The insurgency has not been a new thing in the world. There has been reported cases of insurgency emerging from various nationalists against colonial rule. An example is the Vietnam insurgency which occurred immediately after the end of World War II. This insurgency began among the Vietnamese people after the French had started to re-occupy her former colony after the exit by Japanese. This started after an unsuccessful conventional operation by the French government (Joes, 1992). The fortifications built by the French in the northern Vietnam were meant to control and pacify the country. However, these fortifications were avoided by the Vietnamese people. They only intermingled with the peasants and succeeded in convincing them against the colonial power. The Viet Minh convinced peasants that they offered a better future than the colonialists. The lessons from the defeat affirms the need and reasons for the involvement of both political, cultural and traditional involvement to counterinsurgency among the civil society.
As Joes(1992) reports, the Vietnamese received a lot of logistics and training support from the Chinese government against the colonial power (pg.116). This made it impossible for the French to succeed in control over of the Vietnam land. The training and logistics support programs helped the Vietnamese succeed in their bid to form and maintain the insurgency. The French failed to embrace the British policy of leaving intact the social and cultural institutions or the traditional boundaries of their territory Vietnam. As a result, the French government failed in facilitating a successful counterinsurgency to the Vietnamese.
Besides the French were not able to maintain the necessary bonds with the locals and did not promise them a good future to win their ‘hearts and minds’ ( Nguyen & Hoang, 2008).The Vietnamese convinced locals that they had better promises for a great future, unlike the colonial government whose intention was oppression and deprivation of their cultural and nationality rights. This bid won the trust of the locals in the insurgency as they anticipated freedom and independence from it. The fortifications, therefore, intended to separate the population from the insurgents did not succeed as the French did not win the people’s trust.
The French were not willing to give the non-communist Vietnamese a real independence. The French had started acquiring the Vietnamese land, and this brought unrest among the civil groups. This is the reason for the beginning of the insurgency (pg. 226). The Vietnamese rose up to protect their rights and claim full independence over their territory.
Also, the French had ‘mis- read’ their success with the ‘air-land; a base concept that enabled them to win at Na-San. When the French tried to use the similar tactic at Dien Bien Phu, it was disapproved after General Giap surrounded the French troop of 1600 and six Grumman F8F fighters with his armed military of 40000 troops. The General Giap troops were well-camouflaged artillery and anti-aircraft batteries Turcker (n.d). The war brought inevitable results, and the French troops were defeated.
Further, the French troops did not demonstrate the concerted civil-military integrated approach. This therefore means there were no civic action programmes to counterinsurgency. Due to the inability to develop civic awareness and uphold the expectations of the citizens, the French counterinsurgency became unsuccessful.
Moreover, the French failed in their efforts to counter the Vietnam insurgency because they lacked a unified military strategy that integrated land, air, and naval forces. This strategy would have greatly impacted on the success of the counterinsurgency by enhancing mobilization of the fighters across the land, air, and water during the war.
The above incidents of French failure to counter-insurgency can be used as a tool upon which future counterinsurgency approaches can effect.
The defeat informs that there is need to involve the people who are being assisted either politically or culturally. A deep understanding of the people’s political and cultural interests can help in managing counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency is not therefore supposed to be devoted from political reforms and progress from community level to national level and from top to down.
- Joes, A.J. (1992). Modern Guerrilla Insurgency. Praeger
- Nguyen, T.T., & Hoang, T.T. (2008). The history of Buddhism in Vietnam. Washington, D.C.: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy.
- Tucker, S. (n.d). Encyclopedia of insurgency and countrersurgency: A new era of modern warfare.