Military Wiki
Võ Nguyên Giáp
Nickname Anh Văn (Brother Van)
Born (1911-08-25)25 August 1911
Died 4 October 2013(2013-10-04) (aged 102)
Place of birth Lộc Thủy, Quảng Bình Province, French Indochina
Place of death 108 hospital, Ha Noi
Allegiance Flag of North Vietnam 1945-1955.svg Viet Minh
Service/branch Vietnam People's Army
Years of service 1944–1991
Rank Vietnam People's Army General.jpg General
Commands held

Võ Nguyên Giáp (25 August 1911 – 4 October 2013) was a General in the Vietnam People's Army and a politician. He first grew to prominence during World War II, where he served as the military leader of the Viet Minh resistance against the Japanese occupation of Vietnam. Giáp was a principal commander in two wars: the First Indochina War (1946–54) and the Vietnam War (1960–1975). He participated in the following historically significant battles: Lạng Sơn (1950), Hòa Bình (1951–52), Điện Biên Phủ (1954), the Tết Offensive (1968), the Easter Offensive (1972), and the final Ho Chi Minh Campaign (1975).

Giáp was also a journalist, an interior minister in President Hồ Chí Minh's Việt Minh government, the military commander of the Việt Minh, the commander of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), and defense minister. He also served as a member of the Politburo of the Vietnam Workers' Party, which in 1976 became the Communist Party of Vietnam.

He was the most prominent military commander, beside Ho Chi Minh, during the Vietnam War, and was responsible for major operations and leadership until the war ended.

Early life

He was born on 25 August 1911 (or 1912 according to some sources[1]) in Quảng Bình Province, French Indochina.[2] Giap's father and mother, Võ Quang Nghiêm and Nguyen Thi Kien,[3] worked the land, rented some to neighbors, and lived a relatively comfortable lifestyle.

Giap's father was both a minor official and a committed nationalist, having played a part in uprisings against the French in 1885 and 1888. He was arrested for subversive activities by the French colonial authorities in 1919 and died in prison a few weeks later. Giap had two sisters and one brother, and soon after his father's incarceration, one of his sisters was also arrested. Although she was not held for long, the privations of prison life made her ill and she too died a few weeks after being released. Thus there had been two deaths in his family before he was ten years old.[4]

Giap was taught at home by his father before going to the village school. His precocious intelligence meant that he was soon transferred to the district school and in 1924, at the age of thirteen, he left home to attend the Quốc Học (also known in English as the "National Academy"), a French-run lycée in Huế.[3] This school had been founded by a Catholic official named Ngo Dinh Kha, and his son, Ngô Đình Diệm also attended it. Diem later went on to become President of South Vietnam (1955–63). At the same school was another boy, Nguyen Sinh Cung, also the son of an official. In 1943 Cung adopted the name Ho Chi Minh.[5] At 14, Giáp became a messenger for the Haiphong Power Company.[citation needed] He was expelled from the school after two years for taking part in protests, and went home to his village for a while. While there, he joined the Tân Việt Revolutionary Party an underground group founded in 1924, which introduced him to communism.[6] He returned to Hue and continued his political activities. He was arrested in 1930 for taking part in student protests and served 13 months of a two-year sentence at Lao Bảo Prison.[3] By Giap's own account the reason for his release was lack of evidence against him.[7] He joined the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1931[3] and took part in several demonstrations against French rule in Indochina as well as assisting in founding the Democratic Front in 1933.

Although he has denied it,[citation needed] Giáp was said by the historian Cecil B. Currey[8] to have also spent some time in the prestigious Hanoi Lycée Albert Sarraut, where the local elite was educated to serve the colonial regime. He was apparently in the same class as Phạm Văn Đồng, future Prime Minister, who has also denied having studied at Albert Sarraut, and Bảo Đại, the last emperor of Annam. From 1933 to 1938, Giáp studied at the University of Hanoi[3][9] where he earned a bachelor's degree in law with a major in political economy.

