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Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 09:47 (GMT+7)
Applying Ho Chi Minh’s military and defence thought to developing Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era

Ho Chi Minh’s life and achievements were aligned with the Vietnamese revolutionary cause, thus leaving the whole Party, people and armed forces an invaluable revolutionary ideology. Ho Chi Minh’s comprehensive and deep standpoint on military and defence, among others, is one of the vital pieces of content, which is of profound theoretical and practical significance. Over the past few years, under the Party’s leadership and the State’s unified governance and management, levels, branches, forces, and the whole people have thoroughly grasped and applied creatively his thought on military and defence to the protection of the Fatherland and recorded a number of important achievements. Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress has affirmed: “the whole people’s defence posture in a close connection with the people’s security posture continues to be strengthened and consolidated, especially in strategic areas; the strength of the Vietnamese People’s Army and People’s Public Security is improved. There is an effective combination of the building of socialism and the defence of the socialist Vietnamese fatherland; economy and defence, security and diplomacy.” Those important outcomes have not only made a practical contribution to enhancing the national status and influence, but created conditions for our country to participate in the international community in a responsible and effective manner, thereby affirming Vietnam’s position and prestige in regional and international arenas.

Snr.Lt.Gen. Phan Van Giang observing new products designed by the Institute for Weaponry under the General Department of Defence Industry
(photo: qdnd.vn)

In the forthcoming years, situations in the region and beyond continue to witness complex developments. However, peace, national independence, democracy, cooperation, and development remain major trends. Globalization and international integration continue to be enhanced. Cooperation, competition, struggle, and interdependence among countries, especially between major powers, are on the increase. The science and technology revolution, particularly in the realm of information technology, continues to take place rapidly, facilitating breakthroughs in many fields while bringing both opportunities and challenges to every nation. The face of the world changes swiftly in the multipolar and multicenter direction. All of the major powers have adjusted their strategies in the direction of both cooperation and rivalry to struggle and contain each other, seriously affecting international and regional situations. Manifestations of extreme nationalism, coercion and pragmatism are increasingly emerging in international relations, having considerable effects on multilateral institutions and the development of small and medium countries in both positive and negative directions. Force assembly, association, rivalry, and struggle between countries in the region and beyond for national interests continue to witness extremely complex developments.

As for Vietnam, the hostile forces are stepping up sabotage in the realms of politics, economy, defence, security, ideology, and culture, with a focus on democracy, human rights, ethnics, and religion; and propagandizing, inciting and hectically realizing the strategy of peaceful evolution with the aim of transforming the political regime in our country. Against such a backdrop, the mission of national defence of the whole Party, people and armed forces is very onerous with intertwined advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we have to continue to thoroughly perceive the Party’s guidelines and positions, and Ho Chi Minh’s thought on military and defence more than ever, laying the foundation for applying creatively those standpoints and thought to the development of defence and military strategies in the new era. There is a need to concentrate on several crucial content as follows.

First, applying Ho Chi Minh’s military and defence thought to the study and assessment of international and regional situations, and to the identification of partners and opponents.

To begin with, the application of Ho Chi Minh’s military thought on the assessment of international, regional and national situations to the development of defence and military strategies must be grounded in the Party’s political, military and defence guidelines, regional and international context, as well as our national capabilities and conditions. Accordingly, on defining the backgrounds of defence and military strategies, there is a need to evaluate correctly the relationships and roles of major powers and the influence of these relationships on development trends in the world. Attention should be paid to appraising in an objective manner regional flashpoints, especially disputes over territorial sovereignty, borders, waters, and islands and other issues relating to our country. At the same time, it is important to evaluate and anticipate closely and correctly domestic situation both at present time and in the future, laying the foundation for specifying challenges on defence and diplomacy, particularly those resulting from “peaceful evolution,” “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” as well as disputes in the East Sea and nontraditional security, seeking measures and eliminating challenges in defence and military strategies.

