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On the employment of military forces in strategic defense in the event of a war for Fatherland protection

In the event of a war for Fatherland protection, the employment of military forces in strategic warfighting activities in general and in strategic defense operations in particular is a decisive factor in putting a new complexion of the war. Therefore, it is essential to put great  store by this as soon as in peacetime both theoretically and practically.

Strategic defense is one of the fundamental combat activities in the war for Fatherland protection as it squares with our capabilities and typically features the unique characteristics of Vietnam’s military art. This combat activity is conducted as soon as at the very beginning and in the middle of the war either across the country or in some strategic directions. It culminates with our strategic offensive. Strategic defense is characterized by the right combination of warfighting activities by local defense areas and defensive operations by military regions and strategically agile corps. At the same time, military struggle in concert with other ones prominently features in the strategic defense, the focal point of which is a military struggle mainly waged by the armed forces. Strategic defense is conducted in line with a master plan under the leadership of the Politburo and the Central Military Commission, the State management and the unified command by the Ministry of National Defense. It aims to effectively prevent and counter opponents’ offensive firepower, to annihilate their amphibious and airborne assaults, to repel riots across localities, to safeguard military and defense capabilities as well as targets and areas of strategic importance, and to firmly protect our disposition of forces, thereby facilitating our strategic counter-attacks.

The target aimed at in strategic defense is the hostile armed forces in coordination with domestic reactionary forces that mount offensives against Vietnam from the outside via new warfighting methods and simultaneously instigate riots and subversion domestically. Their offensives aim to destroy our strategic forces and military and economic capabilities, to seize our political hubs and strategic terrain, to divide the country, and to assist hostile forces in riots and subversion in some localities, thereby forcing Vietnam into submission. As a result, strategic defense in the event of the war for Fatherland protection will involve a lot of forces with a variety of warfighting methods, stages and complicated developments.

Carefully researching recent world wars, our nation’s military traditions and experience, particularly in our prior wars of resistance, as well as the status quo of the country’s armed forces and economy, this article puts forward some suggestions concerning the employment of military forces in the main stages of strategic defense operations in order to effectively deal with the enemy’s new warfighting methods.

First, the line to be thoroughly grasped is that defense is fundamental, counter-attacking is selective and a close combination is required in military, political, diplomatic terms with priority assigned to military struggle regarding the employment of military forces in strategic defense in the stage of the enemy’s offensive firepower, force disposition and riots. How to employ military forces in strategic defense operations should be flexible and creative so that it will be comprehensive but focalized. Accordingly, together with our force dispersal from targets which the enemy’s offensive firepower is mainly aimed at, it is essential to employ the three-level air defense force in order to form a widespread all-people air defense posture and to take the initiative to combat the enemy anywhere and anytime. In order to protect high-value targets, a section of the national air defense forces should be in coordination with local peers to launch an air defense campaign against the enemy’s offensive. Furthermore, it is possible to deploy a section of air, missile and commando forces to destroy the enemy’s rear targets and electronic warfare units to neutralize the enemy’s hi-tech warfare depending on reality.

Based on a solid grasp of the situation, on-the-spot armed forces should be employed in coordination with other forces to swiftly foil subversion plots and activities in localities and to firmly protect the country’s borders. When necessary, it is possible to organize the Navy, the waterborne commandos, the air force, the artillery, the strategic missile force and the littoral military region’s armed forces into “clusters of forces” in order to block maritime traffic routes and break through the enemy’s naval blockade that aims to back up their amphibious assaults on our islands, thereby firmly maintaining our defense posture. At the same time, importance should be attached to political, diplomatic and ideological struggles in order to foster our soldiers and people’s will to fight in the initial stage of strategic defense.

Previous wars suggested that at the end of the day, strategic defense operations primarily aim to safeguard key defensive targets and to preserve the stability of the defense posture whereby aggregate strength can be generated to defeat the enemy’s offensive. Therefore, regarding the protection of our areas of operations in general and strategic targets in particular in this stage, it is necessary to deploy the forces from defense areas at all levels and strategic and operational military posts that will have been prepared in advance as soon as in peacetime in close coordination with other friendly forces to fight the enemy on a large scale. At the same time, agile troops from the Ministry of National Defense should be effectively deployed while defensive campaigns and counter-attacks should be conducted, particularly against the enemy’s airborne assaults, in order to ease the pressure on our key defensive targets. This is a matter of life and death as to strategic defense, which requires our maximal efforts to be focused on operational directions, particularly strategic defensive ones. As a result, the employment of military forces should be flexible and creative to achieve high combat effectiveness.

In addition to the military forces deployed to safeguard our key defensive targets, importance should be attached to on-the-spot forces on a small and medium scale, especially those stationed in coastal areas, in order to attack the flanks and the rear of the enemy, which precipitates their force dispersal and concomitant reduced agility. In the meantime, specialized units should also be deployed to insinuate themselves deep into the enemy-temporarily held territories, thereby launching people’s war aiming to make the enemy get bogged down. When the time is ripe, strategic agile troops from the Ministry of National Defense should closely cooperate with defensive forces in mounting joint combat operations with a view to destroying a large number of the enemy’s strategic forces, thereby putting a new complexion on the battlefield towards a decisive victory in the war of Fatherland protection.

The greater coordination between operational forces and the combination of military struggle and diplomatic struggle in strategic defense are both objective and central in order to generate and promote aggregate strength towards the fulfillment of assigned operational tasks. Due to the fact that our strategic defense operations involve multiple military forces and warfighting methods and the enemy always seek to cut off our operational formations and to destroy our main agile units, it is essential to work out and effectively execute plans to ensure coordination among relevant forces in firmly protecting key defense areas of provinces, cities and military regions, as well as strategic and operational military posts as soon as in peacetime. Emphasis should be placed on firmly safeguarding important areas in political, economic, defense and security terms in line with the military’s Determination to defend the Socialist Vietnamese Fatherland. The coordination among relevant forces should be made comprehensive, the focal points of which are in mobilizing resources to serve the war, waging military, political and diplomatic struggles, providing logistics, implementing policies regarding military families and maintaining social order and safety in wartime. The coordination should be among the regular and local forces, naval, air, ground and cyber forces, as well as combat troops and logistics forces in each stage and operation. In order to counter the enemy’s combined operations, we should set great store by the coordination among forces stationed in military regions’ areas of operations towards the establishment of “combined operational clusters”. The Vietnamese military art should be maximized, particularly fighting methods that our military forces excel in, in order to provide maximal reinforcements and support for each other under the motto “fight the enemy widely and attack the enemy comprehensively to push them into passivity, force dispersal and resultant quagmire”. Plans for coordination should be worked out as soon as in peacetime and ready to be revised in the event of war.

Strategic defense is of paramount importance in the sense that it can put a different complexion of the war. Therefore, it should continue to be researched carefully and thoroughly.

Sr. Col. Nguyen Quoc Thanh, M.A., Lt. Col. Vu Huy Trong, M.A.

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