Tuesday, May 07, 2019, 15:29 (GMT+7)
The value of Dien Bien Phu Victory to the building of revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern Vietnam People’s Army

In late 1953, the complexion of the war changed in our favour. In response to the risk of failure of the Navarre Plan, the French Colonialists decided to consolidate their force and build Dien Bien Phu into a very strongly fortified entrenched camp in Indochina as an unbreakable stronghold and a stepping stone to control Northwestern Vietnam and Upper Laos and annihilate our active forces. Correctly assessing the situation, the Politburo and the General Military Commission decided to focus our active, elite forces on Dien Bien Phu and launch a campaign to destroy the enemy’s most elite forces stationed in their fortified entrenched camp which was the most powerful on the battlefield of Indochina.

Following the Politburo’s decision, with the spirit of determination to fight and determination to win as well as the strength of the whole nation, our people and military actively, quickly made all necessary preparations to conduct the Campaign of Dien Bien Phu and earned a resounding victory. The first battle in the Campaign took place at Him Lam hill on March 13th 1954. After 54 days and nights of bravely fighting, with an iron will, our military and people completely destroyed the enemy’s fortified entrenched camp in Dien Bien Phu and led our war against the French Colonialists to the ultimate victory. The Victory of Dien Bien Phu 1954 totally broke the Navarre Plan, dealt a death blow to the French will of invasion and the US intervention, and forced them to sign the Geneva Accords on ending the war and restoring peace in Indochina.

The landslide Victory of Dien Bien Phu marked a golden milestone in the country’s history of national construction and protection and expressed the Vietnamese people’s courage, wisdom, and invincible strength in the era of Ho Chi Minh. The victory was of significance to the human race’s movement for national independence, peace and progress, encouraging colonies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to rise up and fight for their national independence, signaling the collapse of old-style colonialism on a global scale.

The Victory of Dien Bien Phu resulted from the sound leadership and direction of our Party and President Ho Chi Minh as well as the strength of patriotism, national great unity block, and Vietnamese people’s heroic tradition of fighting foreign invaders. It was the victory of the spirit of determination to fight and determination to win and the strength of the People’s Army, the people’s armed forces, and the whole Vietnamese nation. It was also the victory of the pure, faithful solidarity between 3 countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia as well as the great material and mental support from socialist countries and international friends and progressive people. The Victory of Dien Bien Phu proves the truth that a small nation under the leadership of a true Marxist Party supported by the progressive people in the world is capable of defeating all foreign invaders.

65 years have elapsed, but the significance, spirit and lessons of the Victory of Dien Bien Phu remain valuable to Vietnam’s revolutionary cause. To apply those lessons to building a revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern Vietnam People’s Army (VPA), the entire VPA should focus on the main points as follows.

Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich presenting the military personnel plan in preparation for the Party Central Committee for the 2021-2016 tenure at the CMC’s Conference in December 2018 (photo: qdnd.vn)

First, strengthening the VPA’s revolutionary nature and maintaining the Party’s ideological ground within the VPA.

Our VPA organized, led, trained, and educated by our Party and President Ho Chi Minh has the nature of the working class and our people and nation. Since its inception, our Party has attached great importance to building the VPA’s revolutionary nature, taking Marxism-Leninism and the Party’s political guidelines as the VPA’s ideological ground, and making it absolutely loyal to the Party, Homeland and people and ready to fight and sacrifice for the Homeland’s independence and the people’s happiness. Hence, entering the Campaign of Dien Bien Phu, the VPA’s cadres and soldiers clearly expressed the nature of the working class, burning aspirations for national independence and socialism, and spirit of determination to fight and determination to win at the highest level. That was a great source of political and spiritual strength for our troops to overcome hardships, clinch the great Victory of Dien Bien Phu, and successfully fulfil the mission assigned by the Party Central Committee, Uncle Ho, and people.

