Background and formation of the National Liberation Front

Viet Cong Soldiers

Viet Cong soldiers of the D445 Battalion

     The origins of the National Liberation Front and Viet Cong can be traced back to the end of the Indochina War. However, independence movements have origins atleast to the end of World War 1, when Ho Chi Minh first proposed the idea of an independent Vietnam. When the country was divided in 1954, some of the former Vietminh soldiers moved to North Vietnam, there they received formal training from the government in Hanoi. Those that remained in the South eagerly awaited the reunification election. When it was clear that there would be no election, nationalist intellectuals, disgruntled government officials, businessmen and lawyers began holding secret meetings wiht hopes of forming a resistance movement. Indeed, some of the former Vietminh saw the resistance to Diem and United States influence as a continuation of the French and Indochina war.

     Albert Pham Ngoc Thao, an agent working for North Vietnam who infiltrated the South Vietnamese government, summed up the sentiment of many Vietnamese: "I was afraid there wasn't going to be a unification election. Now that I know what the AMericans are up to, I can tell you there isn't a chance in hell Diem will hold an election. These people are fanatical anti-communists." Diem's despotism, nepotism, and unpopular programs (strategic hamlets) further alienated both the peasentry and the educated classes.While dissent was fomenting in the city, a military resistance was growing in the countryside. Specialized recruitment teams as well as former Vietminh soldiers returned to South Vietnam where they began preparing for a revolutionairy uprising. The South Vietnamese Government had a tenuous grasp on the villagers living in the country side and the recruiters used this to their advantage. The Political Front began its formation in 1958 within Saigon by prominent intellectuals, businessmen, and current and former employees of Diem's regime. The stage was set for the birth of the National Liberation Front.