Today, facing swift and complex developments of the situation, it is necessary to have a new dialectical way of looking at the opponents and partners of the revolution. There are areas for exploiting and cooperating in each subject. There remain differences and contradictions to our interests in each partner. Consequently, there can be various opponents and partners in each concrete area, region and moment. It is essential to have appropriate forms of cooperation and struggle; and take precautions against two trends, namely ambiguity and lack of vigilance, or rigidity in perception and settlement of concrete situations. Defining opponents and partners constitutes our Party’s creativeness in the application of Ho Chi Minh’s thought on “more friends and fewer enemies.” Consequently, the application of Ho Chi Minh’s thought on determining subjects of Defence Strategy and adversaries of Military Strategy needs to resolve appropriately the relationship between defence, security issues and those in other fields of the country, creating favourable conditions for the development of other fields. It is vital to point out that subjects of the Defence Strategy and adversaries of the Military Strategy are the hostile forces seeking to abolish the socialist regime and foreign forces encroaching upon Vietnam’s sovereignty, borders, seas, and islands.

Second, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to the definition of targets, standpoints, principles, and mottoes of Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era.

This is important content in the development of Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era. Therefore, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to the identification of goals, viewpoints, principles, and mottoes of each strategy must ensure objectivity, inclusiveness and scientism, satisfying the demands of national defence in the new situation. The targets of Defence Strategy and Military Strategy need to be expressed in the overarching goals, namely firmly safeguarding independence, sovereignty, unification, and territorial integrity; defending the Party, State, people, and socialist regime; protecting the cause of national renewal, industrialization and modernization; defending national interests; ensuring political security, social order, and culture; firmly upholding political stability and peaceful environment; and developing the country towards socialism. Thus, the goals of Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era are not only prepared to cope with wars of aggression, but, more importantly, seek to firmly preserve political stability and peaceful environment, creating conditions for preventing and repulsing every risk, and making the nation comprehensively strong as the utmost target and highest national interest. Applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought in a creative manner, on leading the revolution, our Party has constantly upheld positions, principles and guidelines in the settlement of military and defence missions, especially military tasks in wars. Over 30 years’ renewal, our Party has constantly held firm to positions, principles and guidelines on properly addressing defence, security situations with a view to firmly maintaining peace and stability conducive to national building and development. That reality should continue to be applied and brought into play in the development of Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era.

Third, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to the building of the all-people national defence – a key point in the Defence Strategy and Military Strategy.

One of the most fundamental pieces of content in Ho Chi Minh’s military thought is the standpoint on the all-people national defence and people’s warfare in armed uprising and revolutionary warfare. That is the national defence of the people, by the people, for the people, of peace and self-defence; all of the people are involved in national defence in the spirit of self-reliance and resilience. That national defence must be built comprehensively strong and ceaselessly modernized, while economy must be combined with national defence and vice versa, generating power to defend the country in every situation, and so on. Consequently, applying Ho Chi Minh’s military and defence thought to the development of Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era must take into account the establishment and consolidation of the all-people national defence in terms of forces, capabilities and postures. Obviously, due to the difference in goals and contents of Defence Strategy and Military Strategy, the application of his thought on the building of national defence in each strategy should be consistent with content, scopes and approaches. During application, it is necessary to comply with the Party’s standpoints and guidelines on military and defence; ensure a comprehensive firmness, and robustness in the core part; take proactive prevention of unexpected situations as the key guiding principle; proactively and actively make every preparation to safeguard the Fatherland far ahead; and combine socio-economic development with consolidation of defence and security.

Fourth, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to the building of the people’s armed forces, especially to the building of Vietnam’s People’s Army (VPA) in each strategy.