Learning from the experiences in the Victory of Dien Bien Phu, the whole VPA should improve the quality and effectiveness of political, ideological education, render cadres and soldiers fully aware of the combat objective and ideal, build up their political will, absolute loyalty to the Party, Homeland and people, and maintain readiness to fight and sacrifice for national independence and socialism. This is a core issue in the building of our VPA’s working class nature. Thus, party committees and key cadres at all levels must see it as a central, routine task and resolutely maintain the Party’s ideological ground within the VPA with proper measures. While stepping up propagation and education of Marxism-Leninism, Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, the Party’s guidelines, the State’s law, and the VPA’s mission in the new situation, offices and units should unmask the hostile forces’ nature, plots, and new artifices so that cadres and soldiers could clearly understand Vietnamese revolution’s partners of cooperation and objects of struggle, the Party’s military guidelines and art, maintain revolutionary vigilance, readily undertake and successfully fulfil all assigned tasks. To do so, it is necessary to renew the contents, diversify forms and methods of political education; closely combine political education with guidance on troops’ action and particularly attach great value to practical training to enhance troops’ political zeal, revolutionary ideal, responsibility and determination to fulfil their task; build up the image of Uncle Ho’s soldiers with political, moral, cultural qualities, disciplinary awareness, knowledge, fitness, and military capacity as its features. Besides, it is important to proactively undertake researches into the arising issues on troops’ ideology to adopt timely remedial measures; resolutely fight to thwart the hostile forces’ plots and acts of sabotage as well as their tricks of “depoliticization”, “civilization of the VPA”, “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” from within.

To maintain the VPA’s revolutionary and working class nature and its combat objective and ideal, it is essential to strengthen the Party’s absolute, direct leadership over the VPA. The key step is to make party committees and organizations within the VPA pure and strong politically, ideologically, organizationally and morally, and unceasingly enhance their combativeness and leadership capacity in the process of performing their task. The entire VPA should step up the implementation of the Resolution of the Party Central Committee’s 4th Plenum on the Party building and rectification, the 12th Politburo’s Directive 05-CT/TW, and the Central Military Commission (CMC) Standing Committee’s Directive on studying and following Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and moral example. Emphasis should be placed on raising the quality of party cells’ meeting, observing the principle of democratic centralism, heightening self-criticism and criticism, managing and training cadres and party members, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of inspection, supervision and Party disciplinary action. Moreover, it is important to promote the exemplary role of cadres and party members, particularly the key ones in terms of political ideology, ethics and lifestyle; cement intra-solidarity and close-knit bond with the people.

Second, creating a solid, comprehensive change in military standard order and discipline management.

Entering the 1953-1954 Winter Spring Offensive, our active forces were organized into divisions. That was a favourable condition for pushing ahead military standard order and discipline management to a new height to improve the VPA’s combat strength. In the Dien Bien Phu Campaign, under the fierce combat environment, greater importance was attached to conducting the work of military standard order and discipline management on the battlefield. Cadres and soldiers always observed the military discipline and superiors’ orders.

Nowadays, under the more favourable condition, offices and units should base on their function and task to make a really steady, comprehensive change in military standard order and discipline management. In the coming time, the whole VPA should continue taking measures to implement resolutions and conclusions by the Politburo and the CMC as well as the Plan by the Ministry of National Defence (MND) on the VPA’s organization towards 2021 in order to make VPA compact, strong with the increasingly higher synergy and greater combat strength. Grounded on those documents, it is necessary to grasp and strictly implement the Directive 37-CT/ĐUQSTW, dated April 14th 1993, by the CMC on building the VPA’s standard order to a new height and the Decision 814/QĐ-TM, dated May 24th 2010 by Chief of the General Staff on issuing the Guidance on continuing to execute the MND’s Directive 917/1999/CT-QP, dated June 22nd 1999, on building comprehensively strong units and the MND’s Directive 91/CT-BQP, dated November 22nd 2016, on discipline management and education within the VPA. In the medium term, the whole VPA should focus on raising the training quality and capabilities in command, staff, and combat readiness, closely managing troops and materiel, ensuring troops’ manners, and maintaining military regulations. The entire VPA should speed up the building of comprehensively strong, exemplary, typical units, enhance troops’ sense of discipline, and minimize traffic accidents and incidents in training and work so as to increase the VPA’s combat strength.

Third, making the VPA seasoned and capable of the task of Homeland protection in the new situation.

An elite VPA must be expressed in its political and combat strength. Thus, in addition to building a strong VPA politically, ideologically, and organizationally, it is vital to enhance the quality of training and combat readiness. During the Campaign of Dien Bien Phu, it was the first time a revolutionary army equipped with obsolete materiel defeated a powerful professional army. The reason was that our Party always set store by building the three-category armed forces with the VPA playing the core role. In spite of the fierce war, the training work at that time, particularly at active units was always conducted in the way that was relevant to our object of struggle and existing weapons and equipment, thereby making our VPA increasingly powerful as a determinant to the Victory of Dien Bien Phu.

