Monday, September 17, 2018, 06:59 (GMT+7)
Military Region 2’s armed forces actively prepare for search and rescue and natural disaster relief operations

With high determination and “for the people” spirit, the armed forces of Military Region 2 have always been the core element and reliable anchor of local population and authorities in natural disaster relief and search and rescue efforts.

Military Region 2 includes 9 North West provinces, which cover a vast area of rough terrains that mainly consist of high, steep mountains and hills; the climate in the region is also very harsh and unpredictable while flash floods and landslides regularly occur. These factors cause a lot of difficulties in implementing emergency management once a natural disaster happens. In recent years, due to global climate change, natural disasters and incidents in the region have become more and more unpredictable, extreme and devastating, causing huge losses in human lives and properties and severe consequences to regional socio-economic development, local population’s daily living and military operations. During 2017 and the first half of 2018, there were 175 floods and landslides and 29 wildfires, etc., which caused 143 deaths, 86 people wounded and 27 people missing; destroyed nearly 6000 houses, 524 bridges and drainages; damaged hundreds of kilometers of road, hundred thousands of hectares of crop; burned down nearly 250 hectares of forest, and resulted in the loss of thousands of billion VND. Notably, devastating landslides and flash floods in Muong La District, Son La Province; Mu Cang Chai District, Yen Bai Province (2017), and Muong Te District, Lai Chau Province (June 2018) led to destructive consequences in many aspects. And recently, widespread heavy rains due to the affect of No3 Storm caused cumulative floods and landslides in Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Son La, and Lao Cai; adding further losses in human lives and properties across the region.

Maj. Gen. Nguyen Hong Thai inspects the area inflicted by flash flood in Son Binh commune, Tam Duong district, Lai Chau province

With clear understanding about the danger of such natural disasters and the responsibility of armed forces, units of the Military Region 2 always proactively and effectively conduct relief and search and rescue activities and consider these duties as “combat missions in peacetime”. That said, on January 20, 2015, the Military Region 2 Party Committee issued Resolution 02 NQ/ĐU on “Leadership in the implementation of natural disaster management and relief and search and rescue missions by 2020 and later years”, the Military Region Command also developed Action Plan 103/CTr-BTL along with many instructions to realize this plan. With the motto: “Proactively prepare and response in a timely manner; quickly and effectively relieve, take prevention as the main objective”, armed forces of the Military Region, especially military units at all levels, actively worked with civilian offices and branches in propaganda and education work; and provide consults for local authorities in improving the quality of natural disaster management and prevention, as well as search and rescue operations. Also, these units developed preparation and response plan at each area in conjunction with building defense zones. In addition, the Military Region Command ordered its subordinates to enhance and maintain regular operation of Natural Disaster Management and Prevention, Search and Rescue Command Boards at all levels. Besides, response plans were created based on risk levels, especially for major disasters such as: typhoon, earthquake, flash flood, landslide, wildfire, and hydroelectricity lake incidents. Additionally, preparation work was also well-implemented and appropriate to each province and terrain.

Military Region 2 also invested more equipment and vehicles and organized 1 dual-purpose combat engineer battalion for search and rescue missions. Local military contingents were ordered to establish rapid response teams at all levels and increase training and drills for natural disaster management and relief. In addition, military units in the region had to maintain high level of readiness, especially during the height of rainy and dry seasons; further cooperate with local authorities in monitoring and forecasting weather development, and regularly inspect crucial dams, lakes and streams. These units were also required to work closely with police and border guard units to quickly response in any situation.

Cadres and troops of the Military Command of Phu Tho province help locals evacuate their properties

With thorough leadership, close coordination and “for the people” spirit, armed forces of Military Region 2 were always the first contingents to response in any incidents, truly became the bulwark of local authorities and population in natural disasters. During 2017 and in the first half of 2018, the Military Region Command mobilized 57,678 turns of troops and cadres; nearly 800 turns of vehicles to participate in natural disaster relief and search and rescue operations; evacuated thousands of households out of danger zones; repaired and cleaned 4,828 houses, 372 schools and offices, repaired and reconstructed nearly 200 km of road; and retrieved dozens of missing and dead individuals, etc. Besides, units of the Military Region donated dozens of tons of provision and medical supply, and billions of VND to the victims of those disasters. The image of soldiers in the middle of dangerous situation, regardless of day or night to search and rescue, and protect properties and lives of the people truly further glorified our honorable title “Uncle Ho’s Soldiers”.

Still, there were several downsides during the implementation of natural disaster management and relief as well as search and rescue missions by the Military Region. Some soldiers and cadres were still not able to fully understand their responsibility in these duties. Also, response plans of certain districts and units had not been close enough to the complicated development of the weather. Forecast work and coordination with local authorities were sometimes ineffective. Besides, the search and rescue equipment and vehicles were not integrated enough and insufficient in number. At the same time, the ability to deal with emergency and complicated situations of some units was somewhat limited.

In recent time and later years, natural disaster incidents will continue to have complex and unpredictable developments. Therefore, the Military Region Command will further enhance leadership at all levels over the work of natural disaster management and relief and search and rescue. Central Military Commission Resolution 689-NQ/QUTW and Military Region Party Committee Resolution 02-NQ/ĐU will be further realized with detailed and appropriate action plans under the principle “Proactively prepare and response in a timely manner; quickly and effectively relieve, take prevention as the main objective”. That said, the Military Region Command will order its subordinate contingents to promote propaganda and education about natural disaster management among their soldiers and cadres, as well as local population, especially people in remote areas and minority ethnic communities. On the other hand, these units will have to actively prevent and defeat subjectivity, negligence, afraid-of-difficulty mentality, and indifference to the losses of the people. To effectively deal with natural disasters in a timely manner, units of the Military Region will have to closely cooperate with civilian offices and branches, provide necessary consult for local authorities, continue to complement leadership, operation, resource mobilization, information sharing and cooperation mechanisms, and comprehensively prepare in every aspect. Notably, military units in the region will have to actively advise local authorities on socio-economic infrastructure planning to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters, especially in the work of relocating communities out of areas that have high risk of landslide and flash flood. Also, they will need to review, supplement and complement natural disaster relief, wildfire, search and rescue plans, as well as communication, logistics, technical, coordination plans; closely monitor weather forecast; and strictly maintain watch duty at all levels and high level of readiness to ensure their initiative under any circumstance. In addition, the Military Region Command will further mobilize resources to acquire more specialized equipment to improve troops’ mobility and ability in dealing with natural disasters; and focus on enhancing specialized unit, building onsite contingents with militia and reservist detachments as the core element. At the same time, training and drill activities will be increasingly conducted; experience sharing and specialized training programs will be promoted; and defensive zone drills and natural disaster relief drills will be combined to improve the ability to organize, coordination, equipment utilization and the morale of our soldiers and cadres.

In addition, the Military Region Command will instruct its subordinate units to effectively implement emulation and commendation work, ensure compensations and benefits, and promote and encourage exemplary units and individuals in natural disaster relief and search and rescue operations. These activities will surely motivate the armed forces of the Military Region to fulfill any given tasks to truly earn the trust and support of local authorities and the people of the North West region.

Major General Nguyen Hong Thai, Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff of the Military Region 2

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