- American Colonel Harry G. Summers Jr.: You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield.NVA Colonel Tu: That is true. But it is also irrelevant.
The army that had the distinct honour of having fought against the Katanas of the Rising Sun, Gauls With Grenades, Yanks with Tanks, South Vietnamese with Skyraiders, The Other Chinese Army, South Koreans with Marines, the Khmer Rouge and Chinese with Chopper Support and won within the last century. Now among Asia's largest armies with a standing force of nearly half a million and in the process of continuous modernization.
Known by the US as the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) during The Vietnam War, what is now the modern People's Army of Vietnam was formed in 1944 with (surprise surprise!) American help to be La Résistance against the crumbling Japanese grip. Earned its stripes during the First Indochina War against the French colonial forces, culminating in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which marked the beginning of the end of the French colonial empire. With USSR and Chinese help, it waged the Second Indochina War against the South Vietnamese-US coalitionnote . A few years after PAVN overran South Vietnam in 1975, a Cambodian (under the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime) invasion toward Vietnam prompted the Third Indochina War. PAVN allied with Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation, blitzed through Cambodia and pushed the Khmer Rouge to the borders with Thailand, and then successfully defended against a huge Chinese invasion (as revenge, since the Khmer Rouge regime was propped up by Cultural Revolution-era China) in Northern Vietnam, all within 1979. Ironically The PAVN then found itself in its own Vietnam War quagmire in Cambodia during the next 10 years (well, they did win but still).
Has five branches: Ground Forces, Border Defense Forces, People's Navy, Coast Guard and People's Air Defense/Air Force. Has three levels of organization: main forces (standing army), local forces (similar to US National Guard) and people's defense forces (civilian militia).
The Vietcong (National Liberation Front), although a South Vietnamese communist guerrilla army, was considered by Hanoi to be a branch of PAVN. However, many Vietnam War activists consider the Vietcong as a purely South Vietnamese organization that was merely allied with Hanoi. After re-unification, it was disbanded by the government and some of its guerrillas were inducted to the PAVN.
Most of PAVN's equipment was supplied by Reds with Rockets and Chinese with Chopper Support during the Vietnam War. Was bolstered with captured American equipment after the war (now mostly decommissioned or only for training due to lack of spare parts and ammunition). Now PAVN is in the process of acquiring modernized equipment from all over the world, most notably from Poland (upgraded T-72 tanks), Israel (RAM-2000 armored cars), Russia (Su-27 fighters, frigates, corvettes and Kilo submarines), France (helicopters) and somewhat ironically the United States (P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft).
Has a 2-year conscription requirement for males between 18-25, which can be deferred/exempted for college students. However, all high school and college students (both male and female) are still required to attend compulsory military training courses.
Appearances in popular media:
- Any Vietnam War media. Usually depicted as villains except those made in, well, Vietnam.
- Dragon Strike (1997), a novel about a fictional war where China tries to dominate the entire Asia-Pacific region.
- The PAVN appears in the end of No Escape. This can be considered the first time the Vietnamese were portrayed as the "good guys" in American film for in the end, they gun down the rebels pursuing the protagonist and his family and subsequently rescue them.
- Around the middle of The New '10s, the Chinese film industry has begun to start using the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War as a setpiece for various movies, often portraying the Vietnamese forces as nameless, faceless baddies. Some movies that fall under this are 2015's Wolf Warrior and 2017's Youth (more accurately translated as "Blooming Flowers").