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Sunday, December 17, 2017, 17:03 (GMT+7)
Upholding “Ha Noi - Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory in the current cause of defending the Homeland

Over the course of the great national anti-American resistance war, under the leadership of the Party and beloved Uncle Ho, our armed forces and people launched significant battles and gained huge victories, thereby creating a turning point in the resistance war, placing the enemy at a strategic disadvantage and inflicting a complete defeat on them, as evidenced by the Air Defence Campaign in late December, 1972 intended to defeat the B52 strategic air strike on Ha Noi, Hai Phong, and some other northern provinces by the American imperialists. That was the first campaign-level battle ever on the air defence front in Vietnamese people’s war in which northern armed forces and people with Air Defence- Air Force troops as the core, recorded “Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory (hereafter the Victory) by means of actively and proactively elaborate preparation as well as promoted overall strength of people’s three-category air defence posture. This Victory carries profound historic and epoch-making meaning, contributing to firmly protected socialist regime in the North and paving the way for the liberation of the South and national reunification.

Forty five years have elapsed, but historical values, epochal meaning and, heroic atmosphere of “Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory still remain intact in memories of nationwide countrymen and soldiers, especially Hanoi’s armed forces and people. Hanoi became “the capital city of human virtues”, and embodied the “determined to win” faith and willpower and the strength of national great unity block. Vietnam became the conscience of the times in the eyes of international friends. Being one of the sweeping ones in the 20th century, “Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory continuously upholds golden pages of glorious history of national struggle against foreign aggressors, and becomes a brilliant symbol of the strength of revolutionary heroism steeped in Vietnamese valour, willpower, and intellectuality as well as national tradition of fighting foreign invaders in Ho Chi Minh era. It is also indicative of the Party’s clear-sighted line and strategy embodied in military art of people’s war on a unique and creative air defence front. As far as Vietnamese People’s Army is concerned, this Victory marks a milestone in the three-category air defence force, particularly Air Defence-Air Force troops towards the development of the art of air defence combat as well as the art of creating synergy in Vietnamese military science and art. As regards Vietnamese resistance war against the American imperialists, this Victory was of strategic significance politically, militarily and diplomatically; foiled American last-ditch attempt to escalate the war, and forced them to sign the Paris Peace Accords (dated 27-01-1973) under which they were committed to withdrawing all their expeditionary troops from Vietnam. This was seen as a strategic landmark in Vietnamese revolution, paving the way for the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising with the culmination of historic Ho Chi Minh Campaign under the motto “We drive the American imperialists away, then topple the US-backed Puppet Government”, accomplishing the glorious cause of national liberation, and advancing the whole country to the era of national independence and socialism.

In the coming years, regional and global situations will be incrementally characterized by unpredictable and complicated developments, latent instability, and growing territorial, sea, and island disputes in East Sea. Domestic situation has seen stable sociopolitical climate, robust economic growth, consolidated defence and security, expanded foreign relations, and Vietnamese enhanced status and prestige. Yet, national economy still experiences some difficulties; sociopolitical situation in some of key, remote, boundary, and island areas still witnesses potential instability; hostile forces step up sabotage activities via strategies of “peaceful evolution” and “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” from within. Against this backdrop, it necessitates the entire Party, people and Army upholding their sense of unity and solidarity and creatively applying the precious lessons of “Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory to the current cause of building and defending the Homeland as follows.

First, the lesson of persistently following the Party leadership line and building “determined to fight and to win” willpower - a determinant to the Victory.

The Party clear-sighted line on people’s warfare is a determining factor in the victory of national resistance war against the American imperialists in general and the triumph of Air Defence Campaign in late December, 1972 in particular. Thanks to that line as well as strategic leadership motto, our Party and President Ho Chi Minh directed the entire people and Army to bring into full play national synergy and “determined to fight and win” willpower to achieve partial victories to a complete one. The American imperialists resorted to a staggering number of B52 strategic aircraft (one of their triple strategic deterrents) in an attempt to bomb Hanoi “back the Stone Age”, discourage people’s fighting spirits, and gain some advantages in negotiation table, but to no avail. Their disastrous failure was inevitable in accord with the law of war “the stronger wins, the weaker loses”. In broad terms, we gained the victory since we were stronger than the enemy. Our source of strength resulted from multiple factors with Party leadership coming first as a firm foundation for our armed forces and people, particularly troops and people in Hanoi with air defence and air force as the core, to make proactive preparation, uphold fighting spirit, surmount difficulties and hardships, promote close combat coordination and select appropriate tactics to shoot down “the B52 flying fortress” and gain “Hanoi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong chairs the Central Military Commission’s Conference on August 29th, 2017 (photo: Pham Tuan)

