Modern Military of Vietnam

Yonkers

New Member
I've been attempting to research the modern military of Vietnam, but with littel luck. The majority of sources I can find will only deal with the Vietnam War itself.
Wikipedia has been of limited use in terms of numbers of personnel, but not with a real TO&E. This goes for the overall Air Force and Navy.
I'm interesting in unit formations, current equipment, and amounts of it.

If anyone has any information on this, or knows any sites that may, I'd appreciate it.
Wikipedia treats it as if the Vietnamese military hasn't changed at all since the end of the war.
 

Izzy1

Banned Member
Essentially still a large infantry-based force, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) is one of the most capable land formations in South East Asia.

It is considered a highly motivated force with a professional officer corps that has amassed plentiful combat experience since 1975, what with the brief border war with China in 1979 and a decade-long insurgency in Cambodia. Lack of funding, modern equipment and a desperate need to restructure are problems that soon may erode this position however.

According to Jane's World Armies, the 2007 strength of PAVN is 420,000 regulars deployed in 58 Infantry Divisons and 3 Mechanised Infantry Divisions. Divisional strength varies greatly between 5,000 to 12,500 troops. Another 10 Independent Armoured Brigades form a strategic reserve as well as 10 more Independent Artillery Brigades. These independent formations however fluctuate in quality and tend to operate the oldest of equipment. PAVN also terms units using 12.7mm Heavy Machine Guns and medium Mortars as "Artillery" Brigades. 15 Independent Infantry Regiments are also available. 8 Engineer Divisions and 15 Economic Labour Divisions provide support functions to PAVN.

There are also at least 5 regiments trained in "sapper" tactics (including amphibious and airborne operations) and constitute PAVN's Special Forces capability.

Divisional structure of the Infantry Divisions is based on Soviet models, yet at least 75% of these units have very little in the way of motorised transport. Efforts have been made to provide the few "Class-A" Infantry Divisions with trucks however and a small number of their Infantry Battalions are equipped with BTR-series APCs. Class-A Infantry Divisions also have an Armoured Battalion attached as well as plenty of artillery and Air Defences. The Mechanised Formations have BMP-1 IFV , Armour, Recce, Air Defence and Artillery.

Modernisation efforts centre around mobility, aiming to increase the motor transport of the PAVN Infantry Divisions and reports are that 150 ex-Polish T-72 MBT would enter service with the Mechanised Infantry Divisions Armoured Battalions. Efforts are however curtailed by a low budget and funding problems.

Equipment stocks and numbers are as follows:

Armour
T34/85 Medium Tank - No more than 50 (probably in reserve).
T54/55 MBT - Around 800.
T62 MBT - No more than 60 (Deployed in the Mechanised Inf Divisions).
Type 59 MBT - No more than 300 (Many will be unservicable).
Type 63 Light Tank - Around 300.
PT-76 Light Tank - 300.
BRDM-2 Recce Vehicle - 90 (Deployed in the Mechanised Inf Divisions).
BMP-1 IFV - 300.
BTR-40, 50, 60 & 152 APC- 350.
Type YW 531 APC - No more than 100.
Modified M-113 APC - No more than 50.

Artillery
155mm M114 Howitzer - No more than 50 (If servicable at all).
152mm 2S3 Self Propelled Howitzer - 30.
152mm M1937 Howitzer - No more than 50.
152mm D-1 Howitzer - No more than 30 (If servicable at all).
152mm Type 66 Gun-Howitzer - No more than 50.
152mm D-20 Gun-Howitzer - No more than 100.
130mm M46 Field Gun - No more than 50.
130mm Type 59 Field Gun- No more than 50.
130mm Type 59-I Field Gun- No more than 50.
122mm D-30 Howitzer - Around 500.
122mm M1938 Howitzer - No more than 30.
122mm D-74 Field Gun - No more than 50.
122mm Type 60 Field Gun - No more than 300.
120mm 2S9 Self Propelled Gun - 30.
105mm M101 Howitzer - No more than 50 (If servicable at all).
105mm M102 Howitzer - No more than 100 (If servicable at all).
100mm M1944 Field Gun - No more than 30.
85mm D-44 Field Gun - 150.
76mm M1942 Field Gun - No more than 30.
SU-100 Self Propelled Gun - No more than 50.
SU-85 Self Propelled Gun - No more than 50.
140mm BM-14-16 Multiple Rocket System - No more than 30.
122mm BM-21 Multiple Rocket System - Around 200 to 300.
107mm Type 63 Multiple Rocket System - Around 200 to 300.
160mm M43 Mortar - Not known, however probably in low hundreds.
120mm M43 Mortar - Not known, however probably in low hundreds.
107mm M30 Mortar - Not known, however probably in low hundreds.
82mm M43 Mortar - Probability of anything between 500-1000.
81mm M29 Mortar - Not known, probably in very low hundreds.
60mm M19 Mortar - Not known, probably in very low hundreds.

