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Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 07:29 (GMT+7)
Some issues about countering the enemy’s seaborne landing operations in the war to safeguard the Homeland

In the history of Viet Nam, foreign warlike forces repeatedly attacked our country from the sea, including the two wars staged by France and the United States in the 20th century. Therefore, should another war occur, attacks from the sea are likely to remain one of the enemies’ vital directions, or even their main direction of attack. Studies on countering the enemy’s seaborne landing operations are extremely important, especially in terms of practical value. This article aims to discuss some fundamental components of counter-landing operations – a new type of campaign.

1. Opponent

Enemy forces are those who launch ship-to-shore assaults, attack coastal areas to deploy their units and use the areas as springboards for further attacks into mainland. Most of the landing forces are joint operations forces, including brigades from divisions of marine corps, infantry, mechanised infantry, airborne corps, landing crafts and amour vehicles, supported tactical units, and so forth. These forces usually coordinate their activities in a naval landing operation. The main amphibious landing actitivities are to ferry troops from transport ships to the landing crafts and provide massive supporting fires to ship-to-shore movement. Depending on landing terrains, the enemy can combine amphibous landing with airborne landing to seize the bridgeheads and launch further attacks. When much progress has been seen in landing crafts, especially landing craft air cushion, high-speed landing craft and multi-purpose amphibious landing craft, the debarkation areas will be farther from the shore, the maneuver will be faster and more flexible, and the landing forces will be transported straight into shore, creating a great surprise for the defenders. Opponents in counter-landing operations have their own characteristics, thus the enemy amphibious landing forces in key areas can be selected as opponents of operational level of war.

2. Operations purpose, mission and area

Counter-landing operations aim to deter, engage and annihilate enemy forces and vehicles, or more specifically, the maneuvering troops at sea, the landing troops at the water edge and on the shore, and the airborne troops. Meanwhile, our main mission is to focus on annihilating the enemy in key areas, moving towards defeating the enemy amphibious landing operations. From the angles of operations purposes and missions, these are the main purposes and tasks, which are more suitable for conducting operations in key areas than battles. To successfully accomplish operations missions requires correct selection of the enemy’s potential landing areas. They must be coastal areas, adjacent water areas, the areas between debarkation points and staging areas, which are usually characterised by low, flat terrains and mountains at the water’s edge. The maritime operations environment is unique, where operations activities depend heavily on climate conditions, weather, oceanography. However, warring parties can take advantage of terrains to conduct their operations activities. Generally speaking, this is a unique area, capable of accommodating combat operations.

3. Scale of force and posture

In counter-landing operations, our forces include combined arms units of military regions and army corps, local armed forces in defence zones of coastal provinces, cities and islands, units of the Navy and Air Force, combat and combat support arms, and forces in the shore-sea-island posture of people’s war. This scale of force ensures our ability to launch counter-landing operation at different scales, especially the small and medium ones. Small-scale operations are usually conducted by coastal military regions while medium-scale operations are under the responsibility of theatre command. There needs to create postures commensurate with scales of operations to ensure that units can accomplish their assigned tasks. Accordingly, when shaping operations postures, it is necessary to rely on the posture of people’s war to safeguard the Homeland, or more specifically, the posture of strategic operation, including the posture of strategic defence, which has been already prepared in peacetime and will be strengthened in the outbreak of wars. The posture in defence of a coastal military region, the postures of provincial, municipal defence zones, the postures of the Navy and other forces at sea such as the Coast Guard, Fisheries Surveillance Forces, Maritime Militia and Self-Denfence Forces, and maritime economic sectors, and the postures in defence of offshore islands and island chains contribute to shaping the shore-sea-island posture to engage the enemy amphibious landing forces. This posture can be transformed flexibly to undertake other missions. The posture to combat enemy amphibious landing forces is eligible for shaping operations posture of a campaign.

