Tay Bac is always identified as an important strategic area of politics, economics, and defense-security of the country in every phase of history.

Due to the important role of Tay Bac, when returning invade Vietnam, the French chose Tay Bac as one of the first places to set the rule. In early 1948, the French controlled most of important provinces, towns, roads, Tay Bac became a painful and heroic land under the enemy's clutches. Here, they set up “Autonomous Thai Land”, “Autonomous Muong Land”; “Autonomous Nung Land” and organized “Tay Bac Independent Military Zone”, performed sinister conspiracy “divide to rule”; “Use Vietnamese people to beat Vietnamese people, take war to feed war”...

After the Border Campaign (Autumn-Winter 1950), the enemy tried to consolidate and develop the strategically important area of Tay Bac to control, intimidate our side and rear, cut communications between Viet Bac base and Inter Region 3, Inter Region 4 and cover and protect Upper Laos.

Tay Bac Armed Force was born right from the early days of the war against the French, under the nurturing and protection of the people of Tay Bac ethnics gradually matured. Under the leadership of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh, the spirit of “Would rather sacrifice all than lose the country and be slaves”, although weapons and equipment were very limited, less combat experience, geographical situation was extremely complex, difficult; but before the plots, sinister tricks of the enemy, the armed forces together with the ethnic people of Tay Bac again gradually overcame difficulties, hardship, sacrifice, actively fighting against the invaders and protecting revolutionary achievements.


Soldiers crossing Red River to Viet Bac to construct base, strengthen forces to advance the enemy. (File photo)

In Autumn-Winter 1952, based on the important terrain of Tay Bac, correlation between our forces and the enemy, along with the fighting capabilities of our soldiers with new developments, the General Military Commission and the Generalissimo identified: our main advance direction in the Autumn-Winter 1952 is Tay Bac of Tonkin.

In September 1952, the Central Party and General Military Commission were determined to launch a campaign to liberate Tay Bac. As a result, we freed most of the land base and expanded Tay Bac base, smashed the French colonialist’s long-term occupation plan and wicked tricks, freeing people from the grip of the enemy, upset the strategic layout, carved deep contradictions and vulnerabilities of the enemy, punctured the front protecting Upper Laos.

In Winter-Spring 1953-1954, the period of decisive significance to the battle between us with the French and U.S. intervention, Tay Bac was still chosen as the main direction of activities by the Party Central.

On the Tay Bac Frontier, we liberated a large area of 28,500 km2 (by 8/10 area), with 25 thousand people. French colonialists occupied only town of Lai Chau and Na San. But the enemy constantly reinforced the occupied areas, enhanced mopping-up operations for the expansion of the area. On the other hand, they re-established the puppet authorities, promoted the plot to destroy our resistance rear, gathered minions waiting for an opportunity for rebel, strengthened to catch soldiers, organized local military units, and fulfilled herding the villages and expanding spy war in a more sophisticated way. The French also used many wicked tricks, use of religion and the level of the backward awareness of ethnic people to propaganda, entice, bribe the people to follow them, creating divisions between ethnicity, between the plains and the mountains.

From August 1953, Nava sent to the liberation area many groups of commandos, mainly local henchmen to hook, rekindle bandits. Within a few months, they developed the force to nearly 4,000 people, fully armed, and occupied many key positions in provinces of Tay Bac region.

 In the end of 1953, although most of Tay Bac was freed and won great victories, the political social situation was still extremely difficult and complicated. To protect the achievements and bring the war to complete victory, one of the most urgent tasks was to stabilize the situation, strengthen the rear, and strongly maintain the newly liberated region. Under the leadership of the Area Committee, the Area Armed Force actively built and strengthened the people's government, maintain political stability and constantly evolved armed forces both regular army, local army and guerrillas, creating the posture of people’s war across the Tay Bac Frontier. The Armed Forces grew up dramatically in both combat coordination with the regular force of the ministry, and effective independent small battles and joined in killing the bandits with a good result.

After we liberated Lai Chau, the enemy in Dien Bien Phu was threatened more. Wings of troops from Lai Chau withdrawing to Dien Bien Phu were killed by our force, Nava was forced to send troops in North Delta to enhance for Dien Bien Phu causing the French mobile regular block increasingly fragmented and passive, creating profitable opportunities for us to actively counterattack and destroy the enemy.

