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Transcript of French Algeria

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    IW I . ~"I r- 'l1 Gr:1rI< UNITED



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  • 7/29/2019 French Algeria







    edited byMajo r J. W. Woodmansee, J r .


    This is an interim text used solely fo r in st ruc tion of Cadets . I t will notbe r ep roduced nor c it ed in any manner without permiss ion of the Professorof the Department of Mili ta ry Ar t and Engineering.

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    Chapter OneINDOCHINA (1946-54)

    by Bernard B. Fal l . . . . . . . . . . . 1

    Chapter TwoOPERATIONS IN NORTH VIETNAM, 1950-1952

    by Bernard B. Fal l . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35


    edited by MAJ J .W. Woodmansee, J r 65

    Chapter FourALGERIA (1956-62)

    by MAJ J. W. Woodmansee, Jr 97

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    The Battle of Vinh-Yen 41The Def en se of Mao-Khe . . , , 45The Battle of th e Day River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48The "Hell of Hoa-Binh" 53Death at Tu-Vu , '" , " 54Failure a t Xom-Pheo 58FLN Organization (Algeria) " , lG4General Map of South East Asia (Map #1) .... , In side back coverIndochina - Tonkin, 1951 (Map #2) " . . . . . . . . . " " "Winter ' 5 3 - Spr ing ' 54 Campaign (Map #3). . . . . . . . . . . . . . " " "Dien Bien Phu (Map #4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . " " "General Map of Nor thern Alger ia (Map #5). .... . . . . . . . . . " " "

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    Chapter One

    INDOCHINA (1946-1954)

    by Bernard B. Fal l

    This chapter is a condensation of the late Dr. Fal l ' s study writ tenas a part of th e three volume ser ies , Challenge and Response in InternalConflict. The ser ies was compiled for the Department of the Army byThe C en te r f or Research in Social Systems (CRESS) of the AmericanUniversity.

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    INDOCHINA (1946-1954)by Bernard B. FallThe French in Indochina- - their control weakened bywartime concessions that strengthened Vietnamesenationalism - -were unable either to meet the postwar poli ti cal threat of a capable, determinedCommunist leadership that perfectly exploited theindigenous desire fo r independence, or to defeat therevolutionary forces in th e field.


    (See Map #1) The French colonial terr i tory of Indochina, consisting of th e present countr iesof Cambodia, Laos, and th e two Vie t-Nams, compri sed 284,800 squa re m i le s and wasslightly larger t ha n t he State of Texas. Its location in th e mon soon zone o f southeast Asiadetermined to a great extent th e technicpe of th e insurgency that broke out there and theeventual military outcome.The climate of the area accounts for i ts t rop ica l veg it at io ll, which ext ends f rom the

    southernmost tip t o s li gh tl y nor th of Hanoi, with normal variations for altitude an d latitude.In th e north, rubber t rees do not flourish; in th e south, European-type vege tab le s may begrown, bu t on ly where high altitudes permit . Almost 50 percent of the vege ta l cover of th earea is high-stand jun gle, and another 35 percent is bush or 6-foot-high elephant grass .


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    The remainder of th e a re a is lowland r ice paddy, swampy fo r six or more months of th eyear .

    Geographically, the Indochinese area consists of th e coas ta l deltas of th e Red River, theMekong, an d central Vietnamese r ivers; t he val le ys of th e Red River and th e Mekong, andtheir tributaries; the Annamite mountain range and its various plateau outcroppings, whichform much of t he bounda ry between Laos, V ie t-Nam , and Cambodia; and the Thai highlands,which cover mos t of northern Indochina. There are no natural east-west communicationr ou te s: V ie t- Na m is oriented toward th e coast; Laos and Cambodia toward th e Mekongvalley.

    Of the 36 million people living in Indoch ina in 1954, probably fewer than 4 million livedin th e vast highlands which make up more than 75 percent of th e country's ter r i tory. Theseuplanders, mainly rnontagnards, were f ir st of all hunters and only secondarily growers ofcrops. Many were seminomadic . About 90 percent o f all Cambodians, Laotians, andVietnamese l ived a t a lt it ud es u nd er 1, 000 feet, where th e principal occupat ion was t he g rowingof irr igat ed ric e.

