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On the theory of infantry tactics in the war for Homeland defence

Developing the theory of infantry tactics in the war for Homeland protection means studying, adjusting, and supplementing the properties, rules, and content of a battle as well as the function, task, and combat capacity of an infantry detachment and corps. Grounded on the theory of infantry tactics, we could lay down the principles and methods of making preparations and conducting a battle in accordance with the new conditions of the war for Homeland defence.

In the military art, tactics hold a position of utmost importance. In spite of the fact that tactics are placed under the direction of strategies and campaigns, the victory of strategies and campaigns is decided by only that of tactics. To achieve their goals, warring parties must grasp the rules of war and proactively study and develop tactical forms and combat methods.

Studies of several recent wars reveal that there have been many new combat forms and methods which are carried out very flexibly together with the rapid increase in the use of hi-tech weapons. Thus, studying and developing the military art, including the theory of infantry tactics is an issue of urgency so that we could opportunely supplement the principles and methods of making preparations and organizing combat properly as well as facilitate the work of directing training and combat readiness. In this article, we would like to introduce several issues on studying and developing the theory of infantry tactics in the new conditions of the war for Homeland defence as follows.

1. Establishing and transforming the posture

There are advantages for establishing and transforming the posture of infantry tactics in the war for Homeland defence (if it occurred) as it could make use of the posture of higher echelons, the defensive zone posture, and especially the posture of the high-level developed people’s war. Moreover, it could apply the lessons learnt from the wars for national liberation and the achievements in science and technology. However, it could be confronted with a lot of difficulties, such as object of struggle, weapons, equipment, terrain, climate, and hydrology.

In order to make use of advantages, overcome difficulties in establishing and transforming the posture of infantry tactics, and develop the theory of infantry tactics in the war for Homeland defence, it is necessary to deal with a series of issues, such as case, opportunity, formation organization, higher echelons’ support capacity and method, material and human mobilization, capability in operating, taking advantage of and transforming the posture, and combat coordination within a defensive zone. Besides, it is important to improve the capacity to assess the impacts and apply the achievements in science and technology to establishing and transforming the posture of infantry tactics. More specifically, it is essential to apply new materials, gene technology, biotechnology, and transfiguration techniques to constructing combat, camouflage, and diversion works; to employ smart information device in operational command; to use the electronic warfare and cyber space warfare forces; to promote coordination between the forces against the enemy’s electronic warfare. To reduce the enemy’s reconnaissance capacity on the rather empty terrain, alongside camouflage and diversion, it is necessary to study and develop the theoretical thought on assessing the situation on the battlefield so as to enhance the capacity to seize the opportunity and methods of manoeuvre and force disposition, thereby keeping the secret and creating the element of surprise in combat.

In addition to establishing and transforming the posture in the battles, seizing the opportunity to fight the enemy is a matter of art and expresses the commanders’ wisdom and creativity against the object of struggle and their capacity to flexibly employ the combat methods simultaneously. In recent wars, methods of attack, such as infiltration attack, flank attack, airborne landing, cursory attack or avoidance of targets on the outer line to attack the prime targets deep inside the enemy’s formation and quickly victoriously end the battle, have been used quite popularly. Thus, in the combat process, it is vital to prepare various projects and measures in order to avoid falling into passivity.

2. Using and deploying forces and means

Against the enemy with the superiority in force and means of war and its flexible combat methods, our infantry units must deal with two main issues simultaneously, namely the issue on balance of power between us and the enemy and the issue on “concentration” (to realize the tactical intent) and dispersion (to secure the forces). On the basis of infantry units’ capacity, to handle the issue on the balance of power between us and the enemy, we need to effectively take advantage of higher echelons and defensive zones’ posture, forces, and means so as to achieve the superiority over the enemy. At the same time, we need to focus our forces and means on the main direction and target and at the crucial moment of the battle. However, the forces and means in the main direction and target must be proper and adequate; promote the capacity and strength of each force and weapon in order for the synergy to be created to defeat the enemy’s main force, maintain the posture, and reduce casualties. Also, we need to comprehensively mobilize the forces, firepower, leadership, command, and support work, with importance attached to the quality, capability in commanding combat coordination, and units’ strength and tradition in accordance with the task requirements.