Applying lessons of “Hanoi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory to the current cause of building and defending the Homeland, we must be steadfast in the goal of national independence and socialism, and absolutely loyal to the Party’s leadership in any circumstances as a basis for closely combining the tasks of socioeconomic and cultural development with those of defence, security and foreign affairs; promoting the building of strong all-people defence posture in close alignment with all-people security posture; and strengthening the building of people’s armed forces, particularly revolutionary, regular, elite, and gradually modernized Vietnamese People’s Army with some of its modernized affiliates. Growing importance is attached to building “people’s hearts and minds” posture in key and strategic areas with emphasis placed on improving people’s living standards and educating young generations on revolutionary objectives and ideals, patriotism, self-reliance and tradition of national construction and defence while continuously grasping and implementing Party line on foreign policy to maintain a stable and peaceful climate for national construction and development.

Second, the lesson of insightful strategic and tactical leadership on the basis of thoroughly grasping the enemy’s situation and successfully tackling possible contingencies. Right in the initial stage of the resistance war against the American destructive war in the North, being early aware of and accurately foreseeing the situation, our Party and President Ho Chi Minh expressed strategic determination and focused their leadership and direction on encouraging our armed forces and people to proactively make comprehensive preparation in a bid to triumph over the American B52 strategic air strike as stated by President Ho Chi Minh between late 1967 and early 1968 “sooner or later the American will resort to the B52 to blitz Hanoi, only by doing so do they admit defeat. Hence, it is a must to anticipate this scenario as soon as possible. The American imperialists are doomed to failure in Vietnam, but only when losing in Hanoi’s sky do they accept defeat”. Grounded in that statement, our Party directed all the forces and localities to make across-the-board preparation ranging from ensuring logistical work to formulating combat strategy on the air defence front. Subsequently, in parallel with consolidating all the relevant forces, the Politburo and the Central Military Commission instructed Air Defence -Air Force Service to proactively send its key units to the front line for working out a tactic to shoot down the B52 bombers as a basis for combat planning. The General Staff Department directed High Command of Military Regions of Huu Ngan, Tay Bac, Viet Bac, etc to directly command their air forces in stationed areas while closely instructing localities, especially Hanoi capital city to make elaborate preparation concerning evacuation and transport schemes, force mobilization, etc. This is indicative of timely and perceptive leadership through strategic and tactical proactiveness, mobilization of physical and mental resources, and close coordination among key air defence forces and local air defence forces.

That lesson drawn from the Victory still remains intact in the current cause of defending the Homeland. In its capacity as the core force on this strategic task, Vietnamese People’s Army must continuously grasp and seriously execute the Party line and viewpoints on defending the Homeland in the new situation. First and foremost, it must be proactive in properly carrying out the work of situational analysis, evaluation and prediction as a basis for advising the Party and the State on military and defence policy in a sensible scientific fashion whilst adequately dealing with possible contingencies in order for the Homeland not to be strategically put in a passive and unexpected position. To this end, strategic agencies of Ministry of National Defence regularly need to closely cooperate with relevant sectors, ministries and branches, particularly Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in sharing information and comprehending domestic, regional and global situations, especially developments in defence and security and the cause of protecting the Homeland. Amidst increasingly extensive globalization trends and international integration, accurate assessment of situation, partners of cooperation and objects of struggle for the purpose of right and timely counselling and properly handling international relations for the sake of national interests, independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity is the matter of the utmost importance to the Party, people and the Army in their entirety as a basis for precautionary measures against war threats and conflicts from afar as well as proactively preventive solutions to harmful factors from within.

Third, the lesson of building three-category armed forces, regarding the building of strong people’s Army as the core in safeguarding the Homeland. Strengthening synergy amongst all the relevant forces, especially three-category air defence force with the Air Defence- Air Force Service as the core to defeat the American strategic air strike is one of the most significant elements in achieving “Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory. Given strategic vision and consummate military thinking, shortly after the American imperialists had resorted to B52 aircraft on the southern frontline, the Politburo and the Central Military Commission formed missile, radar, and air force units and some other technical ones which collaborated with local consolidated air defence forces across the North in willingly coping with the enemy’s war escalation. This enabled our forces to not only effectively deal with the American “B52 flying fortress”, but fight the enemy diffusely on the air defence front. In addition, the deployment of three-category air defence force in strong and complete air defence posture facilitated maximum combat capability of every force, forming “ an air defence fire network” to multidimensionally shoot down the enemy’s aircraft around the clock. The uniqueness of this lesson lies in force deployment and disposition with Air Defence-Air Force and missile troops as the core in fighting the enemy diffusely and shooting down the enemy’s various aircraft, especially B52 bombers in Hanoi’s key combat area. Thanks to across-the-board preparation and distinctive art of air defence combat, our armed forces and people resoundingly won numerous battles, especially decisive ones, shot down various B52 aircraft, and completely crushed the American strategic air strike.

