Saturday, November 18, 2017, 02:20 (GMT+7)

Saturday, September 02, 2017, 08:55 (GMT+7)
On leadership and command in strategic operations in the war to safeguard the Fatherland

The summation of strategic operations in the two wars of resistance against the French colonialists and American imperialists for the 1945-1975 period affirmed that “the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) had organized and led the whole people and armed forces in the wars of resistance, and brought into play the great strength of people and the revolutionary masses to achieve victories. That served as the basis for the victory of the art of strategic operations.” This constitutes a precious lesson, which calls for further study and employment in the war to safeguard the Fatherland (if occurred).

Liberation wars and wars to safeguard the Fatherland in the world, especially our two wars of resistance against France and the United States of America, have revealed that strategic operations has to resolve a series of major, important issues of warfare, with leadership and command as the first. That is a whole range of policies and measures on the establishment of an organizational structure and identification of content, forms, and methods of leadership and command in close association with other activities on national and theater levels according to a unified plan in order to bring into play the synthesized strength of the whole people to defeat the enemy’s types of strategic operations and accomplish strategic goals for each period of time and the whole war. These policies and measures are laid down by the Politburo, and Defence and Security Council, first and foremost the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Ministry of National Defence (MND).

In the war to safeguard the Fatherland, strategic leadership and command must be under the Party’s absolute and direct leadership in all areas, and aim to satisfy six fundamental demands: (i) competence in successfully accomplishing the missions of strategic operations in any conditions; (ii) concentration and high consensus; (iii) proactiveness, determination, frequency, continuity, firmness, secrecy, and safety; (iv) in line with types of strategic operations employed in people’s war to safeguard the Fatherland; (v) flexible organization suitable for missions and conditions in each theater of war (strategic direction); and (vi) close coordination between military force with other forces to create synthesized strength to cope with the enemy. This paper aims to discuss some major issues of leadership and command in strategic operations in the war to safeguard the Fatherland.

1. Organizing the structure of leadership and command over strategic operations nationwide

Organizing the structure of leadership and command over strategic operations must be based on Determination to Defend the Socialist Vietnam’s Fatherland, Constitution provisions, law, types of warfare, national context and capabilities, and evolution of wars. At that time, a strategic leadership structure will be established to include the Party Central Committee, whose power is regularly exercised through the Politburo and CMC. The Party Central Committee and the Politburo direct all preparations for war and war fighting, which focus on strategic operations and combine military struggle with non-violent struggle while rapidly executing all-round support for strategic operations. Content of leadership lays emphasis on making decisions on basic policies, guidelines, and directions of warfare in each period of time and important moment; including the supplementation of several members of the Politburo, Secretariat Committee, and the Party Central Committee to CMC and the theater Party executive committees; and mobilizing all resources to ensure victory in war and strategic operations. The CMC, under the direct leadership of the Party Central Committee, first and foremost the Politburo, reports and makes recommendations to the Party Central Committee and the Politburo on all war-related issues, laying the foundations for these two bodies to scrutinize and work out guidelines on people’s warfare; sets up theater Party executive committees and theater commands as well as their affiliations; passes resolutions and instructions; exercises leadership over the MND, theater Party executive committees, and those of military regions, services, arms, and industries; leads the strategic operations and coordination between theaters (strategic directions), and between military methods and other activities. As a result of our country’s long and narrow terrain (making it vulnerable to strategic division), the Politburo has to plan to establish forward Central offices. Based on situations in the theaters, these agencies can be deployed right from the beginning, or at specific stages to enable the Politburo and the CMC to exercise their timely leadership over theaters far from the Party Central Committee. A forward Central office may consist of some Politburo members, members of the Party Central Committee, and CMC members.