Young activist

While studying at university, Giap had taken lodgings with Professor Dang Thai Minh,[10] whose daughter, Nguyen Thi Minh Giang (also cited as Nguyễn Thị Quang Thái),[11] he had first met at school in Hue. She too had learned nationalism from her father and had joined the revolutionary activities which Giap was involved with. In June 1938 (or, according to some sources, April 1939) they were married and in May 1939 they had a daughter, Hong Anh (Red Queen of Flowers).[11][12] Giap's busy political activities took a toll on his postgraduate studies, and he failed to pass the examinations for the Certificate of Administrative Law. Unable therefore to practice as a lawyer, he took a job as a history teacher at the Thăng Long School in Hanoi.[13]

As well as teaching in school, Giap was busy producing and writing articles for Tieng Dan (Voice of the People) founded by Huỳnh Thúc Kháng and many other revolutionary newspapers, while actively participating in various revolutionary movements. All the while, Giáp was a dedicated reader of military history and philosophy, revering Sun Tzu.[14] He also made a particular study of Napoleon's generalship, and greatly admired T. E. Lawrence's The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, learning from it practical examples of how to apply minimum military force to maximum effect.[15] During the Popular Front years in France, he founded Hon Tre Tap Moi (Soul of Youth),[11] an underground socialist newspaper. He also founded the French-language paper Le Travail (on which Phạm Văn Đồng also worked).

After the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the French authorities outlawed the communist party and the leaders of the Indochinese Communist Party decided that he should leave Vietnam and go into exile in China. On 3 May 1940 he said farewell to his wife, left Hanoi and crossed the border into China. Giap's wife went to her family home in Vinh, where she was arrested, sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment, and transferred to the Hoa Lo Central Prison in Hanoi.[16] In China, Giap joined up with Hồ Chí Minh, the leader of the Vietnam Independence League (Việt Minh). In China he adopted the alias Duong Huai-nan, learned to speak and write Chinese, and studied the strategy and tactics of the Chinese Communist Party.[17]

In September 1940 the political situation in Vietnam changed when the Vichy regime allowed the occupying Japanese forces to 'protect' Indochina. In May 1941 the Eighth Congress of the Indochinese Communist Party decided to form the Vietnam Independence League (Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh); Giap was made responsible for establishing an intelligence network and organising political bases in the far north of the country. To begin propaganda work among the population, a newssheet called Viet Nam Doc Lap was produced. Giap wrote many articles for it, and was repeatedly criticised by Ho Chi Minh for the excessive verbosity of his writing style.[18]

Young commander

In 1942 Giap and about forty men moved back into Vietnam and established themselves in remote caves near the village of Vu Nhai. This and similar small groups in the mountains were the basis of the Viet Minh, the armed wing of the Vietnam Independence League. The local Nung hill people spoke little Vietnamese, so Giap and his colleagues had to learn local dialects and draw pictures to communicate. When Vichy security patrols approached, they would conceal themselves in a cave under a waterfall, or, at times, in the lands of the Man Trang people.[19] For the next few years he and his comrades worked steadily to build up a small military force and to win local people over to the communist cause. By the end of 1943 several hundred men and women had joined the Viet Minh.[20] It was in the summer of 1943 that Giap was told that his wife had died in the central prison in Hanoi (their daughter was safe with his wife's parents).

In September 1944 the first Revolutionary Party Military Conference was held and it was agreed that the time was now right to take the military struggle forward into a new phase. The formation of the Vietnam Liberation army was proclaimed, with Giap as its commander. Ho Chi Minh directed him to establish Armed Propaganda Brigades and the first one, consisting of thirty one men and three women, was formed in December 1944. Named the Tran Hung Dao Platoon after the great Vietnamese hero, it was armed with two revolvers, seventeen rifles, one light machine gun, and fourteen breech-loading flintlocks dating from the Russo-Japanese War.[21] Ho Chi Minh decided that for propaganda purposes, the Armed Propaganda Unit had to win a military victory within a month of being established, so on 25 December 1944 Giap led successful attacks against French outposts at Khai Phat and Na Ngan. Two French lieutenants were killed and the Vietnamese soldiers in the outposts surrendered. The Viet Minh attackers suffered no casualties. A few weeks later, Giap was wounded in the leg when his group attacked another outpost at Dong Mu.[22]

