Call it poetic justice. But Vietnam’s plans to defeat China resemble China’s plans to defeat America.
Asymmetric warfare using missiles and submarines. Hit and run tactics. A thousand small cuts to bleed the enemy dry.
Since the days of the Viet Minh, Vietnam has been secretive about its strategy, as the United States discovered during the Tet Offensive. But a pair of American scholars have sifted through the available information to offer a glimpse of how Vietnam would fight its much, much larger neighbor and rival.
“Analysts have spilled much ink in recent years assessing the Vietnam People’s Army’s (VPA) procurement or indigenous development of specific weapon systems,” according to researchers Derek Grossman and Anh Nguyen. “Yet comparatively little has been written on the thought process behind acquisition of these new capabilities, and whether Vietnam has a military doctrine or concept of operations in place to effectively guide their employment in future South China Sea conflicts.”
Grossman, an analyst with the Rand Corporation, and Nguyen, a graduate student at University of California San Diego, have sifted through what information is publicly available to offer a few surmises about how Vietnam would battle China in the air and at sea. The authors start by admitting that they are not sure whether Vietnam has a comprehensive air or sea doctrine in the Western sense—perhaps not surprising given that Vietnam has historically been a land power.