Bachdang River

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The Bach Dang River 白藤江 empties into the Bay of Tonkin a few kms north of Haiphong in northern Vietnam. it is a wide but shallow river, with vast swatches of mud exposed twice a day at low tide. The Vietnamese made brilliant tactical use of this tidal reality in three famous battles against Chinese invaders in 938, 981 and 1288. In all three cases the Vietnames prevailed over much larger Chinese armies. (See 'Battles of Bachdang' for details.)

"Marshal Tran Hung Dao, then leader of the Vietnamese forces (1288) and a sort of Far Eastern Clausewitz in his own right, defined his tactics in words which might well have been used by his Communist compatriot Giap seven centuries later:

'The enemy must fight his battles far from his home base for a long time.....We must further weaken him by drawing him into protracted campaigns. Once his initial dash is broken, it will be easier to destroy him.'"

From Bernard Fall's book on the French Vietnam War, Street Without Joy.

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