Through the first half of 1945, Giap's military position strengthened as the political position of the French and Japanese weakened. On 9 March the Japanese removed the titular French regime and placed the emperor Bảo Đại at the head of a puppet state, the Empire of Vietnam. By April the Vietminh had nearly five thousand members, and was able to attack Japanese posts with confidence. In one of the paradoxes of history, between May and August 1945 the United States, keen to support anti-Japanese forces in mainland Asia, actively supplied and trained Giap and the Viet Minh. Major Archimedes Patti, in charge of the so-called 'Deer Team' unit, taught the Viet Minh to use flamethrowers, grenade launchers and machine guns. In a single month they succeeded in training around 200 hand-picked future leaders of the army that was to oppose them a few decades later. Growing stronger, Giap's forces took more territory and captured more towns until on 15 August the Japanese Emperor announced his country's unconditional surrender to the allies.[23]

On 28 August 1945 Giap led his men into Hanoi, and on 2 September Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He formed a new government, with Giap as Minister of the Interior.[24] Unknown to the Việt Minh, President Harry S. Truman, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin had already decided the future of postwar Vietnam at a summit meeting at Potsdam. They agreed that the country would be occupied temporarily to get the Japanese out; the northern half would be under the control of the Nationalist Chinese and the southern half under the British.[25] On 9 September the Nationalist Chinese forces crossed the border and quickly took control of the north, while on 12 September the British Indian Army arrived in Saigon.[26] By October French forces has begun to arrive in Vietnam, and the British handed control of the south back to them and in May 1946 an agreement between the French and the Chinese saw the Chinese withdraw from the north and the French move in there as well. Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap pursued lengthy negotiations with the French, seeking to avoid an all-out war to cement their independence. Giap led the Vietnamese delegation at the Dalat conference in April 1946, which yielded nothing, and, returning to Hanoi, he was made Minister of Defense. Ho Chi Minh departed for France on 31 May to negotiate with the French at Fontainebleau, and he remained in France until November.[27]

With Ho in France, Giap was effectively in charge of the government in Hanoi. Up till then the Democratic Republic of Vietnam had allowed nationalist and other newspapers to publish, but when they began attacking and vilifying Giap he cracked down on them and closed them all. He also deployed Viet Minh forces against non-communist nationalist troops in the suburbs of Hanoi, and had their leaders arrested, imprisoned, or killed. During this period he also began a relationship with a famous and beautiful dancer, Thuong Huyen, and was seen in public with her at nightclubs. This conduct caused very serious concern in the upper ranks of the Party as is was contrary to the very strict and abstemious moral code by which all members were expected to abide. Wanting to protect him, Ho Chi Minh arranged for him to meet an intelligent graduate from a well-known family, Ba Hanh. In August 1946 they were married, and went on to have two boys and two girls.[28]

First Indochina War

The tense standoff between the Vietnamese government and the French occupiers escalated dramatically on 23 October when the French commander Argenlieu ordered the cruiser Suffren to bombard Haiphong in response to repeated skirmishes with Vietnamese forces as they tried to bring arms and contraband into the port. Around six thousand people were killed, and fourteen thousand wounded in the bombardment. Giap, acting as de facto President in the absence of Ho Chi Minh, tried to maintain some kind of peace but by the time Ho returned in November, both sides were on a war footing. Local fighting broke out repeatedly and on 27 November Ho's government, concluding that it could not hold Hanoi against the French, retreated back up into the northern hills where it had been based two years previously. On 19 December the Vietnamese government officially declared war on France and fighting erupted all over the country.[29] After this time, detailed information on Giap's personal life becomes much scarcer and in most sources the emphasis is on his military achievements and, later, on his political roles.

