Monday, December 16, 2019, 07:56 (GMT+7)
The VPA and the task of building all-people national defence posture

Imbued with the tradition of nation building and protection, in the Declaration of Independence on September 2nd, 1945, President Ho Chi Minh called on the entire Vietnamese people to determinedly mobilize all their physical and mental strength and sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard the national independence and liberty. That is the ideology and guideline on building the all-people national defence posture to protect the Fatherland. The Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) plays a pivotal role in this crucial task.

Under the Party’s leadership, at the onset of the resistance war against the French colonialists, all activities of the whole Party, people, VPA, and political system were aimed at well executing the defence and military work. To stringently adopt that direction, the building, deployment and disposition of the main military units, on-the-spot armed forces (self-defence force, guerrilla militia, and armed police) and people in each locality were quickly completed, serving as a scientific basis as well as a prerequisite for preventing and defeating the attacks of the French expeditionary force. Notably, it could take the 60-day-and-night campaign to protect Hanoi Citadel (in late 1946) by the Capital Regiment and Hanoi’s local armed forces and people or the development of flexible counter-attack posture by the High Command in Viet Bac Campaign - Autumn and Winter 1947 as examples, greatly contributing to making the resounding victory against the French colonialists’ strategic offensive in Viet Bac base, firmly maintaining the revolutionary base and safeguarding headquarters of the resistance war.

Although the defence activities in this period were mainly centred on protecting revolutionary bases and army rear and expanding liberated area, they made great strides in ideologically directing the building of the all-people defence posture. In particular, the National Defence (now the VPA) units, the Southward-march party cells, and the main force of the Ministry of National Defence (MoD) and military regions played a key role.

In the resistance war against the US, in pursuance of the Party’s strategic policy on building the VPA and consolidating national defence, the Central Military Party Committee (now Central Military Commission) directed our entire VPA to complete troop movement under the Geneva Accords. At the same time, due regard was paid to rearranging organisational structure, improving weapons and equipment, and accelerating the plan to build and develop the three-category armed forces with a focus placed on making the VPA revolutionary, regular and modern in order to meet the task requirements of “Protecting the cause of bringing the North to the period of building socialism, defending the sovereignty, territory and security of Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, always maintaining readiness to fight and thwart any imperialist aggression, especially by US imperialists and their lackeys.” In parallel with developing regular infantry troops and corps units, the Navy and the Air Defence - Air Force Service were opportunely strengthened in terms of organizational structure with the focus on developing and deploying forces in line with the uniformed defence plan, forming a posture to protect the socialist North Viet Nam both on land, at sea and in the air. Therefore, although the enemies used many cunning tricks to create excuses or counted on their overwhelming strength of modern materiel to escalate the war in the North, they all were defeated. This was because the robust all-people defence posture in the North had been quickly transformed into the developed people’s war posture.

In the South, the revolution of national liberation and people’s democracy was carried out by means of armed violence; the military command system was consolidated and developed at all levels. Notably, thanks to the foundation of main military units in the South (B2), War Zone 5 and the support of human and material resources from the North rear, the soldiers and people in the South cleverly created firm, efficient and widespread posture, defeating the enemy’s offensives and campaigns towards the liberated area. At the end of the resistance war, our Army built strong main divisions which then developed into army corps with the ability to carry out joint operations on a large scale. This created momentum to conduct the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising and the complete liberation of the South and national reunification ensued.

After the country’s reunification, our VPA not only participated in overcoming the consequences of the war but also rearranged organisational structure and disposed its forces in regions and localities to build and consolidate national defence and territorial integrity of the Fatherland.  Moreover, the VPA fought in the two wars to protect the Southwest and Northern borders. During the Doi Moi period, the VPA always grasped the situation, actively advised the Party and the State on formulating guidelines and perfecting the legal system in the defence and military field, ensuring uniformity and consistency to meet the task requirements of Homeland protection both for the time being and in the distant future. The Party’s consistent policy is to keep building of the Army “revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern” VPA, to actively adjust the strategic disposition, to combine on-the-spot posture with mobile one, to align widespread one with key one, particularly in the strategic directions and geographical areas, and to build the all-people defence posture in association with the people’s security posture and the posture of all-people border defence. Grounded on the above practice, some lessons can be drawn as follows.

