Naval History and Heritage Command

Hampton Roads Naval Museum

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<p>VC Soldiers</p>
Caption: This captured photo shows Viet Cong soldiers navigating part of the Mekong Delta in 1966. (United States Army)



The Enemy

The U.S. Navy faced a more conventional uniformed military in the north and a more clandestine irregular force in the south. The North Vietnamese Army manned coastal fortifications, surface-to-air missile sites, and anti-aircraft artillery to defend North Vietnam. Army regulars also moved south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to fight U.S. and South Vietnamese troops. Capable of absorbing heavy losses, they were successful at hit-and-run ambushes, siege tactics, and undetected maneuvers. Before the 1968 Tet Offensive, the main antagonists south of the DMZ, especially in the Mekong Delta, were the Viet Cong. Often from rural villages, they were typically motivated by independence and home defense. They used surprise attacks and quick withdrawals to combat U.S. military superiority.