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Thursday, February 18, 2021, 08:31 (GMT+7)
Requirements for using chemical force in prevention and response to nuclear weapons

Preventing and countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including nuclear and radiation weapons, is a vital mission in modern warfare. To undertake this heavy, dangerous, and complex task requires proper use and leverage of the Chemical Force’s leading role.

The war to safeguard the Homeland (should it occur) may witness the enemy’s use of nuclear weapons. Targets of the attack are normally economic, political centres, military bases, head offices, and so on. Nuclear weapons-related situations are complex and the need for chemical defence support is great. Meanwhile, our chemical force and chemical defence equipment have their limitations. Chemical defence is carried out in the context of the enemy’s fierce kinetic and non-kinetic attacks, extensive electronic warfare, and so forth. To effectively prevent and counter nuclear weapons, minimise casualties and preserve strategic stability for fighting and defeating the enemy require comprehensive solutions to bring into play overall power of all forces, in which the chemical force needs to be organised in a close, scientific manner suitable for specific situations and missions. In any cases, to bring into full play the strength and capabilities of the chemical force in preventing and countering nuclear weapons, commanders, chemical departments and units should meet the following demands.

First, tightly integrating on-site chemical forces with mobile ones to timely respond to nuclear-related situations. Situations associated with nuclear weapons will be complex where the affected areas and people needed protecting will be large. Meanwhile, professional chemical forces at all levels, especially at the strategic and operational ones, have their limitations and provide chemical defence for many tasks simultaneously. Therefore, to provide chemical prevention and response at favourable opportunities requires commanders and chemical bodies at all levels to work out coordination plans and closely combine on-site chemical forces with mobile ones, the professional and semi-professional, etc., to timely respond to situations associated with nuclear weapons. This is both a requirement and vital content in the art of using chemical force, which plays a decisive role in seizing and maintaining initiative in preventing, countering, and addressing consequences of nuclear attacks. The combination is carried out according to each phase, mission, and operation. Attention is paid to integrating the strategic-level professional chemical force stationed in the area with the theatre-level chemical force, the chemical forces of military regions and army corps with semi-professional chemical forces, units of militia and self-defence forces in charge of chemical defence, and forces of departments, sectors, unions, and the masses within defence zones, creating overall strength and effectiveness of preventing and countering nuclear weapons.

To realise the above contents requires proactive development of resources for chemical defence at all levels right in peacetime with priorities being given to force building, modernisation of equipment and specialised device used for the professional forces, and establishment of chemical defence posture in defence zones, strategic directions and areas with a view to successfully conducting on-site chemical defence in association with mobile chemical defence to provide all-round defence according to directions and areas. During operations, the Chemical Command and chemical bodies at all levels must take initiative in developing scientific chemical defence plans and carrying out close, concrete, meticulous combat coordination at the onset of and during operations. Moreover, they have to make preparations for the theatre of war, which include building fortifications, battlefields, defence systems and conducting camouflage, deception, and reconnaissance; timely adjust plans for the organisation and use of chemical forces according to developments of operations to timely and effectively deal with nuclear weapons-related situations.

Second, concentration of chemical force in key directions, areas, targets, and complex situations with proper reserve. This is a requirement, principle, and art of using chemical force to resolve the contradiction between limited strength, quality, and equipment of the chemical force and the great need and mission of preventing and countering nuclear weapons. To well fulfil this requirement requires the Chemical Command, commanders, and chemical bodies at all levels to stick closely to combat missions and operational intentions and be aware of situations of the enemy and our side, especially those related to the enemy’s use of chemical weapons. Then, they make plans for proper use of the chemical force, ensuring concentration but focus on appropriate space, time, main directions and targets, operations, and strategic campaigns, particularly key, decisive battles. Additionally, the commanders, chemical bodies and their heads have to consider preparing the reserve which is strong enough and highly mobile to be ready to respond to potential situations.

Concentration of the chemical force must be comprehensive in terms of forces, equipment and device, command, coordination, and support work. The level of concentration depends on enemy situation, mobilisation, development, nature of the nuclear weapons-related situation and balances with other tasks. It is necessary to successfully handle the relationship between concentration and dispersion to ensure rapid concentration and dispersion for the sake of force security, particularly in the context of the enemy’s reconnaissance superiority, high-tech weapons, rapid response, and mobility. Consequently, the use of chemical force in each situation and mission must be within the general plans of the operations or theatre commanders. To meet these demands requires commanders, chemical departments and units to pay attention to mobility, camouflage, deception, and other aspects.

Third, employing forces in accordance with their functions, fortes, and operational concepts. The chemical force is organised into many elements with different functions, missions, areas of operation, and fortes in combat. Thus, correct use will enable them to make the most of their abilities and strong points and facilitate coordination and mutual support, generating overall power in any situation. The organisation and use of chemical force must match operational intentions and plans of the combined arms commanders. This is a principle of organising and using chemical force.

To satisfy demands requires the combined arms commanders and staff departments, including the chemical bodies at all levels and their heads, to deeply grasp the operational concepts, abilities of their subordinate and related units, and the enemy’s use of nuclear weapons. This will provide basis for formulating and making proposals, adjusting plans for organising and using the chemical force, and developing scientific, appropriate, viable chemical defence plans. The professional chemical force plays the key role. It is important to delegate clearly tasks to each specialised detachment in each phase of each type of operations when responding to nuclear attacks. In addition, close coordination and communication are to be maintained among chemical forces as well as between the chemical force and other combat forces in order to accomplish the task of preventing and countering nuclear weapons.

Fourth, unified command and control, close coordination, and comprehensive, timely, sufficient support. This is the prime requirement for leadership and command of the commanders, chemical bodies and their heads during preparation and defence against nuclear attacks. Owing to complex, dangerous, and rapid development of nuclear weapons-related situations, the command and control, coordination, and support of the chemical force must be conducted in a close, unified manner. To satisfy mission demands requires the combined arms commanders, chemical departments and units at all levels to well perceive situations, correctly assess realities, anticipate many situations, and have plans to mobilise logistical, technical resources to provide nonstop combat support in various situations. This is an important content, which has direct influence on effective organisation and use of the chemical force as well as its completion of missions.

On fulfilling requirements, commanders, staff departments, chemical bodies and their heads at all levels pay constant attention to leading the chemical force in posture establishment and force development as well as in preparing plans for organising and using chemical defence forces and equipment in accordance with nature of missions, characteristics, and operations areas. Furthermore, it is necessary to review and rearrange the appointment of commanders and establish chemical bodies in accordance with regulations or set up provisional chemical bodies and their heads in crucial situations and missions. This will serve to provide chemical defence support for command and control according to unified plans of operations and theatre commanders. The chemical force must provide sufficient, thorough, and secret support according to various plans and missions of preventing and countering nuclear weapons. More importantly, the chemical bodies and their heads must have comprehensive measures to secure continual camouflage, deception, and mobility, minimise effects of enemy fires, and improve chemical defence support in the context of enemy’s huge nuclear capabilities, movement superiority, reconnaissance and early warning using space-, air-, sea-, and ground-based sensors, and massive attacks by high-tech weapons.

Correct, proper organisation and use of the chemical force is a precondition for chemical defence support in general and preventing and countering nuclear weapons in particular. This is a matter of operational, strategic art and the art of chemical defence support, which requires commanders, chemical bodies and their heads, and units to study, comprehend, and apply flexibly and creatively to prevention and response to nuclear weapons, satisfying demands of safeguarding the socialist Vietnamese Homeland in the new combat conditions.

Senior Colonel Nguyen Dinh Hien, Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Chemical Corps

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