Sunday, November 15, 2020, 09:17 (GMT+7)
On the organisation and use of our military forces in the United Nations peacekeeping

Participation in the United Nations peacekeeping is to implement the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation, and development and the diplomatic strategy on multilateralising and diversifying international relations by our Party and State. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake researches into the organisation and use of our military forces in the United Nations peacekeeping under Vietnam’s Constitution and law and international practice.

The organisation and deployment of our military forces in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping represent a combination of guidelines and measures set by the Politburo and the National Defence and Security Council, particularly the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Ministry of National Defence (MND) for establishing the organisational structure, identifying the components and methods of leadership and direction over the forces, making preparations and deploying the forces under the UN regulations.

Since the issue of the Project on the Military’s participation in the UN peacekeeping approved by the Prime Minister in 2013, Vietnam has deployed its military personnel and units to the missions in the Republic of South Sudan and the Central African Republic and attained a lot of significant achievements. To be more specific, Vietnam has deployed 50 officers (4 female ones), including operations, training, country owned equipment, and intelligence analysis officers and military observers. 10 out of 30 officers (about 33.33%) who had fulfilled their missions have been rated exceptionally excellent (1% - 2% for other countries according to the UN). In addition to taking part in the UN missions, Vietnam has selected its officers to apply 3 positions, namely planning officer, officer of military affairs under the Department of Peace Operations, and officer at the Office of Military Plans under the Department of Peace Operations in New York, the U.S., for a 2-year term. 

Regarding the deployment of units, in November 2014, the Minister of National Defence released 2 Decisions on establishing the Level 2 Field Hospital and the Engineer Team in the UN peacekeeping. After 4 years of preparation, in October 2018, Vietnam’s Level 2 Field Hospital No.1 was successfully, safely deployed to the UN Mission in Bentiu, South Sudan, together with 63 cadres and employees. Our Level 2 Field Hospital No.1 provided medical examination and treatment for over 2,000 patients, successfully performed 63 surgeries, including 21 major and intermediate ones, transported 7 patients to higher-level hospitals by air, and safely conducted appendectomies for 2 officers from India and Mongolia. In November 2019, the Level 2 Field Hospital No.1 successfully fulfilled its task and it was replaced by the Level 2 Field Hospital No.2. Since then, the Hospital No.2 has provided medical examination and treatment for over 1,300 patients and carried out 26 surgical operations (8 major ones). Currently, the MND is actively making preparations for the Level 2 Field Hospital No.3 to replace the Level 2 Field Hospital No.2 (which is expected to fulfil its mission in February 2021). Human resources and equipment for the 290-strength Engineer Team are being prepared for its participation in the UN peacekeeping in 2021. Vietnam is among a few countries which second female soldiers to the UN peacekeeping missions. Up to now, there have been 4 operations and training female officers and female military observers, while 20 female doctors and nurses have been deployed to the Level 2 Field Hospitals No.1 and No.2. In the upcoming time, Vietnam plans to employ 38 female soldiers within the Engineer Team (its rate of female soldiers is nearly 14%, higher than the target set by the UN). Our military forces in the UN peacekeeping will continue devoting efforts to successfully fulfilling their tasks, ensuring the absolute safety, and building up the UN and international friends’ trust in Vietnam so as to fostering our defence cooperation with other countries and partners and raising our country’s status in the international arena.

Vietnam’s Level 2 Field Hospital No.1 being deployed to the UN Mission in South Sudan (photo: VNA)

In the foreseeable future, in order that “Vietnam will continue making practical contributions, increasing its scale of participation in the UN peacekeeping,” and readily deploying our forces independently, opportunely and effectively to all peacekeeping operations of the UN, we should well implement a number of measures as follows.

