Studying the 1953-1954 Winter-Spring series of battles, we can find that the Navarre Plan was a large-scale strategy, with the aim of building mobile battalions to wipe out the main force of Vietnam. 

In that context, the Party Central Committee and President Ho Chi Minh directed our troops to overcome all difficulties, create all circumstances and take all measures to hold the initiative and disperse the enemy's forces. Our troops forced the French to disperse forces and lure enemy troops to the mountainous and forest battlefields. The plan was to attack areas where the enemy was weak to destroy part of them and make the Navarre plan go bankrupt.

Vietnamese troops secretly pull artillery guns to Dien Bien Phu in 1954. (A filed photo)

The highlight of the strategic direction of the 1953-1954 Winter-Spring series of battles was the close combination between the main force and local troops and militia force, as well as the application of the guerrilla and conventional warfare; and the smooth coordination among battlefields in the Northern, Central and Southern regions and strategic directions across the Indochina battlefield.

Thus, during the 1953-1954 Winter-Spring series of battles, the strategic direction was right, decisive, creative and flexible. Our troops successfully split the enemy’s forces into five parts, making them struggle to support each other.

On the Northwestern front, our troops launched attacks, forcing the enemy to send troops to build Dien Bien Phu into a stronghold. Right after that, the Vietnamese side was determined to carry out a campaign to attack Dien Bien Phu - a decisive strategy to successfully end the resistance war against the French colonialists.

By early March 1954, enemy troops consisting of 20 battalions had gathered in Dien Bien Phu. They divided the battlefield into the northern, central, and southern areas that comprised 49 fortifications. Both the French colonialists and the U.S. interventionists regarded Dien Bien Phu as an "unbreakable fort," and that the enemy could crush our troops, getting the upper hand on the negotiation table.

However, after considering the balance of power between the two sides, General Vo Nguyen Giap proposed the Party Committee and the Command of the campaign to halt the attack and shift the strategy from “fast attack, fast victory” to “steady attack, steady advance.” This was a difficult but completely right decision. Our troops postponed the attack to make more careful preparations in weapons, ammunition, food, medicines and combat tactics.

The “steady attack, steady advance” strategy not only ensured the success of each wave of attack, but also helped minimize losses and sacrifices of soldiers. When the opportunity arose, our troops waged a general offensive to decimate the entire military base of Dien Bien Phu. Vietnamese soldiers built stronger fortifications, dug deeper trenches, and moved closer to the French base.

On March 13, 1954, Vietnamese troops opened fire to launch the offensive on Dien Bien Phu, which lasted 56 days until the complete eradication of the entire so-called “invincible” stronghold of Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954.

The success of the 1953-1954 Winter-Spring series of battles, especially the victory in Dien Bien Phu, was the result of the application of the people's warfare. It means that the whole people rose up to fight against the French colonialists under the smart and clear-sighted leadership of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh. It was the inheritance and development of glorious traditions of former generations in three aspects of military strategy, operational art, and tactics.

By Assoc. Prof., Sr. Col. Le Trong Tuyen, Director of the Department of Postgraduate Education, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

Translated by Quynh Oanh