The National Liberation Front: Understanding the Vietcong

From the American perspective, the irregulars fighting in Southern Vietnam take on a clandestine mystique. They're often perceived as phantoms, being nowhere and yet everywhere at the same time. Little attention is given to who these people were, how they were organized, and the nuances and complexities that culminated to form their organization. Their members were more than just guerrillas and peasant farmers fighting in the shadows. Some were prominent businessmen in Saigon, some were highly educated in French universities, some acted as secret agents that operated within the Diem and U.S. supported regimes. Their motivations and beliefs were as diverse as the people that formed their ranks. Many were not even communist. Nationalism, independence, and the hopes for a better life were often the driving force that compelled them to take up arms. This exhibit, then, seeks to illuminate and portray the humanity of Viet Cong.

It will examine the background and context that lead to their formation, the political front and military wing that operated in the countryside, the motivations of those who joined, their tactics, training, equipment, and the stories of individual members. A feature inherent to the nature of the Viet Cong is perpetual adaptation and dynamism. They had an uncanny ability to adapt to any situation and develop methods of facing overwhelming firepower.


by Nick Reis