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Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Transcript of Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Commodore Butch Suarez Beginning of summer 1953, Indo-China enters its 8th year of war. For more than 8 years the Vietminh has carried out a tough fight and endeavors to counter the French expeditionary corps offensives General Navarre, the French commander in Vietnam, realized that time was running out and that he needed to obtain a quick victory over the Vietminh He was convinced that if he could maneuver General Vo Nguyen Giap into engaging in a large scale battle, France was bound to win In December, 1953, General Navarre setup a defensive complex at Dien Bien Phu which would block the route of the Vietminh forces trying to return to camps in neighboring Laos Navarre surmised that in an attempt to reestablish the route to Laos, General Giap would be forced to organize a mass-attack on the French forces at Dien Bien Phu Navarre's plan worked and General Giap took up the French challenge However, instead of making a massive frontal assault, Giap choose to surround Dien Bien Phu and ordered his men to dig a trench that encircled the French troops From the outer trench, other trenches and tunnels were dug inwards towards the center While these preparations were going on, Giap brought up members of the Vietminh from all over Vietnam By the time the battle was ready to start, Giap had 70,000 soldiers surrounding Dien Bien Phu five times the number of French troops enclosed within When Navarre realised that he was trapped, he appealed for help The United States was approached and some advisers suggested the use of tactical nuclear weapons against the Vietminh On March 13, 1954, Vo Nguyen Giap launched his offensive For fifty-six days the Vietminh pushed the French forces back until they only occupied a small area of Dien Bien Phu The French took up positions on a series of fortified hills. The southernmost, Isabelle, was dangerously isolated. The French surrendered on May 7th. French casualties totaled over 7,000 and a further 11,000 soldiers were taken prisoner. The following day the French government announced that it intended to withdraw from Vietnam The attack was expected because in the past few days, the Viets had evacuated the inhabitants from the valley