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Thursday, July 05, 2018, 15:50 (GMT+7)
The military continues to enhance the effectiveness of natural disaster prevention and control and search and rescue

Natural disaster prevention and control as well as search and rescue (SAR) serves as one of the central tasks falling to the entire Party, people and political system with the military playing a core role. Therefore, how to continue to achieve the increased effectiveness of this work is a matter of urgency to the whole military.

In recent years, Vietnam has seen an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters with resultant untold damage to human lives and property. In 2017 only, there were 16 typhoons and 4 tropical low pressures in the East Sea and 5 severe floods in the Northern mountainous and Central regions as well as the Central Highlands. Most notably, flash floods and landslides in such provinces as Hoa Binh, Son La, and Yen Bai caused heavy damage to human lives and property. Statistically, in 2017, natural disasters led over 1,000 lives to be claimed, roughly 2,000 ships and boats to be sunk, over 7,000 houses to collapse, more than 900 workshops to be burned to the ground, over 1 million cubic metres of earth and rocks to fall down from mountains. Against this backdrop, our Party, people and military set great store by natural disaster prevention and control and SAR.

Maj. Gen. Ngo Quy Duc directs the work of maritime search and rescue

Being fully aware of those as well as their core roles, over the past years, agencies and units across the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) have actively adopted various measures for natural disaster prevention and control as well as SAR, which have earned lavish praise from local administrations and locals. In 2017, together with the over 6,300-time deployment of means and equipment, the military deployed nearly 340,000 cadres and soldiers for disaster relief and SAR with close to 1,200 incidents being effectively handled, nearly 2,400 lives being saved and about 120 vehicles, ships and boats being rescued. Functional agencies also counselled the Ministry of National Defense and the General Staff to direct the Border Guard Force, the Coast Guard and the Navy to help over 744,250 ships and boats manned by more than 3 million fishermen to take shelter from storms. Military units also helped to evacuate over 100,000 households and to consolidate and to repair over 55,000 houses, public establishments and schools and more than 1,200 kilometres of roads, thereby stabilizing people’s lives and rehabilitating production. All of these have continued to testify to the VPA’s fine traditions of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” and their function as “an army ready for fighting and work” who are absolutely loyal to the Party, State and people.

In the time to come, natural disasters are forecast to continue to be complicated, unpredictable, more widespread and more devastating, which will significantly beset the country’s socio-economic development, defense and security as well as people’s lives. Therefore, enhancing the effectiveness of natural disaster prevention and control as well as SAR is a matter of great importance to the VPA in particular and the country in general. Measures should be implemented synchronously with emphasis being placed on the following.

First, agencies and units across the VPA should promote education for cadres, soldiers and the masses, thereby raising their awareness of natural disaster prevention and control as well as SAR. In reality, disaster-induced damage to human lives and property is partly attributed to complacency. In many localities, due to limited awareness, a lot of damage did occur, which would have been avoided. Against this backdrop, agencies and units across the VPA, particularly those directly involved, should thoroughly grasp and effectively implement resolutions and directives by the Party, the Government, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defense concerning disaster preparedness, response and mitigation. Focus should be directed towards the Law on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, the Resolution of the 11th Party Central Committee’s the 7th plenum, the Resolution 689/NQ-QUTW, dated 10 October, 2014 by the Central Military Commission, the Directive 77/CT-BQP, dated 11 March, 2016 by the Ministry of National Defense pertaining to stepping up natural disaster prevention and control as well as SAR for the 2016-2020 period. Education should enable cadres and soldiers to be fully aware of the importance attached to natural disaster prevention and control as well as SAR as a combat mission in peacetime. Doing so will kindle determination and willingness among soldiers to sacrifice their lives for the safety of people’s lives and State property. Together with renovating contents and forms of education, military units should closely cooperate with local administrations in popularizing disaster-induced damage so that the public can stay vigilant and guard against natural disasters to minimize possible resultant damage.

Moreover, Party committees should pay attention to strengthening the organizational structure of forces directly involved in natural disaster prevention and control as well as SAR across the country. The organizational structure should be strengthened qualitatively and quantitatively, particularly leadership and direction capacity. At the same time, detailed plans should be worked out so that rescue workers can participate effectively in SAR activities at home and disaster relief abroad within the framework of international cooperation. Military units involved in SAR on a part-time basis should adopt appropriate measures depending on the reality of the natural disaster situation in each locality under the “four on-the-spot” motto (command on the spot, manpower on the spot, means and supplies on the spot and logistics on the spot). Furthermore, importance should be attached to perfecting the system of legal documents that square with reality. Contingency plans should be prepared while scenarios should be outlined, particularly pertaining to leadership, direction, management and conduct of natural disaster prevention and control activities and SAR, thereby minimizing disaster-induced damage to people’s lives and State property.

Strengthening the organizational structure should be followed by enhancing the quality of training in natural disaster prevention and control as well as SAR. To this end, training should be “basic, substantive, firm” in the direction of professionalization and specialization. Training should focus on the capacity to command, manage and combine forces and means. Training should be in line with localities’ circumstances and contingency plans for disaster preparedness and response, particularly in the event of super typhoons, widespread landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis.

Training for specialized forces should focus on steering inland waterway vessels, maritime and aeronautical SAR operations, structural collapse skills, radiation, biological and chemical incidents, firefighting skills, and so on so that they can be eligible for assigned tasks. On the basis of basic training, units should conduct regular exercises so that shortcomings can be promptly identified and corrected.

At the same time, units should closely cooperate with local forces in natural disaster prevention and control and SAR. Special attention should be paid to natural disaster risks and localities’ response capacity, thereby properly advising local administrations on preparing plans to mobilize resources, to requisition vehicles and equipment possessed by collectives and individuals and to safeguard dams, irrigation reservoirs, hydropower, reservoirs, etc. for the maximum effectiveness of natural disaster prevention and control and SAR.

Amidst today’s deeper and wider international integration , it is essential to further promote international cooperation to ceaselessly enhance the quality and effectiveness of natural disaster prevention and control and SAR. In the immediate term, functional agencies under the Ministry of National Defense should continue to counsel the Government, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defense to draft Decree on international cooperation in search and rescue and the implementation of the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue 1979 (SAR 79) for 2017-2020 period. Cooperation in natural disaster prevention and control and SAR should be fostered with partner countries under the Decree. The focus of international cooperation should be education and training, information sharing and experience exchange, particularly in terms of operating and maintaining modern equipment, thereby contributing to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of the VPA’s natural disaster prevention and control and SAR in the new situation.

Maj. Gen. Ngo Quy Duc, Director of the Department for Search and Rescue

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The continued promotion of the Party’s mass mobilization in the new situation
Mass mobilization as one of the Party’s fundamental tasks greatly contributes to cultivating blood relations between the Party and the people and building a firm posture of “the people’s hearts and minds”. In the new situation, it is essential that mass mobilization continue to be promoted to truly serve as a bridge between “the Party’s intent” and “the people’s will” and to uphold the strength of the great national unity in the cause of national construction and defense
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