1. Enhancing the Party’s absolute and direct leadership over the VPA’s building of all-people defence posture. Building robust all-people defence posture is considered as the common thread to the cause of Homeland protection and the VPA is determined to be the core force to carry out this strategic task successfully. Under the Party’s leadership, our VPA has been constantly developing in terms of quantity, quality, weapons, equipment and combat experience. During the resistance war against the French colonialists, all-people defence posture was established mainly to protect revolutionary bases, rear, liberated areas, etc. However, in the resistance war against the US imperialists, our VPA whose core was the elite main divisions and the corps equipped with modern weapons closely cooperated with local armed forces and people in creating robust all-people defence posture to defend the socialist regime in the North against the enemy’s attacks in all combat environments. Facing the increasing demands of the task of national protection, maintaining and enhancing absolute and direct leadership in all aspects of the Party over the VPA and the cause of national defence and security is not only a principle, but also the most vital and effective solution to build a “revolutionary, regular, seasoned, gradually modern” VPA. In this regard, emphasis is placed on modernizing a number of army corps and units, ensuring the VPAs role as the core force in building robust all-people defence posture, protecting the independence, sovereignty, unification, and territorial integrity of the Fatherland.

2. Proactively undertaking researches, making forecasts about the situation correctly, adjusting troop deployment, and preventing passive and unexpected situations. As a core force performing the task of defending the Fatherland, the VPA consistently upholds revolutionary vigilance, constantly grasps the situation, actively undertakes researches, and provides forecasts about hostile fiendish plots and cunning artifices to advise the Party and the State on setting the direction for building and developing the armed forces, forming solid, widespread, efficient, inter-connected, and focalized all-people defence posture.

To achieve the victory in the Air Defence Campaign in late 1972 in the North, our VPA accurately predicted the US Air Force’s conspiracies and tactics, while proactively organising, using and deploying the three-category air defence force. This laid extensive, robust and flexible air defence posture to defend the North, especially Hanoi capital. As a result, after 72 days and nights, the North managed to foil the US strategic airstrike by B-52 aircraft in Hanoi, Hai Phong and neighbouring areas, making the heroic victory of “Dien Bien Phu in the air”, forcing the US imperialists to sign the Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam.

3. Proactively building the all-people defence posture associated with the people’s security posture, always maintaining readiness to turn them into the people’s war posture to protect the Fatherland. Defence and security are two crucial fields having a direct impact on the task of national defence. Therefore, no sooner had the Democratic Republic of Vietnam been founded than our Party focused on directing the VPA and the People’s Public Security Force to cooperate with each other closely in foiling all sabotage plots and aggressive actions by the French colonialists against the Vietnamese government. This cooperation was clearly expressed by creating a defensive posture, ensuring security, arresting spies, and annihilating the enemy’s commandos. It made great contributions to firmly defending the North against the US imperialists’ plot to escalate the war.

Today, although peace and cooperation for development are still the dominant trend, there are still complicated risks and threats to national defence and security. Local wars, armed conflicts, disputes over natural resources and territorial sovereignty, non-traditional security threats tend to rise. For our country, the hostile forces continue to intensify their “peaceful evolution” strategy, speed up “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” as well as their plots to “depoliticise” and “civilise” the Military with the aim of removing the VPA, national defence and security from the Party’s leadership and eliminating the core role of the VPA from defence work. Therefore, in order to firmly protect the Fatherland in all situations, it is necessary to continue building a “seasoned, compact, and strong” VPA as the basis for building robust all-people defence posture in peacetime and maintaining readiness to turn it into the people’s war posture at the outbreak of war (if any).

Maj. Gen. Nguyen Hoang Nhien, PhD, the Military History Institute of Viet Nam

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