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Ho Chi Minh’s thought on building the all-people national defence

Building the all-people national defence represents a core element in Ho Chi Minh’s military thought and a valuable lesson drawn from revolutionary reality. Thus, it should be further studied and applied to the current cause of building and safeguarding the Homeland.

Ho Chi Minh’s thought on building the all-people national defence is the flexible application of Marxism-Leninism, the inheritance and development of tradition and experience in the history of national building and protection, as well as the acquisition of the world’s quintessence to Vietnam’s revolutionary condition. That thought was formed, developed and tested in the two resistance wars against the French Colonialists and US Imperialists, greatly contributing to mobilizing all possible resources, creating the synergy to prevent and readily defeat wars of aggression. And it continues to prove its eternal values in today’s cause of national reform, construction and protection.

According to Ho Chi Minh, building the all-people national defence serves as an objective demand of the working class and the country to firmly protect the revolutionary fruits and maintain the operations of a proletarian dictatorship government. Perceiving the V.I. Lenin’s viewpoint: a revolution remains valuable only when it knows how to defend itself, and basing on the realities of our fledgling government (1945), President Ho Chi Minh stated that: “our country has just gained the independence and will have to undergo difficult steps to consolidate national freedom and independence. Therefore, our people, young or old, must shoulder this burden”. During his process of leading the Vietnamese revolution, he regularly said that “we must spare no efforts to protect the Homeland and peace; thereby, we must strengthen national defence…”, and make it, especially the military, strong and powerful enough to suppress acts of sabotage, maintain security for the people; and that the military must always maintain readiness to combat and triumph over all invaders.

Uncle Ho talks with the people at Tan Trao communal house in 1961(file photo)

He thought that national defence is to defend the Homeland. Applying the Marxist-Leninist viewpoints on “revolution is the cause of the masses” and the whole people’s armament, and inheriting typical thoughts in the national history on building the national defence in which “all families are soldiers”, and “the whole country and people as one fight the enemy”, Ho Chi Minh clearly stated: we must build the comprehensive, all-people national defence as evidenced by his Appeal for National Resistance of 1946: “Men and women, old and young, regardless of creeds, political parties, or nationalities, all the Vietnamese must stand up to fight the French colonialists to save the Fatherland”. He believed that taking part in resistance war for national protection is the responsibility of every citizen, locality, sector and force. He added that although children are not responsible for that burden, outside class, they should participate in National Salvation Associations to get used to military life and do light work in support of national defence. Ho Chi Minh placed emphasis on building strong people’s armed forces in both political and military terms as the core to perform defence and security task and safeguard the new regime. He demanded: “it is necessary to consolidate the political and military work for our troops, to raise their political consciousness and improve tactics and techniques as well as self-discipline, making ours a true army of the people”. It means that we should build a politically, militarily strong army, with importance attached to enhancing capabilities of techniques, tactics and self-discipline, ensuring that the military possesses great combat strength and absolute loyalty to the Party and socialist regime’s goals and ideal, and protect the people’s life and property. It should be noted that during the resistance war against the US Imperialists, for national salvation, he paid special attention to building the militia and self-defence forces. He said: “self-defence means protecting yourself, your family, your hometown, and then your country. We must prevent all the threats”. To improve the effectiveness of local defence and military work, he directed authorities at all levels to assign a commissioner in charge of military work to “promote self-defence to ensure safety for the people, arm and train the people, encourage them to engage in guerrilla warfare against invaders”. He believed that guerrilla and militia forces not only aim to maintain political security and social order, and collaborate with active forces during operations, but serve as high-quality human resource for the military when necessary. According to Ho Chi Minh, the comprehensive national defence must be built on the country’s spiritual and material potential and its all field (politics, economics, military, culture, society, diplomacy, etc.), with emphasis placed on building political and spiritual potential and people’s revolutionary authorities at all levels. In his call for the entire people to go to the polls, Ho Chi Minh stated: “politically, the people use their vote to fight against the enemy. One vote is as powerful as a bullet… Those who are elected must spare no efforts to sustain national independence and compatriots’ happiness”. Moreover, Ho Chi Minh placed emphasis on building economic potential to serve the resistance war. He pointed out: to win the war against the French colonialists, we should have a strong economy. Economic factor decides the country’s defence strength. To increase economic potential, it is necessary to develop all sectors of the national economy, such as industry, agriculture, trade, transportation, finance, banking, etc., with a focus on mobilizing all possible economic resources for the resistance war. At the same time, it is important to closely combine economy with national defence. In his opinion, this is a valuable lesson as the principle “national building must be associated with national protection”.

Besides building and developing the force of the all-people national defence, with the people’s armed forces as the core, Ho Chi Minh attached great importance to building the all-people national defence posture, particularly in the areas of central strategic importance (mountainous areas, sea and islands). He said: mountainous areas are very important to national defence. Therefore, it is crucial to consolidate national defence and maintain security to quickly annihilate the enemy’s rangers and foil hostile forces’ schemes. Certainly, this is mainly the responsibility of the military, border guard, and guerrilla force. However, the whole Party and people are also responsible for this work”. He directed that the process of building the all-people national defence posture must be closely combined with the building of the people’s security posture in order to meet the requirements of fighting against wars of aggression for national independence and sovereignty, to maintain security, politics, social order, and to strengthen security and defence.

At present, to preserve the ideological base of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’s thought, we should fight to protect, continue to study, and flexibly apply it to the country’s condition, focusing on applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to building strong all-people national defence. To this end, we must take the measures as follows.

1. Innovating and improving the efficiency of defence and security education for the whole people, creating a profound change in cadres, party members and people’s awareness and responsibility towards the task of national protection. During the process of education, due regard should be paid to introducing and implementing the Politburo’s Directive No.5 (12th tenure) on acceleration of studying and following Ho Chi Minh’s thought, ethics and lifestyle.

2. Continuing to speed up the building of all-people national defence posture in association with that of people’s security posture, with a focus on building comprehensively strong provincial, municipal defensive zones, gradually creating joint, uniform defensive posture in each region, area, and nationwide. At present, great importance should be attached to building strong “people’s hearts and minds” posture right at grass-roots levels as the basis for building the all-people national defence and the people’s security.

3. Building strong people’s armed forces as the core in building the all-people national defence. Due attention should be paid to building revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern People’s Army, large and powerful reserve force, and strong, diffuse militia and self-defence forces, meeting the requirements of national protection in the new situation. At the same time, it is vital to encourage the masses to take part in the national protection task, particularly in the areas of utmost importance, such as border areas, seas and islands.

4. Closely combining economy, culture and society with defence, security and diplomacy in the context of the country’s deep and broad integration into the world. This is an objective demand that should be handled properly in each step and period of development of the country. There is a need for a consensus of awareness and thorough management of the relationship between economics, culture, society and defence, security, and diplomacy in the cause of national protection, especially when we participate in global trade activities. Last but not least, it is important to gain a head start by taking a shortcut to make Vietnam really sustainable politically, socially and build its diverse culture imbued with national identity, robust economy, and strong national defence and security on the path of international integration.

Associate Professor Nguyen Vinh Thang, PhD  

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