The Vietnam People's Army: regularization of command 1975-1988

Author/s (editor/s):

D.M. Fitzgerald

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 48

The Vietnam People's Army (VPA) is the fourth largest army in the world and easily the most powerful army in Southeast Asia. As with the Soviet Red Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the VPA was commanded and controlled by a complex system of military commanders and political officers at all levels, from the High Command to the smallest unit. 

Yet during a conflict with Kampuchea in 1979, the CPA scrapped the thirty year old system in favour of a Soviet inspired 'one-command system' - a significant change for any communist army to make!

This book consists of an indepth analysis of the regularisation of the party-military command relationship in Vietnam since 1975. It includes an examination of the three phased replace of the 'system of leaders' with the one-command system between the Fourth and Sixth Communist Party Congresses. It analyses the effects of Soviet aid and the Third Indochina War on the introduction of the new system. Finally, this book examines the accompanying rise of the VPA's professionalism and decline in its party values. It analyses the interoperability of the three Indochinese armies, and discusses the possible effects of regularisation on Vietnamese domestic politics and Southeast Asian security.

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