People's Army of Vietnam

From Academic Kids

The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) is the term used by the Vietnamese for their army, which during the Vietnam War (1961 - 1975) was known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), or Army of North Vietnam. The PAVN was not the Viet Cong, nor the Viet Minh. The PAVN now includes Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.



The predecessor of the PAVN was the Armed Propaganda Unit for National Liberation, an organization that was formed by Ho Chi Minh on December 22, 1944 to drive the French colonists from Vietnam.

During peaceful periods, the PAVN has actively been involved in Vietnam's workforce to develop the economy of Vietnam, in order to coordinate national defense and the economy. The PAVN is involved in such areas as industry, agriculture, forestry, fishery and telecommunications.

The Vietnamese People’s Army today


The President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the Commander-in-Chief, while the Minister of National Defense oversees operations of the PAVN. The Minister of National Defense oversees such agencies as the General Staff and the General Logistics Department.

The PAVN is composed of a main force and local forces. As with most countries' armed forces, the PAVN consists of standing, or regular, forces as well as reserve forces. During peacetime, the standing forces are minimized in number, and kept combat-ready by regular physical and weapons training, and stock maintenance.

The reserves are organized in the same way as the standing forces, with the same chain of command, and with officers and non-commissioned officers.

International presence

The Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of National Defense organizes international operations of the PAVN.


Main Force

The main force of the PAVN consists of combat ready troops, as well as educational institutions for logistics, officer training, and technical training.

Army (Ground Force)

The army consists of artillery, combat engineering, signal, chemical warfare, armor and special forces units.

The army main and local forces are designated to regions, which are characterized by their location and political importance.

The Navy

The Vietnamese People's Navy is responsible for the protection of national waters, islands and interests of the maritime economy, as well as for the coordination of maritime police, customs service and the border defense force.

The Air Guard and Air Force

The Air Guard and Air Force consist of anti-aircraft troops as well as air force troops.

The Border Defense Force

The Border Defense Force, made up of district or provincial forces, is charged with controlling security along land borders, islands and territorial waters in accordance with Vietnamese law and international practices.

Local Forces

Local forces are an entity of the PAVN that, together with the militia and "self-defense forces," act on the local level in protection of people and local authorities. While the local forces are regular PAVN forces, the militia consists of rural civilians, and the self-defense forces consist of civilians who live in urban areas and/or work in large groups, such as at construction sites or farms.


  • Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age for compulsory service; conscript service obligation - 2 years
  • Military manpower - availability:
    • males age 15-49: 21,341,813 (2005 est.)
  • Military manpower - fit for military service:
    • males age 15-49: 16,032,358 (2005 est.)
  • Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
    • males: 915,572 (2005 est.)
  • Military expenditures: $1 billion (FY2002)
  • Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.5% (FY2002)

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