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Friday, August 11, 2017, 09:58 (GMT+7)
The military’s active participation in production activities and economic development in line with the Party’s lines (*)

Participation in production activities and economic development to contribute to national socio-economic development represents a fundamental function of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA), strongly reflecting its nature and traditions. Over the past 70 years, under the Party’s leadership, on top of effectively fulfilling its functions as “an army ready for fighting and work”, the VPA has actively performed its function as “an army ready for production”, substantially contributing to the struggle for national liberation, Homeland protection and national economic development.

Logistic activities of military-run Saigon Newport Corporation

Looking back on its course of building, fighting and maturing, in the face of extreme hardships, the VPA has always proactively and actively taken part in fighting, production activities and economic development simultaneously by means of appropriate forms and measures. During the resistance war against the French colonialists, firmly grasping the Party’s lines and policies on “fighting the resistance war while building the nation”, the VPA’s units actively participated in production activities to ensure “self-sufficiency in food production and enhanced military capability” and soldiers’ improved living standards. Notably, weapons facilities displayed their heightened sense of self-reliance and self-resilience in producing and developing millions of tons of arms and ammunition, thereby opportunely meeting more demanding requirements set out by the VPA’s operations and the accelerated development of people’s war on the battlefield. In the wake of Vietnam’s hard-fought victory over the French colonialists, in compliance with the Party and State’s lines on building socialism in the North, approximately 80,000 cadres and soldiers of the VPA shifted to economic activities, directly joined in major construction projects such as Viet Tri Industrial Zone, Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Plant, Bac Hung Hai Irrigation System, and so on. Given requirements set out by the resistance war against the American imperialists, the Ministry of National Defense handed over 29 farms and approximately 40,000 cadres, soldiers and employees to the Ministry of Agriculture while shifting from production activities to building the rear and on-the-spot logistics bases on Southern battlefields, especially in such areas of vital strategic importance as Military Region 5, Central Highlands, Southwest, Southeast, etc. Being timed to coincide with this, 20 regiments were established by the Ministry of National Defense to participate in production activities, thereby affording battlefields logistics. This can be epitomized by the fact that Truong Son soldiers tunneled through mountains and leveled hills off to build tens of thousands of kilometers of trails overland and at sea, which served as strategic transport routes to reinforce the battlefields in the South, Laos and Cambodia, enormously contributing to the resounding victory over the American imperialists.

          Since national reunification in 1975, the VPA has been in the vanguard of healing the wounds of war and socio-economic development. 280,000 cadres and soldiers or so, involving this vital task, have completed a good few major programs and projects nationwide which combine economy with national defense and vice versa. Firmly grasping and concretizing the Party’s lines promulgated by the 6th National Party Congress on “the entire people’s national construction and protection” and “the whole VPA’s national construction and protection”, the Central Military Commission issued Resolution No. 71/ĐUQSTW, dated April 26th, 2002, on “the VPA’s task of production and economic development– continued restructuring, reforms, development and improvements in the performance of military-run enterprises”; Resolution No. 520-NQ/QUTW, dated September 25th, 2012, on “leading the VPA’s task of combining production activities and economic development with national defense until 2020”; and Resolution No. 425-NQ/QUTW, dated May 18th, 2017 on “restructuring, reforms, development and improvements in the performance of military-run enterprises until 2020 and beyond”. Under the leadership of the Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense, the VPA has brought into full play the nature and traditions of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers”, effectively fulfilling its function as “an army ready for production”, substantially contributing to national economic development. A case in point is that the VPA has actively joined in the work of hunger eradication and poverty reduction, the building of new-type rural areas, and socio-economic development in tandem with the building of military capability and  all-people defense posture in strategic, remote, border, and island areas, the focus of which is on economic-defense zones. Military-run enterprises have constantly improved their performance, combining economy with national defense and strictly abiding by the Party and State’s lines and policies. Since restructuring, military-run enterprises have continued to thrive as a higher number of them become profitable, positively contributing to the building of military capability, greater job security and higher pay for their employees. They have gained a firm foothold at home while expanding their operations abroad to become prestigious business partners, contributing to Vietnam’s promoted diplomacy and international economic integration. Apart from their political tasks, the VPA’s units have participated in production activities by making good use of excess labor power, thereby affording the country with high-quality human resources, technology and services. Many of them have managed to cover much of their regular expenditure whereby their military activities have been stepped up and military personnel’s living standards substantially improved. Additionally, international business activities and trade and investment promotion have been accelerated. The management and use of military-owned land have been properly handled. Areas of military-owned land, which are not yet for immediate military purposes, have been utilized for production activities and economic development in a proper manner.

 Those significant achievements recorded by the VPA as “an army ready for production” are of the essence in the sense that they positively contribute to expanded military capability, military personnel’s improved living standards and the country’s cause of industrialization and modernization, thereby strongly reflecting the nature, tradition and image of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” on the “production” front, consolidating the Party, State and people’s trust in the VPA.

