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Preparing the Navy’s posture during a war to defend the Homeland

The Navy plays a core role in the coast-sea-island inter-connected posture to protect the country from the sea. In order to safeguard the Homeland’s seas and islands in the new situation, preparing the Navy’s posture is of utmost importance.

As a coastal country, Vietnam possesses a large sea with a great deal of natural resources and minerals, acting as a trade gateway of the world. Seas and islands of Vietnam hold a geo-strategic position of economic, political, and military values. In our history of national construction and protection, our enemies frequently launched their invasions of our country from the sea. In the 20th century, the two invasions of our country by imperialism all commenced from the sea. Therefore, marine defence has always been seen as a strategic direction. The system of archipelagoes and islands within Vietnam’s waters together with a long coastline are favourable for the building of military bases, defensive positions, fortresses, and outposts, thus leading to the establishment of a solid, inter-connected, multi-layer, multi-tier defensive line from islands to the mainland, enabling the Navy to control the whole sea of the country, assist our fishermen at sea, and defeat all forces violating Vietnam’s seas and islands.

Flag-raising ceremony on the Submarine HQ-187 Ba Ria - Vung Tau at the Military Port of Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa province (photo: zingnews.vn)

Our people’s resistance wars have shown that Vietnam always has to “take the few against the many” and fight its enemies not only by “its strength” but also by “its strategies and postures.” Over the years, due to the economic development, the building of industrial zones, export processing zones, and economic facilities within localities has negatively impacted on the Navy’s posture. Hence, in order that the Navy will successfully fulfil its task in both peacetime and wartime, it is necessary to adjust and rearrange the Navy’s forces in accordance with the Homeland construction and protection cause in the new situation, with a focus on the following.

1. Construct a system of defensive zones, evacuation areas, and shelters on the coast and islands. To maintain the force, conveniently conduct operations, and effectively exploit weapons and technical equipment, it is important to undertake researches on building, adjusting, and supplementing the system of fortresses, battlefields, secret evacuation areas, and shelters on the coast and islands. Grounded on the general posture from the sea, exploiting the advantages of the terrains on the coast and islands, the Navy should closely cooperate with military regions and coastal provinces and municipalities in surveying and setting up zones for force disposition, upgrading and building military works, and preparing necessary equipment and constructions to dispose, evacuate, and shelter forces, particularly at sea. In addition to upgradation, due regard should be paid to building new shielding and camouflaging works, barricades, and fortresses on the coast and islands as well as within secret evacuation and rendezvous zones to properly deploy and dispose forces, maintain combat readiness, and facilitate the forces’ operations. Great value should be attached to upgrading or constructing non-explosive underground or floating barricades, narrowing landing areas from the sea, surveying and arranging explosive barricades against the enemies’ amphibious attacks in the beginning of their invasions.

2. Build the reconnaissance, warning, and signal system at sea and on islands. Based on the technical and tactical features, reconnaissance equipment and means of observation could be deployed to favourable heights on the coast, islands, or vessels at sea. Consideration should be given to upgrading and deploying more radar stations in high places on the coast and islands within Naval Zones. It is essential to cooperate with enterprises in designing, manufacturing and replacing old-fashioned radar with long-range, more reliable means of observation that are capable of fighting electronic warfare. Due regard should be paid to upgrading and supplementing modern equipment for the reconnaissance and mobile observation forces at sea.

In addition, it is necessary to build a smooth, solid communication system on the coast and islands which is able to resist the enemies’ electronic warfare in any situation. Significance should be attached to sufficiently, qualitatively providing radio and wired communication systems in the main direction of each battlefield and each theatre of war of the Navy. Facilities should be constructed to deploy stations, general stations and headquarters of the forces’ command systems, such as signal, observation, reconnaissance, communications warning, and search and rescue. Meanwhile, coordination between forces and localities should be maintained to share information about the situation at sea and develop plans to use signal and communication networks both inside and outside the Military in the event.

