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Applying Vietnamese military art experiences and tradition to teaching and learning in the Army Academy

Vietnamese military art is a unique national cultural value which has been formed, built up, preserved, inherited, and promoted throughout the country’s history. Thus, it is critically important to step up the work of reviewing and summarising Vietnamese military art experiences and tradition into specific, practical lessons to include in teaching and learning so that learners could develop their way of thinking and military vision.

Thoroughly grasping and strictly implementing the Party’s viewpoints and ideology on education as well as the resolutions and directives by the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence (MND), particularly the 11th Party Central Committee’s Resolution No.8 on “a fundamental and comprehensive reform in education and training to meet the requirements set by industrialisation and modernisation in the conditions of a socialist-oriented market economy,” over the years, the Army Academy has earned many encouraging achievements in its education and training task. It should be noted that the Academy has kept reviewing and summarising Vietnam’s military art experiences and tradition into specific, practical lessons to include in teaching and learning in accordance with new combat conditions of the war for defending the Homeland. Doing so has enabled learners to have a good command of historical experiences and lessons and comprehend modern military theories. At the same time, they have been equipped with basic knowledge of Vietnamese military art so that they could cement their faith in victory and their national pride and apply to their learning at the Academy and their work after graduation.

However, the application of Vietnamese military art to teaching and learning, particularly in some faculties has yet to be comprehensive or synchronous. Several instructors have yet to be enthusiastic about studying and applying Vietnam’s military art to their lectures. The content, program, form, and method of teaching and educating of Vietnamese military art and tradition have yet to be drastically renewed. Those weaknesses have greatly impacted on the Academy’s quality of education and training. The main reason is that a number of cadres, instructors, and learners have yet to be fully aware of the value of Vietnamese military art. Besides, the education of Vietnamese military art tradition has yet to be flexibly combined with new knowledge.

The principles and lessons drawn from the wars are invaluable and could be promoted, developed and made relevant to the new conditions of the war for the Homeland defence. Currently, in peacetime, many officers have not experienced wars yet; therefore, the sharing of combat experiences and the education of military art tradition represent a matter of urgency in both long and short terms. To apply Vietnam’s military art experiences and tradition to teaching and learning at the Army Academy, it is necessary to focus on the main measures as follows.

First, stepping up the work of propagation and education to render cadres, instructors, and learners fully aware of the importance of encouraging Vietnamese military art tradition in education, training, and scientific research. The education and promotion of traditional military art are aimed at equipping learners with basic initial knowledge, improving their military knowledge, and making them clearly understand principles relating to military activities as the basis for acquiring new knowledge to apply to tactical forms, types of campaigns, and other subjects. Sharing practical experiences to improve military knowledge provides an important basis for developing modern military and it is the most effective teaching method to enhance cadres’ professional competence after their graduation. This also provides a solid foundation for the Academy’s instructors, scientists, and postgraduate learners to study, teach, and propose new developments of military art. Therefore, faculties and learner management units should frequently carry out the work of propagation and education to raise instructors and learners’ awareness of the importance of Vietnamese military art experiences and tradition to their study and research. Grounded on their function and task, departments, faculties, and learner management units should develop their own action programs/plans for this work. They should attach significance to enhancing instructors’ qualification and knowledge of military art and their method of integrating knowledge of military art into lectures and scientific researches. Additionally, it is necessary to bring into play instructors and learners’ proactiveness and creativity to apply military art experences and tradition to their study and researches at the Academy.

Second, attaching great value to renewing the teaching content, form, and method associated with promoting Vietnamese military art tradition, actively undertaking researches on combat history and experiences. Based on the curriculum set by the MND, the Academy’s faculties and its Department of Training should focus on studying, adjusting, and supplementing new points. As the Academy has various groups of learners, it is necessary to develop textbooks, lectures, and exercises properly and flexibly apply our Military’s combat art experiences to each lecture. In this regard, importance should attached to including the education of military tradition and history in specific subjects and particularly introducing war precedents before forms of tactics and types of campaigns are taught. To that end, the Academy should raise the quality of teaching Military Art History, increase the duration for this subject in accordance with each group of learners, and transform it into a compulsory subject for all groups of learners, including domestic and foreign, staff command, and postgraduate ones. As for other relevant subjects, each faculty’s dean must be responsible for approving war precedents and combat experiences which are included in lectures by instructors.

For the work of scientific research and textbook compilation, competent offices, particularly the Department of Military Science and the Department of Military Science Information should provide advice about and directions for scientific researches and compilation of documents on combat history and experiences on a yearly basis. Documents and books on combat history and experiences must be compiled elaborately and qualitatively. They must be an important source of documents for cadres, instructors, and learners to study and apply to their teaching, researches, dissertations, and theses which could be used across the Military.

Third, closely combining training with the sharing of combat experiences and considering traditional military art as the most significant foundation for scientific researches. To do so, faculties should attach importance to following the Academy’s training and education mottos: “learn what is needed on the battlefield, stay close to and serve the purpose of combat, and apply the nation’s combat experiences” and “make a close association between the Academy and units, combine theory with practice, attach importance to the practical quality and effectiveness, and align training with scientific research.” Instructors’ lectures must include lessons on our Military and nation’s combat history and experiences. Due regard should be paid to citing effective battles in the war as the testimony to new theoretical issues presented by instructors. Although military art experiences and lessons in the previous wars are partly irrelevant to the characteristics of each historical period, they always serve as an important practical basis for new proposals. Besides, the Academy should invite generals with feats of arms in the war against the U.S. and the wars for the Homeland defence to give talks and share their combat experiences in order to raise its learners’ awareness of Vietnamese military art tradition and build up determination to fulfil the task of study and self-improvement. Learners’ scientific researches, dissertations, and theses must be based on hands-on experiences and use combat experiences in the previous wars as the testimony and basis for their future proposals.

Fourth, frequently organising internships and hands-on research activities for cadres, instructors, and learners. To narrow the gap between theory and practice, the Academy should regularly organise visits to units within the entire Military so that learners could study the terrain and area in which battles and campaigns took place in the previous national liberation wars, the Military’s new weapons and technical equipment, and units’ experiences in training, combat readiness, and their building of provincial and district-level defensive zones. Learners from long-term courses must be dispatched to hold positions at military units. Doing so will help learners to get accustomed to holding the leading and commanding positions at units, learn from experiences of units’ leaders and commanders, apply their knowledge acquired at the Academy to their work at units, and broaden their mind during their study and work process. Moreover, it is also essential to arrange visits to units for cadres and instructors on summer vacations and dispatch them to military units so as to exchange experiences in teaching and training, managing, and commanding troops between the Academy and these units. Doing so will enable cadres and instructors to supplement and improve their method of teaching military art, make their lectures more attractive and feasible, and raise the quality of their teaching and scientific research.

Our present-day war for the Homeland defence (if occurred) will be a just fight against the enemy’s aggression and an all-people, comprehensive struggle in which the national great unity and Vietnamese military art and tradition will be promoted; therefore, we must have proper strategies and postures, while adopting the method of combining traditional combat with modern combat. It can’t be denied as a rule that “the strong shall live and the weak shall die.” Our country and Military defeated the enemies with our synergy and unique military art. For that reason, the Army Academy will always attach significance to educating and promoting Vietnam’s military art and tradition as its consistent training and education direction, valuable lessons, and glorious tradition to make contributions to constructing and defending the Socialist Vietnamese Homeland together with the whole Party, Military, and people.

Sr. Col., Associate Prof. Nguyen Trong Sy, PhD, Army Academy

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