Friday, March 22, 2019, 07:06 (GMT+7)
Building advanced and self-reliant defence industry - an important guideline in Vietnam’s National Defence Strategy

Making the defence industry of Vietnam advanced and self-reliant is our Party and State’s strategic direction stated in the 11th Politburo’s Resolution 06-NQ/TW, dated July 16th 2011 and recently affirmed in the 12th Politburo’s Resolution 24-NQ/TW, dated April 16th 2018 on Vietnam’s National Defence Strategy. To realize that strategic guideline, it is necessary to reach a consensus both theoretically and practically on the system of measures for achieving the two goals of being “advanced” and “self-reliant” during the process of developing Vietnam’s defence industry in the foreseeable future.

Building the advanced defence industry of Vietnam

The achievements in Vietnam’s defence industry have been of paramount importance. Notably, in recent years, our defence industry has made substantial progress and greatly contributed to the cause of Homeland construction and protection. However, in the new period, to facilitate the armed forces’ modernization and the country’s modernization and industrialization, the defence industry must develop more rapidly. The development of advanced defence industry and the national industry and economy share a lot of challenges and motivations; to avoid the risk of backwardness, we have to deal with the middle-income trap. Normally, if a country is basically self-sufficient in infantry materiel of all types, it is recognized to reach the medium level of defence industry development. To overcome this challenge, we must be able to master technologies, design and manufacture modern, smart, hi-tech weapons and equipment of all types. To that end, it is essential to have strong political determination, to persistently follow a long-term strategy, to adopt many practical, effective measures, and to attach greater importance to building scientific-technological potential, human resources and institutions.

Concerning the scientific-technological potential, many countries in the world have applied the achievements of the 4th industrial revolution to their military science-technology fields earlier than other civilian industries. Vietnam must follow that trend. To effectively deal with the enemy’s hi-tech weapons in the future warfare, it is important to master advanced weapons and technical equipment of all types. Consequently, in the upcoming time, we need to conduct a number of central, breakthrough tasks in order to approach and master new technologies related to the manufacture of weapons for the Navy, the Air Defence - Air Force, and the forces which will move forward to modernity as planned in the National Defence Strategy. Besides, due regard should be paid to studying, manufacturing and improving infantry weapons, particularly making the weapons manufactured in Vietnam as modern as those in the world and the region. To do so, the General Department of Defence Industry and research centres should prioritize the application of scientific-technological advancements; proactively get involved in the 4th industrial revolution; take short cuts in some specific military technologies with a view to achieving a breakthrough in designing and manufacturing the products with advanced tactical and technical features. At the same time, it is necessary to continue making investments in modernizing research centres, labs, facilities and technical means for studying, designing, trialing, manufacturing, repairing, innovating, and modernizing weapons and technical equipment.

Regarding the human resources, in recent years, due attention has been paid to building and developing defence industry resources. In spite of the fact that our defence industry’s human resources have increased in terms of quantity and professions, we lack top engineers and experts, and we have not had chief designers in charge of hi-tech weapons and equipment. The work of attracting gifted individuals to the defence industry has yet to meet the expectations, which will block our process of mastering design-technology related to hi-tech weapons and lessen the defence industry’s contributions to carrying out the 4th industrial revolution in our country. Therefore, in the foreseeable future, the Government and the Ministry of National Defence should concentrate on more strongly renewing the relevant policies, with priority given to both preferentially treating and appointing talented personnel to important positions. A part from the preferential treatment policies for the personnel in the defence industry, there should be special mechanisms and policies for hi-calibre human resources and those who are capable of leading groups of experts to successfully undertake the breakthrough, key, peak scientific-technological missions. It is believed that it is imperative to both preferentially treat and appoint the talented personnel to important positions. Thus, the Government and the Ministry of National Defence must adopt the policies for assigning important positions to the gifted people, honouring, encouraging, and rewarding them, while formulating the strategies and mechanisms for keeping the experts’ mind on the defence industry.