Leadership and command structure in strategic operations on national level comprises the Defence and Security Council and MND. On the basis of its functions and missions stipulated in the 2013 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Party’s guidelines and resolutions, and resolutions adopted by the National Assembly or the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, the Defence and Security Council realizes war-related missions and general issues of strategic operations. The MND gives strategic advice to the Party Central Committee and the Politburo to support these bodies in making decisions on guidelines, principles, and directions for the whole war, even for each period; combines military struggle with the struggle in other fields; advises the Government (Provision Council) to mobilize national resources in support of strategic operations; and works with ministries and agencies at central level to struggle and support strategic operations. In addition, the MND has to take the initiative in developing plans and preparing the establishment of forward command offices. These offices might be deployed right from the beginning, or at some stages of strategic operations to directly command theaters away from the Party Central Committee. The Minister of National Defence is responsible for directing strategic operations nationwide; coordinating operations between theaters; coordinating operations, major strategic campaigns, decisive strategic campaigns, etc., and guiding the close coordination between military struggle with struggles in other areas. The Minister of National Defence directs strategic operations through the General Staff Department (GSD), and decides on the organization of the strategic command office, responsible for advising, managing, and helping the Politburo, the CMC, and the MND to lead, command, and direct strategic operations.

2. Organizing the structure of leadership and command in strategic operations in each theater of war

The structure of leadership and command in strategic operations in each theater of war consists of the theater Party executive committee, theater command, and their affiliates. Depending on types of war, operational environments on strategic level, and practical conditions, the structure of leadership and command may comprise theater Party executive committees and theater commands in the North, the Central, the South, at sea and islands, in the air, and in cyberspace. The Party executive committees and theater commands in the three geographical regions are organized on the basis of the Party executive committees and military region commands located in these theaters, and officers from the MND, the GSD, the General Political Department (GPD), and so forth. Commanders, political commissars, and army corps commands might be included in theater command Party executive committees and theater commands. As for theaters composed of several military regions, the Politburo can appoint a Politburo member, a secretary of the Party Central Committee, or a member of the CMC’s Standing Committee as secretary of theater Party executive committee (political commissar), and designate some secretaries of major provincial and municipal Party committees in those areas to participate in theater Party executive committees. If a theater of war is within a military region, in a major strategic direction, the Politburo and the CMC can appoint a deputy chief the GPD and a member of the Party Central Committee as the secretary of that theater Party executive committee (political commissar), and a deputy chief of the GSD as the theater command chief. The Party executive committee and theater command at sea and islands could be established on the basis of the Navy Party Executive Committee and the Naval Command, as well as several officers from the GSD, the GPD; Secretary of the Coast Guard Command Party Executive Committee, Chief of the Coast Guard Command, representatives from coastal military region commands, and so on. The Party Executive Committee and Aerial Theater Command would be structured around the Air Defence-Air Force Party Executive Committee, the Air Defence-Air Force Command, and officers from the GSD, the GPD, and so forth. The Cyberspace Party Executive Committee and Cyberspace Theater Command will be founded on the basis of the Cyberspace Command Party Executive Committee and the Cyberspace Command and possibly some other officers. In each theater of war, it is possible to set up theater-affiliated Party executive committees and commands such as Party executive committees and commands at the front, zone, and campaign levels. The fronts, which are within areas of military regions, will be normally under the responsibility of military region Party executive committees and military region commands, strengthened by officers from theater-level organizations. Fronts involving several military regions might be commanded by the military regions Party executive committees and military region commands in charge of key directions and areas and supported by officers from theaters and military regions concerned. The Politburo and the CMC may establish the Party executive committees and operations commands for decisive strategic campaigns and strategic campaigns relating to several theaters. They may also give pivotal role to a specific theater Party executive committee and command strengthened by leaders and commanders of the MND, the GSD, and the GPD. Regarding maritime theaters, the Party executive committees and commands will be organized according to maritime operations zones. As for aerial theaters, the Party executive committees and commands will be formed according to each geographical regions.

