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Monday, March 23, 2020, 11:24 (GMT+7)
On technical command in military region defence operation

Sufficient, accurate, timely support of weapons and technical equipment for forces in military region defence operation is one of the most vital contents and directly decides combat power and victory of military forces and people in these geographical areas. To do so requires commanders and departments to handle a series of issues, most notably technical command.

Military region defence operation is defined as a type of operation which requires a high degree of coordination and is conducted by a military region in conjunction with other military forces and people in the area. Some regular units of army corps can be integrated into combat formations of the military region. This type of operation takes the armed forces of military regions as the key and makes full use of local defence zones and operational commanding positions established in the all-people national defence posture, the people’s security posture and the people’s war posture since peacetime. Operational activities of military region defence consist of defensive, counterattack and offensive operations at tactical or operational levels of war and take place right from the beginning of and during the war where the enemy resorts to high-tech weapons and widespread electronic warfare. Additionally, operational activities occur synchronously and rapidly in many directions and areas with complex situations, which requires huge and prompt support of weapons, equipment and ammunition. This poses many difficulties and challenges for technical command. This article seeks to share a few thoughts about technical command in military region defence operation as follows:

First, unity of command in any situations. This is both a principle and a high demand in terms of leadership and command of the commander, the technical department and its director in operation and military region defence operation in particular. Technical command is an integral part of the chain of command in military region defence operation. The chain of command is composed of various levels and sectors from the military region command headquarters to divisions, regiments, provinces, and districts. It must control and coordinate with many forces participating in technical support for many types of operations in a large area. Moreover, during operation, the enemy has supremacy in weapons and equipment, robust electronic warfare systems and information warfare and conducts joint standoff fires by high-tech weapons with the aim to neutralise our command and control system, including the chain of technical command. This requires the commander, technical department and its director to establish a unified, solid, uninterrupted chain of command in any situations, contributing to supporting combat forces with weapons, equipment and ammunition in a sufficient, accurate and timely manner.

To do so requires the technical department and its director to develop good situation awareness, especially the operational concepts of the military region commander and technical support plans, so as to estimate and prepare many technical command plans, identify force structure, organisational structure, elements of the technical system, including the technical headquarters, components and commanding officers in directions in accordance with the mission of commanding technical support. Attention is paid to devolution of command and clear determination of force structure, titles of positions, communication devices, missions and deployment time of main headquarters, reserve headquarters, rear headquarters, forward headquarters, etc., which helps the technical headquarters exercise command and control over all of the technical forces and technical support activities. The deployment of headquarters and department in charge of technical command must be based on functions and missions of each professional division so as to improve their advisory capacity for the commanders while bringing into play capabilities and forte of each component as well as features and capacity of technical command assets. In order to promote the effectiveness of technical command in military region defence operation, the commander, technical department and its director may establish a temporary department or element responsible for technical command in operations, key battles and key, decisive battles to exercise technical command according to a unified intention and plan of the military region commander.

During the operations process, the commander, technical department and its director must regular monitor and firmly perceive situations, evolution of operational activities and technical state to handle emerging issues in a timely and effective manner. It is necessary to well organise and coordinate technical equipment used for technical command, including assets at the headquarters and individual devices of technical command and staff officers. Special attention should be attached to organising and sustaining communication links and properly devolving command to lower echelons within the chain of technical command. As for approaches to technical command and control, the commander, technical department and its director need to apply flexibly between unity of command and “jumping the chain of command” in urgent situations in order to satisfy operational demands and missions.

Second, establishing compact, mobile, flexible headquarters. In new conditions of the war to safeguard the Homeland, military region defence operation takes place both on land, in the air and at sea (with respect to coastal military regions), battlefield situations evolve swiftly, and combat forces tend towards modernisation of their weapons and equipment while retaining compactness and mobility. It is against this backdrop that the commander, technical department and its director need to organise an adept, compact, unified chain of command with few intermediate levels to ensure rapid information collection and processing and accurate, timely decision-making in command and control in general and technical command and control in particular. If the chain of technical command is big and bulky, it will make command and control complex and less effective. A compact, mobile, flexible chain of command with a proper structure will enhance the effectiveness of technical command, maintain the momentum of the chain of technical command, and enable the commanders and technical departments of military regions to sustain an enduring and agile command and control in any situations conversely. This is of greater significance when operational activities evolve rapidly with many unscheduled, complex situations.

Accordingly, there needs to establish compact, agile components with a proper structure and synchronised equipment of technical departments at the headquarters. A well-staffed and equipped technical department comprises the director or deputy director of the technical department, technical department, technical forces, and supporting devices. The commander, technical department and its director need to calculate and decide the right level of force structure, especially at the main headquarters, supporting headquarters, in rear bases and technical subdivisions. Also, they always must maintain a sufficiently strong reserve force and reduce intermediate phases. To achieve high effectiveness requires the director or deputy director of the technical department and technical department of military region to foster a scientific working style, understand their missions as well as command and control ability of their subordinate officers, employ suitable methods of technical command, and be fully equipped with communication devices to obtain and process information quickly and correctly. Furthermore, since peacetime, the military region technical department has to develop many concrete plans for organising chains of technical command in connection with the operational concepts of the military region and demands of technical command; propose procurement of modernised, synchronised, autonomous devices used for technical command; conduct training to improve skills; and use computer systems to update and process information effectively.

Third, it is necessary to closely coordinate various chains of command of provincial, municipal defence zones and units in the military region’s area of responsibility. Military region defence operation in the war to safeguard the Homeland occurs in provinces and cities, which have been built into strong defence zones with chains of command and control and technical support, military and civilian networks of post and telecommunication, chains of technical command at strategic and service levels, and regular units of the main force deployed in the areas. These set favourable conditions for cooperation and coordination between military region technical branch and the above-mentioned chains of technical command. A close coordination among operational chains of command, including technical command, is a vital matter to ensure unity of command in operations in general and technical command in particular. Besides, technical departments of military regions have to coordinate with technical forces of defence zones in their areas to execute technical support and with technical units of friendly forces in the areas to assist each other in operational support. Consequently, there are technical representatives of defence zones and friendly forces to ensure unity of technical command.

During exercise of technical command, technical departments of military regions need to closely coordinate with chains of technical command in defence zones to involve technical personnel of defence zones in military regions’ chains of technical command and technical command departments of task forces once established by military regions. At the same time, they have to jointly exploit forces and communication devices of the defence zones to provide information support for technical command, take advantage of available facilities, mobilise forces and vehicles, and work out plans to protect elements of military regions’ technical command. The director and his technical department need to thoroughly grasp the operational concepts of military region, proactively propose plans, coordinate closely with the technical sector of defence zone to send their officers to learn about networks of information and communication in defence zones, particularly the composition of information and communication infrastructure.

Technical command is an integral part of the chain of command in military region operation, which is of significant importance and directly decides the quality of weapon and equipment support, contributing to enhancing combat power of military regions’ armed forces. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct further research in both theoretical and practical terms to lay the foundation for thorough preparation for technical support since peacetime, meeting requirements of building the military and safeguarding the Homeland in the new situation.

Major Nguyen Cong Hai, MA. National Defence Academy

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