First, exercise focalised and uniformed leadership and command over our forces. The system of leadership and command over our military forces in the UN peacekeeping is comprised of various components, from the Party, the State, the CMC, and the MND to grass-roots level units at the UN Missions. The contents of leadership and command are relevant to military international cooperation and diplomacy, to the UN and other countries, and to other forces, units and offices both inside and outside our Military. Meanwhile, leadership and command over our peacekeeping forces must be prompt in response to rapid, complex, unpredictable developments of the situation. Thus, focalised, uniformed leadership and command act as a prime requirement for our military forces in the UN peacekeeping. To that end, relevant offices and units, particularly the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations (VDPO) and its affiliates at the UN Missions should grasp and strictly execute higher echelons’ resolutions, directives, and orders, while maintaining cooperation with one another in an effective, uniformed manner. At the same time, it is necessary to synchronously organise a system of leadership and command, properly, flexibly employ methods of leadership and command, and bring into play inferiors’ independence and creativity in their task.

Second, ensure close coordination between forces, competent offices and relevant units. The Military’s participation in the UN peacekeeping in the new situation requires close cooperation between forces inside and outside the country as well as between the VDPO and relevant offices both inside and outside the Military to create the synergy for successfully fulfilling all tasks. The work of leadership and command over our forces in the UN peacekeeping will lay a foundation for close coordination between these forces. To that end, it is essential to clearly specify the authority and relationship between domestic competent offices and peacekeeping units at the UN missions and Vietnam’s agencies at the UN.

Third, actively make necessary preparations to meet the requirements set by the UN. Our forces in the UN peacekeeping must be well prepared both qualitatively and quantitatively under the UN’s criteria and in accordance with Vietnam’s capacity as the basis for this noble mission. Due attention should be paid to ensuring our staff members’ fitness and military, political, logistics-technical, and foreign language knowledge and skills. The UN lays down specific requirements on professional competence, command, staff work, and work experience for each position and unit; therefore our preparations must be elaborate and scientific. In addition to human resources, we must prepare sufficient weapons and equipment and ensure our troops’ life according to the UN’s criteria. Hence, we must carefully study the UN’s criteria and grasp our forces’ function, task, organisational structure, and materiel to deploy sufficient troops and weaponry. Besides, emphasis should be placed on equipping these forces with good knowledge of foreign languages and making them capable of mastering weapons and equipment to successfully fulfil their task at the UN missions.

Fourth, ensure the absolute safety and boost our prestige among international friends. Operations at the UN missions are very complex and dangerous due to conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics; therefore, when deploying our forces to the UN peacekeeping, we must focus on increasing our prestige amongst international friends as an important requirement in order to disseminate the image of the Vietnam People’s Army to the world. Moreover, we must ensure the safety of our personnel, weapons, equipment, communications, and internal political security. Our cadres and officers in the UN peacekeeping must absolutely follow our military discipline. They are not allowed to follow one country against another or take advantage of their task in the UN peacekeeping to ally themselves with other countries and organisations and to act against Vietnam’s law, international law, and the UN’s regulations. They must fulfil all missions assigned by the UN and our MND. Furthermore, they must heighten the virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” and well perform the diplomatic work to contribute to raising Vietnam’s prestige, status and image. To that end, our forces must grasp general capabilities and specific assigned tasks or the missions under agreements between Vietnam and the UN, avoid damaging the image of the Vietnam People’s Army, and at the same time develop and practise projects on ensuring security and safety, with significance attached to training and settlement of situations. Our staff members in the UN peacekeeping must maintain work coordination, grasp the regulations on security and safety in their operating areas, perform the tasks under the agreements, resolutely refuse the missions which are against Vietnam’s law, international law, and agreements signed by our country. Additionally, due regard should be paid to designing and implementing plans for external affairs and external information service in the areas.

Those above-mentioned measures will directly impact on the contents, forms, and methods of organising and using our military forces in the UN peacekeeping. Therefore, commanders and staff offices should grasp those measures to raise the effectiveness of organisation and use of our forces in the UN peacekeeping in the new situation.

Sr. Col. NGYEN BA HUNG, MA, Deputy Head of the VDPO

Your Comment (0)

Artillery Corps in the Dien Bien Phu Campaign - lessons for today
After 56 days of fighting, the VPA’s fledgling Artillery Corps accomplished successfully its mission to suppress and destroy the enemy’s artillery sites, controlled the airfields, destroy its headquarters and installations, disrupt logistic lines of communication, and effectively support the infantry to surround and destroy every fortification and the whole fortified complex of Dien Bien Phu, making important contribution to a world-shaking victory