However, there remain a number of shortcomings. Awareness has yet to be full among a segment of cadres and soldiers of the VPA’s function as “an army ready for production”. A deep sense of responsibility has yet to be gained by a section of the VPA’s Party executive committees and military commanders. The construction of a good few economic-defense zones has not lived up to expectations by falling behind schedule. A number of military-run enterprises have yet to fare well while their performance has yet to undergo thorough and regular inspections and supervisions. The equitisation program for military-run enterprises has been implemented more slowly than expected. The management and use of military-owned land for economic purposes have yet to be properly handled by a number of the VPA’s units. Those above-mentioned shortcomings are to name but a few. The Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense have requested the VPA’s Party executive committees, military commanders and military-run enterprises to opportunely remedy the shortcomings.

In the time to come, the global and regional situation is expected to continue to undergo rapid and unpredictable changes, with the mixture of opportunities and challenges, to which Vietnam is not immune. Meanwhile, the country continues to witness socio-political stability, overall economic growth, strengthened national defence and security, expanded external relations and enhanced international prestige. At the same time, a number of localities still face economic difficulty and latent socio-political instability as hostile forces step up their sabotage activities by means of “peaceful evolution”, “self-evolution”, “self-transformation”, “depoliticization of the military”, erroneous viewpoints aimed to undermine the VPA’s prestige, provoking division between the VPA and the Party, public security forces and the people, and so on. Against this backdrop, besides its focus on enhanced combativeness, the VPA shall speed up its effective participation in production activities and economic development to contribute, along with the whole Party and people, to national construction and development.

The VPA’s units and military-run enterprises shall firmly grasp the lines and policies by the Party, Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense on the combination between economy and national defense, thereby promoting their fine traditions, sense of self-reliance and self-resilience, energies and creativity to engage in production activities and economic development. Due attention should be paid to the followings.

First, regularly fostering military personnel’s awareness of and their sense of responsibility towards the VPA’s participation in production activities and economic development.

This is of paramount importance, encouraging military personnel to overcome difficulty to participate in production activities for the sake of national economic development. The focus of educational propagation shall be on the clarification of the VPA’s functions and tasks; lines and policies by the Party, Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense on the VPA’s participation in production activities and economic development and combination between economy and national defense; and the VPA’s key role in the work of hunger eradication and poverty reduction, socio-economic development and defense-security consolidation, especially in strategic, remote, border, coastal and islands areas. The entire VPA shall be fully aware that participation in production activities and economic development is a fundamental function and significantly political task reflecting its revolutionary nature and fine traditions. Given the country’s economic difficulty and modest defense budget, the VPA’s participation in production activities and economic development is here to stay. However, rather than purely economic activities, the VPA’s participation has always been grounded in the guideline of close combination between economy and national defense and vice versa. Reality has proven this when it comes to economic-defense units stationed in strategic, remote, border and island areas. Their operations have made significant contributions to the State budget, social security and Army Rear policy, conducive to hunger eradication and poverty reduction, concerted efforts to build new-type rural areas as well as consolidation of a firm “people’s hearts and minds” posture nationwide.

The educational propagation shall be frequent and diversified so that soldiers and people are fully aware of the significance and nature of the VPA’s participation in production activities and economic development, thereby forging widespread consensus and foiling sabotage plots by hostile forces, opportunists and reactionary elements against the VPA.

Second, enhancing the leadership capacity of executive Party committees and  military commanders at all levels concerning the VPA’s participation in production activities and economic development. This serves as a decisive factor in allowing the VPA’s participation to fare well and comply with lines and policies by the Party, Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense. All the VPA’s units, especially Party executive committees and military commanders at all levels, shall continue to firmly grasp and fully implement the Central Military Commission’s Resolution No. 520-NQ/QUTW, dated September 25th, 2012, on “leading the VPA’s task of combining production and economic development with national defense until 2020”. The VPA’s units and enterprises shall firmly grasp and creatively apply the Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress on “combination between defense-security and socio-economic development” while fully complying with other relevant lines and policies by the Party, State and Ministry of National Defense. It shall be fully aware that socio-economic development, political stability and defense-security consolidation come first while great importance shall be attached to environmental protection, sustainable development and proactive international economic integration. Economic-defense units and military-run enterprises shall treat economic activities and defense tasks equally to prevent the former from besetting the latter and vice versa. The whole VPA, especially Party executive committees and military commanders at all levels, shall be well aware that its most fundamental function is combat readiness to protect the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and to safeguard the Party, State, people and socialist regime. Additionally, the VPA shall effectively fulfil its functions as “an army ready for work” and “an army ready for production” to positively contribute to national construction and development. These are strategic tasks facing the Vietnamese revolution in the new situation, the effective fulfilment of which is attributed to the VPA as the core force.

Third, focusing resources on accelerating the construction and enhancing the performance of economic-defense zones in strategic areas.

The construction of economic-defense zones is the Party and State’s major and sound policy. It also concretizes the Party and State’s line on combination between economy with national defense and vice versa in practice.

