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Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 15:42 (GMT+7)
Le Duan’s theoretical thinking on the Party leadership over the people’s armed forces

Le Duan is an excellent student of President Ho Chi Minh, an eminent leader, a top theorist and activist of our Party and the Vietnamese Revolution. Within his 60 years serving the Vietnamese Revolution and holding various important positions, namely Secretary of the Central-Region Party Executive Committee, Standing Member of the Party Central Committee, Secretary of the South Party Executive Committee, Member of the Politburo, First Secretary and General Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Secretary of the Central Military Commission, he made significant contributions to the cause of national liberation, construction and protection.

Comrade Le Duan visiting Vinh Linh on February 2nd 1973 (file photo)

As an enthusiastic revolutionary absolutely loyal to the revolutionary cause of the Party and the nation, and a theorist endowed with independent, active, creative thinking, Duan made great contributions in terms of theory to many fields that helped resolve critical issues of the Vietnamese Revolution, particularly at its turning points and in complicated situations.

Among Duan’s legacies of theory, theoretical thinking on the Party leadership over the people’s armed forces holds an important position. Many of his theoretical points became resolutions and directives that the Party Central Committee, the Politburo, the Secretariat, party committees, leaders and commanders at levels applied into the resistance war against the US Imperialists, for national salvation, and the cause of building and safeguarding the Homeland. Duan’s theoretical thought on the Party leadership role in the armed forces is manifested in the following basic points.

First, the Party’s leadership is the decisive factor for the people’s armed forces’ maturity and victory. Following Marxism-Leninism, Ho Chi Minh’s thought, and the Party’s viewpoints on building a new-type army of the working class, Duan came to affirm that the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is the sole force to lead the armed forces. That leadership would not be shared with any other classes, organizations or political parties. He wrote that “Right from its foundation, the Vietnam People’s Army was a worker-peasant army having the nature of working class, under the direct leadership of the Party. The Party’s leadership is the decisive factor for the armed forces’ maturity and victory”.

Looking back on the armed forces’ process of building, combating and maturing, we could realize that the people’s armed forces were founded due to the class struggle and the struggle for national liberation, independence, and the people’s freedom and happiness. The leadership of the CPV over the people’s armed forces is indispensable and the mission that the working class and the people assigned to the Party. The Party’s leadership over the armed forces is exercised by guidelines, mechanism, regulations and throughout the Party organizations and personnel within the armed forces from Central to grass-roots levels. Feats of arms and accomplishments of the people’s armed forces, particularly the People’s Army in the cause of national liberation are always connected with great victories of our people under the leadership of our beloved Party and President Ho Chi Minh.

Second, the Party builds and strengthens the working class nature, people-ness and nation-ness of the armed forces. Duan believed that building the working class nature is of utmost importance, which ensures that the people’s armed forces always be politically, ideologically, organizationally strong and loyal to the Party, the Homeland, and the people. He wrote: “As an instrument of the Proletarian State, under the direct and absolute leadership of the Party, our Army, first and foremost, should study Marxism-Leninism and thoroughly grasp the Party’s political guideline”. That is the foundation for the armed forces to fulfil all the tasks.

According to Duan, the working class nature of the armed forces is manifested in loyalty to the Party and piety to the people; in the implementation of combat targets and ideals, functions and tasks. During the resistance war against the US invaders for national salvation, mentioning the combat targets of the armed forces, Duan held that “… determined to finalize the cause of liberating the South, protecting the North, unifying the Homeland, successfully building socialism, making our country a wealthy and civilized one”. Once the country is independent, unified, on the way to socialism, “the Army should always uphold the national independence and socialism flag”.

Third, frequently leading the building of organizational structure, weapons and equipment to ensure that the armed forces possess great combat strength and meet the requirements set by the tasks in each revolutionary period. Under the Party leadership, the armed forces developed rapidly. From the forerunners as self-defence teams, the Vietnam Armed Propaganda Liberation Team in the August 1945 General Uprising developed into divisions and arms in the resistance war against the French Colonialists and into corps, services and arms in the resistance war against the US Imperialists. Today, the people’s armed forces, particularly the People’s Army have sufficient strategic advisory organs, services, arms, academies, colleges, institutes, and defence factories, etc.

Duan was chosen by the Party and Uncle Ho to take on the responsibility for the national liberation revolution in the South. As the First Secretary and the General Secretary, he suggested solutions to the Party Central Committee and the Politburo; while directly directing the Central Office for South Vietnam to develop three-level people’s armed forces. He often emphasized that it was necessary to “further grasp the building of the armed forces”, particularly the three-level armed forces, including regular force, irregular force and militia and self-defence force. In this regard, building the regular force into “a powerful punch” was the task frequently directed and guided by Duan. In his letter to the Central Office for South Vietnam, he demanded “to quickly build strong regular units with high manoeuvrability, good equipment and logistic support”. Regular force, in his opinion, included “lean corps with high morale, technical, tactical level and manoeuvrability, strong fire power, and relatively sufficient food and ammo reserve”. He also attached great importance to building and effectively using reserve force, while clearly defining this as a rule for People’s Army organization (regular force and reserve force) and a condition to seize and hold the strategic initiative in the wars.

Not only making contributions to the completion of the Party’s guideline on people’s warfare and building  the people’s armed forces (three levels), with the People’s Army as the core force, Duan also gave advice to the Party on weapon and equipment supply, logistic and technical support as well as improving life of troops. Those are important elements to create combat strength of the armed forces. Especially when the country is in peace, it is necessary to attach great importance to developing defence industry to produce weapons and technical equipment for the armed forces. He stated: “Our armed forces must be gradually equipped with increasingly modern weapons and equipment, including both defensive and assault weapons, both command and manoeuvrable means, etc. There is a need for gradually building defence industry and attaching great importance to material, technical and logistic support for troops. We should rely on the people’s potential and achievements of building socialism in localities and nationwide to meet the demands of units and improve life of troops”.

