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Bringing into play the virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” when participating in the UN peacekeeping

II. Bolstering the virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” in the Central African Republic and South Sudan

The image of “Vietnamese messengers of peace” who are working in the UN Peacekeeping Missions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan as well as cadres and employees of the Level-2 Field Hospitals No.1 and No.2 and the engineer team have made contributions to developing and elevating the inherent virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” to the international level and displaying culture and glorious tradition of the heroic Vietnamese people and the heroic Vietnam People’s Army (VPA). They have clearly expressed their political zeal, great responsibility, professional competence, scientific working style, enthusiasm, dynamism, creativity, and independence in handling their work, mastering the assigned equipment, and overcoming difficulties to fulfil all missions. Bringing into play the virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” in the UN peacekeeping operations is of great importance to encouraging Vietnamese military staff in the UN Peacekeeping Missions to successfully fulfil their task and create ties of friendship with other forces within the Missions and locals of the host countries, thereby spreading the image of the heroic VPA among international friends.

Certificates of merit handed to outstanding staff members of Vietnam’s Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 by the Mission’s Military Commander (photo:

Immediately after the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 was established on November 25th, 2014, under the leadership and direction from the Party, the State, particularly the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence (MND), relevant offices and units actively made necessary preparations. At the request of the UN, staff members of the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 were carefully selected from the large military hospitals according the UN’s strict criteria on fitness and professional competence. Although the criteria for staff members of a field hospital are very stringent, they have to take training courses so as to meet the high standards set by the UN. In addition to increasing professional training courses, the Vietnam Peacekeeping Department and the Military Hospital 175 proactively cooperated with relevant offices and units as well as foreign partners, such as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand in organising foreign language training, intensive training, and additional training courses at the request of the UN. Typical examples include the training courses on first aid by air and trauma care (ITLS), on advanced trauma life support (ATLS), on settling emergencies with a large number of casualties, and on preventing and handling common infectious diseases within a Mission. A part from professional and foreign language training courses, the field hospital were trained to master re-deployment operations to ensure that it would operate smoothly right after being deployed to the Mission. It should be noted that international experts were directly in charge of providing and supervising the above-mentioned courses. Via inspections by the UN delegation, all cadres, soldiers, and employees of the Level-2 Field Hospital met the criteria and were capable of performing the peacekeeping task in South Sudan.

Moreover, due regard was paid to preparing equipment and making steps for deploying the field hospital by the MND and relevant offices and units. According to the UN regulations, equipment for a level-2 field hospital must meet the common criteria and be provided at least 4 months in advance to serve the purposes of inspection by a UN delegation and field demonstration. Besides, the deployment of this field hospital must go through 2 main phases. In the first phase, nearly 50% of the hospital’s staff members and nearly 30 tons of materials and equipment must be transported to the Mission by air. In the second phase, all remaining staff members, materials, and equipment would be deployed to the Mission by mainly the military transportation system.

In a short time, we devoted tireless efforts to fulfil a heavy workload, make elaborate preparations, and best meet the requirements set by the UN. As a result, Vietnam’s deployment of the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan was spectacularly successful and highly appreciated by the UN and the international community. The outcome of our 5-year deployment of the military forces to the UN peacekeeping missions and the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1  to South Sudan proves our Party and State’s consistent sound guidelines and policies on building confidence and mutual understanding and fostering cooperation with other countries, while delivering the message of peace to international friends. At the same time, it helps reaffirm the country’s commitment to the UN and the international community as a whole that Vietnam will be a friend, a reliable partner, and a responsible member of the international community. It is also a chance for us to say that Vietnam is capable of performing international missions and that our VPA is not only heroic in the wars for national liberation and protection, but also expert in operating in the new field and humane in protecting peace.

