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Improving the quality of strategic forecasting in national defence and security

Strategic forecasting is one of the most fundamental contents in strategic research and planning and a key characteristic of strategic thinking. Correct forecasting provides a scientific foundation for our Party to map out sound revolutionary guidelines. In contrast, wrong forecasting will pose risk to national security, national interests, or even the life and death of the regime.

History of the Communist Party of Viet Nam is glorious pages about leadership of revolutions, most notably strategic forecasting in the wars of liberation and today’s national construction and defence. In fact, wrongdoing in strategic forecast is profoundly serious, but it is even more critical to deliver a wrong strategy.

Strategic forecasting has drawn proper attention of the Party, State, Central Military Commission (CMC), and Ministry of National Defence (MND). It has been conducted seriously and gained positive outcomes in all fields, especially in national defence, military, and security. Nevertheless, beside recorded achievements, strategic forecasting also has many limitations. The 13th Party Congress has made clear that “situation awareness and strategic forecasting about national defence and security are not truly proactive sometimes.” One of the lessons to be learned from previous terms is to “take initiative in studying and correctly grasping situations without falling into surprise.” Consequently, to further study and perceive directions and missions of national defence and security specified at the 13th Party Congress requires improving quality of strategic forecasting, first and foremost the following contents.

Understanding of strategic forecasting

Forecasting in the military field is “to determine and work out scientific bases for the future development prospects of the armed forces, military technology, military art, processes and endings of potential wars.” Thus, forecasting in general and strategic forecasting in particular is the realisation of future work, which is very difficult and complex. Strategic forecasting in the military, national defence, and security is much harder and more complex because it depends on typical features of military, defence, and security activities themselves. These fields are strictly protected; thus it is very difficult and sensitive to grasp. Incorrect forecasting will lead to unforeseeable consequences. Strategic forecasting in these fields directly affects not only national interests but also relations in the region and the world. Therefore, those who undertake this work must be “scholarly” and far-sighted in order to meet the demands of forecasting in general and strategic forecasting in particular.

Requirements for improving quality of forecasting

First, forecasting must be objective, honest without constraint and cover both positive and negative factors, opportunities and challenges, advantages and disadvantages, especially the potential perils. Second, forecasting must ensure high accuracy, which means that the forecasting results must be scientifically reliable and on the basis of scientific, close, appropriate methodologies. The more accurate forecasting is, the more valuable it is. Third, forecasting must stick fast to realities and reach the strategic level. Forecasting thinking is necessarily the practical one and closely follows present situation, revolutionary requirements, and missions. Forecasting outcomes must demonstrate far-sighted visions and have influence on fundamental issues of the revolution and national interests. Fourth, in the military, national defence, security aspects, strategic forecasting must be suitable for typical features of military, defence, security activities and ruled over by these activities. Forecasting must be clearly goal-oriented, or aim to develop strategies in military, national defence, and security terms.

Some measures to promote quality of strategic forecasting

To improve quality of strategic forecasting, first and foremost, requires thorough, serious grasp of the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policies and law, ensuring firm maintenance of political orientation in forecasting work. Accordingly, short-term missions are specified in 5-year plans of Party congresses. The medium-term missions are defined in 10-year socio-economic development plan. Meanwhile the long-term missions are the ones for 2030 with a vision to 2045. Besides, theoretical research and practical summation are to be enhanced with a view to providing arguments and scientific grounds to forecasting work. The 13th Party Congress specified that practical summation and theoretical research have not been paid due regard, lacked synergy, and failed to meet requirements. Some new, difficult, complex issues have not been clarified. Therefore, it is necessary to step up practical summation, theoretical research, and improve theoretical system regarding socialism and the path to socialism in Viet Nam. Special importance must be attached to renewing theoretical thinking and promoting practical summation, theoretical research to elucidate emerging issues about today’s socialism, including socialist-oriented economy, building of the all-people national defence and people’s security, guideline on people’s warfare to safeguard the Homeland, etc., in order to provide scientific bases to high-quality strategic forecasting. Strategic forecasting must be comprehensive but focus on key areas, core issues of strategies needed to be developed, particularly main challenges to political stability, socio-economic development, strengthening of national defence and security, and so on. Outcomes of forecasting must be updated with newest situations relating to strategies needed to be forecasted and represent strategic breakthroughs capable of turning the strategies into a positive direction. Forecasting contents are necessarily at the strategic level and of great value to national interests with a long-term vision.