To deal with the issue on “concentration” and “dispersion”, it is necessary to study the case, opportunity, scale, method, and support work. More specifically, we should disperse the forces when we make preparations for combat. During the manoeuvre process, we should disperse the forces in various directions; in one direction, the forces should be organized into various sections. When deploying the combat formation, we should dispose the forces in both near and far locations. When the battle commences, the firepower must be concentrated, and the forces in each direction must quickly manoeuvre. During the battle, we need to build fortresses and ensure camouflage, diversion, air defence, artillery, communications, and coordination closely. After fulfilling the task, the forces must quickly disperse in new different directions.

3. Flexibly employing forms of tactics and combat methods

Grasping the viewpoint on taking the ground force as the centre, giving ground operation the core role, and annihilating the enemy outside their fortresses as the main solution, in the future wars, it is essential to study and develop forms of traditional tactics in the new conditions and especially methods of “enticing” and fighting the enemy outside the fortress. Besides, we should continue studying and developing the forms of tactics, such as hunting down the enemy, fighting within a siege, breaking a siege, penetrating into the enemy’s formation, and combating within the defensive zone; combine defence and offensive with annihilation of the armed riot’s forces. Units should organize training, maintain combat readiness, and opportunely, flexibly, effectively settle the situations during operation.

In addition to the combat methods used in the wars for national liberation, in the war for Homeland defence, it is imperative to study and apply various combat methods simultaneously in a battle, combine deep penetration with isolation and siege; diversion with manoeuvre to avoid counter-attack; containment with breakthrough offensive. At the same time, we should develop the combat methods, namely preventing and avoiding the enemy’s counter-attacks, raiding the enemy in front of the battlefield, fighting the ground, waterway, and airborne enemy to maintain the battlefield. Moreover, it is important to actively develop and complete the method of fighting the enemy from afar for the guard force and the combat force on the outer line; these forces will raid and ambush the enemy’s formation in motion, deploy and concentrate the attacking formation on the enemy’s fire battlefield and headquarters, destroy the traffic system to stop the enemy’s movement, and snipe at the enemy’s troops to cause them panic and make them lose the imitative on our defensive battlefield. When fighting the enemy within higher echelons’ posture, units should closely cooperate with other friendly units in combining offensive with defence within the defensive zone posture.

4. Closely cooperating with the local armed forces during the battle

Combat coordination between the active forces and the local armed forces is a feature of Vietnamese people’s war. In the war for Homeland defence, this type of coordination is of importance to making infantry units capable of defeating all combat methods of the enemy and fulfilling the assigned task. So far, due attention has been paid to making the local armed forces strong and extensive. However, in recent exercises, combat coordination between infantry units and the local armed forces have still been limited. To bring into play each force’s strengths to the utmost and enhance the combat coordination between the forces to create the synergy for the people’s war in the new conditions, it is necessary to continue studying, supplementing, and completing the system of laws and regulations on authority, scale, content, form, and method  of coordination and command. More specifically, as for the infantry units in higher echelons’ formation, the work of cooperating with local authorities and military office is carried out by senior-level commanders. Infantry units only maintain combat coordination with the armed forces’ reinforced units. In independent combat, commander of an infantry unit must proactively cooperate with local authorities and military offices and maintain combat coordination with the armed forces’ reinforced units. In case an infantry unit is responsible for an area which is bordered by localities, it must proactively cooperate with higher-level military offices and authorities (which are responsible for the management of those localities) and maintain combat coordination with the armed forces’ reinforced units. During the process of combat coordination, it is important to assess the situation as the basis for assigning the armed forces’ reinforced units to perform one more task or take charge of one direction; however, it is possible to divide the armed forces’ reinforced units into sections to use in each direction under a plan.

In the war for Homeland defence, the enemy, operational environment, and our forces will have developments. Thus, to make tactical-level infantry units capable of their task, the theory of infantry tactics must be studied, developed, and flexibly, effectively employed to defeat the enemy in each battle and create a favourable condition for the campaigns and strategies to develop, win victories, and end the war.

Sr. Col., Associate Prof. Vu Thanh Hiep, PhD

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Military Region 7

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