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The armed forces bring into play the 70-year tradition of public propaganda and enemy agitation to continue to perform good public propaganda

Public propaganda represents our military’s fine tradition and nature and fundamental function and mission. During its building, combat and development, our military officers and soldiers have grasped profoundly and carried out good public propaganda, making contributions to building the sound people’s war posture and the whole people’s national defence. Consequently, our military possessed unrivalled strength to defeat powerful imperialist forces. It is the requirement of revolutionary tasks in the new era that the whole armed forces have to actively renew content and methods and improve the effectiveness of this vital mission.

Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia giving present to a Vietnamese
Heroic Mother (photo:

President Ho Chi Minh signed the 47/SL Decree on Defence Organization into law on 1 May 1947. Accordingly, many new agencies were established, including the Enemy Agitation and Propaganda Office and the Public Propaganda Element of Propaganda Office, Political Department – predecessors of the Public Propaganda Department. During the process of establishment and development, our military officers and soldiers in general and those working in public propaganda in particular have borne in mind and implemented well Uncle Ho’s teaching: “People possess great strength. Public propaganda is of significant importance. Poor public propaganda would result in many weaknesses. Smart public propaganda would bring about success.” “Enemy agitation and propaganda constitutes ways to defeat the enemy without resorting to fighting.” The public propaganda branch, therefore, has fulfilled its assigned functions and missions; proactively researched and timely advised the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of National Defence and the Political General Department on sound decisions which guided the whole armed forces to conduct public propaganda and enemy agitation and propaganda, contributing to national liberation and reunification and the building and defence of the Fatherland.

Throughout the war of resistance against French colonialism, the Public Propaganda Department advised and helped leaders work out vital guidelines and policies, which regarded enemy agitation and propaganda as a “fundamental direction of attack,” and combined public propaganda with enemy agitation and propaganda. It also carried out propaganda aimed to mobilize the whole armed forces and people’s solidarity within the framework of the United Front; implementing military operational tasks while mobilizing people to make contributions in terms of manpower and resources to the war of resistance and national construction. The Public Propaganda Department laid out guidelines and policies on enemy agitation and propaganda in a timely and creative manner, including “Freeing prisoners of war at the front,” “General destruction of puppet troops,” “Striking the enemy’s most vulnerable areas, where the puppet troops have the most influence,” … The enemy agitation and propaganda contributed to undermining the enemy’s morale and eventually subduing their will. Historic success of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign, that witnessed the largest ever number of prisoners of war, dealt a blow to the French expeditionary force in Indochina theater of war.

The Public Propaganda Department advised higher authorities to direct public propaganda in the North, mobilize manpower and resources for the struggle in the South, and support Laos and Cambodia to carry out the enemy agitation and propaganda during the war of resistance against the U.S. In the South, it fulfilled well the role of advising and enabling higher authorities to direct the Liberation Army to execute appropriately the enemy agitation and propaganda, protection of people, expansion of liberation areas, assembling and unity of people from all walks of life, and creation of capabilities and posture for the revolution. Many creative and timely guidelines and policies on enemy agitation and propaganda such as “Engaging with the enemy’s troops to conduct propaganda,” “Combining enemy agitation and propaganda with political and legal struggle and military operations,” “Three categories of the armed forces to actively participate in enemy agitation and propaganda within the framework of three-spearhead attack,” etc., were put forth in order to dig deeply into the enemy’s contradictions and heighten justice and national reconciliation, making great contributions to defeating puppet troops and authorities and placing the enemy agitation and propaganda on a par with a major direction of attack as well as a fundamental issue in revolutionary propaganda in the South. Particularly, the Public Propaganda Department conducted direct enemy agitation and propaganda in occupied zones and theaters of war by means of radio broadcasting. They achieved brilliant feats of arms in many fields, which helped improve our military and people’s posture and capabilities; drive the enemy into crisis, disintegration and fast collapse; and make joint efforts with the whole Party, people and armed forces to “fight to chase out the Americans, fight to overthrow the puppets” for a complete liberation of the South and national reunification.

In the renewal process, the Public Propaganda Department has thoroughly grasped its missions, stuck to realities and timely advised the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of National Defence and the Political General Department to adopt a number of important resolutions and instructions on public propaganda, special propagation and democratic regulations at all levels. The Party’s public propaganda in the armed forces has shown dramatic developments and represented the whole armed forces’ vital regular task, which has actively contributed to building the great solidarity of the whole peoples, “people’s hearts and mind posture,” and the whole people’s defence posture in association with the people’s security posture; firmly safeguarding national sovereignty over borders, seas and islands. Under the banner of public propaganda, the armed forces have taken part in thousands of socioeconomic programs and projects  so as to  help people eradicate hunger and alleviate poverty, construct new rural areas, and implement campaigns, movements and policies regarding social security and military families. As far as disaster prevention and relief and search and rescue activities are concerned, the armed forces have been in the front line, the key vanguard force and timely present in the areas stricken by natural disasters and epidemics, regardless of danger, to help people to overcome consequences and settle down. That strong sentimental attachment has served to make the image of “Uncle Ho’s Soldiers” always reside in people’s mind.

Against the backdrop of unexpected, complex developments in international security and politics, which is characterized by both advantages and disadvantages, Vietnam is speeding up industrialization and modernization. The market economy has resulted in a number of contradictions. Situations in the border and the East Sea are embedded with many factors that might cause potential instability. Natural disasters, calamities, polluted environment, and epidemics and pandemics have witnessed complex developments. Hostile forces continue to capitalize on the issues of  “ethnicity,” “democracy,” “human rights,” and “religion” to distort, incite and sow division among the people, between the Party and people and the armed forces, promote “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” within the Party, and realize “depoliticization” of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA), etc., with a view to abolishing the goals, ideals and way advancing toward socialism in our country.