The first few years of the war involved mostly a low-level, semi-conventional resistance fight against the French occupying forces. Võ Nguyên Giáp first saw real fighting at Nha Trang,[30] when he traveled to south-central Vietnam in January–February 1946 to convey the determination of leaders in Hanoi to resist the French.[31] However, after the Chinese communists reached the northern border of Vietnam in 1949 and the Vietnamese destruction of French posts there, the conflict turned into a conventional war between two armies equipped with modern weapons supplied by the United States and the Soviet Union.

French Union forces included colonial troops from many parts of the French former empire (Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Vietnamese ethnic minorities), French professional troops and units of the French Foreign Legion. The use of metropolitan recruits (i.e. recruits from France itself) was forbidden by French governments to prevent the war from becoming even more unpopular at home. It was called the "dirty war" (la sale guerre) by supporters of the Left in France and intellectuals (including Sartre) during the Henri Martin affair in 1950.[32][33]

When it became clear that France was becoming involved in a long drawn-out and so far not very successful war, the French government tried to negotiate an agreement with the Việt Minh. They offered to help set up a national government and promised that they would eventually grant Vietnam its independence. Hồ Chí Minh and the other leaders of the Việt Minh did not trust the word of the French and continued the war.

Võ Nguyên Giáp (left) and Hồ Chí Minh in Hà Nội, October 1945

French public opinion continued to move against the war. There were five main reasons for this:

  1. Between 1946 and 1952 many French troops had been killed, wounded, or captured.
  2. France was attempting to build up her economy after the devastation of the Second World War. The cost of the war had so far been twice what they had received from the United States under the Marshall Plan.
  3. The war had lasted for seven years and there was still no sign of a clear French victory.
  4. A growing number of people in France had reached the conclusion that their country did not have any moral justification for being in Vietnam.
  5. Parts of the French left supported the goals of the Việt Minh to form a socialist state.

While growing stronger in Vietnam, the Việt Minh also expanded the war and lured the French to spread their force to remote areas such as Laos. In December 1953, French military commander General Henri Navarre set up a defensive complex at Ðiện Biên Phủ, disrupting Việt Minh supply lines passing through Laos. He surmised that in an attempt to reestablish the route, Giáp would be forced to organize a mass attack on Ðiện Biên Phủ, thus fighting a conventional battle, in which Navarre could expect to have the advantage.

Giáp took up the French challenge. While the French dug in at their outpost, the Việt Minh were also preparing the battlefield. While diversionary attacks were launched in other areas,[34] Giáp ordered his men to covertly position their artillery by hand. Defying standard military practice, he had his twenty-four 105mm howitzers placed on the forward slopes of the hills around Ðiện Biên Phủ, in deep, mostly hand-dug emplacements protecting them from French aircraft and counter-battery fire.

With antiaircraft guns supplied by the Soviet Union, Giáp was able to severely restrict the ability of the French to supply their garrison, forcing them to drop supplies inaccurately from high altitude. Giáp ordered his men to dig a trench system that encircled the French. From the outer trench, other trenches and tunnels were gradually dug inward towards the center. The Việt Minh were now able to move in close to the French troops defending Ðiện Biên Phủ.

When Navarre realized that he was trapped, he appealed for help. The United States was approached and some advisers suggested the use of tactical nuclear weapons against the Việt Minh, but this was never seriously considered. Another suggestion was that conventional air raids would be enough to scatter Giáp's troops. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, refused to intervene unless the British and other Western allies agreed. Churchill declined, claiming that he wanted to wait for the outcome of the peace negotiations taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, before becoming involved in escalating the war.

