Vo Nguyen Giap (1912- ) is a Vietnamese military commander most revered for his role in liberating Vietnam from French colonial rule. Giap also led the armies of North Vietnam during the war against the Americans and the South. Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, he has served as Vietnam's minister of defense and as deputy prime minister.
In 1954, General Giap led the Viet Minh army in the decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu, crushing French colonial forces and bringing an end to the Franco-Vietnamese War. After the war, Giap remained commander in chief of the People's Army of Vietnam. He was largely responsible for the 1968 Tet Offensive, a major catastrophe in which Giap lost some 37,000 fighters. Still, his campaign proved to the United States that Communist forces remained aggressively determined to achieve victory.