3. Deploy the Navy’s forces. In each sea and island area under their management and protection, Naval Zones should cooperate with military regions and coastal provinces and municipalities in identifying positions of their forces for regular garrison, evacuation, and shelter. To that end, it is vital to (1) maintain a posture favourable for all forces, (2) establish a close connection between the Navy and other forces of the Ministry of National Defence and localities, (3) flexibly and quickly transform the posture during combat, and (4) ensure convenient, flexible, solid, constant command and coordination.

The Navy’s forces should be deployed to the sea and the ground (or islands) simultaneously. Warships and submarines (the forces at sea) should be deployed under combat projects. “They must be mobile for combat; they must quickly disperse when necessary but their firepower must be focalised.” To properly deploy warships, it is important to take advantage of coastal terrains, with a focus on the areas having many mountains, islands, natural caves, cliffs, and bays so that we could form a favourable, secret posture to effectively avoid the enemies’ firepower and preserve our strength. In the open places where our forces are easily detected, it is essential to improve the terrain and organise camouflage to ensure the safety and maintain the combat power. Submarines could be deployed near the coast or around large islands not far from the coast. Marine and commando units should be deployed to evacuation zones, particularly near the combat positions. Within evacuation zones, due attention should be paid to exploiting the terrain and vegetation to hide the forces and enable them to quickly manoeuvre for fighting the enemies. Defensive forces on islands and within bases should be deployed according to the combat intention and their assigned task. Logistics and specialised units should be stationed in positions favourable for each force’s function and task.

4. Construct a system of logistics and technical bases. Logistics and technical bases should be constructed in positions favourable for the Navy’s operations; however, they should be appropriate to the forces’ disposition to best facilitate those forces’ task performance in both peacetime and wartime. Significance should be attached to providing sufficient weapons, technical equipment, and specialised materials for each force. To that end, the Navy should closely collaborate with military regions and coastal provinces and municipalities in identifying logistics and technical positions (shelters and ports), preparing logistics and technical cellars, depots, sub-depots, stations, and sub-stations for on-the-spot and mobile repair, maintenance, and treatment, supplementing food, fuel, and ammunition, and readily preparing positions for receiving and supplying missiles and torpedoes of the forces during operations.

Coastal provinces and municipalities should continue raising the quality of building defensive zones in a solid, comprehensive manner. Great value should be attached to dual-purpose constructions for both economic development and defence-military missions. Due regard should be paid to building a system of technical and logistics facilities for marine economic sectors within bays and on islands so as to boost production and business in peacetime and readily serve operations at sea and on islands in wartime.

Furthermore, it is necessary to take advantage of large and small islands to formulate defensive lines near or far from the coast in tandem with the building of the all-people national defence posture at sea that would be readily transformed into the people’s war posture at sea. However, many of our islands have a very small or zero population, while their facilities are inadequate or extremely poor. Therefore, in order to develop islands into defensive zones, there should be solutions to increase the population and foster economic development, stabilise the people’s life, and ensure their future on islands. Also, there should be a preferential treatment policy to attract more people to inhabit islands, consolidate defence and security, and protect the Homeland’s sacred sovereignty over seas and islands. To build the Navy’s posture in the new situation, it is important to strengthen a “posture of people’s hearts and minds” at sea and on the coast and islands. To well perform this task, it is necessary to enhance defence and security education for cadres, party members, and all citizens within coastal localities. Projects to mobilise personnel and materials for defence-security missions when necessary should be carefully prepared. Besides, due attention should be paid to formulating and effectively executing plans on defence mobilisation and defence reserve as well as logistics and technical support plans for strategic directions, especially for seas and islands.

Well implementing the above-mentioned measures will contribute to building a comprehensive, solid, inter-connected, multi-layer, and multi-tier posture of the Vietnam People’s Navy as the basis for forming the people’s war posture at sea to defend the Homeland’s seas and islands.

Sr. Col. LE QUOC DUNG, PhD

National Defence Academy

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