Monday, January 11, 2021, 15:35 (GMT+7)
The Military Region 5’s armed forces in the vanguard of natural disaster prevention and control

With their dedication to serving the people, cadres and soldiers of the Military Region 5’s armed forces have always surmounted all difficulties and played a vanguard role in natural disaster prevention and control and search and rescue to help stabilise the people’s life and bolster the image of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers - the Military Region 5’s soldiers” in the new period.

The Military Region 5’s armed forces during a search and rescue operation at Tra Leng commune, Nam Tra My district, Quang Nam province

South Central Coast has been confronted with numerous natural disasters so far. Recently, climate change and natural disasters/incidents have taken place more frequently, unpredictably and negatively within this region. Only in October and November 2020, the Military Region 5 constantly suffered from 5 storms leading to heavy rains, floods, and landslides, leaving about 60 citizens dead, 50 locals missing, and 60 people injured, devastating local facilities, causing  enormous damage to the people’s property and farming, seriously impacting socio-economic development and local life. Therefore, natural disaster prevention and mitigation have been regarded as a “combat mission in peacetime” by the Military Region 5’s Party Committee and Command, while their leadership and direction have been focused on performing this important task. The Military Region has always directed its offices and units to strictly maintain the order for duty and combat readiness prior to and during storms and floods. In addition to the system of combat readiness system, the Military Region has organised another system for natural disaster prevention and control and search and rescue to opportunely deal with situations. Importance has been attached to ensuring the safety of depots, barracks, technical zones, equipment, combat work, medical materials, fuel, and food. Consideration has been given to inspecting preparations, evacuating personnel and equipment from areas with the risk of landslide, and combining storm prevention and mitigation with COVID-19 control in quarantine zones. Due attention has been paid to grasping the developments of storms and floods, reviewing and supplementing projects for settling situations, mobilising forces, equipment, and materials to help the people opportunely, effectively respond to natural disasters under the four on-the-spot motto1. Steering boards from the Military Regions’ offices and provincial-level military commands have collaborated with local competent offices in inspecting coastal residential areas and zones directly affected by storms, floods, and landslides in order to adopt projects for evacuating locals and their assets to safer parts.

Prior to each storm, in coastal areas and on the outpost islands of Ly Son (Quang Ngai), Cu Lao Cham (Quang Nam), and Cu Lao Xanh (Binh Dinh), cadres and soldiers of units have consolidated barracks, helped citizens reinforce their houses and facilities, and assisted local authorities in evacuating the people. Coastal provincial-level military commands have proactively worked with the Border Guard Force and local authorities to provide information about storm shelters for vessels at sea. Besides, they have organised forces in dangerous areas to guide people and vehicles safely.

In response to the developments of storms and floods, the Military Region’s Party Committee and Command opportunely issued telegrams to direct offices and units’ natural disaster prevention and control. Training courses, the building of combat works, capital construction, and unnecessary conferences at offices and units were postponed so that they would proactively collaborate with local party committees and authorities in employing personnel and vehicles to help citizens quickly overcome consequences and stabilise daily life. At the same time, delegations were deployed to inspect and direct natural disaster prevention and mitigation as well as search and rescue.

Additionally, the Military Region’s Command has exercised its drastic, expeditious direction over searching and rescuing missing people due to landslides, floods, and vessel sinking and supplying food to citizens isolated by floods and landslides. It cooperated with the Air Division 372 in organising flights to rescue the people and give food and supplies to locals in the areas affected by floods and landslides. It also worked with the Naval Zone 3 and the Coast Guard Zone 2 to actively search and rescue fishing vessels at sea. Meanwhile, commanders of the Military Region were in charge of delegations to the areas to direct forces. It should be noted that during the storm No.9 and the landslide in the commune of Tra Leng, Nam Tra My district, under the direction from the Ministry of National Defence, the Military Region’s Command established a forward command post at the Military Command of Bac Tra My District, Quang Nam province, headed by a Deputy Commander of the Military Region to cooperate with local party committees and authorities in carrying out search and rescue operations. At the same time, a delegation was deployed to the Quang Nam Provincial Search and Rescue Command at Phuoc Son district so as to search missing locals and provide food and supplies for the people at the communes of Phuoc Loc and Phuoc Thanh (Phuoc Son district). Thanks to proactive preparations, in a short time only, the Military Region deployed tens of thousands of cadres, soldiers, and vehicles for search, rescue, and settlement of consequences, thereby helping the people quickly stabilise their life.

