Army of the Republic of Vietnam

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN; Vietnamese: Lục quân Việt Nam Cộng hòa; French: Armée de la république du Viêt Nam) composed the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 to the Fall of Saigon in April 1975.[2] At the ARVN's peak, an estimated 1 in 9 citizens of South Vietnam were enlisted, and it had become the fourth-largest army in the world composed of Regular Forces and the more voluntary Regional Forces and the Popular Force militias.[3] It is estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties (killed and wounded) during the Vietnam War.[4]

Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Lục quân Việt Nam Cộng Hòa
Flag of the South Vietnamese army
FoundedDecember 30, 1955
DisbandedApril 30, 1975
Country South Vietnam
SizeRegular Forces: 410,000
Territorial Militias: 532,000 Total: 942,000 in 1972[1]
Part of Republic of Vietnam Military Forces
Garrison/HQSaigon, South Vietnam
Nickname(s)LQVNCH (ARVN in English and French)
Motto(s)Quyết chiến — Quyết thắng
(Determined to fight — Determined to win)
MarchLục quân Việt Nam hành khúc
AnniversariesArmy Day (December 30, 1955)
EngagementsVietnam War
Cambodian Civil War
Laotian Civil War
Battle of the Paracel Islands
Dương Văn Minh
Cao Văn Viên
Ngô Quang Trưởng
Trần Quang Khôi

The ARVN began as a post-colonial army that was trained by and closely affiliated with the United States and had engaged in conflict since its inception. Several changes occurred throughout its lifetime, initially from a 'blocking-force' to a more modern conventional force using helicopter deployment in combat. During the American intervention in Vietnam, the ARVN was reduced to playing a defensive role with an incomplete modernisation,[3] and transformed again following Vietnamization, it was upgeared, expanded, and reconstructed to fulfill the role of the departing American forces. By 1974, it had become much more effective with foremost counterinsurgency expert and Nixon adviser Robert Thompson noting that Regular Forces were very well-trained and second only to the American and Israeli forces in the Free World[5] and with General Creighton Abrams remarking that 70% of units were on par with the United States Army.[6]

However, the withdrawal of American forces by Vietnamization meant the armed forces could not effectively fulfill all of the aims of the program and had become completely dependent on U.S. equipment since it was meant to fulfill the departing role of the United States.[7] Unique in serving a dual military-civilian administrative purpose, in direct competition with the Viet Cong,[8] the ARVN had also become a component of political power and suffered from continual issues of political loyalty appointments, corruption in leadership, factional infighting, and occasional open internal conflict.[9]

After the fall of Saigon to North Vietnam's People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the ARVN was dissolved. While some high-ranking officers had fled the country to the United States or elsewhere, thousands of former ARVN officers were sent to re-education camps by the communist government of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Five ARVN generals committed suicide to avoid capture.

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