A Viet Cong soldier on their approach to war (1985)

Truong Nhu Tang was an original member of the National Liberation Front or Viet Cong. In his 1985 memoir, he reflected on the Viet Cong’s approach to the war in South Vietnam:

“The strategy of the Front was established on a solid basis and confirmed for the foreseeable future. The overriding goals remained to effect a withdrawal of the United States from South Vietnam and to bring about negotiations between the Front and its adversaries, in order to form a new Southern government.

To achieve these political objectives we would pursue the struggle on three fronts: political, military and diplomatic. We would simultaneously confront our enemy in the field, mobilise our domestic support and gather allies internationally—not forgetting the American people themselves.

This three-pronged strategy was to characterise our approach throughout the war. Every military clash, every demonstration, every propaganda appeal was seen as part of an integrated whole; each had consequences far beyond its immediate apparent results. It was a framework that allowed us to view battles as psychological events and to undertake negotiations in order to strengthen our military position.

The Americans seemed never to appreciate fully this strategic perspective, which among ourselves we most often simply called Danh va dam. dam va danh (‘fighting and talking, talking and fighting’). It was, after all, a traditional Vietnamese approach to warfare, a technique refined over centuries of confrontation with invaders more powerful than ourselves.”