Ho Chi Minh’s thought on the building of the people’s armed forces represents a key element in developing real strength of the Vietnamese revolution and is manifested most vividly through the three-pronged armed forces – main force, local force, and militia and self-defence force. Building the VPA according to his thought must ensure that it is an army of the people, by the people and for the people; a stronger emphasis is placed on political aspect than the military one; the military element must be in support of the political element; and the Party exercises its absolute and direct leadership over the VPA and the cause of national defence in all fields. Those are fundamental pieces of content to ensure that the VPA deserves to be the most loyal and trustworthy political and combat force of the Party, State and people. Applying Ho Chi Minh’ thought on the building of the people’s armed forces and the VPA, in the process of leading the Vietnamese revolution, our Party has constantly paid attention to making the armed forces in general and the VPA in particular comprehensively strong, capable enough to fulfill successfully every assigned mission, and worthy of the belief and love of the Party, State and people nationwide.

In the new situations, development of the VPA in the Defence Strategy and Military Strategy needs to inherit the recorded achievements to continue to improve the VPA’s integrated quality, and take political improvement as the roots, particularly fostering firm political spirit among cadres and soldiers. At the same time, there is a need to attach importance to adjusting the VPA’s structure and organization in the direction of adeptness, leanness, flexibility, mobility, and high efficiency; execute the direction of making the VPA “revolutionary, regular, elite, and gradually modernized” with some units and forces advancing straight to modernity; to improve the VPA’s mobility, high-altitude combat, long-range combat, and night operations; concentrate on finding measures to prevent and deal with hi-tech weapons; and to put more effort into developing art of people’s warfare in the new operational conditions.

Fifth, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to the generation and exploitation of the country’s integrated strength in each strategy to successfully complete the task of safeguarding the Fatherland.

To attain that target, in the process of developing Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era, there is a need to apply Ho Chi Minh’s thought on great national unity, and combining national strength with epochal strength with the aim of generating integrated strength to firmly safeguard the socialist Fatherland. Accordingly, it is necessary to comprehend the Party and Uncle Ho’s standpoint on great national unity and international unity to create a key resource of strength, driver and element for ensuring the success of national building and defence; to take the common goals of the revolution as a convergence point; to abolish complexes, prejudice and discrimination on the grounds of the bygones, backgrounds and classes; and to cultivate openness, mutual confidence and forward-lookingness. Great unity is the cause of the whole nation and political system in which party organizations exercise the leading role by means of many measures and forms, including the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policies. It is against the backdrop of international integration, multilateralization and diversification of international relations, national unity, and combining national strength with the epochal strength that the full exploitation of internal strength requires enhanced unity with the world revolutionary movement. At the same time, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the diplomatic guideline of “pitting the unchangeable against the changeable” with a view to realizing successfully our Party and State’s consistent diplomatic policy: “Vietnam wishes to be a friend, reliable partner and responsible member of the international community, for the sake of peace, cooperation and development. Bringing into play the lessons of combining national strength with the epochal strength, patriotism with pure internationalism, and national interests with international duties according to Ho Chi Minh’s thought, we must be consistent in regarding the Vietnamese revolution as an inseparable part of the world revolution; continue to stand in solidarity with and support revolutionary movements and progressive tendencies and trends of the age, and strive for peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress.

Sixth, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to strengthening and improving the effectiveness of defence diplomacy; properly managing relations with major powers; and closely aligning cooperation with struggle.