Anti-Tank Weapons
AT-3 ATGW - Not known, probably in very low hundreds.
AT-4 ATGW - Not known, probably in very low hundreds.
107mm B-11 Recoilless Rifle - Not known, probably in low hundreds.
85mm D-48 Anti-Tank Gun - around 100.
82mm B-10 Recoilless Rifle - Not known, probably in low hundreds.
75mm Type 52/57 Recoilless Rifle -Not known, probably in very low hundreds.
RPG-2/7 Series RPG - Not known, anything between 500-2000.

Air Defence Weapons
SA-7 MANPADS - Between 100-300.
SA-6 Medium SAM - 80.
SA-9 Light SAM - Between 300-400.
SA-18 MANPADS - No more than 50.
SA-14 MANPADS - No more than 50.
57mm ZSU-57-2 SPAAG - Around 100.
57mm S60 AAA - Around 100.
37mm M1939 AAA - 100+.
30mm M53 AAA - No more than 300.
23mm ZSU-23-4 SPAAG - 30.
23mm ZU-23 AAA - Not known, probably in the high hundreds.
14.5mm ZPU - 300+.

Reserves
PAVN also has sizable second-line reserves, the People's Regional Force which draws some 500,000 men and women from Vietnam's urban population. They are mostly armed with small arms and some heavier crew-served weapons such as mortars and recoilless rifles. Some Northern regiments are formed into Divisions and receive regular military training.

The People's Self-Defence Militia is a rural force numbering nearly 1 million and deployed throughout their localities in the countryside. They are armed with small arms and has little in the way of heavier kit.

PAVN maintains a 500,000 strong Tactical Rear Force comprised of ex-PAVN soldiers who agree to muster in the event of a national emergency. They would provide regular units with initial reinforcement strength during a full PAVN mobilisation.

60,000 Border Guards are also under the command of the Ministry of National security. This force is backed up by the Ministry of Interior's "Cong An" security force of another 40,000 troops.

All data from Jane's World Armies (10 Oct 2006), Osprey's The NVA and Viet Cong (1991) and the IISS's The Military Balance 2006.

Hope this helps.
 
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contedicavour

New Member
Wow Jane's is sooooo complete :)
I would have expected T-72s in service already, it's interesting to see there aren't any to date and only 150 or so may be planned so far.
Air defence however is extensive with all those SA6 and SA9.
I have some doubts though about current level of training and preparedness. The days of the border war with China ('79) or of the fights with the Khmer in Cambodia are well over. Without international peacekeeping operations to enhance the training, I wonder what is their army's state of preparedness.

cheers
 

Izzy1

Banned Member
I would have expected T-72s in service already, it's interesting to see there aren't any to date and only 150 or so may be planned so far.

Air defence however is extensive with all those SA6 and SA9.
I have some doubts though about current level of training and preparedness. The days of the border war with China ('79) or of the fights with the Khmer in Cambodia are well over. Without international peacekeeping operations to enhance the training, I wonder what is their army's state of preparedness.
Funding seems to be the main issue - from what I have been able to read so far, Vietnam only received their T-62s between the mid-to- late 1980s. What funds are available for new military purchases have gone to the Air Force.

Their ground forces apparently are maintained at three levels of preparedness - akin to the A,B,C system the Soviet military used. The Mechanised Divisions will almost certainly be of A quality - with the highest manning levels, regular training and equipped with the best equipment available. Generally considered PAVN's elite unit, the 308 Division is maintained as such and traditionally held in Hanoi's strategic reserve. The remainder of the six famed 'Steel and Iron' Divisions (who's history stretch back to before the First Indochina War) also are likely to be maintained at A levels and probably motorised if not mechanised.

Roughly 50-60% of divisions however are B type units, with very limited mobility and reduced manpower. Still, they do maintain cadre strength and could be relatively quickly brought up to full strength on general mobilisation of reserves. The quality of these units would in theory vary greatly.

C type divisions tend to have no more than 5000 men and usually used for 'Economic Development' functions, providing labour for agricultural and infrastructure work. They offer little more than static defence in a military role.

The lessons of the Second Indochina War with the US have underlined the demand for effective and co-ordinated air defence. Along with the Army's AD assets, the independent Air Defence Forces also operate the SA-2, SA-3 and maybe now the SA-5, along with a large quantity of heavier calibre AAA like the 100mm KS-19, most of which have radar fire-control with the antiquated SON-9 'Fire Can' system.

An interesting point in regards to PAVN, the recruitment policy still heavily favours on the conscription of recruits from northern Vietnam - there is still a distrust in recruiting southern Vietnamese into the military. Also surprisingly, given the ancient tensions with China to the north, the vast majority of PAVN remains deployed in Southern Vietnam with only the fewer, more mobile formations stationed around Hanoi.
 
