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Saturday, May 19, 2018, 16:27 (GMT+7)
Measures to promote the role of organs responsible for defence diplomacy today

Defence diplomacy represents an important part of our Party’s external affairs, contributing to maintaining peace and stability for the country’s development. To enhance the effectiveness of this work, due attention should be paid to promoting the role of organs responsible for defence diplomacy.

The system of organs responsible for defence diplomacy in the Military includes the Department of Foreign Relations, offices and committees for foreign affairs under general departments, military regions, services, corps, Border Guard, Coast Guard, and offices and committees for foreign affairs under military-run enterprises, economic-defence corps, and several academies and universities. Moreover, a number of units assign cadres to this work. This is the core force in counselling, directing, and implementing the Party’s line on military and defence diplomacy. The sphere of defence diplomacy is large while its task is sensitive and directly relevant to status, prestige, and honour of the Military, the country and the people of Vietnam in the international arena. Therefore, in addition to cadres’ knowledge, political acumen and diplomatic skills, defence diplomacy operations at all levels must be conducted carefully, closely, flexibly.

Adhering to the diplomatic line by the Party, the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Ministry of National Defence (MND), particularly the policy of independence, self-reliance, no military alliances, and no reliance on any country to combat others, over the past time, organs responsible for defence diplomacy have advised the CMC and the MND on assisting the Party and the State in leading, directing and implementing this work. Up to now, Vietnam has established defence relations with over 80 countries and territories, and offices of defence attaché in 34 countries while 45 countries have founded offices of defence attaché in our country. A great deal of bilateral and multilateral documents on military and defence cooperation have been signed. Diplomatic activities, such as Vietnam-China border defence exchanges, land and maritime border joint patrols, and cooperation on education and training, military science and technology with partners, have witnessed the increasingly in-depth, practical developments. Vietnam has  sufficiently fulfilled its commitment to organizing the peacekeeping forces to take part in the UN peacekeeping missions; greatly contributed to international and regional defence and security conferences and forums, such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), etc. It is obvious to say that defence diplomacy serves as an important channel which has contributed to defending national independence, sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity, and interests, and raising role and status of the country and the Military in the international arena.

However, there still exist weaknesses in those organs’ implementation of this task. More specifically, the work of research, anticipation and counselling has yet to catch up with the complex developments of the global and regional situation. Task performance by organizations and individuals has yet to meet the requirements of military and defence integration. Collaboration on information exchange and organization of defence diplomacy-related activities between sectors, offices, localities, and relevant forces has yet to be close, timely, and effective. To overcome the above-mentioned weaknesses and enhance the quality and effectiveness of defence diplomacy of those organs, it is necessary to take measures synchronously, with a focus on the following.

First, regularly consolidating the organizational structure of all-level military organs responsible for defence diplomacy. This is a matter of importance to the quality and effectiveness of counselling and performing the task of defence diplomacy at each level. Thus, organs responsible for defence diplomacy should be regularly consolidated quantitatively and qualitatively and made capable of this important task in the new situation. Grounded in the MND’s line on the adjustment of organizational structure, organs at each level should proactively build and consolidate their staff in charge of defence diplomacy in an “elite, lean, flexible” manner. Besides, it is important to reduce the strength of the intermediaries; prioritize force and means for units in charge of external affairs in border, sea and island areas as well as special tasks; supplement and build new criteria concerning functions and tasks; combine the consolidation of organizational structure with the building of party committee members and key cadres of each office and units responsible for defence diplomacy. At the same time, it is vital to closely combine the work of ideology with the works of organization, personnel, and policy. The adjustment of organizational structure must be carried out in conformity with regulations, with emphasis placed on the quality of the staff, ensuring that they are capable of counselling, leading, directing and successfully organizing activities of defence diplomacy in the new situation.

Second, focusing on improving the virtues and professional competence of the staff in charge of defence diplomacy. Like other fields, the effectiveness of defence diplomacy is mainly decided by the staff in charge of this work. Thus, in addition to improving the virtues, it is necessary to synchronously adopt measures for management and training of cadres in charge of defence diplomacy, ensuring that they meet the mission requirements and always maintain readiness to undertake and successfully fulfil the assigned task. To do so, cadres in charge of defence diplomacy must be made politically steadfast and clear-headed, and absolutely loyal to the Party, the Homeland and the people, while ceaselessly improving their knowledge and fieldwork capability, thoroughly grasping the Party’s diplomatic line and viewpoints on partners and adversaries, having a good command of foreign languages, culture, tradition, situation and science in line with the development of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and being cautious, clever and flexible in settling the situations. To meet those requirements, each office and unit responsible for defence diplomacy should seriously take steps to plan, cultivate, train, retrain, select and use cadres, particularly party committee members, key cadres and leaders of organizations. In this regard, it is necessary to take political qualities, fieldwork capabilities and task performance as criteria for assessing and using cadres properly; to resolutely overcome oversimplification and underestimation of criteria for selecting and assigning defence diplomacy cadres. It is vital to regularly hold training courses to improve cadres’ knowledge on basic skills in diplomacy, Ho Chi Minh’s diplomatic thought and style, the Party and the State’s diplomatic line, dos and don’ts of communication and relations with partners in order to make them confidently undertake and successfully fulfil the assigned task. Also, it is important to promote defence diplomacy cadres’ proactiveness and self-improvement in terms of virtues and professional competence, particularly diplomatic skills, while significance should be attached to self-study, fieldwork capability, and knowledge on languages, history, culture, tradition, and defence of partner countries.

Third, promoting the role of organs responsible for defence diplomacy in counselling, directing and implementing the task. Grounded in assigned function, task and authority, defence diplomacy organs at all levels should actively study, anticipate and grasp the global and regional situation and relevant partners’ situation to advise the Party, the State, the CMC and the MND on the guidelines and policies regarding international integration and defence diplomacy in accordance with the country’s condition and mainstream of the times, while promoting the role of the system of party organizations, commands, and commanders at all levels in comprehending and implementing the guidelines on defence diplomacy at their level. It is necessary to closely cooperate with diplomatic organs of the Party, the State and localities, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Industry and Trade, press agencies and so on in discussing content and measures and organizing activities related to delegation exchanges, border defence exchanges, land and marine joint patrol, exercises on combating terrorism and transnational crime, cooperation on military science, training and defence industry, and organization of the force to take part in the UN peacekeeping operation. At the same time, due attention should be paid to carrying out the work of internal political protection, appraising documents and personnel of visiting delegation of partners and our country, and opportunely detecting, preventing and combating the acts of using cooperation and diplomacy to sabotage our country.

Fourth, paying due regard to working condition and material-mental life of cadres and organs responsible for defence diplomacy. Party committees, commanders and functional agencies at their level should lead, direct and counsell investment in consolidating and building their headquarters (at home and abroad) in accordance with the particularities of defence diplomacy, while providing adequate facilities, means and modern technical equipment to meet the mission requirements. During the process of using facilities, it is necessary to strictly comply with regulations on security, particularly information technology devices such as computers and cell phones. Moreover, due attention should be paid to ensuring entitlements and policies for  cadres in charge of defence diplomacy, improving their material and mental life, and successfully implementing policies for cadres’ family.

Promoting the role of organs responsible for defence diplomacy in the Military represents a matter of importance and urgency. The measures mentioned above are only preliminary suggestions to implement the guidelines on “closely combining defence, security and diplomacy; strengthening international cooperation on defence and security”, contributing to building and defending the Socialist Homeland of Vietnam.

Sr. Col. Le Van Duy, National Defence Academy

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