That situation requires the whole armed forces to effectively implement public propaganda to further strengthen people’s confidence in the Party and peoples’ revolutionary cause, promote military-to-people solidarity, and firmly establish the “people’s heart and mind posture.” In order to effectively execute public propaganda in the new situation, offices and units in the whole armed forces should perform several missions as follows:

First, it is necessary to thoroughly grasp and seriously execute the Party’s resolutions on public propaganda, especially Resolution of the 12th Party Congress and Resolution No. 25-NQ/TW of June 3, 2013, of the 11th Party Central Executive Committee, on “increasing and renovating party leadership in public propaganda in the new situation,” and Resolution No. 49-NQ/QUTW of January 26, 2015, of the Central Military Commission, on “increasing and renovating the VPA’s public propaganda in the new situation.” Attention should be paid to strengthening leadership of Party executive committees and competence and responsibility of commissars, commanders and political organizations at all levels in public propaganda. The planning and concretization of goals, positions, missions and solutions regarding public propaganda should be commensurate with each area, locality and unit. It is also important to regularly increase all officers and soldiers’ awareness of the position, significance, content and method of conducting public propaganda, especially for those being deployed to key zones, remote regions, areas of ethnic minorities and religious people, border areas and islands. There is a need for proactively inspecting, supervising, identifying, criticizing and rectifying groups and individuals’ inappropriate manifestations of both perception and actions regarding public propaganda, or manifestations of violating regulations governing military-to-people interactions.

Second, it is vital to coordinate closely with Party executive committees, local authorities, socio-political organizations and other forces in each area to execute effectively joint programs. There is a need for continuing to renew operating mechanisms, improve quality of coordination, encourage the participation of various forces, and increase resources devoted to public propaganda. Planning and socioeconomic development projects should be linked with enhancing defence and security so as to build strong defence zones, mobilize people to participate in struggles for safeguarding and preserving sovereignty over borders, seas and islands of the Fatherland. It is necessary to actively get involved in campaigns and movements launched by the Party, State, Fatherland Front, VPA and local authorities; nurture, develop and expand advanced models and examples and good and creative methods in the armed forces and nationwide.

Third, content, forms and methods of conducting public propaganda should be actively renewed to ensure its relevance to realities, localities and subjects. It is necessary to improve the effectiveness of propaganda to ensure people’s realization of the Party’s guidelines and State’s policies and law, especially those inhabiting in areas of ethnic minorities and religious people; renew forms of mobilizing people; apply information technology in public propaganda; struggle in a timely and flexible manner to disclose hostile forces and reactionaries’ incorrect and distorted allegations; implement correctly the Party and State’s ethnic and religious policies; encourage people not to gather or cross the borders illegally, and participate in “weird religions” and illegal organizations; actively take part in building political establishments at localities. Military officers and units should seek to enhance area surveillance in order to timely detect and deal with newly emerged issues, preventing them from turning into “flashpoints”; instruct people to execute public diplomacy and defence diplomacy so as to establish borders of peace, friendship, stability and development; actively support people in hunger eradication and poverty alleviation and building of new countryside; prevent and overcome consequences of natural disasters; conduct search and rescue; prevent and combat crime to develop secure areas, and so on. There is a need to scrutinize, develop and apply advanced models of public propaganda in urban areas, industrial zones, areas of ethnic minorities and religious people, areas of significant importance on defence and security, and so on; strictly implement Grass-Roots Level Democratic Regulations so as to bring into play officers and soldiers’ creativeness; and build organizations and units strong comprehensively, which will serve as cultural models in localities.

Fourth, regular attention should be paid to developing organs and officers qualified for public propaganda at all levels. Organs of public propaganda have fulfilled their role in advising Party executive committees to lead and direct the VPA’s public propaganda. Officers in charge of public propaganda are required to possess good qualification, capability and conduct as well as know-how in public mobilization according to Uncle Ho’s style. They are obliged to be able to “think, see, hear, walk, speak and act,” know how to “listen to people, communicate effectively with people, persuade people,” and “keep in close contact with people, learn from people and have a strong sense of responsibility towards people.” Attention should be paid to selection of officers of public propaganda and nurture of political behavior and professional skills as required. There should be appropriate policies on officers of public propaganda, particularly those working in remote areas, border areas, islands and areas of significant importance on defence and security. Special attention should be attached to devising plans for education, training, management and employment of officers of public propaganda, who belong to various ethnic minorities and religious groups.

Fifth, to continue to step up the movement of “Smart public propaganda” and building of “Good units of public propaganda” in association with further studying and following Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, morality and style. It is necessary to speed up the campaign for “Bringing into play traditions, devoting talent, deserving the title Uncle Ho’s Soldiers”; and raise officers and soldiers’ sense of serving the nation and people. During operations, it is essential to merge emulation movements with movements launched by the Fatherland Front, socio-political organizations and local authorities, enabling these movements to develop comprehensively and extensively and record practical achievements; regularly keep a close eye on activities to timely identify new factors and advanced examples so as to introduce and apply more and more examples of “Smart public propaganda,” and “Good units of public propaganda” in various fields.

To execute the Party’s public propaganda in the VPA constitutes a permanent political task of Party executive committees and commanders at all levels, organizations, units and every military personnel and staff. Good implementation of public propaganda helps to promote unity and consensus among the VPA and people, and consolidate the VPA’s power, together with the whole Party and people, making contributions to successfully accomplishing the Party’s two strategic tasks: building socialism and defending the Fatherland.

Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia

Member of the Party Central Executive Committee,

Member of the Central Military Commission,

Deputy Director General of Political General Department, Vietnam People’s Army

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