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Compound offensive operation in the war to safeguard the Homeland

To timely and effectively respond to modern wars, especially the enemy’s irregular warfare, we have been studying and improving military theory of strategic operations, including compound offensive operation, with a view to developing Viet Nam’s military art, contributing to firmly defending the Homeland in any situations.

Viet Nam’s 2018 Military Strategy has defined compound offensive operation as one form of strategic operations, which is likely to take place in the war to safeguard the Homeland. Compound offensive operation is a synergistic fusion of methods for establishing postures, use of forces and employing operational measures to annihilate and defeat domestic disruptive forces and foreign military intervention and is conducted through military operations in conjunction with struggle in political, economic, cultural, social, and diplomatic fronts, in which operational activities are the core. This operational modality is staged according to a unified intention and plan of the Politburo and the Central Military Commission (CMC) as well as the concentrated leadership, command and control of the Ministry of National Defence (MND) with the aim of engaging and destroying the majority of the enemy forces; crushing the newly-formed reactionary regime; and holding firm to key targets and areas to create conducive conditions for carrying out strategic operations to firmly maintain independence, sovereignty, and sociopolitical stability of the country. Compound offensive operation serves as the core of a concept of operations, which rules over the whole process of preparation and conduct of strategic operations. It occurs on a theatre of war or in a strategic direction and can be carried out intertwinedly with other forms of strategic operations in the war to safeguard the Homeland. This is a novel type of strategic operations to respond to emerging irregular warfare of the enemy.

Currently, according to military experts in the world, irregular warfare is the most feasible and effective form, which results in fewer casualties but still achieves the assigned objectives. They believe that irregular warfare is conducted to provide support to resistance movements or uprisings aimed to put pressure, sabotage or overthrow an administration or occupying force by means of coordinating operational activities between joint forces and local opposing forces (or by the local opposing forces alone) in a nation or region under the control of the opposing administration or occupying force. Irregular warfare is an option, which can be made at any phases of an operation and is regarded as a political, military instrument for achieving national strategic aims. As for Viet Nam, irregular warfare is launched by hostile forces when their strategies to incite “peaceful evolution,” “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” have shown certain outcomes. Given foreign militaries’ backing, the disruptive forces at home and abroad have become strong enough both politically and militarily and been able to realise their strategic goals. Special operations forces and allied forces have been ready to intervene in the crisis.

When the hostile forces conduct irregular warfare, they resort to a fusion of unarmed and armed methods, including “peaceful evolution,” riots, resistance movements or uprisings of the masses induced by internal reactionary forces and supported by foreign military intervention with a view to causing serious consequences in terms of politics, society, security, national defence, etc., thus putting pressure, paralysing and neutralising state management, eradicating the leading role of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV), and abolishing socialist regime in our country. To accomplish their objectives, they will attack and seize key strategic areas, call for international support, drive the country into civil war, establish a reactionary, secessionist administration. At the same time, they secretly make preparation and buildup of forces, seize opportunities to help exile armed reactionary groups infiltrate into Viet Nam to provoke political riots in conjunction with armed ones to attack and seize some key areas, establish a reactionary secessionist administration and call for international backing. The hostile forces abroad use this as a pretext to make military intervention, provide material support, launch air strikes against nationwide, use the special operations forces and exile reactionary forces to support the internal reactionary forces to lodge claims and call for international intervention.

Therefore, irregular warfare is the hostile forces’ new form of war of aggression waged against our country. To proactively repulse the risk of war and be prepared to defeat the enemy aggressive plots require units in the whole military, especially those in charge of strategic studies, to continue to research and elaborate on methods to deal with this novel form of warfare. Accordingly, the guiding thoughts for countering irregular warfare are offensive; to make full use of internal and external resources; creatively and flexibly apply forms of struggle, including military, politics, diplomacy, to generate overall power in wars to defeat any strategic plots and measures of the enemy, protecting the Party, State, people, national interests, and territorial sovereignty.

The compound offensive operation seeks to bring into play the posture of people’s war, which has been built on the basis of defence posture of provinces, cities, military regions, and mobile forces of the MND in the areas. It mobilises people to stage political protests and propaganda to induce defection of enemy troops to establish a posture of legal struggle while secretly moving armed forces to approach targets to form an offensive posture conducive to our forces. It is necessary to concentrate on striking major targets (reactionary, secessionist administration and defensive forces), closely combine engagement with the enemy inside and outside fortifications and uprisings of the masses and defeat the interventionist forces through battles and operations at appropriate scales. In compound offensive operation, there needs to flexibly apply operational methods; take the main force’s operations as the key; inextricably link military operations with political, economic, diplomatic struggle; mobilise people to abandon the reactionary force; vanquish the enemy’s combat and non-combat activities; rebuild local authorities and unions; and take opportunities to proactively terminate the war in our favour.