As it was the first time Vietnam deployed a Level-2 Field Hospital to the UN Peacekeeping Mission, it faced a lot of difficulties. While the country was inexperienced in fulfilling the UN procedures and making preparations, the weather conditions in South Sudan were very harsh (about 50 degrees Celsius in daytime and about 11 degrees Celsius at night) and the traffic system was limited. In spite of working far from home, with the resolve and morale of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers,” Vietnamese “blue beret” soldiers surmounted all difficulties to opportunely deploy the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 to the province of Bentiu (South Sudan) and put it into service within only 24 days. Meanwhile, it takes many other countries two or three or even six months to deploy and put a peacekeeping unit into operation. With the support from our Party, State, and MND, the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 was supplied with several pieces of modern medical machinery and equipment which would not be reimbursed by the UN. Moreover, a top obstetrician and modern obstetric equipment were sent to the Hospital. It was the first time the UN Peacekeeping Mission had an obstetrician who would provide medical examination and treatment for female staff members of the UN and female locals. Thus, the number of patients at Vietnam’s Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 was more than four times that of Sudan’ level-2 field hospital previously. In its first month, our Hospital provided medical examination and treatment for 120 patients who were staff members of the UN and locals, successfully carried out three operations, and managed to cure a lot of malaria victims. By the end of its service, our Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 received and treated nearly 800 patients, performed more than 30 operations, including 22 medium-level and major ones, and transported 3 patients to higher-level hospitals by air.

After the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 had successfully fulfilled its task, the Level-2 Field Hospital No.2 has been well performing the task at the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan. Within 3 months only in Bentiu province, South Sudan, the Level-2 Field Hospital No.2 have received and treated 527 patient, successfully carried out 4 small operations, 1 medium-level operation, and 1 major operation, and transported 3 patients to the Level-3 Field Hospital by air.

Those achievements by Vietnam’s Level-2 Field Hospitals No.1 and No.2 have really impressed the UN’s staff members working in the Northern Frontline Zone (Bentiu province), while the Medical Division of the whole UN Mission in South Sudan has highly appreciated our field hospitals. Consequently, many representatives from several countries’ Level-1 Field Hospitals in the area and non-governmental organisations’ delegations have visited Vietnam’s level-2 field hospitals to swap experiences. With their achievements, Vietnam’s level-2 field hospitals have been highly appreciated by leaders of the UN and they have sent two letters of thanks and praises to the Government of Vietnam. Admiring Vietnamese officers’ professional competence, task performance, and responsibility at each UN Peacekeeping Mission, the then Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon used the word “amazing” to praise Vietnam’s peacekeeping force when visiting Hanoi in May 2015.

During their work at the UN Peacekeeping Missions, in any position and circumstance, the VPA’s peacekeeping cadres and soldiers have always expressed their political zeal, knowledge, responsibility and professional competence, remained firm against all difficulties and challenges, and managed to gain the trust and support from the UN Peacekeeping Missions and the international community. In addition to performing their task, in the durable hot weather conditions, to ensure the source of foods for their daily meals, Vietnamese “blue beret” soldiers have taken seeds from home to plant vegetables and given instructions to locals on growing vegetables. Moreover, Vietnamese “blue beret” soldiers working at the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic have provided education for children. This activity is unprecedented at the Mission of this country, thereby being highly appreciated and commended at many conferences and meetings by the Mission. Vietnamese peacekeeping officers’ teaching has been spread and supported by international organisations, such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), offices and agencies of the Central African Republic, including the Pasteur Institute, the University of Bangui, and the Customs Office of the Mpoko International Airport, as well as many communities of the Central African Republic.

Overcoming all difficulties in local language and customs, the VPA’s peacekeeping officers and soldiers at the UN Peacekeeping Missions have actively cooperated with the host countries’ people and international friends in providing education for children, swapping experiences with students of the University of Bangui in establishing groups of volunteer students, organising charitable, cultural, and artistic programmes, and giving instructions to locals on Vietnamese cuisine. Doing so has helped introduce Vietnamese nation and people as well as the VPA’s heroic tradition in the national construction and protection to international friends and the host countries’ authorities and people. Reality has proved that regardless of difficulties and hardships, the virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” and the nature of the heroic Vietnamese nation’s heroic VPA become more persuasive in the eyes of other countries’ people and international friends. (To be continued)


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