The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regular soldier was reasonably well trained, better equipped than the Viet Cong guerrillas and more likely to be in large numbers. The NVA relied heavily on China and Russia for arms, equipment and money but they fought their own war.
Known as ‘hard hats’ since they wore the ubiquitous pith helmet, these forces operated and were organized along traditional military lines. Organized into battalions consisting of 3 Rifle Company’s and a Combat Support Company these troops were, on the whole, well trained, aggressive and well led.
On larger operations they could be organized and deployed as regiments of 2-3 battalions.
It was the NVA that continued the battle after the Viet Cong were destroyed as a fighting force in the Tet Offensive where they lost 30,000 troops but changed the mind of Walter Cronkite, premier American TV news reader, as to who was winning the war. President Johnson said “If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite I’ve lost Mr. Average Citizen”.
ORGANIZATION of NVA & VC UNITS
The organization detailed below is, in effect, a VC Main Force Company, although you could take elements of this organization for Regional forces. Local forces were not organized to this level, being an assortment of combatants and arms.
Similarly, other than Main Force units, the weapons carried by Regional and Local forces would be an incredible assortment of old and relatively new. A lot of SKS carbines, old WWII vintage rifles, SMG’s etc. Very few AK-47’s would be evident, even in Main Force units until later in the war.
One very important point to remember when researching these units (and regular NVA) is the critically short amount of ammunition available. Every bit had to come down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Also remember that, following the Tet offensive of February 1968, the VC virtually ceased to exist as a coherent fighting force, having been almost destroyed in depth by the allies. Engagements with VC units after this date involved confronting substantial numbers of regular NVA cadre troops within the ranks of the VC and a commensurate increase in the quality of weaponry and support fire!