Dien Bien Phu

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Dien Bien Phu is a town in northwest Vietnam. It was the site of a battle between the French and Viet Minh fought in 1954.

By 1954, Vietnamese nationalists under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh had been waging a guerilla war against the French colonial government of what was then French Indochina since 1946. The Vietnamese insurrection was receiving significant military aid from the Chinese Communist Party, which overthrew the Chinese Nationalists with Soviet aid in 1949. The United States, which eventually became committed to stopping the spread of communism as per the containment doctrine, began financing 80 percent of the French war effort.

Dien Bien Phu
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Điện Biên Phủ

Dien Bien Phu was intended to be a French bridgehead in the mountainous north of the country, which had long been a stronghold for the Viet Minh. However, Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap was able to quickly assemble a large force, including a minimum of 60,000 men and a large amount of heavy weaponry. The French troops, outnumbered five to one and cut off from supplies, finally surrendered after a gruelling two-month siege.

The battle proved decisive in ending support for an already unpopular war, leading to a treaty and the division of French Indochina into Cambodia, Laos, and North and South Vietnam. Ultimately, the outcome of the war would provoke the similar Vietnam War a decade later.