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One Point, Two Faces

The Overwhelming Attack

Related Pages:

  • The Tiger and the Elephant - Viet Minh strategy and tactics overview
  • Chinese Teachers - Chinese Tactics, Techniques and Doctrine
  • Note: this is a translation of a captured Viet Minh document explaining the method for overwhelming attacks against both fixed positions and troops in movement.

    The "One Point, Two Faces" Tactics

    I. General


    These tactics, created by General Liu Pao of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, consists of one shock action (Point), facilitated by two fire actions (Faces). It applies both to attacks on outposts and to ambushes.

    Point: Shock action, applying on one point the majority of available means (overwhelming attack) in order either to penetrate the defences of an outpost in view of its capture, even in part, or to destroy part of the attacked column. Composed of heavy means, base force that must smash the enemy, or in the case of an attack against a strongpoint, capture the strongpoint and gather enemy weapons and equipment.

    Face: Fire action (automatic weapons, mortars…) used to draw off, neutralise or isolate the major means of defence to allow the success of the shock action.

    Note: The "One Point, Two Faces" tactics do not always require the use of one shock action and two fire actions, there can be one Point and one Face only or one Point and three Faces.


    We must seek an absolute superiority over the enemy, in manpower (3 to 7 times) and in firepower. If the enemy is one battalion we must concentrate 3 to 7 battalions to attack him. We must also ensure superiority in terrain, troops morale and the population's spirit of participation in the resistance. These last two conditions of superiority are even more important than superiority in numbers or firepower. For instance, if the enemy is a battalion but his morale is severely shaken by repeated losses, and if on the other hand, we are also a battalion but our men are encouraged by major recent successes, the enemy's numbers and ours may be equal but we already have superiority in fighting spirit. If superiority in terrain is added, victory will be ours.

    II. Application of the "One Point, Two Faces" tactics to attacks on outposts

    Where should the Point be applied ?

    The Point must be applied:
    a) Either on the spot where the enemy neglects his defences.
    b) Either on the spot where the enemy will be caught off his guard.

    Case a: Point applied where the defences are neglected

    If out of four sides of Outpost X, the enemy reinforces his defences on three sides only, the last side being neglected because it faces flat open terrain where the enemy does not believe an attack possible, the point must be applied to the neglected side.

    Case b: Point applied on an unexpected side

    In the attack on BA GIOC outpost in Quang Tri province, we chose the side behind the outpost to apply the Point for the following reasons :
  • On this side was located the building housing the families of the post's garrison : in the attack, the garrison will hesitate to fire in this direction for fear of wounding or killing members of their families ;
  • On this side the works were not as solidly built and held, since the enemy counted on the open and flat terrain to repulse or annihilate the attackers.
  • Note: Here we have two Points, one primary [a] and one secondary [b]. Tactically, if the primary Point meets with unexpected difficulties and the secondary Point has succeeded in breaching the defences, this secondary Point becomes the primary one and all means of attack are concentrated there. In order to allow this concentration, both Points will always be close to each other (in an outpost attack they will be applied to the same side).

    What is the Point's mission ?

    To breach the defences in order to penetrate into the enemy strongpoint, then divide the strongpoint into several parts in order to annihilate them separately.

    Where should the Face be applied ?

    The Face must be applied on the defences' stronger points. It is always according to terrain that the enemy concentrates his means of defence on certain points, that according to him, lend themselves to attacks. And it is precisely these stronger points that must be fixed by fire.

    What is the Face's mission ?

    Attack by fire the stronger points of the defences to draw enemy fire and personnel, neutralise them and thus allow the Point to accomplish its mission. 

    Beginning of the attack

    Normally, the Faces start the attack in order to better draw the fire and defenders of the strongpoint and facilitate the action of the Point but this principle is not absolute for, were it always so, the enemy would easily distinguish where the Face is (the side that opened fire first) and concentrate all his means on the point. This is why either the Point or the Face should start the attack.

    III. Application of the "One Point; Two Faces" tactics to attacks on fortified works

    Tactical preparation

    After having decided upon the plan of attack, the cadres instruct the troops in detail on the terrain, study the objective and the combat method to be used in this attack.

    Material preparation

    • Destruction armament : 75mm gun - 60mm or 120mm SKZ - explosives
    • Neutralisation armament : Mortars, machine guns and automatic rifles
    • Assault armament : Submachine guns and grenades
    • Crossing equipment : Ladders, woven bamboo mats, thick blankets, ropes, wire cutters, picks, shovels, etc.

    Organisation of forces

    a. The Point

    Three fifths of the participating units form the Point which is divided into five unequal cells :
    • Explosives cell or group which must destroy obstacles and blockhouses.
    • Ladders cell or group which must establish a crossing.
    • Fire cell or group which must neutralise the enemy and support the advance of the other groups.
    • Assault cell or group which must establish a breach or bridgehead then enter the outpost, reduce the defence and occupy the post.
    • Reserve cell or group which must be ready for surprises, the arrival of reinforcements for instance.
    Note : In cases where there is a secondary Point, it is organised and armed in exactly the same way as the primary Point which only has more cadres.

    The formation of the Point action is the arrow formation:

    b. The Faces

    The Faces have fewer men and are not split into cells. They are mainly armed with automatic weapons and rifles to neutralise the stronger points of the defence in order to allow the Point to accomplish its mission. It does not take part in the assault.

    IV. Application of the "One Point, Two Faces" tactics to mobile warfare


    It is necessary to seize the higher points or villages and push the enemy towards the plain or open terrain.
    a) In order to better observe the enemy and annihilate him easily,
    b) Because villages offer us secret emplacements, ease of movement and observation of the enemy which is in open terrain,
    c) It is necessary to divide the enemy in order to destroy him in detail, or at the least, neutralise the major part of his force to be able to destroy the rest.
    Example: If we are a battalion and the enemy is a battalion too, we must strive to divide the enemy in several parts and to smash one of them by an important concentration of Point means and to neutralise the others by lesser Faces means.

    A = Face, attract and neutralise the first two companies by fire.
    B = Point , annihilate the enemy's rear company.
    Note: One can also seek to mine the road or sabotage the bridge or use any other means to neutralise the major part of the enemy column for a determined length of time in order to allow the Point to accomplish its mission. 

    Remark: In mobile warfare, it is necessary to close with the enemy and seek hand-to-hand combat to avoid artillery and aviation bombardment.


    • Tactique et Procédés de Combat Vietminh, Etat du Vietnam, Ministère de la défense Nationale, Etat-Major Général, 2e Bureau, n°03273/TTM/2S, S.P. 1.002, 10 Avril 1953, pp. 79-85, SHAT 10H990

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