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Who Are the Viet Cong?

June 15, 1962 - Who are the Viet Cong? American military advisors and South Vietnamese officers put them in three categories. The first consists of regulars who fight full-time, led by hardened Communist cadres from North Vietnam. These men, paid and sometimes equipped with standard uniforms, are usually 19 to 35 years old. An American colonel said of them: “The most elusive enemy I’ve ever met.” Local forces who are organized in companies of about 60 men form the second category. They are of all ages and can switch from farmer to soldier as soon as the sun goes down for attacks on government outposts. The last main category includes hamlet guerrillas who specialize in terrorism to insure prompt payment of the taxes the Viet Cong leaders levy on villages. They specialize in such tactics as hanging a village leader’s severed head on a pole. The average recruit is fighting because he has been offered land in the future or because the Viet Cong has threatened him or his family. Some of the Viet Cong troops fought the French forces in Indochina a decade ago and have been battling ever since.

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