North Vietnamese Army Soldier by Gordon L Rottman is part of Osprey’s “Warrior” series, which seeks to provide insights into the daily lives of history’s fighting men and women, detailing their motivation, training, tactics, and experiences. For most Americans, there is a lot of mystery that surrounds our old adversaries in the Vietnam War. Rottman attempts to shed light on this mystery.
The booklet (63 pages) is divided into several sections (mini-chapters if you will) that describe various aspects of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), such as organization, recruitment, and weapons and equipment. Rottman provides a balanced analysis of the NVA. The average NVA soldier was very similar to the average American soldier. Contrary to what many Americans believed, the NVA soldier was just as likely as an American soldier to be intimidated by the jungle. The NVA soldiers were from cities and farms, thus they did not have any innate skills to deal with the snakes, insects, and other hazards of the jungle.
The average NVA soldier did differ significantly from the average American soldier in his motivation – he had an extreme hatred of the South Vietnamese Army soldiers (puppet government troops) and the American imperialists. This hatred drove him to perform superbly under extraordinary circumstances – long marches, lack of supplies, and constant fear of air attacks from the enemy (many times B-52s would drop their bombs on unsuspecting NVA or Viet Cong).
Rottman also stresses the differences between the NVA and Viet Cong (VC) – local militia that mainly served in a part-time role. The VC did not receive any formal training and they were given the NVA’s cast-off equipment. As the war progressed (due to increased casualties), more VC units were composed of NVA replacements because of low recruitment in South Vietnam – this was especially true after the Tet Offensive devastated the VC ranks.
This booklet is an excellent summary of the North Vietnamese Army and its soldiers.