On 13 March 1954, Giáp launched his offensive. For 54 days, the Việt Minh seized position after position, pushing the French until they occupied only a small area of Ðiện Biên Phủ. Colonel Piroth, the artillery commander, blamed himself for the destruction of French artillery superiority. He told his fellow officers that he had been "completely dishonoured" and committed suicide with a hand grenade. General De Castries, French Commander in Ðiện Biên Phủ, was captured alive in his bunker. The French surrendered on 7 May. Their casualties totaled over 2,200 men dead, 5,600 wounded and 11,721 taken prisoner. The following day the French government announced that it intended to withdraw from Vietnam.

Giap's victory over the French was an important inspiration to anti-colonial campaigners around the world, particularly in French colonies, and most particularly in North Africa, not least because many of the troops fighting on the French side in Indochina were from North Africa.[35][36] The victory at Ðiện Biên Phủ marked the beginning of a new era in the military struggles against colonialism for national liberation and independence movements in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and other colonised countries. After 1954 the name of Võ Nguyên Giáp was closely identified throughout Africa and Latin America with the defeat of colonialism.

Interwar years

After the French surrender, Giap moved back into Hanoi as the Vietnamese government re-established itself. He expanded and modernised the army, re-equipping it with Russian and Chinese weapons systems. On 7 May 1955 he inaugurated the Vietnamese Maritime Force and on 1 May 1959, the Vietnamese People's Air Force.[37] During the late 1950s Giap served as Minister of Defence, Commander in Chief of the People's Army of Vietnam, Deputy Prime Minister, and deputy chairman of the Defence Council.[38] In terms of his personal life, he was also able to move back in with his wife, from whom he had been separated for eight years during the war. She was working as a professor of history and social science at this time.[37] Together they raised two boys and two girls. In the little spare time he had, he said in interviews that he enjoyed occasionally playing the piano, as well as reading Goethe, Shakespeare and Tolstoy.[38]

During the late 1950s the top priority of the re-established Vietnamese government was the rapid establishment of a socialist economic order and Communist Party rule. This involved collectivisation of agriculture and central management of all economic production.[39] This process did not go smoothly and it led to food shortages and revolts. At the 10th Plenum of the Communist Party, 27–29 October 1956, Giap stood in front of the assembled delegates and said:

'Cadres, in carrying out their antifeudal task, created contradictions in thee tasks of land reform and the Revolution, in some areas treating them as if they were separate activities......we indiscriminately attacked all families owning land. Many thousands were executed. We saw enemies everywhere and resorted to widespread violence and terror. In some places, in our efforts to implement land reform, we failed to respect religious freedoms and the right to worship..... we placed too much emphasis on class origins rather than political attitudes..... There were grave errors.' [40]

The departure of the French and the de facto partition of Vietnam meant that the Hanoi government only controlled the north part of the country. In South Vietnam there were still several thousand guerillas, known as Viet Cong, fighting against the government in Saigon. The Party Plenum in 1957 ordered changes to the structure of these units and Giap was put in charge of implementing these and building their strength to form a solid basis for an insurrection in the South.[41] The 1959 Plenum decided that the time for escalating the armed struggle in the South was right and in July that year Giap ordered the opening up of the Ho Chi Minh trail to improve supply lines to Viet Cong units.[42]

Vietnam War

File:General Vo Nguyen Giap.jpg

General Giáp

D67 in Hanoi Citadel was the military headquarters of General Giáp during the war

Giáp remained commander in chief of the People's Army of Vietnam throughout the war against the United States. During the conflict, he oversaw the expansion of the PAVN from a small self-defense force into a large conventional army, equipped by its communist allies with considerable amounts of relatively sophisticated weaponry, although this did not in general match the weaponry of the Americans. Giáp has often been assumed to have been the planner of the Tết Offensive of 1968, but this appears not to have been the case. The best evidence indicates that he disliked the plan, and when it became apparent that Lê Duẩn and Văn Tiến Dũng were going to push it through despite his doubts, he left Vietnam for medical treatment in Hungary, and did not return until after the offensive had begun.[43] Although this attempt to spark a general uprising against the southern government failed militarily, it turned into a significant political victory by convincing the American politicians and public that their commitment to South Vietnam could no longer be open-ended. Giáp later argued that the Tết Offensive was not a "purely military strategy" but rather part of a "general strategy, an integrated one, at once military, political and diplomatic."[44]

