Warfare spells success for the Vietminh
By 1950, the French had regained most of the major cities in
Vietnam, including Saigon in the south and Hanoi in the North.
However, they had difficulty in the countryside because of guerrilla
Guerilla warfare is the type of strategy that employs hide, hit,
and run tactics. France underestimated the effectiveness of the
Vietnamese guerrilla fighters because they used relatively simple
weapons compared to the more advanced weapons of the French. The
French were able to destroy most of the Vietminh strongholds in the
cities, however once they went to the countryside, the Vietminh
disappeared in to the dense jungles. The superior French weapons
were useless against an enemy who could not see.
In order to counter the guerrillas, the French employed a new
strategy, known as pacification. Many of the guerilla fighters
relied on local villages for food, shelter and other miscellaneous
supplies. So to defeat the Vietminh, the French needed to take
away village support for the guerillas, and convince the Vietnamese
people not to assist the guerrillas. Once a village was under
French control, it was considered peaceful, or pacified.
The strategy, however, was ineffective. Once the French left
a village, the Vietminh would simply return to the village and
obtained supplies from those who supported them. The French did
not have enough troops to occupy every village in Vietnam, so they
attempted to build a series of fortresses at key points throughout
Vietnam, including one of the most important areas: The Red River
Delta, a center of farming and industry.
Vietminh guerrillas struck back, attacking French supply lines, and
then quickly retreating into the underbrush. The French tried to
strike back, but they had difficulty locating the Vietminh after they
had retreated. These hit and run guerrilla attacks devastated
and demoralized the French.