4. Time and space of operations

In counter-landing operations, the operations time basically depends on the enemy’s landing time. Theoretically, the enemy’s landing takes place in a short period of time. Nevertheless, the real time depends greatly on combat effectiveness of both sides. If we fight well, the enemies are forced to extend their landing time, or regroup their forces, even stop their operations. The time for combating the enemy’s amphibious landing forces can last between 7 and 10 days, or even longer, thus being suitable for us to launch an operation. As for space of operations, landing operations can take place in many coastal areas because the extremely long coastline of our country stretches from the north to the south and even the southwest. However, a counter-landing operation can only be mounted in some key areas, where the enemy’s concentration of force reaches the scale of an operation in directions and areas of operational, strategic importance. These are also places where we are capable of deploying forces at the scale of operations. Consequently, counter-landing operations can be carried out in coastal areas and adjacent waters of several coastal provinces, coastal terrain and the waters of Viet Nam. It is estimated that we can launch counter-landing operations in some coastal military regions.

5. Guiding concept and combat method

Guiding concept and combat method are the most fundamental contents, which decide the possibility of conducting operations and type of operations. The guiding concept of counter-landing operation conforms to the general guiding concept but needs to clearly display its specific characteristics and can be generalised as “proactively fighting the enemy at sea, focusing on annihilating the enemy at the water edge, resolutely destroy a large part of the enemy when they land on the shore.” The combat methods of counter-landing operations can be generalised as relying on the shore-sea-island posture, especially the posture of strategic defence, military region defence, provincial and municipal defence zones, and the Navy in combination with rational organisation, use and disposition of forces with a focus on key directions and areas and decisive opportunities so as to create conducive postures for fighting the enemy. It is necessary to take initiative in engaging the enemy by means of many appropriate ways and methods, centre the bulk of forces, equipment and fires on annihilating the enemy forces at the water edge, especially when they have just approached the shore, resolutely maneuver to destroy a large part of the enemy’s amphibious landing and airborne forces when they are landed on shore, and combine annihilation of the landing forces with wiping out the armed rebels inside the country. There needs to win key battles in various stages of an operation and closely combine different forms of struggle in the realms of politics, economy and diplomacy to defeat the enemy’s landing operation or terminate the operation in our favour, creating conducive conditions for following operations activities.

There needs to identify core battles in a counter-landing operation. Each phase of the operation can fight between 1 and 2 core battles. There are between 3 and 5 core battles in an operation. A core battle can be a surprise attack at sea, an engagement with the enemy forces at the water edge, especially when they have just approached the shore, a battle with the enemy’s amphibious or airborne landing troops. As for forms and methods of operations, if we engage the enemy forces when they are at sea, we can make simultaneous or nonsynchronous raids by surface vessels, submarines, coastal defence missile systems, fighters in connection with operations activities of other forces. Engagements with the enemy at the water edge are defensive battles fought by the combined arms force and other forces within the defence zones. When the enemy troops have landed on the shore, our units must quickly launch attacks to prevent them from widening the landing areas in conjunction with wiping out the armed rebels. During operations, great importance should be attached to methods to establish postures, stage diversions, fight widespread, in-depth, devilish battles in conjunction with other forms of struggle.

6. Leadership and command of operations

A counter-landing operation is also led and commanded like other types of operations. If the operation is conducted by a military region, the military region party committee, command and operational department may include members of the party committee and command, commanders of units responsible for conducting the operation and leaders of local authorities. If the operation is launched by a theatre command, the party committee, command and operational department may include leaders of the Ministry of National Defence, General Staff and the General Political Department, leaders and commanders of party committee, theatre command, some ministry-affiliated departments, representatives of the Navy and Air Defence-Air Force, commanders of units participating in the operation, and leaders of local authorities.

In fact, operations activities can be realised through many battles, but they cannot result in sudden changes at operational level of war while conducting an operation by means of using operational art and winning some core battles will create sudden changes at operational level of war. Sometimes, these sudden changes will lead to strategic ones. It is very much the same as in counter-landing operations. We fight some core battles to generate sudden changes at the operational level right at the onset of the war. We launch operations to defeat the enemy’s landing operations from the sea. So, what type of operation is it if we conduct a counter-landing operation? Thorough consideration on the scientific basis of component parts of an operation reveals that this is one type of operations with unique opponents, operations areas, time, space, and method. The reason for this lies in the fact that it is different from the existing types of operations. Within its scope, this article cannot go into details about the subject, hence further feedbacks and discussion are welcome and appreciated.  

Lieutenant General, Associate Professor, Doctor Tran Thai Binh

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