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History Of Viet Nam

General Hieu, a Combat Fighting General?

1, 2, 3, 4

A Rare Commodity in the Vietnam War


Furthermore, Colonel Hieu also demonstrated his above-average skill of a savvy armor officer:

In most cases, infantry protection is required to ensure the security of armored columns. The battle of Pleime on the contrary was a typical case in which the infantry elements considerably restricted the mobility and capabilities of the armored turrets. For this reason, Armor company commanders should not in the future cling to two-principles and had better expose themselves daringly instead of limiting their mobility with close infantry protection. This would provide not only liberty of action but also the arguments to defend oneself in case of being surprised.

General Hieu excelled also in the use of artillery in all of his battles. He demonstrated his skills of an outstanding artillery officer in countering with dexterity the enemy artillery action:

On 3 January 1975, Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, deputy government of Vietnam Military Region 3 (GVN MR3), commander for operations, analyzed Viet Cong/ North Vietnamese Army (VC/NVA) military activity since 6 December and discussed Communist intentions. In Tay Ninh Province, VC/NVA forces failed to accomplish their objectives of overrunning the outposts of Ba Den Mountain and Soui Da (XT335576) northeast of Tay Ninh City because after the artillery of Vietnamese Army (ARVN) forces was initially destroyed by the VC/NVA counterbattery fire, the ARVN forces were able to bring additional artillery to bear on the attacking forces. The 205th VC/NVA Independent Regiment lost about one-third of its troops, while the 101st VC/NVA Regiment suffered about 100 casualties. The VC/NVA tactics are to destroy the ARVN artillery by couterbattery fire based on intelligence of howitzer locations and then to employ massive artillery on the defending force. In the battle for Suoi Da, the GVN forces were able to have additional artillery pieces within range of the attacking forces which VC/NVA units were unable to find and destroy. According to General Hieu, intelligence indicates that the two VC/NVA Regiments will renew the attack in TayNinhProvince and employ additional artillery pieces to neutralize ARVN artillery.

One unique combat fighting trait of General Hieu was his command style; he did not impose his order but rather expressed his orders so gently to the point those who executed his orders thought that they were acting on their own initiative, like in the case of General Kinnard in Pleime/Pleiku campaign and the case of General Tran Quang Khoi in the battlefront of Duc Hue/Svay Rieng. And General Schwarzkopf was convinced that Colonel Ngo Quang Truong was acting on his own during Than Phong 7 operation. General Hieu discussed his command style as follows in the Than Phong 1 operation: "The task forces were closely controlled in their progress. They retained complete freedom of action, but 2d Corps's planning had compelled them to occupy high grounds along the highway and to move by successive bounds." When General Hieu uttered order, he did it in a chief of staff's mild manner rather than a field commander's coarseness, because he knew how to place each chess piece at its appropriate position and according to its value on his battlefield chessboard game, allowing that chess piece to carry out its task in a de facto manner, and it did not need to be pulled and pushed so that it might be put in an awkward position which was beyond its value.

Another unique combat fighting trait of General Hieu was his ability to use all of the chess pieces, be it king queen (Vietnamese and American), or rook bishop knight (airborne, marine corps, rangers), or even pawns (territorial forces). He expressed a comment that General Du Quoc Dong, airborne, did not know how to use territorial forces: "MR3 Commander Lieutenant General Du Quoc Dong has not had experience in commanding territorial forces but that he is learning fast.". General Abrams made the same comment regarding General Do Cao Tri: "He’s been a good tactician, although I had to point out to the president that, while I admire his tactics and so on, he’s really fought the war in III Corps with the airborne, the marines, and the rangers, and has done nothing to improve the performance of the --. " And Brigadier General Tran Dinh Tho, G3 Assistant Chief of Staff, JGS, stated that General Ngo Quang Truong was able to hold I Corps only with the reinforcement of the entire Airborne and Marine Corps units: "Both the Airborne and Marine Divisions, which were the general reserved forces, were sent to support the 1st Army Corps. Even after the objective was achieved, General Truong retained these divisions and utilized them as the local forces instead of sending them back to the Joint General Staff to maneuver other areas."


General Hieu has become a hidden military gem these days. It is about time that he should be recognized as a combat fighting general in the Vietnam War, an outstanding military genius indeed.

Nguyen Van Tin
January 10, 2011

General Hieu, a Military Genius?

ARVN Generals


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