Contents of strategic forecasting usually cover issues pertaining to developments of regional, international situations, domestic security and politics, the economy, society, foreign relations, military and defence missions. As for security, it is important to forecast hostile forces’ new schemes and acts of sabotage, especially the strategy of “peaceful evolution,” subversive disturbance, secessionist disturbance, and so forth. As far as internal issues are concerned, it is necessary to predict clearly matters relating to “self-evolution,” “self-transformation,” internal solidarity, purity of the corps of cadres, corruption, people’s confidence, and possibilities of forming opposition political forces to make sudden changes politically in order to “take measures and timely respond to adverse factors, especially those potentially causing sudden changes. In terms of military and national defence, attention must be paid to predicting challenges to national defence, national defence situations, and types of warfare. Forecasting must be comprehensive, but concentrate on key issues and flashpoints, particularly those regarding protection of independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity at sea, islands, cyberspace, and the borders under the motto of “proactively preventing the risk of wars and conflicts from afar” as well as political security situation in the Northwest, Central Highlands, and Southwest, factors potentially leading to subversive riot, secessionist disturbance, conflicts and wars at seas, on islands, on the borders, in cyberspace, and so on. During the cause of national construction and defence, attention should be paid to forecasting effects of non-traditional security challenges, notably natural disasters, calamities, epidemics, terrorism, trafficking, transnational crimes.

Strategic forecasting is aimed to map out strategies. Consequently, forecasting contents must follow closely key contents of strategies to be developed. Furthermore, capacity to formulate strategies of the corps of cadres must be enhanced. The 13th Party Congress emphasises that cadre work must be truly “the key of the key.” It is necessary to focus on equipping the corps of cadres at all levels, especially those at the strategic level, with needed qualities, capacity, and prestige on a par with missions.” Additionally, achievements of science and technology should be applied extensively in forecasting.

Another important issue is the close coordination and collaboration among bodies in charge of strategic studies and strict compliance with the process of strategic studies and prediction. Attention is paid to the collection and processing of information, close combination between operations of the central body and those of concerning units and bringing into play the role and responsibility of leaders in identifying major issues of strategic forecasting and main contents of strategies to be formulated. The reason for this lies in the fact that strategies represent the utmost willpower, determination, intelligence, qualities, and steadfastness of strategic leaders and commanders, especially the leading ones. The 13th Party Congress affirms the importance of giving prominence to responsibility of the leading cadres in connection with leveraging integrated strength of the political system and upholding rules and law. Responsibility of the central body is to be enhanced to ensure that it is capable of proposing main forecasting contents and taking advantage of intelligence of relevant bodies to put forth complete, high-quality strategic predictions.

Strategic thinking, especially the thinking on forecasting defence and security strategies, is an exceedingly difficult task, which requires wits, flexibility, and intelligence to analyse and evaluate quickly and correctly situations. This serves to make timely, correct predictions for our Party and State to set out revolutionary guidelines on national construction and defence. Consequently, this corps of cadres are required to firmly grasp fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, and historical experience, be good at analysing the present, acquire quintessence of the world, combine issues of the nation and the age harmoniously, and forecast regional, international strategic issues relating to Viet Nam so as to assist the Party in mapping out strategic guidelines on the military, national defence, and protection of the Homeland in a sound, effective manner.

Lieutenant General, Assoc Prof, Dr. TRAN THAI BINH

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