Peace talks between representatives from the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the NLF began in Paris in January 1969. President Richard Nixon, like President Lyndon B. Johnson before him, was convinced that a U.S. withdrawal was necessary, but five years would pass before the last American troops left South Vietnam. In October 1972, the negotiators came close to agreeing to a formula to end the conflict. The plan was that the last U.S. troops would withdraw from Vietnam in exchange for a cease-fire and the return of American prisoners held by Hà Nội. It was also agreed that the governments in North and South Vietnam would remain in power until new elections could be arranged to unite the whole country. Although the casualty rate in the Nguyễn Huệ Offensive during the spring of 1972 was high, PAVN was able to gain a foothold in territorial Southern Vietnam from which to launch future offensives.

Although U.S. troops would leave the country, PAVN troops could remain in their positions in the south. In an effort to put pressure on both North and South Vietnam during the negotiations, President Nixon ordered a new series of air raids on Hà Nội and Hải Phòng, codenamed Operation Linebacker II. The operation ended in success in 27 January 1973, after 12 days with heavy casualty and destruction of both sides. Both U.S and North Vietnam agreed to sign the Paris Peace Accords that had been proposed in October. This time, the advantage was in the hand of Hanoi.

The last U.S. combat troops left in March 1973. Despite the treaty, there was no let-up in fighting. South Vietnamese massive advances against the Viet Cong controlled territory inspired their opponents to change their strategy. In March, communist leaders met in Hanoi for a series of meetings to hammer out plans for a massive offensive against the South. In June 1973, the U.S. Congress passed the Case–Church Amendment to prohibit further U.S. military involvement, so the PAVN supply routes were able to operate normally without fear of U.S. bombing.

Fall of Saigon

Standard view

The standard view of this period is that after Ho Chi Minh's death in September 1969, Giap lost a power struggle in 1972 shortly after the failed Easter Offensive where he was blamed by the Politburo for the offensive's failure. He was replaced as field commander of the PAVN and watched subsequent events from the sidelines, with the glory of victory in 1975 going to the chief of the general staff, General Văn Tiến Dũng, and that Giap's role in 1975 is largely ignored by official Vietnamese accounts.[45][46][47][48]

Alternative view

The alternative view is that South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu appealed to Nixon for continued financial aid. Nixon was sympathetic but the U.S. Congress was not, and the move was blocked. At its peak, U.S. aid to South Vietnam had reached $30 billion a year. By 1974, it had fallen to US$1 billion. Starved of funds, Thiệu's government had difficulty paying even the wages of its army, and desertions became a problem. On the other side, the PAVN was also having to bring up obsolete equipment such as the SU-100 tank destroyers to prepare for their final offensive.

In the spring of 1975, Giáp sent[citation needed] four-star General Văn Tiến Dũng to launch the deadliest attack on Buôn Ma Thuột. This town sat at the intersection of the important routes of Central Highland and it was a weak point for the enemy forces. The sudden strike frightened the southern leaders and generals, worsened the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) morale, and shook the ARVN defence system.

Giáp sent[citation needed] General Lê Trọng Tấn to launch series of attacks against Đà Nẵng, where nearly 100,000 well-equipped troops of the best southern divisions were camped. In three days, Đà Nẵng was seized. Giáp appointed[citation needed] General Văn Tiến Dũng as 1st Commander and General Lê Trọng Tấn as 2nd Commander of the "Hồ Chí Minh Campaign", a massive conventional operation that utilized armor and heavy artillery. The goal of the operation was to take over Saigon from two directions, Central Highland and coastal no.1 highway. These attacks were done in coordination with General Lê Đức Anh and Snr. Lt. General Trần Văn Trà. After important areas such as Buôn Ma Thuột, Đà Nẵng and Huế were lost in March, panic swept through the ARVN and its high command. President Thiệu attempted to abandon the northern half of the nation while pulling his troops back to defensive positions in the south.

