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Ho Chi Minh’s strategic direction to Vietnamese revolution on the necessity of weapon

Along with the will and determination to fight for national independence, "To fight the enemy, first we must have weapons" is the summary of President Ho Chi Minh on the 4th Anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Victory. That summary is also the strategic direction to build and develop the military engineering industry to meet the requirements of the revolution and our Army.

On the basis of Marxist-Leninist theory on war and army, the world's military quintessence and the nation's unique military tradition, leader Ho Chi Minh gave strategic directions to promptly solve the basic and urgent military problems of Vietnamese revolution.

Besides attributing the war power and military power to the decisive role of human, President Ho Chi Minh also emphasised the particularly important role of weapons and military technical equipment. He pointed out that: "Insurrection must have weapons. That is one of the very important issues of the revolution" and "Armed uprising means that people rise up, using weapons to repel the invaders and regain the power". In difficult conditions, he directed to find sources of weapons for the revolution by different ways, focusing on the following main issues:

First, search and mobilise all sources of weapons to equip the armed forces. First of all, promoting internal resources and self-production is the best way to promptly solve the immediate difficulties and shortages in weapons. During the preparation for the General Uprising to seize power, Ho Chi Minh instructed: "We must employ whatever can be used for fighting the enemy, even forging spears for the guerrillas when possible". In early 1941, he ordered our professional officers to open a weapons workshop in Cao Bang. Then, following the Party's directive and Viet Minh call to purchase weapons to fight the enemies, most of the provinces in the North, Centre and South urgently forged weapons. In addition, Ho Chi Minh called on the people and armed forces to use self-made weapons to fight the enemy, and to use enemy weapons to equip themselves. Mastering that thought, the Vietnamese army and people, with clever and creative guerrilla warfare, conducted many battles and obtained many weapons from the enemy to fight the enemy.

Ho Chi Minh also sought new procurement from abroad, and at the same time called for the aid and help of international friends to acquire new and modern weapons for the revolution. As early as 1941, Ho Chi Minh had advocated opening a communication line from Cao Bang to Kunming (China) to contact with comrades operating abroad and find ways to buy weapons from China. At the same time, he and the Party Central Committee launched the movement of "Budget for saving the country" (June 1945), "Golden week" (September 1945) to raise money to buy guns and ammunition to equip the armed forces, helping the armed forces acquire a considerable amount of weapons and equipment. In order to have more sources of weapons, especially modern weapons, Ho Chi Minh advocated "relying on our own strength, while at the same time seeking the support of the fraternal socialist countries and peace lovers in the world". He directly visited China and the Soviet Union to establish diplomatic relations and seek international support for our resistance war for national liberation and reunification. During the 1954 – 1964 period, the Soviet Union and China provided Vietnam with 77,219 and 42,219 tons of military goods, respectively. In the period 1965 - 1975, the socialist countries supported Vietnam with 2,224,802 tons of military goods. Thanks to that support, Vietnam was capable of launching big campaigns, making resounding victories, and successfully ending the resistance war against the French colonialists and the American imperialists.

Second, focus on building and developing the military weaponry industry in a fundamental, long-term, solid and modern direction. To meet both immediate and long term demands for weapons in the resistance war, Ho Chi Minh paid special attention to building and developing the military weaponry industry in a fundamental, solid and modern direction. Immediately after taking power, on September 15, 1945, Ho Chi Minh ordered the establishment of the Military Weaponry Agency under the Ministry of National Defence with two tasks: "Collecting, procuring weapons and producing weapons in order to promptly meet the requirements of all people's militarisation”. At the same time, he directed our army and people, especially the Military Weaponry industry to research, manufacture, improve, and turn weapons obtained from all sources into our own property and use them according to our own fighting style, with the spirit of: weapon production must be linked with tactical requirements. With the self-reliance of the whole army and people, especially the contingent of military science and technology cadres, modern and powerful weapons provided by foreign countries have been studied and improved to make them compact, portable, convenient to maneuver, and suitable for Vietnam’s combat art. The production and manufacturing of weapons also successfully completed their tasks, meeting the basic needs for weapons and equipment of the armed forces in combat. Other military-technical operations have also gradually been formed and developed rapidly, such as: communications, transportation, engineering, artillery, etc., contributing to the development and growth of the Military Technical Industry.

Third, develop the staff of skilled personnel for the research, improvement and production of weapons for the revolution. With his strategic vision, as soon as in 1941, Ho Chi Minh sent many military officers to overseas training for later use in the Military. Especially, in 1946, during his official visit to France, he has successfully persuaded some patriotic overseas Vietnamese intellectuals, such as: Pham Quang Le, Vo Quy Huan, Vu Dinh Huynh, etc., to come back and serve in the revolution. Later, he appointed Tran Dai Nghia (Pham Quang Le) as Director of the Military Weaponry Department. Under the leadership and command of Tran Dai Nghia and promoting the spirit of self-reliance and self-creation, the Military Weaponry branch has been able to produce many new weapons, including powerful ones with large destruction such as Bazooka, SKZ, AT, SS, etc. which are able to destroy modern means of war, such as tanks, armoured vehicles, and fortified bunkers of the enemy.

In order to train military science and technology cadres with good expertise, President Ho Chi Minh and the Governmental Council decided to found the Military Technical University (October 28, 1966), now known as Military Technical Academy. This is the first military technical university of the Army and the country, being tasked with training and conducting scientific research in the field of military science and technology for the development of the defence industry.  During the resistance war against the U.S for national salvation, the school trained and sent many officers to military stations and repair workshops, directly serving in combat on the southern battlefields; promoted scientific research, focusing on improving and promoting the features and specifications of existing weapons and equipment. By attaching importance to the training and retraining of cadres, our Party and President Ho Chi Minh have built up a contingent of talented and enthusiastic military technical cadres and workers for the production of various kinds of weapons, making an important contribution to the great victories of the Vietnamese revolution.

Fourthly, attach importance to fostering the practice of thrift and effective use of weapons among officers, soldiers and the entire people. Ho Chi Minh pointed out that when the country was still poor, the weapons we had could not meet the demands of the revolution, therefore, all weapons, whether domestically produced, obtained from the enemy, or supported by international friends, must be used in a thrifty and effective manner. This is the best way to reduce the difficulties and shortages in weapons of the revolution, while still achieving high combat efficiency. Therefore, it is necessary to educate and foster the practice of thrift and effective use of weapons for officers, soldiers and people. He often advised officers and soldiers that: “It is necessary to take good care of weapons, equipment and vehicles; save ammunition, gasoline; treasure people's strength and property". At the same time, he required that leaders and commanders at all levels regularly "educate their soldiers to keep their weapons and equipment in good condition, save every bullet, every grain of rice, not to waste". In particular, for the loot obtained, Uncle Ho advised to maintain carefully and use sparingly: "It’s good that you have collected some enemy vehicles. That's the capital, you have to keep it. Cars and gasoline are people's sweat, tears, and blood. You have to take care of your cars, treat them like your child, and treasure the petrol as your blood."

Thanks to the above-mentioned measures, Ho Chi Minh and our Party have successfully solve the problem of weapon shortage of Vietnam revolution, contributing to its legendary victories in the twentieth century. Currently, the task of building the Army revolutionary, regular, elite and modern by 2030 is setting increasingly higher requirements. While the country's economy is still facing difficulties, President Ho Chi Minh’s instructions in his argument that "to fight the enemy, first we must have weapons" are still valid and need to be applied flexibly and creatively in the cause of building and defending the socialist Vietnamese Fatherland.

Dr. PHAM VAN MINH, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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