Et si les forêts n’étaient pas le refuge des Việt Cộng pendant la guerre du Việt Nam… Une remise en cause des objectifs du programme de défoliation

Abstract : Considered as the “spinal column of the [North Vietnamese] war effort” (Ruscio, 1989, transl.) during the Việt Nam war (1962-1975), the Hồ Chí Minh trail was in fact a roads and trails network, which Việt Cộng gradually developed to supply their positions in the South. This trail crossed the mountainous area of A Lưới (Thừa Thiên province, then attached to South-Việt Nam), which was a major target of Americano-South Vietnamese attacks. Bombed – including by incendiary bombs – this area suffered numerous herbicide sprayings. These strikes aimed to destroy the leaf canopy, under which the enemy hid. Thus, forests, dense and predominant in this area, appeared as a refuge for Việt Cộng from the point of view of the Americano-South Vietnamese army. But did they play this role of protection, of shelter? Is it not rather relief, its escarpments that allow Việt Cộng to hide? Conducted in the framework of PhD. research (Robert, 2011), the study is based on the literature – especially written accounts, maps and photographs, for lack to consult the Vietnamese military archives – and on villagers interviews. The layout of the roads questions the protective role of the leaf canopy – and thus the effectiveness of the defoliation program. Moreover, for the Kinh fighters, this environment seemed hostile. However, they progressively familiarized and they tried to take advantage. Under the leaf canopy, infrastructures were built. The “refuge-forest” also played the role of “feeded forest” (Charnay, 1994, transl.).
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 11:28:10 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 10:54:06 AM

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Amelie Robert. Et si les forêts n’étaient pas le refuge des Việt Cộng pendant la guerre du Việt Nam… Une remise en cause des objectifs du programme de défoliation. M. Hotyat, C. Dereix, P. Gresser et F. Lormant (dir.), Forêt refuge, ⟨L'Harmattan, Collection « Bois et Forêts »⟩, pp.65-86, 2018, 978-2-343-13863-3. ⟨halshs-01692302⟩

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