    The economic structure of French Indochina was t yp ica ll y colon ia l. geared to provide rawmaterials fo r the home country and a market fo r France's manufactured goods. Indochina wasamply qualified for th e former role , bu t it f ai le d in th e lat ter . Throughout most of th ecolonial period, Indochina exported far more to France than it bought, and France was neverit s exclusive source of finished products. France's attempt to maintain Indochina almostexclusively as a s ourc e o f raw materials le d to a distortion of the economic process and hadan obvious influence on the country's socioeconomic s tructure. I

    The fai lure to crea te local industries until very late in the colonial period. including thefailure to realize that greater colonial purchasing power would in itself increase imports.

    left Indochina at the mercy of commercial monopol ies which suppl ied the Indochinese economywith imported goods at prices far above th e world market. The colony was deprived ofmany essential goods when normal trade currents were interrupted during World War II .


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    The key factor leading to the 1946 insurgency i n Indoch ina was poli t ical in nature andderived from the imposition of an alien colonial regime upon a highly nationalistic andres is tant population. The colon ia l federation of French Indochina comprised the protectoratesof Cambodia and Laos, which France had governed since 1863 and 1893 respectively, and the

    three Vietnamese territories of Cochin-China. annexed by France in 1862. and Aouam andTonkin, which the French had ruled as protectorates s ince th e 1880's . Coch in -China .comprising the Mekong Delta and Saigon region of the present South Vie t-Nam, was the areaof g r ea t es t F r ench penetration and influence. M ost of t he 4 0, 00 0 French set t lers in Indochinaa t t he beg inning of World War II were concentrated in Cochin-China.

    French political contro l was absolute, and th er e was lit tle , if any. a tt empt to inc ludelocal elites in shaping t he des ti ny of Indochina. The t i tular sovereigns of Cambodia, Luang-Prabang (Laos). and Aouam retained some importance in the cultural ceremonial of theircountries , bu t th ey wer e summari ly removed when they so ught t o g ain actual control of anypar t of the adminis t ra t ive machinery. There existed, for all to se e, the glaring differencebetween the political roles of the French minority and th e vas t Asian major ity.

    Inside Indochina. indigenous parties. both Communist and non-Communist. operated--sometimes openly, but clandestinely when necessary. The non-Communist nationalist

    *arties were made up chie fly of Confucian mandarins or other upperclass groups, and sowere hard pu t t o devel op a mass base. In many cases , they did no t even look for one, butrather preferred to use the conspiratorial approach familiar to them from Chinese -typesecret societies.

    The only indigenous poli t ical group in Indochina which made a deliberate and concentratedeffort at gaining a mass base was the Indochinese Communist Par ty (ICP), created in 1930.I t had both t he out side organizational suppor t ( from th e U. S. S. R., France, a nd Chin a) an dthe ability in terms of trained cadres to create a nationwide movement. The ICP was a lwayspredominantly Vietnamese in composition and leadership. although Cambodians and Laotians

    2were inc luded in the membership.*Vietnamese mandarins were civil servants schoo led in the Chinese classics and

    Vietnamese traditionalism. who served in the imperial bureaucracy or lo cal administration.5

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    T he IC P at first made grievous mistakes . Its leaders were repeat ed ly dep le te d by t heFrench Surete in Indochina- -probably one of the most efficient poli t ical police forces of i tst ime. But the party also learned from i ts errors , and pat ient ly rebuil t i ts organizational

    s t r u c t u r e ~ trained it s personnel, and went on with its work. The core of th e present-day3

    leadership of Vietnamese communism still d ate s from th at difficult period in the 1930 's .

    Worl d Wa r II And The Evolu tion of the Viet-MinhWorld War II (1939-45) shattered th e image of French authori ty in Indochina an d destroyed

    the substance of European colonial rule over the country. T he German defeat of France inJune 1940 and th e ensuing armistice between Germany and th e pro-Axis Vichy French reg imeopened Indochina to Japanese penetrat ion and explo ita tion. On September 22, 1940, Japanesef or ce s, a fte r c ru shi ng l ocal French forces at th e Chinese-Tonkin border, la nd ed a t Haiphongand proceeded t o occupy strategic po in ts t hr oughou t t he country.

    Indochina was thus firmly in th e Japanese sphere long before th e Pacific war began, although France remained the nominal s