In the new conditions of the Homeland protection, building an elite VPA imposes very high new requirements which necessitate the whole VPA implementing various measures, with a focus on actively renewing and raising the quality of training and combat readiness, ensuring that our troops could have good tactical, technical capacity, effectively use weapons and equipment of all types, particularly new-generation ones. Promoting the combat experiences in the Dien Bien Phu Campaign, the whole VPA should continue adopt synchronously measures to achieve a huge change in the training quality under the CMC’s Resolution 765-NQ/QUTW, dated December 20th 2012. Emphasis should be placed on renewing the contents, programs, organization, and methods of training and exercises. Training work must be carried out under the motto of “basics, practicality, and thorough grasp”, in a comprehensive, synchronous, specialized manner, and in accordance with the objects of struggle, operating areas, organizational structure, existing materiel, and characteristics of the hi-tech warfare. Great value should be attached to training troops to master modern materiel, particularly in units which have been set to move forward to modernity; to raising the quality of joint training between services and arms as well as within the defensive zones; to improving combat strength of main mobile units and actively building the forces and postures within the provincial, municipal defensive zones. Consideration should be given to training strategic, campaign, and tactical operations; closely combining training with joint exercises and combat exercises; conducting the training work based on the tasks and situations; aligning military training with political education and discipline management; building up troops’ faith in our existing materiel and combat method, ensuring that the VPA would be increasingly seasoned to meet the requirements for Homeland defence in the new situation.

Fourth, building a gradually modern VPA with priority given to modernizing several services, arms and forces.

In the Campaign of Dien Bien Phu, in comparison with the enemy, our weapons and equipment were totally inferior to theirs in terms of quantity and modernity. Supported by the US Imperialists, the French Colonialists deployed many modern weapons and equipment, such as aircraft, tanks, and artillery to Dien Bien Phu. It should be noted that the enemy directly used 2/3 of bombers and fighters they had in Indochina and 100% of their air freighters. Meanwhile, without any aircraft and tank, with only one howitzer regiment, one mountain artillery regiment, and one 37-mm anti-aircraft artillery regiment, we gained the victory as we knew how to encourage the strength of national unity block and the combined strength of the all-people, comprehensive, durable, self-reliant war to provide material and logistics support for the Campaign, with the VPA playing the core role.

Today, our Party advocates building a revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern VPA with priority given to modernizing a number of forces to create its new combat strength. This is a sound policy in accordance with our country’s condition and our Party’s guidelines on the people’s warfare. However, it is important to understand that “gradual modernization” is a continuous, instant process which must be implemented synchronously in terms of both personnel and materiel. Hence, in addition to improving the quality of political, ideological education and combat training, it is essential to accelerate the modernization of the VPA’s materiel. In the process, due regard must be paid to grasping and well executing the 11th Politburo’s Resolution 06-NQ/TW on building and developing defence industry towards 2020 and beyond and the Politburo’s Resolution 15-NQ/TW, dated August 1st 2017 on equipping materiel for the VPA towards 2025. Besides, investments must be made in developing and making our defence industry advanced and self-reliant to improve the capability in manufacture and repair of weapons, equipment, and vehicles of the armed forces in accord with the country’s economic potential. Defence industry must be developed in association with civilian industry within the national industry and focus on modern, highly effective technologies. At the same time, due attention should be paid to acquiring modern, useful weapons and equipment to meet the requirements for Homeland protection in the new situation.

Fifth, actively taking part in and effectively carrying out the work of defence diplomacy.

Under the guidelines on an all-people, comprehensive, long-lasting, self-reliant resistance war in the Campaign of Dien Bien Phu, while encouraging the internal strength, our Party and President Ho Chi Minh took advantage of the material and mental support from socialist countries and international friends to reinforce our combat strength for the sake of the victory. In today’s process of international integration, our VPA has more chances to expand its cooperation with the militaries of other countries. Via the cooperation relations, we could learn from their experiences in building their militaries, consolidate the trust, and express goodwill of our VPA and Vietnamese people. The whole VPA should continue to grasp the Party’s foreign policy of independence and self-reliance, raise the effectiveness of defence diplomacy, deepen bilateral defence cooperation, enhance the work of defence diplomacy information, build confidence, increase partners of cooperation, reduce objects of struggle, opportunely deal with the arising issues to contribute to defending the national independence, sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity and benefit. The VPA should be actively take part in the UN peacekeeping operations and the mechanisms for defence cooperation within the ASEAN. In the short term, all preparations should be made to successfully host military-defence conferences when Vietnam undertakes the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020.

Celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Victory of Dien Bien Phu, we are proud of the glorious, heroic history and tradition of the heroic Vietnamese people and VPA. Bringing into play valuable lessons from the Campaign of Dien Bien Phu, the entire VPA should continue making itself revolutionary, regular, seasoned, gradually modern, and capable of playing the core role in defending the Homeland of Socialist Vietnam in the new situation.

Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich, Member of the Politburo

Deputy Secretary of the CMC, Minister of National Defence

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