In view of applying this lesson to the current cause of safeguarding the Homeland, greater importance is attached to building the strong three-category armed forces politically, ideologically and organizationally (regular force, local force, and self-defence and militia force). During the implementation process, it is necessary to thoroughly grasp the Party’s line on the role and significance of every force so as to work out appropriate policies and solutions whilst special attention is paid to building revolutionary, regular, elite, and gradually modernized People’s Army with priorities given to modernizing Air Defence- Air Force Service among other forces as stated in Resolution of the 12th Party Congress. To this end, proper regard is paid to building strong troops, weapons and equipment in the Army in general and Air Defence-Air Force Service in particular of which building strong troops is considered to be a central task and a determinant to the success of the task of protecting the Homeland. In the foreseeable future, in parallel with modernizing the armed forces according to the projects aimed at adjusting the military organization and equipment strategy towards 2025, it is essential to reform the work of political and ideological education in order for the Army to firmly grip the nature of working class, steadfastly stick to the goal of national independence  and socialism, and express absolute loyalty to the Homeland, the Party, the State and people while it is crucial to continuously renovate and promote the quality of training and education in line with Resolution 765-NQ/QUTW, dated 20-12-2012 by the Central Military Commission with a focus on mastering modern weapons and technical equipment and promoting disaster relief training for the regular forces, the reserves and self-defence and militia forces. Growing importance is attached to enhance the quality of logistical and technical work to ensure the tasks of training and combat readiness whilst it is necessary to expand international cooperation and actively research and develop military art and science of people’s warfare with great emphasis placed on precluding the foe’s air attacks via high-tech weapons.

Fourth, the lesson of fostering national strength plus the strength of the times, promoting military diplomacy, firmly protecting the Homeland in the new situation. In the air defence Campaign in late December, 1972, we gained an enormous victory by means of boosting inner strength plus the strength of the times in the struggle for protected socialist regime in the North. Therefore, it is not only the victory of Vietnamese willpower and brainpower in Ho Chi Minh era, but the victory of socialist forces, revolutionary movements and progressive people around the globe. Following 12 days and nights of fierce fighting, our armed forces and people shot down 81 assorted aircraft, of which 34 B52 bombers; killed and captured hundreds of American pilots alive. For the first time ever in history, “B52 flying fortress” was shot down, and the US Air Force had to suffer the most serious war damage.

Over the course of the anti-American resistance and the 12-day-and-night late-1972 struggle with the US strategic air force alike, in addition to substantial support from progressive people across the world, including the progressive Americans for Vietnamese just war, Vietnamese people received fervent solidarity, support, and tremendous physical and mental assistance from international friends, particularly invaluable and amicable assistance with modern technical weapons and equipment from the Soviet Union, China, and fraternal socialist countries. More importantly, colossal strength stemmed from tight-knit solidarity and united struggle of the alliance among the three Indochinese countries: Vietnam- Laos- Cambodia genuinely led to this great Victory.  

In order to effectively apply that lesson to the current cause of defending the Homeland, it is necessary to continuously comprehend and strictly implement the Party and the State’s line on foreign policy, especially Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW, dated 10-4-2013 by the Politburo on international integration; Resolution No. 806-NQ/QUTW, dated 31-12-2013 by the Central Military Commission on defence international integration and diplomacy as a basis for strengthening international integration and the efficiency of bilateral and multilateral defence diplomacy which act as a leading element in firmly protecting national independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and maintaining a peaceful and stable climate for national construction and development. To this end, it is vital to thoroughly grasp strategic principles and subtly adopt flexible policies in order to properly and creatively carry out the Party line on foreign policy. In addition, it is important to effectively translate Vietnamese defence relations with other nations into practice with higher priorities placed on developing relations with border-sharing nations, expanding relations with great powers, taking relations with ASEAN nations seriously, and promoting relations with traditional friends and the developed industrial nations for the sake of the utmost goal of enhancing national defence and safeguarding the Homeland from afar.

Time has elapsed, but the lessons of “Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu in the air” Victory remain valuable. It will be forever great pride and momentum for the Party, people and the Army in their entirety to strive for Resolution of the 12th Party Congress, contributing to the building and protection of the Homeland of socialist Vietnam in the new situation.

General Ngo Xuan Lich, Member of the Politburo, Deputy Secretary of the Central Military Commission, Minister of National Defence

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