Republic of Vietnam Military Forces

former armed defense forces of the Republic of Vietnam

The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces or ARVN (Vietnamese: Quân-lực Việt-nam Cộng-hòa/QLVNCH), were the official armed defence forces of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), popularly known as South Vietnam, a state that existed from 1955 to 1975 that control half of Vietnam what is now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The QLVNCH was responsible for the defence of the Republic of Vietnam since its independence from France in October 1955.

Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces
Quân lực Việt Nam Cộng hòa
War Flag.
Flag of the ARVN
Founded30 December 1955
Disbanded30 April 1975
Service branches Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Republic of Vietnam Air Force
Republic of Vietnam Navy
Commander-in-ChiefNgo Dinh Diem (1955 - 1963), Nguyen Van Thieu (1967 - 1975)
Chief of Joint General StaffUnknown
Active personnel586,838
Deployed personnel1,000,000 in 1972
Foreign suppliers United States
 New Zealand
 South Korea
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Vietnam
RanksRanks and insignia of the Republic of Vietnam



The QLVNCH was formally established on December 30, 1955 by the Strongman and republican first President of the Republic of Vietnam (known simply as ‘South Vietnam’) Ngo Dinh Diem, which he declared on October 26 that year after winning a rigged referendum[1] for either making South Vietnam a constitutional monarchy, or a presidential republic. Created out from ex-French Union Army colonial Indochinese auxiliary units (French: Supplétifs), gathered earlier on July 1951 into the French-led Vietnamese National Army – VNA (Vietnamese: Quân Đội Quốc Gia Việt Nam – QĐQGVN), Armée Nationale Vietnamiènne (ANV) in French, the armed forces of the new state consisted in the mid-1950s of ground, air, and naval branches of service, respectively:

Their roles were defined as follows: to protect the sovereignty of the free Vietnamese nation and that of the Republic; to maintain the political and social order and the rule of law by providing internal security; to defend the newly independent Republic of Vietnam from external (and internal) threats; and ultimately, to help reunify Vietnam – divided since the Geneva Accords in July 1955 into two transitional states, one at the north ruled by Ho Chi Minh’s Marxist Lao Dong Party regime and the other in the south under Diem’s anti-communist regime.

Command structure


Regional Commands





  1. Rottman and Bujeiro, Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1955-75 (2010), p. 7.
  • Gordon L. Rottman and Ron Volstad, US Army Special Forces 1952-84, Elite series 4, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1985. ISBN 9780850456103
  • Gordon L. Rottman and Ron Volstad, Vietnam Airborne, Elite Series 29, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1990. ISBN 0-85045-941-9
  • Gordon L. Rottman and Ramiro Bujeiro, Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1955-75, Men-at-arms series 458, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2010. ISBN 978-1-84908-182-5
  • Kenneth Conboy and Simon McCouaig, South-East Asian Special Forces, Elite series 33, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1991. ISBN 9781855321069
  • Lee E. Russell and Mike Chappell, Armies of the Vietnam War 2, Men-at-arms series 143, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1983. ISBN 0-85045-514-6.
  • Leroy Thompson, Michael Chappell, Malcolm McGregor and Ken MacSwan, Uniforms of the Indo-China and Vietnam Wars, Blandford Press, London 1984. ASIN: B001VO7QSI
  • Martin Windrow and Mike Chappell, The French Indochina War 1946-54, Men-at-arms series 322, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 1998. ISBN 978-1-85532-789-4
  • Phillip Katcher and Mike Chappell, Armies of the Vietnam War 1962-1975, Men-at-arms series 104, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1980. ISBN 978-0-85045-360-7

Further reading

  • Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh, South Wind Changing, Graywolf Press, Minnesota 1994. ASIN: B01FIW8BJG
  • Mark Moyar, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K. 2009. ISBN 978-0521757638, 0521757630
  • Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, The Regents of the University of California press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California 1995. ASIN: B00749ZBRC
  • Nguyen Cao Ky, How we lost the Vietnam War, Stein & Day Pub 1979. ISBN 978-0812860160, 0812860160
  • Tran Van Don, Our Endless War: Inside Vietnam, Presidio Press, Novato, California 1978. ISBN 978-0891410195, 0891410198