After storms and floods, the Military Region directed offices and units quickly deploy personnel and vehicles to take part in handling the consequences. Forces were directed to clean up houses, schools, medical stations, and working places of local authorities. Emphasis was placed on dealing with landslide points in residential areas and traffic lines and assisting the people in restoring production. Besides, units provided medical examination and treatment and helped local authorities give instructions on epidemic prevention and control to their citizens. Expressing their sympathy for the people, the Military Region’s Command, offices, and units organised many trips to localities to visit, encourage, and present families whose members had been dead or missing due to natural disasters with gifts worth nearly 2 billion VND. At the same time, the Military Region actively created a favourable condition for organisations, individuals, and enterprises to transport relief goods to the people in the quickest time.

Continuous storms and floods seemed to exhaust citizens and troops of the South Central Coast. Being born and raised in this region, cadres and soldiers of the Military Region’s armed forces sympathised with the people’s pain and loss as many of their families were affected by natural disasters. However, putting their family business aside, with the virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers,” each cadre and soldier were fully aware of their responsibility for natural disaster prevention and control and search and rescue. Regardless of difficulties caused by storms, floods, and landslides, they even sacrificed their lives for rescuing the people. Commanders of the Military Region’s Command were also in charge of the search and rescue force right on the scene. Cadres and soldiers of the Engineering Brigade 270 spent days and nights on handling landslide points with the determination to clear the roads to the isolated areas in the quickest possible time. Under that spirit, cadres and soldiers of the Division 315 left no stone unturned through the rain and the cold, with the hope of finding survivors. Hundreds of members of the militia and reserve forces of Quang Nam marched tens of kilometres throughout forests to carry rice, salt, drinking water, food, and medicines to the people in need at the communes of Phuoc Loc and Phuoc Thanh. All of those deeds proved the noble virtues of “Uncle Ho’ soldiers” - “the Military Region 5’s soldiers” in the people’s hearts and minds.

In the upcoming time, the complex developments of climate and weather will impose new requirements on natural disaster prevention and control and search and rescue. Therefore, commanders of offices and units should actively undertake researches, broaden their hands-on experience, anticipate situations, correctly assess the key areas, and proactively develop plans and solutions to effectively respond to natural disasters/incidents. The provincial-level military commands should attach great value to advising local party committees and authorities on the four on-the-spot motto. In the landside at the district of Nam Tra My, the on-the-spot forces had opportunely searched and rescued a lot of locals before the Military Regions’ search and rescue units were deployed to the scene. Moreover, hydropower plants and remote residential areas with poor traffic and communication systems will be easily isolated by storms and floods. Hence, workers and citizens should proactively store up food and supplies, while developing their own evacuation plans in the event. There should be many different projects for approaching the areas isolated by storms, floods and landslides as well as for ensuring smooth communication in all situations. In addition, it is important to give advice to local authorities on reviewing areas with the risk of flash flood and landslide to formulate projects for evacuating their citizens.

Due regard should be paid to conducting the work of propagation to raise the people’s awareness of natural disasters/incidents and improving their skills in dealing with disasters. Pioneering forces within offices and units should be established to take charge of natural disaster prevention and control and search and rescue. Prior to each storm and flood season, offices and units should collaborate with local authorities and citizens in inspecting the areas with the risk of congestion.

Measures for receiving and providing information, issuing warnings and guiding vessels at sea to storm shelters should be closely implemented by both competent offices and locals. There should be state-of-the-art warning devices in hillsides, mountain feet, river and stream heads, and coastal and island areas. At the same time, significance should be attached to taking advantage of traditional warning tools, such as portable speaker, alarm, and gong in order to opportunely release warnings about natural disasters/incidents.

To conclude, those above-mentioned deeds by cadres and soldiers of the Military Region 5’s armed forces in natural disaster prevention and combat and search and rescue have contributed to bolstering the virtues and tradition of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers - the Military Region 5’s soldiers” in the new period, building up the unity between the Military and the people, and cementing the people’s faith in the Party, the State, and the Military.

Maj. Gen. TRUONG THIEN TO, Deputy Commissar of the Military Region 5

1. “Four on-the-spot motto”: (1) on-the-spot command, (2) on-the-spot force, (3) on-the-spot means and materials, (4) on-the-spot logistics.  

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