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swerve

Super Moderator
...
An interesting point in regards to PAVN, the recruitment policy still heavily favours on the conscription of recruits from northern Vietnam - there is still a distrust in recruiting southern Vietnamese into the military. Also surprisingly, given the ancient tensions with China to the north, the vast majority of PAVN remains deployed in Southern Vietnam with only the fewer, more mobile formations stationed around Hanoi.
Deployment is probably not unconnected with the areas of recruitment. The initial defence of the northern border can be left to the militia (which includes ex-soldiers) & reserves mobilised in place, as in 1979. The elite mobile divisions from around Hanoi can reinforce them if needed, & are the best units to do it. Deploying static units of northerners in the distrusted south helps tie north & south together. Puts me in mind of the Roman army.

I think it's likely that units recruited in the south aren't deployed too close to home.
 

contedicavour

New Member
Very interesting reading... thanks a lot.
With the vast majority of the population born after 1975 discriminating against south vietnamese seems really paranoid !!
 

farhana

New Member
i'm reserve officer training unit (ROTU)... my group had plan to visit any military academy in Vietnam... can someone help me in getting the contact number of military academy in vietnam.....
 

STURM

Well-Known Member
i'm reserve officer training unit (ROTU)... my group had plan to visit any military academy in Vietnam... can someone help me in getting the contact number of military academy in vietnam.....
Instead of contacting the academy directly, try contacting the military attache at the Vietnamese embassy.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
i'm reserve officer training unit (ROTU)... my group had plan to visit any military academy in Vietnam... can someone help me in getting the contact number of military academy in vietnam.....
Or your chain of command...
 

STURM

Well-Known Member
Has there been any updates on the deal for 6 Kilo SSKs? This will be a great leap in capability to what the navy currently has but I'm wondering where the manpower is going to come from and how long will it take to train the crews and establish a shore support infrastructure.

With the Vietnamese economy now booming I'm just surprised more orders haven't been place to modernise the military.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
The orders have been placed, and are being delivered. I'm not sure what the delivery dates are.
 

DavidDCM

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
One other recent modernisation is that they upgraded a number of their T-54 tanks with supposedly Israeli technology. No official statements from either side that I am aware of, but there are photos which show a 105 mm maingun, additional passive armour and a new gunner's sight on those tanks.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
That's surprising, given the availability of cheap and capable T-72 upgrades on the used market, from Ukraine, or Russia for that matter (given that thousands of T-72s have been only recently retired). Any guesses as to why they would upgrade their T-54s?
 

STURM

Well-Known Member
If I had to guess, I would say that Vietnam's priority in beefing up it's air force, air defence and navy - Su-30's, S-300's, Tarantul's and Kilo's - rather than it's army reflects the fact that it's main security concern is the possibbility of naval or air clashes with China over the Spartleys in the future, rather than any ground threat. With it's economy now the fastest growing in ASEAN and close ties with the U.S. being built, I wouldn't be surprised if Vietnam buys American in the near future.

Off topic but an interesting area to study would be the 1979 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and the subsequent campaign against the KPNLF, Khmer Rouge, etc, that lasted till the late 80's. Apart from some articles that Soldier of Fortune ran in the 80's, written by Western journalists attached to the KPNLF, not much on this subject has appeared in English.

Vietnamese navy to buy DHC-6 Twin Otter from Canada | World Military Forum - Latest Military News | Army, Navy, Air Force, Missiles

[Nothing to do with the modern Vietnam military but interesting]

The secret army still fighting Vietnam war - Asia, World - The Independent
 
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Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Maybe contrary to the T-72s they have facilities in place which can produce the needed spare parts.
Spare parts for their T-72s need to be imported or a new infrastructure to produce them needs to be build.

Just a thought of me. In the end I am also curious why they don't buy just more T-72s. They are dead cheap these days if one doesn't need the newest T-72B upgrade.
At some day they need to upgrade their arsenal inlcuding their support infrastructure and better now with T-72s than in the future when the remnants of the Cold War ended up as scrap metal or were bought by other countries.

I would have thought the small number of T-72s they bought some years ago is the start of such a process...
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
Even the T-72BA if it's a refurb can be had at bargain bin prices. And it provides a massive improvement over T-54/55, or T-62. Maybe something is in the works. Russia has begun selling refurb T-72s more recently, Azerbaijan and Venezuela come to mind.

I'm wondering if anyone here keeps track of Vietnam specifically.
 

Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Poland IIRC and I expect more T-72s becoming available from this source as Poland plans to only keep the Leopard IIs and PT-91s in service.
 

DavidDCM

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
I also haven't heard of that T-72 deal so far. I try to keep track with modern Vietnam's military development, as with all of Southeast Asian nations, but that's thoroughly difficult given the almost complete lack of English-language publications on it. Internet research is also quite difficult due to most search engine results about Vietnam and military stuff lead to pages of the US war.

On why they upgraded their T-54/55 tanks rather than going for something newer, I wouldn't solely consider military reasons for this, it may also be politically motivated. On the other hand Vietnam's economic development points strictly upwards for the future, so maybe the modernised T-55 is just an interim solution, for in a couple of years Vietnam should be able to purchase something way more capable than old 2nd hand T-72's. At least if they want a modern armoured fleet at all, tanks never had great significance for the Vietnamese military as far as I know and air and sea modernisation is a more pressing issue currently.
 
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