The Vietnamese Communists, or Vietcong, were the military branch of the National Liberation Front (NLF), and were commanded by the Central Office for South Vietnam, which was locatednear the Cambodian border. For arms, ammunition and special equipment, the Vietcong depended on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Other needs were met inside South Vietnam.
Main force Vietcong units wereuniformed, full-time soldiers, and were used to launch large scale offensives over a wide area. Regional forces were also full-time, but operated only within their own districts. When necessary, smallregional units would unite for large scale attacks. If enemy pressure became too great, they would break down into smaller units and scatter.
Unlike the main troops, who saw themselves as professionalsoldiers, local Vietcong groups tended to be far less confident. For the most part, recruits were young teenagers, and while many were motivated by idealism, others had been pressured or shamed intojoining. They also harbored real doubts about their ability to fight heavily armed and well-trained American soldiers.
Initially, local guerrillas were given only a basic minimum of infantry training,but if they were recruited to a main force unit, they could receive up to a month of advanced instruction. Additionally, there were dozens of hidden centers all over South Vietnam for squad and platoonleader, weapons and radio training. To ensure that the guerrillas understood why they were fighting, all training courses included political instruction.
By the mid-1960s, most main force Vietcongtroops were armed with Chinese versions of the Russian AK-47 submachine gun. They also used a range of effective Soviet and Chinese light and medium machine guns, and infrequently, heavy machine guns.In particular, heavy machine guns were valued for defense against American helicopters.
For destroying armored vehicles or bunkers, the Vietcong had highly effective rocket propelled grenades and...