For the French colonialist, Tay Bac was “the shield” protecting Upper Laos, deciding the loss and survival of Laos and North Vietnam strategic area, direct impact on the entire French war in Indochina. So, to protect Tay Bac and Upper Laos, the enemy concentrated its efforts to quickly build up Dien Bien Phu to be a strongly entrenched fortification. In the beginning of March 1954, the enemy forces at Dien Bien Phu consisted of 12 battalions, 7 companies, 44 guns and mortars, 1 engineering battalion, 1 tank company (10 tanks), motor transport unit (127 vehicles), 1 permanent aircraft fleet (14 aircrafts). Later, the French Command also enhanced more 4 infantry battalions, 2 parachute companies, bringing the total troops up to 17 battalions, mostly elite troops.

Within the basin of Dien Bien Phu with only 18 km long, 6 km wide, but the enemy built up 49 entrenched fortifications, divided into 8 defense centers with a system of firepower, convenient maneuver combat trenches. Each fortification had a system of fortified military work and tunnels with barbed wire fence surrounding with the thickness of 50 - 200 m, mixed with dense minefields. In Muong Thanh and Hong Cum, there were s 2 artillery fields and 2 airfields.

Implementing the determination of President Ho Chi Minh, the Politburo and the Campaign Command, along with the army and people of the country, the armed forces and the people of Tay Bac Zone urgently prepared for the Winter-Spring offensive 1953-1954, tightened the siege of Dien Bien Phu. Not only actively preparing the combat plans on the battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, the armed forces and the people of Tay Bac ethnics also did well the work of maintaining the resistance rear stable, ensuring the work of logistics serving the campaign. Under the tight leadership and organization of the Area Committee and the provincial party committees, the entire Area completed and exceeded the norm in terms of quantity, quality and time the targets assigned by thee Front and Government.

To prevent our main force and supply teams to Tay Bac, the French frenziedly used aircrafts to attack the marching routes, combined using the bandits to destroy our newly liberated rear region. In the process of preparing the strategic campaign against the French at Dien Bien Phu, because the armed forces in Tay Bac Zone were thin, and less ability to fight and experience, they were assigned by the Central to mainly coordinate with the regular army to hit small battles to destroy a outer important force part of the enemy, focus on destroying the bandit groups, ensure traffic, lead the way for the regular army of the ministry in the decisive battle of Dien Bien Phu. In addition, the Armed Forces were also assigned many other important tasks, such as making roads to pull guns, firing enemy aircrafts to protect traffic routes at Pha Din Pass...


Young Volunteers and soldiers open roads in Dien Bien Phu campaign. (File photo)

In Yen Bai, Regular Battalion 281 of the province and 5 local companies of the districts, bridge platoon and all guerrilla platoons of the villages actively participated in the Winter-Spring war 1953-1954. Entering Dien Bien Phu campaign, Yen Bai province and Yen Binh became direct rears of the campaign, and 13A Road became the main traffic artery connecting Viet Bac base and the battlefield.

Tay Bac Area Command and the Provincial Committee closely led the regular army of the Area, the local army, militia and the people along the Road 13A and Ba Khe road connecting Road 41, cooperating closely with the army to ensure smooth safe traffic, meeting the requirements of the campaign. The guerrilla groups combined with the army to patrol and protect every road. Despite the inclement weather, flooding rains, long term cold, the army and the people were still stick to the roads day and night, both fixing the roads and fighting against all the tricks of the enemy. The battle protecting the roads and bridges took place extremely aggressively, the fiercer the enemy attacked, the higher people’s brave spirit to keep the roads was. During the peak period of the Dien Bien Phu campaign, the enemy focused on raiding intensely our unique path. They frantically dropped bombs down the key points at Lung Lo Pass (over a thousand bombs of all kinds), Au Lau ferry station, Hien ferry station ... Tens of thousands of people and militia bravely overcame the bombs, high pass to transport over 22,370 tons of weapons, ammunition and food for the campaign.

