View Full Version : ARVN Request

12-08-2005, 07:12 PM
Received a RFI via e-mail requesting information on the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) from a U.S. officer currently involved in training foreign soldiers (AF) ...

Can you recommend a good read on how the ARVN was planned and built? Everything I've read relates to the tactical fight.

I have several general articles / studies that address this issue but not what I think he is looking for. Any pointers would be appreciated.

Tom Odom
12-08-2005, 07:22 PM
The ARVN question was the subject of one of my history lessons a few months ago. The best is the CMH Monograph
Begin Intro
"The situation at the beginning of 1965 was critical. By taking advantage of the civil unrest and political instability that had prevailed since mid-1963, the enemy had grown stronger and tightened his hold on the countryside. Estimates of enemy strength had risen from a total of 30,000 in November 1963 to 212,000 by July 1965. The Viet Cong launched their first division size attack against the village of Binh Gia close to Saigon where they destroyed two South Vietnam Army battalions and remained on the battlefield for four days instead of following their usual hit-and-run tactics. North Vietnamese units and reinforcements had now joined the battle and were arriving at a rate of nearly 1,000 men per month. Both the North Vietnam Army and the Viet Cong were now armed with modern weapons such as the AK47 assault rifle, giving them a firepower advantage over the South Vietnam Army which was still fighting with American weapons of World War II vintage. Enemy strategy was evidently based on the assumption that the United States would not increase its involvement and that, weak as it was, the government of South Vietnam would collapse from its own weight if pushed hard enough."

This installment of the JRTC CALL Observation Detachment BiWeekly History Lessons uses one of the Center of Military History's Vietnam Studies Series as its focus. THE DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING OF THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE ARMY, 1950-1972 by BG James Lawton Collins, Jr, effectively catalogs the US military effort to build the Vietnamese forces into an effective military.

All of that said, this monograph is useful, timely, and revealing. First look at the continuity challenges in the military assistance effort in South Viet Nam; the initial focus was to train the fledgling military to withstand a conventional invasion from North Viet Nam. As the growing insurgency spread across the country, the US military assistance effort had to be restructured even as it attempted to do the same to the South Vietnamese military. Second look at the role of the South Vietnamese government; not always a willing or even cooperative partner, the South Vietnamese government followed its own agenda, one sometimes in conflict with its US backers. Finally, I would understand also that by the time that US forces were leaving the country, the war had in many ways become the conventional struggle between North and South Viet Nam that had first concerned the US assistance effort.
End Intro
You can see the mongraph at



12-08-2005, 08:03 PM
I highly recommend he run a search at the Virtual Vietnam Archive (http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualarchive/index.htm). It is an outstanding resource.

12-08-2005, 10:42 PM
Tom and Jedburgh,

Thanks much - sending off an e-mail now - plus a link to this discussion.

Should anyone else have additional research material - or opinions on the similarities / lessons (learned or unlearned) between standing up, training and employing the ARVN (or other examples) and the army’s of Afghanistan and Iraq, please chime in.


01-01-2006, 05:55 PM
We just reprinted the book: "The Develpment and Training of the South Vietnamese Army, 1950-1972" by BG Collins, so please check it out at hailerpublishing.com

We also just reintroduced Defeating Communist Insurgency by Thompson which also broaches the subject of training as well.

SWC Edit: Hot link to Hailer Publishing (http://www.hailerpublishing.com/).

01-04-2006, 09:58 AM
The ARVN's (overall) were not a very effective fighting force, though certain units proved effective at times. The Officer Corps were chosen not based on ability or leadership, but on being born into the upper echelon of Vietnamese society.