In line with the government’s directions, the VPA have built 28 out of 33 economic-defense zones by 2017, 23 and 5 of which are in transition and in their infancy respectively. The construction of some other economic-defense zones are in progress in strategic, border, coastal and island areas. Economic-defense zones have closely cooperated with localities in  infrastructure building, residential planning, job creation, hundreds of thousands of households’ improved living standards, and the establishment of hundreds of residential clusters in border belts and areas of strategic importance. They have actively assisted residents (mostly ethnic minorities) with hunger eradication and poverty reduction, boosted agricultural production and improved material and spiritual life while carrying out mass mobilization, joining in the establishment of political bases and closely linking socio-economic development with consolidation of all-people defense-security posture in border regions. The realities of economic-defense zones’ operations have asserted their strategic importance in socio-economic and defense-security terms. In the time to come, resources shall be focused on accelerating the construction and improving the performance of economic-defense zones as defined in the overall master plan for establishment and development of economic-defence zones by 2020 and vision to 2025 approved by the Prime Minister. Priority shall be given to coastal and island areas while developing standard models in economic-defense zones, from which valuable lessons can be drawn. Economic-defense zones shall not deviate from its stated goals to ensure both their effective operations and combat readiness when necessary.

Fourth, restructuring military-run enterprises for the sake of their improved performance.

Over the past years, in compliance with resolutions and directives by the Party and Government, the Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense have resolutely directed the restructuring of military-run enterprises, achieving significant preliminary results. Military-run enterprises have actively reformed themselves and transformed operational and organizational modes in line with the country’s socio-economic development strategy and military tasks, greatly contributing to expanded military production capacity, greater macro-economic stability and ensured social security. Bringing into full play those achievements, in the time to come, military-run enterprises shall firmly grasp the Party and Government’s lines and policies on restructuring State-owned enterprises, with a focus on properly implementing Resolution No.425-NQ/QUTW and Project on “Restructuring and boosting the performance of military-run enterprises in the 2016-2020 period” when approved by the Prime Minister. It is essential that relevant units resolutely accelerate the equitization and divestment from enterprises whose operations have little to do with military tasks while dissolving enterprises with poor performance in accordance with statutory regulations. Military-run enterprises shall say no to perfunctory efforts, being reform and equitization-shy, negative practices, wastefulness and losses to the State and VPA’s property, which besets legitimate interests of their employees. Military-run enterprises shall pay due attention to ideological, organizational and  policy work all the way. At the same time, they shall review and reform their own business strategies to match their business model and heavily invest in innovations in technology and business management for the sake of enhanced competitiveness, greater productivity and more effective fulfilment of military tasks. It is vital that the Party and State’s lines and policies and the VPA’s discipline be strictly observed, the nature and tradition of Uncle Ho’s soldiers perpetuated, and the military-run enterprises’ solid reputation upheld, thereby better meeting the military requirements and contributing to the cause of national industrialization and modernization.

Moreover, the whole VPA shall heighten awareness and sense of responsibility concerning management and use of military-owned land. Over the past years, the planning, management and use of military-owned land has been in compliance with statutory regulations, meeting the requirements of both national defense and socio-economic development. Nevertheless, there remain shortcomings to be addressed. Amidst additional requirements of national construction and protection, the whole VPA, directly military-run enterprises, shall firmly grasp and strictly observe the State’s laws and Ministry of National Defense’s regulations on management and use of military-owned  land, especially the Law on Land 2013, Resolution No. 1002-NQ/QUTW dated December 29th, 2016 by the Central Military Commission on “leading the management and use of military-owned  land until 2020 and beyond”, and Circular No.157/2017/TT-BQP, dated July 2nd, 2017 by the Ministry of National Defense on “management and use of land for military purposes”. The management and use of military-owned land across the country shall be closely inspected and supervised while  shortcomings shall be resolutely corrected.

Last but not least, determinedly repudiating erroneous viewpoints aimed at marring the public image of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers”.

The VPA is absolutely loyal to the Homeland, Party, State and people and key to national protection. As a result, chief among prime targets is the VPA for the “peaceful evolution” strategy by hostile forces, opportunists and reactionary elements. To this end, the latter have always stopped at nothing to step up their sabotage activities against the former. Alongside the promotion of “depoliticization of the VPA”, “self-evolution” and “self-transformation”, they disseminate inaccurate information to erode the people’s trust in “Uncle Ho’s soldiers”. Recently, they have intensely focused their misleading information on the VPA’s participation in production activities and economic development as well as its management and use of military-owned land with a view to giving rise to possible misunderstanding by the people over the VPA’s nature, functions and tasks.

Amidst this backdrop, the entire VPA shall exercise heightened vigilance and closely cooperate with relevant agencies in foiling hostile forces’ sabotage plots, thereby maintaining the Party’s firm leadership over and the people’s trust in the VPA. Military-run news outlets shall closely stick to guidelines by the Party Central Committee's Publicity and Education Commission and the Central Military Commission’s Steering Committee 94 as well as be fully aware of hostile forces’ artifices and plots to redouble their pioneering efforts in the fight against erroneous viewpoints, especially those against the VPA, on the ideological and cultural fronts.

Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich, Member of the Politburo, Deputy Secretary of the Central Military Commission, National Defense Minister.

(*) In this paper, the concepts “the military” and  “the VPA” are used interchangeably

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