In Lao Cai, the province’s local troop company 956 promoted a pivotal role for the entire population to fight the enemy, actively fought to liberate Sapa, Muong Vi, Binh Lu and Tam Duong, broke the siege of the bandits for the town of Lao Cai and towns of Sapa, Bat Xat and Phong Tho district, defeated the nests of bandits along the way from Lao Cai to Lai Chau.

 The provincial Armed Forces destroyed 150 enemy troops, captured and called for surrender 443 troops, shot down 01 aircraft, collected 231 guns of all kinds and tens of tons of ammunition, military uniforms, military tools; ensured a smooth mobility path from Lao Cai to Lai Chau for the Winter - Spring war 1953-1954 and Dien Bien Phu campaign.

 In Lai Chau, the armed forces in the newly liberated area mainly focused on stabilizing people's lives, propagandizing policies of the Party and Government, constructed facilities for training key personnel, swept remnants of the enemy, bandits, unpatriotic Vietnamese, reactionary, espionage, broke the enemy's conspiracy of division. The place temporarily occupied directly served the Dien Bien Phu campaign to liberate the homeland, prepared takeover when released. In the north of the province, the battle against the bandits by the local troops and militia in coordination with the regular army took place extremely fierce, conducting more than 100 large and small battles, killing 760 enemies, captured and called for surrender 3,000 enemies, collected many weapons, military supplies, broke the enemy's plot to cut our supply lines from the north along Nam Na River to Lai Chau town to serve Dien Bien Phu battlefield.

Local Troop Company 820 of Dien Bien province proactively protected district offices, consolidated guerrilla force, killed tyrants and eliminated traitors, fought against raids and ensured the safety of Central staff and the regular army scouting targets and directing fronts.

The Armed Forces of Son La province, both building and fighting, matured quickly. The province’s youth volunteers company at the T-Junction of Co Noi (Mai Son) did not let the transport blood vessel at the particularly important strategic T-junction clogged for even an hour, leaving many brave examples in performing the task.

On March 13, 1954, the Dien Bien Phu campaign began and ended on May 7, 1954. Over 56 days and nights of continuous and extremely heroic fighting, the armed forces of Tay Bac Zone contributed deservedly with forces on the fronts completely defeated the entrenched fortification of Dien Bien Phu. In the historic strategic campaign, the fierce battles in Hill Al, Cl also highlighted the feat of arms of Regiment 174, Regiment 98, and Brigade 316 - the main unit of the Armed Force Military Zone 2 today.

To continue to uphold the spirit and mettle of Dien Bien Phu victory in a new condition, the Armed Force of Military Zone 2 vows to unite and be loyal to the revolutionary cause of the Party, building the Party Committee of the Military Zone to be strong and clean, ensuring strong leadership of the Party for the defense career; closely collaborating with Party committees, local government, strengthening the national defense, improving construction quality of the defense area. Implement the objective “to build the army revolutionary, regular, elite and gradually modern” taking political construction as a basis; continuously improve the overall quality of the Armed Forces of Military Zone all three services, defeat the strategy of “peaceful evolution”, overthrowing disturbance of the enemy forces, protect the Party, protect the socialist regime and protect the people. Successfully complete all tasks in all situations, maintain political stability and peaceful environment for socio-economic development in the area, helping to boost the industrialization and modernization of the country; with the whole country to compete to win new achievements in the cause of building and defending the country.

Officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of Military Zone 2 today always respect and forever remember the merits of previous heroes, martyrs, officers and soldiers who did not regret their blood to bring glorious Dien Bien Phu victory. Spirit and mettle of Dien Bien Phu, yesterday, today and tomorrow will always be a spiritual fulcrum, a solid foundation for creating strength so that the Armed Forces of Military Zone 2 complete every mission that the country and people assign. Just as General Vo Nguyen Giap once said, “Our nation is forever proud of heroic Tay Bac, of great Dien Bien Phu victory. The historical tradition will give us more confidence in the leadership of the Party, in power of national unity and the energy and creativity of fellow and soldiers, the People’s Party and the people of Tay Bac in the innovation career, building and protecting the socialist Vietnam Fatherland”.


Lieutenant General Duong Duc Hoa, Commander of Military Zone 2

Ministry of National Defence - Socialist Republic of VietNam
Address : No. 7 Nguyen Tri Phuong, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
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