As to the institution, in the 4th industrial revolution, in addition to the modernization of the defence industry, it is also important to further renew the ways of thinking and doing, more particularly and directly the institutions, including the organizational structure, management mechanism, planning, and restructuring. Promoting the attained results, in the upcoming time, we need to further review and complete the system of legal documents on the defence industry so as to facilitate international integration, enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of state management, and encourage inter-sectoral coordination, apparatus streamlining, and administrative reform. The mechanisms and policies must ensure the synchronicity and effectiveness and avoid being overlapped. In this regard, it is essential to quickly review the implementation of the Ordinance on Defence Industry (2008) and the Ordinance on Defence Mobilization (2003) as the basis for studying, drawing up, and promulgating the Law on Defence Industry as a solid legal corridor for the long-term development. The models of defence industry business must be restructured in order to meet the demands for international integration and professionalization, adapt to the management mechanism of the national industry, and ensure the competitiveness in the market both at home and abroad. The plan on disposing the defence industry potential must be adjusted in line with the force disposition and the military-defence mission set by the National Defence Strategy and the master plan of the national economy in order to ensure the close combination of national defence and economy.

Building self-reliant defence industry

In the strategy for developing the defence industry by any country, great importance must be attached to maintaining independence and self-reliance and minimizing dependence on other countries. Even in peacetime, while the world’s economy is following the mainstream of globalization and trade liberalization, the international relations in the defenece industry area are increasingly suffering the imposition of multilateral and unilateral sanctions which limit, prevent, control, and prohibit the weapons and military technologies trade. If a war occurred, the country which launches the war would always seek to adopt the measures to lay siege to and isolate its opponent as well as prevent the supplies from the outside, attack and destroy the defence industry potential of its opponent.

Defence industry self-reliance does not mean self-restriction, self-isolation, and self-sufficiency. In the current situation, self-reliance works only when we know how to take advantage of opportunities created by the expanded international cooperation and deeper and wider integration into the world’s market of weapons and military technologies. Doing so will enable us to proactively select the suppliers of products and technologies with proper prices and good after-sales, warranty, and training services in accordance with the benefits and demands of Vietnam’s defence industry. As a result, we could reduce dependence on the outside during the process of realizing the stated strategic targets. In this field, we need to flexibly diversify forms of international cooperation, including technology transfer, joint venture, and cooperation on training human resources, developing the market, building the trademark, exporting the products, taking part in the global value chain, particularly in the professionalization of manufacturing goods and dual-use products.

However, for the sake of self-reliant defence industry, the country’s internal and aggregate strength acts as the deciding factor. Particularly, the country must be capable of studying and developing new weapons and providing sufficient technologies and materials for the defence industry’s production in the event of a war; it must have enough human resources, facilities, and other resources. To gradually improve the country’s particular internal strength, it is necessary to adhere to the targets and tasks set by the Vietnam’s National Defence Strategy; to persistently realize the long-term targets; flexibly adjust measures and central tasks in each step in accordance with reality.

To enhance the self-reliance of Vietnam’s defence industry, it is also important to closely combine national defence with economy and vice versa, effectively apply the achievements of the national economy to manufacturing weapons and technical equipment. Accordingly, it is necessary to include the task of building and developing the defence industry in the development projects/strategies of ministries, sectors and localities, particularly the projects for cooperation with welfare establishments or those for investment in welfare establishments to serve the defence industry’s purpose. The demand for investing in developing the defence industry is large. Thus, in addition to effectively using the state budget, it is essential to continue diversifying funds for this task, including both foreign and domestic funds. Moreover, great value should be attached to effectively exploiting dual-use potential to meet the demands for both defence-security and national industrialization and modernization.

The road to the advanced and self-reliant defence industry of Vietnam is still long; therefore, there is a need for the political determination and persistence as well as effective measures and efforts from many sides. In the medium term, to successfully fulfil the goals and tasks of developing the defence industry set in the Vietnam’s National Defence Strategy, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence will continue closely cooperating with relevant ministries and sectors and focus their leadership and direction on executing programs, targets, and projects for building and developing the defence industry under the Resolution 06-NQ/TW and the Plan on building and developing the defence industry towards 2025 with a vision towards 2035 so as to make a huge positive change in the upcoming time and meet the requirements for the Homeland construction and protection in the new situation.

Maj. Gen., Associate Professor Doan Hung Minh, PhD

Deputy Director of the General Department of Defence Industry

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