During the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese Popular Force
) consisted of local militias that protected their home villages from attacks by first National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF, or Vietcong
) forces and later by People's Army of Vietnam units. Originally called the Civil Guard and the Self-Defense Corps, they were integrated into the Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...
in 1964 and placed under the command of the Joint General Staff. The Popular Force was one of two broad groups of militia, the other being the Regional Force
During the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese Regional Forces were roughly akin to militias. Recruited locally, they fell into two broad groups - Regional Forces and Popular Forces . During the early 1960's the Regional Forces manned the country-wide outpost system and defended critical points, such...
s (địa phương quân
). Abbreviated as RFPFs, the American forces referred to both groups as "Ruff-Puffs".
From 1965-1969, the ARVN took over most security operations as the Americans and other allies fought the main force war against the PAVN and NLF. When U.S. forces began to withdraw in 1969, the ARVN took on the task of fighting the communists, the Regional Forces and Popular Forces took on new importance. For the first time, they were deployed outside their home areas and were sometimes attached to ARVN units.
By 1973 the Popular forces consisted of 8,186 platoons. Charged primarily with local defense, they were too lightly armed and equipped to withstand attacks by PAVN units supported by tanks and artillery. They were overwhelmed during the Ho Chi Minh Campaign
The Hồ Chí Minh Campaign was the final title applied to a series of increasingly large-scale and ambitious offensive operations by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam which began on 13 December 1974...
of 1975 and effectively dissolved.