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Monday, September 18, 2017, 09:54 (GMT+7)
Strengthening people’s air-defence posture in key air-defence areas

Studies of recent local wars show that air strike has been the main mode of operation used by many countries to sap strength and combat morale of a country to quickly attain the goal of war. To safeguard the Homeland in the new condition, it is necessary to take synchronous measures against air attacks, including strengthened people’s air-defence posture.

Maj.Gen. Ngo Manh Ha delivering speech at the Conference on people’s air-defence cadres (photo:phongkhongkhongquan.vn)

During the US war of destruction against North Vietnam, the enemy used modern means of warfare, bombs and ammo of mass destruction in order to undermine the people’s strength, will and combat morale, and prevent the North’s support for the South front line. However, under the sound and clear-sighted leadership of the Party, the military and people of the North actively organized people’s air-defence activities, raising people’s awareness and responsibility and improving their knowledge of air defence, mobilizing all people to take part in and serve combat and overcome the war  consequences. Noticeably, it was the people’s air-defence posture that had been made extensive, inter-connected, strong both in the air and on land, panicking the enemy’s air force by "land and sky traps". This is an important factor greatly contributing to our victories over the US wars of destruction in the North, especially the victory of “Hanoi - Dien Bien Phu in the air” which forced the U.S. to sign Paris Peace Accords and withdraw its troops from South Vietnam. In that victory, the North’s people’s air-defence force shot down 4,181 aircraft and captured many US pilots. The militia and self-defence force, equipped with anti-craft and infantry guns only, shot down 424 aircraft of 20 types, including F-111A tactical strike aircraft -  the most modern one of that time.

In the war to safeguard the Homeland (if war is to occur), the enemy would launch intense, large-scale air attacks using hi-tech weapons at the onset of the war and during the war to destroy our defence, economic and political strength, to make us surrender, and quickly finish the war without the involvement of ground force. Thus, right in peace time, levels, sectors, units and localities should inherit and promote previous experience, synchronously executing people’s air-defence activities, focusing on building the people’s air-defence posture nationwide, particularly in the key air-defence areas.

First and foremost, actively carrying out the work of propagation and education to make the people grasp viewpoints and thoughts on building all people’s defence and all people’s defence posture, including people’s air-defence posture. Accordingly, agencies, units and localities should step up propagation and education of the Party’s defence and military lines, with a focus on the Resolution of the 11th Party Central Committee’s 8th Plenum on “The Strategy to defend the Homeland in the new situation”, the Government’s Decree 74/2015/NĐ-CP, dated September 9th 2015, on people’s air defence, Prime Minister’s Decision 2480/QĐ-TTg, dated December 30th 2015, on establishing the Central Steering Committee for people’s air defence and stipulating functions, tasks, and authority of the Steering Committee for air defence at all levels, the Circular 110/2016/TT-BQP, dated August 9th 2016, by the Ministry of National Defence, on stipulating key air-defence Central provinces and municipalities. That would make people from all walks of life would fully understand the position, role, importance and characteristics of the people’s air-defence work as well as the enemy’s plots, artifices and acts of sabotage in the air, heightening their vigilance and strengthen their faith in victory against any situations. Moreover, sectors, units and localities should improve the people’s basic knowledge of the people’s air-defence work, focusing on the people directly involved in this work. In the time ahead, the Ministry of Education and Training should work with the Ministry of National Defence to include the knowledge of people’s air defence in curriculum of schools ranging from secondary levels to tertiary education to raise students’ awareness and responsibility towards the work of people’s air defence. Ministry of National Defence should direct its academies, schools and functional agencies to launch training courses for instructors and managers of defence education on people’s air defence. Ministry of Information and Communications should direct the building of system of information and communications to communicate and propagate the work of people’s air-defence work to people from all walks of life. Military agencies at all levels in defensive areas should adhere to the direct guideline of higher authorities to design programs and curriculum on people’s air defence for cadres and locals. Besides, great importance should be attached to the ideological work to have people prepared for the enemy’s air attacks of destruction, maintain the “people’s hearts and minds” posture, and prevent the state of bewilderment and sociopolitical instability.

