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Monday, February 20, 2017, 17:05 (GMT+7)
Enhancing defence diplomacy skills for military officers at strategic and operational levels

Grasping and implementing the Party’s foreign policy, over the past years, under the leadership and direction of the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence, defense diplomacy in the Military has gained significant achievements. Up to now, the Viet Nam People’s Army (VPA) has established defence relations with over 60 armed forces (establishing defence attaché offices in 34 countries and 45 countries have established their defence attaché offices in Vietnam), and effectively participated in annual meetings and forums, namely the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM), the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+), the ASEAN Regional Forum, and other important defence and security dialogues, etc. Besides, units stationing at border areas and those of the Services, Corps, the Border Guard, and the Coast Guard, etc have held a number of joint patrols on land and on sea; establishing cooperation in military sci-tech training; information and experience exchanges; participating in UN peacekeeping operations, etc thereby promoting cooperation relations between Vietnam and other countries in the region and the world, contributing to firmly protecting independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and peaceful and stable environment, enhancing the country’s status and credibility in international arena.

However, there are still shortcomings in defence diplomacy activities, in general and in defence diplomatic skills of officers at operational and strategic cadres levels, in particular.  Defence relations with several partners have not been in depth. A number of  agreements have slowly been realized. Thought being improved, the coordination between the Ministry of National Defence and other diplomatic agencies has not been very smooth and effective.  A large part of officers at operational and strategic levels have not been active in proposing and promoting defence diplomacy activities. Their external skills and experience and foreign language ability have not met the demand. Only a few of them are able to attend international dialogues and conferences, etc. For this reasons, in order to enhance the defense diplomacy skills for operational and strategic officers, it is necessary to implement the following measures synchronously.

First, thoroughly grasping the Party’s foreign policy and raising the awareness of the role and importance of defence diplomacy for officers at operational and strategic levels. They are senior officers and hold key positions in agencies and units who directly or indirectly consult and participate in planning guidelines and policies of the Party, State and the Military on military and defence fields. They are also in charge of leading and giving direction over the implementation of those guidelines and policies in their units. Therefore, in order to successfully carry out defence diplomacy activities, it is necessary for them to grasp the Party’s foreign policy, particularly the external relations guidelines and tasks specified in the Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress; the 8th Central Resolution (XI tenure) on “Strategy to protect the Fatherland in the new situation”; the Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW of the Politburo (XI tenure) on “International Integration”; the Resolution No. 806-NQ/QUTW of the Central Military Commission on International integration and defence diplomacy to 2020 and beyond, etc.

Second, planning lessons on improving defence diplomacy skills and knowledge for officers at operational and strategic levels, meeting the mission requirements in the new situation. To better meet the requirements of defence diplomacy in the era of increasingly deep and broad integration, besides the staffs specialized in and directly conducting defence diplomacy, officers at operational and strategic levels of agencies and units should also be equipped with these knowledge and skills for their leadership, direction and participation in the external relations activities. In particular, it is necessary to focus training on Ho Chi Minh’s diplomatic thinking and style, the Party and State’s lines and policies toward each partner. Paying attention to the contents about the combination of defense, security and external relations; enhancing international cooperation in national defence, security and policies on cooperation in training, science – technology, defence industry, economy, and military culture, etc. Focusing on training diplomatic principles, foreign languages, capability in anticipating and consulting in defence diplomacy, diplomatic protocols, culture and traditions of our partners, etc.

Third, improving forms and methods of training. Due to their specific positions, missions, and activities, it is necessary to have suitable forms of training for officers at operational and strategic levels. In the implementation process, it is necessary to have a close coordination with diplomatic agencies of the Party, the State, the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, etc to be consulted on contents, programs, and documents and to invite top experts  in diplomatic relations to participate in giving presentation and having lessons for training courses. At the end of each course, strickly carrying out test to have the exact  evaluation of learner’s studying result as well as their diplomatic ability, considering these the foundations for human resource development towards the direction of specializing defence diplomacy activities for officers at operational and strategic levels.

In addition, promoting the spirit of self-study and self-training to enhance their capability in defence diplomacy. Agencies and units, particularly units that directly conduct external relations activities should provide favorable conditions to promote the spirit of self-study and self-training of their cadres to enhance their practical capability in defence diplomacy; have good mechanisms for personnel selection, task assignment with detail criteria, as well as the favorable conditions to stimulate the spirit of self-study and self-training of their cadres, considering it one of the focal tasks that party committees and commanders should focus on.

Besides self-study and self-training, officers at operational and strategic levels should unceasingly practice to improve their revolutionary virtues together with studying and following Ho Chi Minh thought, morale and style, especially his diplomatic style, making contribution to the maintenance of peaceful and stable environment and leveraging the utmost of overseas sources to firmly protect the Homeland’s independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, enhancing the status and credibility of the country, and contributing to the world’s cause of peace, national independence, democracy and social progress.

Senior Colonel Le Van Duy

The National Defence Academy

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