General Nguyen Van Hieu, A Military Genius?

When people saw that a study group of Viet Nam history based in France by the name of Truc Lam Yen Tu proclaim General Hieu as one among the Four Vietnamese Great Military Geniuses - Trần Nhân Tông, Trần Hưng Đạo, Nguyễn Huệ and Nguyễn Văn Hiếu - the majority expressed surprise and a few uttered protest. Surprise, because that name sounded unfamiliar. Protest, because it appeared preposterous. Only a very few felt it was appropriately so. Among this latest category is reverend Trần Văn Kiệm who considers General Hieu to be the most competent among ARVN generals:

Previously Nguyen Hung Kiet (Trung Tướng Nguyễn Văn Hiếu,, August 29, 2009) rated General Tri and General Hieu as positions #1, then and #2. I dare to rearrange into #2 then #1. Recently, after doing some in depth research, I took the liberty to eliminate General Tri from the honor list and place General Ty at position #2 behind General Hieu. I did so while I have not studied in depth about those generals who had committed suicide rather than surrendered to the Communists. To establish a list of deities as such at the present time is considered to be too audacious of a move and too early, which should be left to history the task of rating. Nevertheless, since the current generation already has the opportunity to hear and see, it is advisable to speak out to guide the following generations.

That is a layman's opinion. How about the opinion of a military professional - which would be more relevant in this case - for instance of General Tran Van Don:

“In February 1972, Don, who was a LTG and is currently a Deputy Prime Minister, stated to the Consul in Danang that Hieu was one of the most capable generals in ARVN and “the most honest general in the Army today”. The latter assessment is broadly held and frequently voiced by ARVN officers. Don further stated that he would take Hieu over virtually any ARVN general he knew.

The two attitudes of surprise and protest would vanish, once General Hieu's military career is known. The acquisition of such a knowledge is rendered possible by a thorough reading of General Hieu's webpage, which contains plentiful of objective documents that show General Hieu possessed traits that are particular to a military genius as defined by the Truc Lam Yen Tu group:

A military genius is a General who is excellent in the maneuvering of troops, with plentiful of clever stratagems under his shirt sleeve, who knows how to assess the battlefield with accuracy in space and in time; furthermore, who possesses a genuine love for his soldiers. He takes care of the well being of his soldiers, does not use them as steps for his personal advancement, considers them as his own family members, values their lives, minimizes their sacrifices and yet is able to accomplish resounding victories on the battlefield. Furthermore, his patriotism is above all else, partisanship or parties.

In order to facilitate the formulation of a personal opinion about General Hieu as a military genius, without having to go over his entire webpage - which amounts to thousands of printed pages - following is a list of selected articles which as a whole would allow to tell if General Hieu is or not a military genius.

A Few Major Battles

- Road Clearing Operation

- Pleime Battle Diary

- Operation Eagles 800

- Snoul Battle and Its Consequences

- Duc Hue Battlefront


- General Hieu's Unique Combat Style

- General Hieu and Tandem Infantry Armor Formula

- General Hieu's Opinion About The Vietnamization Program

- The Art of Troop Withdrawal

- The Two Main Players of Pleime Chess Game

- Tactics in Pleime Battle

- Pleime Campaign and Pleiku Campaign

- Command and Control Skills in Pleime Battle

- Behind-the-scenes Activities at Various Allied Headquarters During Pleime Campaign

- Pleime Counteroffensive into Chupong Iadrang Complex

- A Military Genius in Action at Pleime-Chupong-Iadrang Battlefront


- General Hieu's View of VC Intentions

- General Hieu's Assessment of January 1975 Military Situation in III Corps

- General Hieu, a Tactician with a Strategist's Mind

- Pleime/Chupong Campaign Destroying B3 Field Front Base

- Question Concerning General Nguyen Van Hieu's Death


- Tender Loving Care

- Simplicity, Honesty, Charity

- Possibly A Saint ?

A Sketch

- A Competent General

- A Martial Arts Master

- Quarterback versus Head-coach

- General Patton and his Counterpart General Hieu

- General Hieu, A Combat Fighting General?

- General Nguyen Van Hieu, an Eminent ARVN General


Although his military talents were not fully put into use due to partisanship and cliques - at one period, from February 1972 to December 1973, he was discarded from the military arena altogether with the function of a Anti-corruption Special Investigator - General Hieu was fortunate enough to encounter opportunities which had allowed him to reveal his military genius traits at division and corps levels. If chances had provided him with larger battlegrounds with the command of a huger army, General Hieu would have undoubtedly exercised his command and control skills with the ease of a military genius.

Nguyen Van Tin
06 August 2010