Second, building system of observatories and air-defence warning. Due to socioeconomic development, especially the increasing urbanization that changes terrain of many regions, and air attacks which are now hard to predict their direction and line, local Steering Committees for people’s air defence should identify beneficial positions, such as mountaintops, high buildings, proactively constructing air-defence observatories in front of the enemy’s (anticipated) attack direction to detect the enemy in the area. As for cities and industrial zones of strategic position protected by national air-defence force and military region’s air defence force, the Steering Committee for people’s air defence should make plans to mark air lines on the air diagram at their headquarters to collect air intelligence from active air-defence units in the area. As for cities and industrial zones without the protection of active air-defence force, collection of air intelligence should be carried out throughout the system of intelligence of the Air Defence - Air Force Service. Consequently, the Steering Committees for people’s air defence from Central level to grass-roots level would grasp the enemy’s air operation and proactively organize people’s air defence activities at their level.

Moreover, it is necessary to sufficiently provide equipment of information and communications for observatories and air warning posts. In this regard, each observatory and visual monitoring post should regularly maintain both military and civilian communications networks for air warning. The Steering Committees for people’s air defence at all levels should direct their sectors and localities to establish the system of mass media, namely radio broadcasting, electric alarm, manual alarm, loudspeaker. Information and communications sector should set up the system of loudspeakers along roads and streets. Central and local factories and enterprises should use sirens to ensure that all people in their area could receive signals of air warning.

Third, building the system of fortifications and battlefields for attacking air targets and sheltering. Today, regions and localities possess various targets to be protected, such as socioeconomic and military centres, industrial zones and clusters and so forth. Meanwhile, air defence posture in many regions, particularly in the key air-defence areas, has yet to be really strong. To deal with this situation, military agencies at all levels should counsel their authorities to strengthen and build the system of battlefields for anti-aircraft guns, thereby establishing strong air-defence posture in the area and contributing to strong air-defence posture nationwide. The system of air-defence battlefields should have sufficient space to deploy weapons, equipment, vehicle. Besides, military agencies should counsel the Steering Committee for people’s air defence at their level to identify the potential positions to deploy teams and groups to engage air targets with infantry guns, even identifying the potential regions to release reflective balloons and lay canvas over a part of high buildings, bridges and large road to deal with the enemy’s cruise missile attacks.

Moreover, it is important to build the system of tunnels, trenches and fortifications to minimize damage caused by the enemy’s air offensives. Accordingly, the Steering Committee for people’s air defence at all levels should counsel leaders of agencies, local party committees and authorities to proactively build and consolidate tunnels, trenches, individual and collective fortifications, and so on. The Steering Committee for people’s air defence should closely work with Central ministries, committees and sectors while promoting on-the-spot combined strength to opportunely and effectively prepare measures for preventing and minimizing losses and stabilizing people’s morale and economic production. Right in peace time, agencies, units and localities should draw up pre-war plans to build at least 4 bomb shelters for each person at home, work, in public and along roads.

Fourth, identifying the zones for evacuation and dispersion of forces and means at each level. Evacuation and dispersion to keep strength intact represent an important strategic measure against the enemy’s hi-tech air attacks. The Steering Committees for people’s air defence at all levels, particularly in the key air-defence areas, should identify the long-term evacuation zones, inform localities of receive evacuation, and report it to the Central Steering Committee for people’s air defence. The evacuation and dispersion zones should be right in the area, but not in areas and targets estimated to be attacked by the enemy. The work of evacuation and dispersion must be carried out comprehensively, including people, weapons, equipment and materials for support. During the process of evacuation and dispersion, it is necessary to correctly assess the opponents, targets for support, types of materials and equipment for proper evacuation. Also, the people should identify types of evacuation and dispersion, namely long-term evacuation, emergency evacuation and dispersion, emergency on-the-spot dispersion. Long-term evacuation should apply to the elderly, children and people not required to stay. After the war or in stable situation, these groups of people would return. Emergency evacuation and dispersion should apply immediately to people, means, materials in the zones and targets estimated to be potentially intensely attacked by the enemy. On-the-spot, emergency dispersion was successfully realized in the national liberation wars and greatly contributed to reducing human losses. This measure will be regularly applied in the war to defend the Homeland.

The building of strong, extensive people’s air-defence posture which aims to engage the enemy from near to far and preserve force, means, life and property of the people and the state in war time should be prepared right in peace time. Successfully implementation of this serves as a prerequisite to take the initiative in the struggle against the enemy’s air offensive, contributing to defeating the enemy’s wars of aggression and safeguarding the Homeland.

Major General Ngo Manh Ha, Director of the Department of Ground Force Air Defence

Member of the Central Steering Committee for People’s Air Defence

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