Fourth, the Party leads the building and the development of military science and art of Vietnam. This is an important content of the Party leadership over the armed forces. It is explained that the military art is the foundation for laying down military and operational guidelines.

In this area, Duan made outstanding contributions in terms of both theory and practice. Those included his viewpoint on the Party’s use of the two forces for revolutionary violence, namely the masses and the people’s armed forces; constantly carrying out small-to-large scale offensive strategy, gaining partial victories, advancing towards complete victory; promoting combined strength, combining military struggle with political struggle; staging partial uprisings, developing uprising into revolutionary war, combining uprising with offensive and vice versa to clinch victory. His guideline on general strategy was to fight in long time and do our best to gain decisive victory in a relatively short time. His guideline on operations was to fight the enemy in all three strategic areas, namely mountainous area, rural flat area and urban area; combine three kinds of troops, integrate the local people’s war with the war of regular corps; combine large scaled fights with medium and small scale ones; carry out both combat and production; find the way to contain the enemy and gradually slow down their tempo of war to defeat them; know how to create and grasp opportunities, launch strategic offensives to change the complexion of the war and then general offensive to gain ultimate victory.

Apparently, Duan’s consistent theoretical thought on military art is offensive, which is manifested in his saying: “Attack, even with a soldier or a team”. He wrote: “Our viewpoint on strategy and tactics in the revolutionary war is to grasp the offensive thought and proactively attack to defend”. This theoretical thought proceeded from Ho Chi Minh’s on offensive revolution. The people’s warfare reached its peak  thanks to mobilizing all people to fight the enemy in the two regions of the country under the Party’s guideline and leadership.

Grasping opportunities to end the war is also a matter of utmost importance of military art. Thus, he often reminded the whole Party and the whole people that “We should be fully aware of difficulties and complexities of the war to find the way to fight and win. Once we have made a sound start, we should know how to end it at the right time”. Following this viewpoint, analyzing the situation after the Paris Peace Accords 1973, our Party came to the conclusion that “We now have the opportunity for which we have fought for 20 years. Thus, we should grasp this to bring the cause of national liberation to a complete victory”. Accordingly, the Politburo determined to liberate the South within 1975 and 1976. However, after big campaigns in early 1975, realizing that the time was ripe, our Party decided to liberate the South in April, 1975. Grasping the direction of “Lightning speed, daring, surprise, certain victory” in the historic Ho Chi Minh Campaign, our troops and people won a complete victory, liberated the South and unified the Homeland.

Fifth, the Party leads the building of revolutionary, regular, seasoned, gradually modern Vietnam People’s Army. During the resistance war against the US, for national salvation, Duan suggested many important contents to the Party on building revolutionary, increasingly regular and modern, really elite People’s Army. Notably, when the country is unified and carries out the two strategic tasks, namely Homeland construction and protection, the building of revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern Army is an objective demand and a sound guideline of the Party and the State. In his Speech on the occasion of the 35th Founding Anniversary of the Vietnam People’s Army, he stated: “The cause of beloved Homeland construction and protection requires us to continue to build our armed forces into a powerful revolutionary People’s Army, the one of increasingly regularity and modernity, which is ready for both combat for Homeland protection and production to make contributions to the country’s development”. He also gave detailed, scientific indications of building “revolutionary”, “regular”, “elite”, “gradually modern” components of the Army, such as: “A powerful revolutionary army must be absolutely loyal to the Homeland and socialism, clearly demonstrate its working class nature and have a strong attachment with the working people”; “a high-level regular and modern army must be organized properly, have iron self-discipline, possess modern weapons and equipment, master science and technology, and grasp strategy and tactics of the people’s war to defend the Homeland. Those theories have been concretized into the Party’s guidelines on building revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern People’s Army. Accordingly, the Army’s total quality and combat readiness level have been increasingly improved. Its revolutionary nature has been maintained and strengthened. Army cadres and soldiers have strong political will, being ready to undertake and successfully fulfil all the assigned tasks. Army force has been organized towards the direction of being elite, lean, strong, highly manoeuvrable; ensuring the sound proportion between services and arms, regular force and local force, active force and reserve force.

The cause of Homeland construction and protection is now imposing high requirements. Therefore, the building of revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern People’s Army, with a priority given to the modernization of some particular services, arms and forces is an important task that needs bringing about unity in both awareness and action within the whole political system, first and foremost among party committees and commanders at levels, Army cadres and soldiers. In this regard, building the revolutionary People’s Army is the foundation, regularity building is the incentive, improving the level of operations is the key, and gradually modernizing weapons and technical equipment is the central task. Respecting and synchronously fulfilling the four requirements will provide a solid foundation for the Army’s successful implementation of the Homeland construction and protection task.

It can be affirmed that Duan’s theoretical thought on the Party leadership over the people’s armed force remains valid and needs applying into the task of building, strengthening and maintaining the Party’s absolute, direct and comprehensive leadership over the people’s armed forces and the People’s Army, to ensure that these forces be absolutely loyal to the Party, the Homeland and the people, and satisfy the requirements set by the task of building and safeguarding the Homeland in the new situation.

General Ngo Xuan Lich, Member of the Politburo, Deputy Secretary of the Central Military Commission, Minister of National Defence

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