PANO – It has been years since the Dien Bien Phu Campaign, Major General Mai Xuan Tan, 91, former Director of the Department of Operations of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army still remembers when he and his comrades built the first command base for the Dien Bien Phu Campaign.

Joining the army in September, 1945, Tan was later promoted as an assistant at the Department of Operations in 1947 after achieving several feats of arms and combat experiences.

Major General Mai Xuan Tan (left) and his comrade in a meeting with generations of staff officers in the South held by the General Staff.

The Major General said that amid fast developments of the battlefield, in November, 1953, the General Staff assigned him and other 30 cadres to go to Dien Bien Phu to build a command base in the buildup to the major campaign. The task was challenging for them because the position of the base had not been designated yet. After learning about the situation of the enemy and investigating the terrain, the team decided to choose Tham Pua cave in Chieng Dong commune, Tuan Giao district, Dien Bien province as the base, where General Vo Nguyen Giap held a conference on January 15th, 1954 to brief on the Dien Bien Phu Campaign combat plan. Accordingly, taking advantages of the terrain of the cave, they fortified and dug trenches around the cave, and built some houses. Later, the base was moved to Muong Phang.

After building the base, Tan was assigned to work with some artillery units to study the terrain to pull artillery over the mountains to the Dien Bien Phu battlefield. While doing the task, Tan and his comrades gave important advice to the General Staff to build paths to take the artillery to the battlefield on time while ensuring the secrecy and surprise of the campaign.

The general said he was so delighted that he could contribute to the success of the Dien Bien Phu campaign.

Translated by Tran Hoai