Under guidelines from Giáp,[citation needed] General Lê Trọng Tấn's force was first to enter Saigon and Tấn captured Dương Văn Minh alive. Minh was the president of South Vietnam until 30 April 1975 and was also the last president of South Vietnam.


Giap in 2008

Soon after the fall of Saigon, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established. In the new government, Giáp maintained his position as Minister of National Defense and he was made Deputy Prime Minister in July 1976. In December 1978 he oversaw the successful Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia which drove the Khmer Rouge from power. In retaliation, Cambodia's ally China responded by invading the Cao Bang province of Vietnam in January 1979 and once again Giap was in overall responsibility for the response, which drove the Chinese out after a few months.[49] He finally retired from his post at the Defense Ministry in 1980 and retired from the Politburo in 1982. He remained on the Central Committee and Deputy Prime Minister until he retired in 1991.

Giáp wrote extensively on military theory and strategy. His works include Big Victory, Great Task; People's Army, People's War; Ðiện Biên Phủ; and We Will Win.

In 1995, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met Giáp to ask what happened on 4 August 1964 in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. "Absolutely nothing", Giáp replied.[50] Giáp claimed that the attack on 4 August 1964, had been imaginary,[51] although it did not start out as a deliberate fabrication.

In a 1998 interview for, William Westmoreland criticized the battlefield prowess of Giáp. "Of course, he [Giap] was a formidable adversary", Westmoreland told correspondent W. Thomas Smith, Jr. "Let me also say that Giap was trained in small-unit, guerrilla tactics, but he persisted in waging a big-unit war with terrible losses to his own men. By his own admission, by early 1969, I think, he had lost, what, a half million soldiers? He reported this. Now such a disregard for human life may make a formidable adversary, but it does not make a military genius. An American commander losing men like that would hardly have lasted more than a few weeks."[citation needed]

In 2010, Giáp became a prominent critic of bauxite mining in Vietnam following government plans to open large areas of the Central Highlands to the practice. Giáp indicated that a 1980s study led experts to advise against mining due to severe ecological damage and national security.[52]


Tomb of Võ Nguyên Giáp in Quảng Bình Province

On 4 October 2013, a Vietnamese government official announced that Giáp had died at 18:09 hours, local time, at Central Military Hospital 108 in Hanoi, where he had been living since 2009, at the age of 102.[53] He was given a state funeral on 12 and 13 October 2013 and his body lay in state at the national morgue in Hanoi until his burial at the Vũng Chùa - Đảo Yến in his home province of Quảng Bình.[54][55]


