Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 15:00 (GMT+7)
The military’s participation in production activities to contribute to socio-economic development (*)

Participation in production activities represents one of the three fundamental functions of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA). Against the backdrop of today’s Homeland construction and defense, this function should be prolonged through the combination between economy and national defense to achieve the goal of a prosperous people and a strong, democratic, equitable and civilized country.

As a fundamental function, the VPA’s participation in production activities strongly reflecting its fine traditions, did help to expanding the country’s economic capacity and providing logistics for battlefields, thereby contributing to aggregate strength to effectuate the victory of our resistance wars against foreign aggression.

After 1975, the VPA’s production units were spread all over the country, particularly in areas of strategic importance. Since Doi Moi, effective leadership and management has enabled the VPA’s production activities to be conducted more scientifically and successfully, greatly contributing to macro-economic stability and handling the country’s socio-economic difficulties. A number of military-run enterprises have gone to extremes to invest abroad to promote external relations and to meet the requirements of international integration.

The VPA has always been in the vanguard of socio-economic development in difficult areas as well as of the close combination between economy and national defense. At the same time, construction projects have always stayed on the schedule with their quality being ensured, particularly those in areas of strategic importance such as border patrol roads, communications networks in remote, border, island areas, bridges, tunnels, mining, agriculture-forestry-fishery production, fishing logistics, etc. Economic-Defense Units have closely cooperated with local authorities in establishing residential clusters in border belts and improving residents’ material, spiritual life, thereby consolidating the posture of “the people’s hearts and minds” and laying a solid foundation for all-people national defense and people’s security in border regions.

Furthermore, the VPA has actively promoted science research and developed new and dual-use technologies to contribute to State budget savings, and national security, industrialization and modernization. A lot of military-run enterprises have been the pioneers in industrial production and dual-use services such as mechanical manufacturing, electricity and electronics, information technology, telecommunications, air services, seaport services, logisitcs, shipbuilding, remote sensing, surveying, mapping, design consultation, etc. In doing so, they have had access to new technologies and managed to increase professional competence to serve military tasks, contributing to the State budget savings and the country’s economic-defense capabilities.

In the time to come, alongside developing combat power, the VPA should continue to accelerate its production activities with emphasis placed on the following.

First, regularly fostering public awareness among military personnel and the people of the VPA’s participation in production activities. This is of paramount importance. The focus of educational propagation should be on the clarification of the VPA’s functions and tasks; lines and policies by the Party, the State and the military on the combination between economy and national defense and vice versa; resolutions and directives by the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defense on the VPA’s participation in production activities; as well as economic, political, defense, and security benefits produced by the VPA’s participation in production activities. Thanks to this, military personnel’s awareness will be heightened of their own tasks which are confined to not only combat readiness and combat but also production activities to contribute to the country’s military capability, the State budget, the military’s improved material and spiritual life, social security and policies regarding military families. The entire military and people should be fully aware that the military’s participation in production activities represents a continuation of our people’s time-honored traditions of “Ngụ binh ư nông” (literally, “soldiers billeted in farms”) and “Tịnh vi nông, động vi binh” (literally, “working as farmers in peacetime and working as soldiers in wartime”). The military-run enterprises should bring their production activities and business operations into line with their functions and tasks, the Party’s lines and policies and statutory regulations without exception. Rather than economically single-minded activities, the VPA’s participation has always been grounded in the guideline of the close combination between economy and national defense and vice versa to truly set an example and be worthy of the title “Uncle Ho’s Soldiers”. In the meantime, importance should be attached to countering wrong viewpoints on the military’s production activities which aim to  undermine the VPA’s prestige, to provoke division between the VPA and the people, and to dampen the VPA’s revolutionary spirit, thereby turning the VPA into a Western – style battle-hardened army.

Second, adopting practical guidelines and appropriate measures concerning the VPA’s participation in economic activities. Guidelines should clarify the necessity of simultaneously fulfilling the VPA’s three functions, namely an army ready for fighting, an army ready for work and an army ready for production, the centrepiece of which is  the army ready for fighting. Therefore, production activities cannot adversely influence the VPA’s combat power in any circumstance. Military units, particularly the military-run enterprises should be pioneers in onerous tasks in socio-economic development, defense-security consolidation in border, island areas that State-owned enterprises and private enterprises cannot or do not wish to fulfil. In the process of production activities, military units should strictly obey the State law while ensuring effectiveness (except the cases in which defense-security, politico-social effectiveness are prioritized). Attention should be paid to environmental protection, sustainable development and proactive international integration. Those units in charge of production activities in peacetime will turn into combat ones when necessary. All of their resources are now devoted to satisfying the military’scientific-techonological requirements.

In terms of measures, they should be employed flexibly. Pertaining to tasks peculiar to the military which require secretcy, it is essential that they be fulfilled by military units only. As for economically single-minded activities, the military should either place orders or call for bids. Production activities related to materiel should be assigned to militarily single-minded enterprises. Meanwhile, other military-run enterprises should be encouraged to take charge of other production activities on a dual-use basis. Military industry should be closely cooperated with civilian one to maximize mutual achievements and to enhance each other’s quality. The military’s excess labor power in peacetime should be optimized to serve production activities on an equal footing.

Third, closely cooperating and effectively promoting the role of modes of production inside the military; accelerating the restructuring and improved performance of military-run enterprises. Resources should be focused on speeding up the construction and improved performance of Economic-Defense zones and units in line with the Master plan for Economic-Defense zones until 2020 and vision towards 2025 approved by the Prime Minister, with priority assigned to maritime, island regions. Economic – Defense zones should have their production models rearranged to become bright spots in economic, political, cultural, social, defense, security terms. Attention should be paid to implementing Resolution 425-NQ/QUTW, dated May 18th, 2017 by the Central Military Commission on  “Restructuring, reforms and improved performance of military-run enterprises until 2020 and beyond” and Project on “Restructuring, reforms and improved performance of military-run enterprises until 2020”. In doing so, the military-run enterprises will be able to enhance their capacity, competitiveness and productivity, to forge their reputation and to address shortcomings to satisfy the requirements of integration and development. Achievements from economic globalization and the 4th Industrial Revolution should be maximized to contribute to the military-run enterprises’ restructuring. Consideration should be taken into the establishment of a number of Military–Industrial complexes based on closely linking the military’s scientific-technological research institutes with its production facilities. It should be noted that when it comes to the application of scientific-technological advancements and results from R&D, priority should be assigned to military products over non-military ones. Military units should be encouraged to promote their strengths and to utilize their excess labor power in order to improve material and spiritual life among their cadres, soldiers and employees, contributing to developing the country’s military capability.

Fourth, continuing to amend mechanisms and policies concerning the military’s participation in production activities. For the sake of a legal foundation and shared awareness, specific resolutions on the combination between economy and national defense should continue to be introduced. In the meantime, the military’s production activities should be subject to investigation and supervision. Relevant compensation and benefit packages should be made transparent among employees. Wrongdoings should be resolutely dealt with so as not to mar the military’s public image.

Thanks to the above-mentioned, the effectiveness of the State management will be enhanced while the fulfiment of the military’s function as an army ready for production will make a breakthrough, thereby greatly contributing to the country’s military build-up and economic development in the new situation.

Maj.Gen. Tran Dinh Thang, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of National Defense

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

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