Vietnam-Indonesia’s Guerrilla Warfare Revisited: Debunking the Myths through Guerrilla Philosophy Contrast
There are some myths around guerrilla warfare in Vietnam and Indonesia. Are these myths actually true, or just a fanatic’s nonsense?
Guerrilla warfare is among the most well-known form of warfare, has its history spanning from the ancient age into the modern age, transforming alongside the more traditional “conventional” warfare. There will always be guerrilla warfare as long as humanity exists. It is so often described as the “struggle of the weak against the strong” or “struggle of the oppressed people”, but that only shone on the shallow surface of guerrilla warfare itself, devoid of the abyssal varying schools of thought it really has. And of those different schools of thought, two of them are quite relatable among Indonesian: Nasution and Mao. Those two became the basis of Indonesian guerrilla in 1947–1949 and Vietminh-Vietcong guerrilla in 1944–1975, respectively. Those two sparked a neverending public discourse and debate in Indonesian history forums.
There are some widespread myths regarding the relation between Indonesian guerrilla and Vietminh’s (Mao-style) guerrilla. For example, some Indonesians said that both countries’ way of conducting guerrilla warfare is the same. Others said that Vietnam defeated America because they learned guerrilla warfare from Indonesia, specifically one of the most prominent general in the Indonesian Army, Abdul Haris Nasution. Unfortunately, these claims are somewhat outlandish and ahistorical. It should be clearly noted that Mao’s and the consequently Vietminh’s style of guerrilla warfare is different from the one used in the Indonesia battlefield.
According to the Pokok-Pokok Gerilya (Fundamentals of Guerrilla Warfare) written by the infamous A. H. Nasution himself, Vietminh’s style of guerrilla was defined as an example of how a full-scale guerrilla should be: A small guerrilla warfare that in a certain time could turn into full-scale conventional warfare utilizing regimental or even divisional-sized units. This is particularly true if we take a look at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. In this battle, both sides were engaged in a fully conventional, trench warfare using heavy artillery and such. Retrospectively, Nasution’s book was originally published in 1953, so it is fairly impossible for Vietminh to learn and implement the…