  1. Gregory, Joseph (4 October 2013). "Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, Who Ousted U.S. From Vietnam, Is Dead". 
  2. Asian Heroes, [[Time (magazine)|]]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Vietnam war leader General dies, aged 102". Radio France Internationale. 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  4. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p.19
  5. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp.19–20
  6. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p20
  7. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p21
  8. Currey (2005), pp. 28–31
  9. Currey (2005), p. 36
  10. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p.22
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Willbanks (2013), p. 229
  12. Davidson, Phillip B. (1988). Vietnam at War: The History. Novato: Presidio Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-89141-306-5. 
  13. Currey (2005), p. 32
  14. For details of Sun Tzu's influence on Giap see: Forbes, Andrew & Henley, David (2012), The Illustrated Art of War: Sun Tzu, Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books, ASIN B00B91XX8U.
  15. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p.23
  16. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 22–23
  17. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 27
  18. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 28
  19. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 29
  20. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 31
  21. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 32
  22. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 33
  23. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 34–6
  24. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p.60
  25. Woods (2002), p. 60
  26. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 63
  27. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp.70–73
  28. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 73–4
  29. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp. 74–78
  30. Lawrence (2007), p. 82
  31. Marr, David G. (2013). Vietnam: State, War, Revolution, 1945–1946. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-520-27415-0. "Between 18 Ianuary and 5 February, Võ Nguyên Giáp traveled to south-central Vietnam to convey the determination of leaders in Hanoi to back armed resistance to the French invaders." p133 "Giáp seemed to think it was still feasible to move weapons and troops from north to south along the coast, a capacity the French had eliminated a few days later.64 The Nha Trang front was the first time Giáp ..." 
  32. "Those named Martin, Their history is ours – The Great History, (1946–1954) The Indochina War" (in French). documentary. Channel 5 (France). Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  33. Ruscio, Alain (2 August 2003). "Guerre d'Indochine: Libérez Henri Martin" (in French). l'Humanité. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
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  35. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p.134
  36. Chiviges Naylor, P., France and Algeria: A History of Decolonization and Transformation, University Press of Florida, 2000 p.18
  37. 37.0 37.1 Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p.169
  38. 38.0 38.1 Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, p.170
  39. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp.171-2
  40. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp.174
  41. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp.181
  42. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp.181-2
  43. Pribbenow, Merle (2008). "General Võ Nguyên Giáp and the Mysterious Evolution of the Plan for the 1968 Tết Offensive". pp. 1–33. Digital object identifier:10.1525/vs.2008.3.2.1. 
  44. “Interview with Vo Nguyen Giap.” 1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  45. Davidson (1991), pp. 712–13
  46. "Legendary Vietnam Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap Dies at 102". Time. October 4, 2013 (HANOI, Vietnam)...Throughout most of the war, Giap served as defense minister, armed forces commander and a senior member of Vietnam's ruling Communist Party, but he was slowly elbowed from the center of power after Ho Chi Minh's death in 1969. The glory for victory in 1975 went not to Giap, but to Gen. Van Tien Dung, chief of the general staff.. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  47. "Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnamese commander whose army defeated French, U.S. forces, dies". Washington Post. 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. "By Bart Barnes, Published: October 4 ... In an internal power struggle three years earlier, Gen. Giap was replaced as field commander of the communist forces and in 1975, he watched from the sidelines as the army he created and nurtured took the enemy capital. Nevertheless, 25 years later, he would recall the fall of Saigon as the “happiest moment in this short life of mine.”" 
  48. "Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnamese general, 1911–2013". Financial Times. 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. "By Jonathan Birchall ... After Ho's death in 1969, Giap's influence within the leadership waned steadily. His role in the final victory of 1975 is largely ignored by official Vietnamese accounts." 
  49. Macdonald, Peter (1993). Giap: The Victor in Vietnam, pp.337-8
  50. McNamara asks Giap: What happened in Tonkin Gulf?, Associated Press, 1995
  51. The final evidence that there had not been any Vietnamese attack against U.S. ships on the night of 4 August 1964 was provided by the release of a slightly sanitized version of a classified analysis by a National Security Agency historian, Robert J. Hanyok, "Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and the Flying Fish: The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2–4 August 1964", Cryptologic Quarterly, Winter 2000/Spring 2001 Edition (Vol. 19, No. 4 / Vol. 20, No. 1), pp. 1–55.
  52. Lam, Tran Dinh Thanh. Vietnam farmers fall to bauxite bulldozers. Asia Times. 2 June 2009.
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  54. "Nơi an nghỉ của Đại tướng đẹp huyền ảo như trong cổ tích". 
  55. "Vũng Chùa - Đảo Yến, nơi yên nghỉ của tướng Giáp". 


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  • Lawrence, Mark Atwood; Logevall, Fredrik (2007). The First Vietnam War: Colonial Conflict and Cold War Crisis. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674023710. 
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  • Willbanks, James H. (2013). Vietnam War: The Essential Reference Guide. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610691031. 
  • Woods, L. Shelton (2002). Vietnam: A Global Studies Handbook. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576074169. 

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