"Self-defence" forces are playing an increasing part in the Vietnam War as the withdrawal of United States troops accelerates "Vietnamisation".
"Self-defence" forces are playing an increasing part in the Vietnam War as the withdrawal of United States troops accelerates "Vietnamisation". Typical of the "self-defence" forces is the one in An Son Village.
An Son's "self-defence" force ranges in age from 16 to 51 and includes both men and women. Their leader for the past seven months has been Tinh. He left school at 14 and now helps his father till the land. Tinh had to join the force, it's a Government order, but it means a year's deferment from the draft.
The "self-defence" programme was started after the 1968 Tet Offensive and its membership numbers over three million. About one is seven is armed, the rest serve as support cadre.
Tinh likes farming, but he always takes his rifle with him. Tinh's father is 53 and so welcome's his son Bon's help.
An son's self-defence force is trained mostly in the village itself by a "Revolutionary Development Cadre". While the emphasis is on basic military tactics there are also political classes.
Every other night, Tinh meets with his group and outline a patrol routs around the village for the night. They have never had contact with the Vietcong, but they say they will fight to protect their homes and village only. The Saigon Government means little to them but for the Government it's one place less to worry about.