Theater division in preparation for strategic operations is conducted in peacetime and can be adjusted during a war. These theaters are closely connected. Land theaters are composed of coastal waters, islands close to the shore, and so forth. The Party executive committees and commands between theaters closely coordinate their operations activities on land, at sea and islands, in the air, and in cyberspace according to a unified plan, under the leadership of the Politburo and the CMC, and command of the Minister of National Defence. In coming years, when weapons, equipment, and automated command control systems are developed, it is possible to establish integrated theaters of war. These theaters will cover diverse combat environments, services and arms, and be placed under the leadership and command of a unified Party executive committee and command. To enable the strategic leadership and command structure nationwide or in each theater of war to command and control combat forces, there is a need to set up a headquarters system for directing strategic operations. At national level, the headquarters system normally consists of a major headquarters, a rear headquarters, a forward headquarters, and a reserve headquarters. At theater level and below, the headquarter systems may include major headquarters, rear headquarters, forward headquarters, supplementary headquarters, and reserve headquarters. Generally speaking, the headquarters system for directing strategic operations must be decided by the GSD, planned and partly developed in peacetime, and adjusted and supplemented if wars occurred. The strategic headquarters is equipped with technological equipment and strongly fortified, defended, supported, etc., to ensure regular, continuous, timely, sound, secret, and safe command in any conditions.

3. Forms and modes of leadership and command in strategic operations

Drawing on experience of the two wars of resistance and the wars to defend national borders, in the new conditions of the war to safeguard the Fatherland, we can apply three forms and modes of leadership and command in strategic operations. Regarding forms, leadership and command in strategic operations may be exercised directly in the nationwide theater of war, directly in several theaters of war, and in combination of the two previous forms. As for modes of leadership and command in strategic operations, the Politburo, the CMC, and Minister of National Defence might exercise their power: (i) directly over the nationwide theater, critical theaters, key strategic directions, important strategic campaigns, and decisive strategic campaigns to stage and put an end to war; (ii) by means of devolving direct leadership and command within each theater/front on the theater/front Party executive committees and theater/front commands; and (iii) by bypassing the chain of leadership and command to lead and direct operations activities of significant importance in nationwide theater of war. Depending on types of warfare, strategic operations and theaters, and practical conditions, the Politburo, the CMC, and the Minister of National Defence will decide on which form and mode of leadership and command to apply, or combine various forms and types to ensure the highest effectiveness. Leadership and command in strategic operations will be conducted through resolutions, instructions, and orders, etc., which are directly transmitted via automated command control systems to the Party executive committees and command at theater, military region, army corps, service, and arm levels in the forms of documents, notices, recorded files, and envoys or in combination. In the new conditions of the war to safeguard the Fatherland, leadership and command will be executed via automated command control systems, but also in association with traditional methods. Those fundamental forms and modes represent the basis for flexibly and creatively employing in leadership and command in theaters and operations activities, in line with each type of warfare and strategic operations and practical conditions. If a type of warfare occurred in one part of territory, the Politburo, the CMC, and the MND would have conditions to focus their leadership and command on that theater. In case of a large-scale war of aggression, or intertwining types of warfare, the Politburo, the CMC, and the MND will concentrate their leadership and command on major theaters (strategic directions), key areas, and decisive stages while paying appropriate attention to other theaters, areas, and stages.

Coordination of leadership and command in strategic operations in the war to safeguard the Fatherland represents a vital content of the art of strategic leadership and command, which plays a decisive role in the victory of strategic operations and wars. Apart from conforming to the Party’s principles of leadership, Constitutional provisions, law, regulations, and field manuals, organization of leadership and command in strategic operations must inherit historic experience and capture the quintessence of the world’s military art selectively. To ensure regular, uninterrupted, firm, secret, safe leadership and command, it is necessary to execute support work in a synchronous manner, especially in the realms of information and communications, intelligence, concealed fortifications, preventive or counter-cyber operations, and protection against high-tech weapons. The war to defend the Fatherland (if occurred) would witness many changes, thus requiring further practical study and theoretical development, including the organization of leadership and command in strategic operations.

Lieutenant General, Associate Professor, Nguyen Duc Hai, PhD,

Director General of the Institute for Defence Strategy

Your Comment (0)

Russian October Revolution and lessons for retaining power
100 years ago, following “Ten days that shook the world”, the Russian October Revolution resulted in the advent of the first socialist state of its kind. The struggle of Soviet people in the ensuing years and the collapse of the Soviet Union over the course of its 74-year existence have shown that seizing power is inherently difficult, but retaining it is far more difficult
Weather

City