Defence diplomacy constitutes a crucial element on the diplomatic front of our Party and State. The goals of defence diplomacy are to establish and develop cooperative relationships in defence with all countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect, with the aim of making contribution to strengthening defence and security capabilities, building the people’s armed forces, firmly preserving the peaceful environment, and creating favourable conditions for the renewal process as well as construction and defence of the socialist Fatherland. Therefore, applying Ho Chi Minh’s military thought to strengthening and improving the effectiveness of defence diplomacy in the development of the Defence Strategy and Military Strategy requires us to grasp and strictly implement the Party’s diplomatic guideline, in accordance with national conditions and international background in the new situation. Together with the Party’s diplomatic guideline, the State’s diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy, defence diplomacy has to be continually stepped up in the direction of “more friends and fewer enemies”; and developed in both depth and width in terms of scopes and degrees of cooperation with nations, international organizations and institutions, making contribution to gradually enabling Vietnam’s national defence to integrate into the world. Content and modes of defence relations and cooperation must be broadened to cover various partners and realms, including breakthrough content which will make effective contribution to socio-economic development; firmly maintaining defence and security; firmly safeguarding independence, sovereignty, unification, and territorial integrity of the Fatherland; and improving the prestige and position of the country and the VPA in the region and the world. In the new situation, defence diplomacy in the Defence Strategy and Military Strategy will not only seek to enhance cooperation, but also attach importance to struggle and closely combining cooperation with struggle in various areas. As for disputes and contradictions, it is necessary to struggle sensibly; clearly specify the need for giving priority to developing relations with neighbouring countries, countries in the region, major powers, traditional friends and other countries; posit defence diplomacy to develop in depth and bring about practical effectiveness.

Seventh, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to effectively tackling strategic situations relating to the defence of sovereignty over waters and islands, borders, peaceful environment, and national interests.

Applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought on military and national defence to addressing strategic situations in a sensible and flexible manner is one of vital pieces of content in the development of Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era. Accordingly, and on the basis of anticipated strategic situations, the Defence Strategy and Military Strategy have to identify correctly responses to those situation with the aim of firmly safeguarding the Fatherland, peaceful environment and national interests. It is against the backdrop of current complex, unpredictable developments in the region and beyond that some defence situations are likely to occur in our country. Despite difference in time, nature and degree, those situations are not separated, but closely connected to one another. They are even the natural and direct results of one another. Thus, on perceiving and tackling each situation in the Defence Strategy and Military Strategy, there is a need to take into account of mutual impacts, without allowing a swift change from one situation to another, and without making the situation more complex. Importantly, on the basis of making the most of national integrated strength to effectively settle military and defence situations, we have to be prepared and take initiative in coping with every situation. It is necessary to identify clearly some fundamental measures such as prediction, especially strategic prediction; proactive preparation of projects, plans, facilities, postures, and forces with a regular supplement and proper adjustment; and enhanced training and drills at all levels.

Eighth, applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought to preparation and successful conduct of the people’s war to defend the Fatherland in new conditions.

This is a basic content of Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and a complete, principal content of Vietnam’s Military Strategy in the new era. Consequently, the preparation and successful conduct of the people’s war to defend the Fatherland in these two strategies, especially in the Military Strategy, have to grasp and apply creatively Ho Chi Minh’s thought on people’s war – notably, military art of the people’s war - to the new conditions. Ho Chi Minh’s overarching thought on people’s war deals with mobilizing the whole people in the fight against the enemies, or arming the whole people; and conducting total wars - in political, economic, cultural, social, defence, security, and diplomatic fields. Ho Chi Minh’s thought on military art of the people’s war covers various aspects, most notably the art of combining guerrilla warfare with regular warfare, and local people’s war with operations of regular army corps. That is also the close combination of force build-up, establishment of postures, exploitation of opportunities, and use of stratagems in war; the method of defeating each portion, gaining victories step by step, and the more fighting the more powerful; the combination of combat operations with other forms of struggle, and combat with force development, establishment of power bases, strategic rear, and so forth.

Nowadays, lessons on the application of Ho Chi Minh’s military and defence thought to the development of Vietnam’s Defence Strategy and Military Strategy in the new era are of significant importance, which requires us to constantly perceive and apply in an active, proactive and creative manner. This is also the opportunity for us to have a better understanding of the sustainable guiding value of Ho Chi Minh’s military and defence thought, making contribution to, together with the whole Party, people and armed forces, successfully executing the mission of safeguarding the socialist Vietnamese Fatherland in the new situation.

General, Doctor Phan Van Giang, Member of the Party Central Committee, Member of the Central Military Commission’s Standing Committee, Chief of the General Staff of the VPA, Deputy Minister of National Defence

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