Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 21:52 (GMT+7)
Promoting the virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” when participating in the United Nations peacekeeping

The title of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” and the noble virtues of Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers have been formed and developed during the Vietnam People’s Army’s construction, combat and maturity process. Inheriting and bringing into play those special qualities, cadres, officers, and soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Army taking part in the United Nations peacekeeping have always heightened a sense of responsibility, successfully fulfilled their assigned tasks, and bolstered the qualities and image of Uncle Ho’s soldiers, which has been acknowledged and highly appreciated by international friends. To give a more detailed description of Vietnamese soldiers in this field, the National Defence Journal would like to introduce a series of articles entitled “Promoting the virtues of Uncle Ho’s soldiers when participating in the United Nations peacekeeping.”

I. Vietnam’s “messengers of peace” at the United Nations peacekeeping missions

Vietnam’s participation in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping is an important decision by our Party and State, expressing Vietnam’s consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation, and development and its diplomatic strategy to multilateralise and diversify relations and proactively, actively integrate into the world. At the same time, it proves that Vietnam is a responsible member of the international community and the country is devoting efforts to fulfilling its duty as a member of the UN, thereby contributing to fostering defence-security cooperation on a global scale and raising the prestige and status of Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) in the international arena.

Vietnam’s deployment of military force to the UN peacekeeping is the result of the country’s careful research and steps to ensure that it will be in accordance with our Party and State’s guidelines on military diplomacy, Vietnam’s tradition, and the VPA’ function and task. Grounded on the master plan on “Vietnam’s participation in the UN peacekeeping” and the project on “the VPA’s participation in the UN peacekeeping in the period of 2014-2020 and beyond,” on May 27th, 2014, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) decided to establish the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre (present-day Vietnam Peacekeeping Department) and deploy 2 military liaison officers to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan. Up to now, we have deployed over 30 liaison officers, contingent owned equipment staff officers, intelligence analysis officers, and military observers to the UN Peacekeeping Missions in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. It should be noted that our VPA managed to deploy the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1, including 63 military medical staff members to Bentiu, South Sudan, with a sense of responsibility and the excellent task performance, which was highly appreciated by the UN Peacekeeping Missions and the host countries’ people. Shortly afterwards we continued to deploy the Level-2 Field Hospital No.2, including 84 medical cadres and soldiers to South Sudan in a careful manner according to the requirements imposed by the UN on the peacekeeping force. Vietnam’s deployment of the Level-2 Field Hospital No.2 as a replacement for the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 marked the country’s significant progress in its participation in the UN peacekeeping, demonstrating its role as an active, responsible member of the international community, proving that our country is completely capable of taking part in this important task.

Staff members of the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 before being deploying to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (photo: qdnd.vn)

Advocating that Vietnam’s participation in the UN peacekeeping aims to protect peace on regional and global scales, in the process, we have always conformed to the UN’s Charter, the international law, and Vietnam’s law. More specifically, we took part in peacekeeping operations only after the UN Security Council had issued Resolutions or after relevant parties hand reached a peace agreement; we would only involve in operations for the sake of peace, humanitarianism, and reconstruction instead of coercion or military operations. We use force for the purpose of legitimate self-defence only when there is no other choice. All of our decisions on the participation in the UN peacekeeping must be in line with the principle of national independence and self-reliance, Vietnam’s national interests, and the country’s condition and capability; we would respect independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and we would not intervene in other countries’ internal affairs. In the process, the VPA’s peacekeeping force has always heightened a sense of responsibility and proactively, creatively overcome difficulties to fulfil its assigned missions. Thanks to its observance of the principle and tireless efforts, the VPA’s peacekeeping force has proved its steadfastness, knowledge, responsibility and professional competence, while succeeding in earning the trust and support from the UN and the international community, making great contributions to raising the prestige and status of Vietnam and the VPA in the international arena.

Via peacekeeping operations, our VPA’s cadres, employees, and soldiers’ foreign language level and professional knowledge and experience in peacekeeping have been considerably improved. At present, while training our individuals and units to take part in the UN peacekeeping, we are capable of organising peacekeeping training courses under the international standards1. In the process of task implementation, the VPA’s peacekeeping force has brought into the noble virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers,” which has enabled locals and military forces of other countries to more understand Vietnam and its Military, tradition, culture, and people’s wisdom and helped gain affection, respect, and support form them.

Being suffered from losses, sacrifices and hardships in the wars, Vietnam comprehends and values peace. In the current international situation, to defend, construct, and develop the country, we have to create a peaceful environment and make contributions to keeping peace around the globe. However, when making preparations for the deployment of its force to the UN peacekeeping, Vietnam has encountered numerous difficulties due to a lack of consensus on this mission within the whole Military and the society and the harsh weather conditions of the host countries. Moreover, in the regions to which we deploy our force, there are a lot of complex developments, ethnicity and religion conflicts, and even armed conflicts, thereby posing a risk to our force members’ life. Meanwhile, participation in the UN peacekeeping is a new task with its high requirements and we are not experienced in this mission. To work in a multinational environment, each cadre and employee must be knowledgeable of foreign languages, international law, regulations by the UN, and local customs and traditional practices. We have to use modern equipment under the UN’s standards to provide logistics and technical support and ensure communications. Besides, the command and staff work within our peacekeeping force must be in conformity with the host countries’ Missions; at the same time, our peacekeeping force must strictly adhere to the command and direction by the MND and the VPA’s Regulations. 

To successfully fulfil their task in the difficult and complex conditions, our cadres and employees need to be well trained to meet the requirements set by the UN Peacekeeping Missions. They must be equipped with foreign language knowledge, international behavioural skills, and basic knowledge of the UN peacekeeping. In addition, it is important that cadres who have accomplished their task at the UN Missions should pass their acquired knowledge and skills to their colleagues and draw lessons from their operations. Doing so will enable our peacekeeping cadres and employees to gain more knowledge, experiences, and skills in dealing with situations under the international law and practices as well as to improve their task performance and effectiveness in the multinational environment. Besides, due regard should be paid to building up our force’ determination to settle difficulties, carefully introducing the task to the force’s members, and requiring them to make reports on their task performance to the VPD and the Steering Board on a weekly and monthly basis and after the end of their term. In the process, it is vital to maintain smooth communications with the UN and our sections to serve the purpose of command and coordination, draw lessons, and evaluate the task performance to set out measures for timely direction, thereby improving the efficiency of the VPA’s participation in the UN peacekeeping.

Vietnam’s participation in the UN peacekeeping in South Sudan and the Central African Republic has helped clarify our Party and State’s foreign policy of independence and self-reliance and their diplomatic strategy to multilateralise and diversify relations. In the process of task implementation, Vietnamese soldiers have really become “messengers of peace” in the regions facing difficulties and conflicts. With their outstanding achievements, Vietnamese soldiers were honoured with the UN Peace Medal by the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan right after they had finished their term in this country. In order to successfully fulfil their task, it is crucially important that Vietnamese soldiers at the UN Peacekeeping Missions must always bring into play the noble virtues of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” and surmount all difficulties and hardships to maintain stability in the regions and improve the living standards of the host countries’ people. (To be continued)

Do Hong Lam
1. Vietnam managed to organise 2 UN Staff Officer Courses (UNSOC), 1 UN Logistics Officer Course (UNLOC), and 1 UN Military Expert on Mission Course (UNMEoM)

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