Compound offensive operation has the following fundamental connotations:

The establishment of posture is an extremely important content, which is of practical value not only in the history of struggle for national defence but also in the liberation war and the wars to defend Southwest border and Northern border of the Homeland. Today, posture has become increasingly vital and an indispensable element in any types of operations of the military art of Vietnamese people’s war. The combination of the military force’s operational posture and the political force’s struggle posture is a guiding principle in the formation of the compound offensive operation posture. The specific posture of compound offensive operation includes the postures of deployment and disposition of the armed forces in defence zones of provinces, cities and military regions as well as enlightened people in the areas. These postures are built since peacetime, materialised according to operational plans in each theater of war and strategic direction, and perfected when the war breaks out. This factor plays a proactive and active role in establishing the foundation for us to conduct compound offensive operation.

Organisation and employment of forces is a crucial content, which decides the success or failure of operational plans in general, compound offensive operation in particular; defeats the strategic schemes of the enemy; and directly triumphs over the enemy’s type of operations in irregular warfare. Should the war to safeguard the Homeland occur, we need to creatively apply the art of posture establishment and use of forces to conduct people’s war in the national history of fighting against foreign aggressors, most notably the wars led by the CPV and President Ho Chi Minh in the 20th century. In compound offensive operation, attention should be paid to inextricably combining on-site force and the mobile one because these two basic elements are unique features of Vietnamese people’s war.

To defeat the enemy’s irregular warfare in a theater of war or specific strategic direction by means of compound offensive operation requires us to apply a fusion of strategic operations such as cyber operations, countering enemy fire, electronic warfare, the war to safeguard seas and islands, and strategic defensive, counterattack and offensive operations. These forms of operations do not occur separately but concurrently, consecutively, and one after the other in theaters of war or strategic directions. These types of operations are also conducted concurrently with diplomatic, political and economic struggle of forces in the areas and provincial, municipal defence zones in particular, of the whole political system in general. This is a unique characteristic of compound offensive operation.

Regarding the combination of military operations and other forms of struggle, it is necessary to take advantage of a just war to mobilise socio-political organisations at home and abroad, media outlets in a close conjunction with the special propaganda force to propagandise and encourage all people nationwide, progressive and peace-loving people in the world, particularly overseas Vietnamese, to support and actively participate in the just war. This combination greatly affects psychology, causes anxiety, sows division, and weakens enemy morale, contributing to heightening spirit and resolve of the whole people and armed forces. The combination of military struggle and struggle on other fronts generate new power for compound offensive operation. Besides, the close conjunction of political attacks, encouragement of enemy defection and surrender, battles and operations and struggle on the diplomatic, economic, cultural, ideological fronts serve to expose the enemy’s political plots and demagogic tricks, especially those of the reactionary, secessionist administration in the areas and provincial, municipal defence zones. There needs to actively propagandise people to raise their awareness of the justice of the war and persuade families of enemy troops and those working for the reactionary administration to join the revolutionary administration.

To effectively realise fundamental contents of compound offensive operation in the war to safeguard the Homeland requires us to deeply perceive and successfully implement some major solutions, including: (i) proactively forecasting operational plans and developing operational plan of compound offensive operation; (ii) building and strengthening elements and forces of political system at grass-roots levels with a focus on building pure, strong Party organisations; (iii) making authorities at all levels truly belong to the people, come from the people, and serve the people; (iv) building robust provincial, municipal defence zones; and (v) training to improve qualification, competence and ability to command and control operations of all forces.

The aforementioned solutions are inextricably entwined with one another to form an overall, comprehensive, systematic, scientific, logical structure in order to realise contents of compound offensive operation, in which the human factor is extremely important and plays a decisive role in organising and executing operations with the aim to defeat the opponent to firmly preserve sacred sovereignty and territories of the Homeland.

Senior Lieutenant General, Doctor Phan Van Giang, Member of the Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission’s Standing Committee, Chief of General Staff, Viet Nam People’s Army, and Deputy Minister of National Defence

 

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