1961 - People's War, People's Army
Article written on the occasion of the XVth anniversary of the Viet Nam People's Army
On December 22, 1959, the Viet Nam People's Army will celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of its founding. I would like, on this occasion to have a few words with you about the struggle and the building up of the revolutionary armed forces in Viet Nam. At the same time I would like to lay emphasis on the fundamental points which bring out the characteristics of the military policy of the vanguard party of the Vietnamese working class and people - the Indochinese Communist Party-now the Viet Nam Workers' Party.
As Marxism-Leninism teaches us: "The history of all societies up till the present day, has been but the history of class struggle. "These struggles can take either the form of political struggle or the form of armed struggle-the armed struggle being only the continuation of the political struggle. In a society which remains divided into classes, we can distinguish two kinds of politics: the politics of the classes and nations of exploiters and oppressors and that of the exploited and oppressed classes and nations. Hence two kinds of wars, of States and armies diametrically opposed to each other, the ones revolutionary, popular and just, and the others counter-revolutionary, anti-popular and unjust.
The Russian October Revolution marked a new era in the history of mankind. A state of a new type appeared, that of proletarian dictatorship, that of the liberated Soviet workers and peasants, toiling people and nationalities. An army of a new type came into being - the Red Army, a genuine people's army placed under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Born in the October uprising, and steeled and tempered in the combats that followed it, the Red Army was to become, in a short time, the most powerful army in the world, always ready to defend the Soviet Motherland, the first State of workers and peasants.
In Asia, after World War One, the national democratic revolution of the Chinese people made tremendous progress under the good influence of the Russian Revolution. To free themselves, the Chinese people valiantly rose to wage an armed struggle for many decades. It was in this revolutionary war full of heroism and sacrifices that was born and grew up the Chinese Liberation Army, an army equally of a new type, genuinely popular, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
Only fifteen years of age, the Viet Nam People's Army is a young revolutionary army. It developed in the course of the national liberation war of the Vietnamese people from which it comes, and is now assuming the glorious task of defending the building of socialism in the North while contributing to make it a strong base for the peaceful reunification of the country. It also constitutes an army of a new type, a truly popular army under the leadership of the working class Party of Viet Nam.
In the U.S.S.R. as well as in China and Viet Nam, the revolutionary wars and armies have common fundamental characteristics: their popular and revolutionary nature, and the just cause they serve.
The Vietnamese revolutionary war and army however have their own characteristics. Indeed, from the very start, in the Soviet Union, the revolutionary war evolved within the framework of a socialist revolution. Moreover it proceeded in an independent country possessing a fairly important modern industrial economy, which, under the socialist regime, has not ceased to develop further. As for the revolutionary war in China, it remained for a long period within the framework of a national democratic revolution proceeding in a semi-colonial country, an immensely vast country and with a population of more than 600 million people.
The revolutionary war in Viet Nam, while advancing as in China towards the objectives of a national democratic revolution, differs for the reason that it took place in a colonial country, in a much smaller country than China in both area and population.
Therefore the history of the armed struggle and the building up of the armed forces in Viet Nam is that of a small nation subject to colonial rule and having neither a vast territory nor a large population, which, though lacking a regular army at the beginning, had to rise against the aggressive forces of an imperialist power, and triumphed over them in the end, liberating half of the country and enabling it to embark on the socialist path. As for the military policy of the vanguard Party of the Vietnamese working class, it is an application of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of the war of liberation in a colonial country.
Viet Nam is a nation in South-east Asia with a very old history. With its 329,600 square kilometres and 30 million inhabitants and its geographical situation in the Pacific, it has now become one of the outposts of the socialist world.
In the course of its thousands of years of history, many a time, the Vietnamese nation victoriously resisted the invasions of the Chinese feudalists. It can be proud of its traditions of undaunted struggle in safeguarding national independence.
After its invasion of Viet Nam in the second half of the 19th century, French imperialism made it their colony. Since then, the struggle against French colonialism never ceased to extend, uprisings succeeded each other in spite of repression, and daily attracting wider and wider strata belonging to all social classes.
In 1930, the Indochinese Communist Party was founded. Under its firm and clear-sighted leadership, the movement for national liberation of the Vietnamese people made new progress. After ten years of heroic political struggle, at the dawn of World War Two, the Party advocated the preparation for armed struggle, and for that the launching of a guerrilla war and the setting up of a free zone. The anti-Japanese movement for national salvation, in its irresistible upsurge, led to the glorious days of the August Revolution of 1945. Taking advantage of the major events in the international situation at the time - the victory of the Soviet Red Army and Allied forces over Japanese fascism-the Vietnamese people rose up as one man in the victorious insurrection and set up the people's power. The Democratic Republic of Viet Nam was horn, the first people's democracy in South-east Asia.
The political situation in Viet Nam was then particularly difficult and complicated. Chiang Kai-shek's troops had entered the North, and those of Great- Britain the South of the country, to disarm the Japanese who were still in possession of all their armaments in the first days of the capitulation. It was in these conditions that French imperialists, immediately after the founding of the Democratic Republic, unleashed a war of re-conquest against Viet Nam hoping to impose their domination on this country.
In response to the appeal of the Party and the Government headed by President Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese people rose up as one man for the defence of the Father-land. A sacred war for national liberation began. All hopes of a peaceful settlement were not lost however. A Preliminary Agreement for the cessation of hostilities was signed in March 1946 between the Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and that of France. But the French colonialists saw it only as a delaying scheme. Therefore, immediately after the signing of the Agreement, they shamelessly violated it by successively occupying various regions. In December 1946, the war spread to the whole country. It was to rage for nine years, nine years after the end of World War Two. And it ended with the brilliant victory of the Vietnamese people.
Our war of liberation was a people's war, a just war. It was this essential characteristic that was to determine its laws and to decide its final outcome.
At the first gun shots of the imperialist invasion, general Leclerc, the first Commander of the French Expeditionary Corps estimated that the operation for the reoccupation of Viet Nam would be a mere military walk over.
When encountering the resistance of the Vietnamese people in the South the French generals considered it as weak and temporary and stuck to their opinion that it would take them ten weeks at the most to occupy and pacify the whole of south Viet Nam. Why did French colonialists make such an estimation? Because they considered that to meet their aggression, there must be an army. The Vietnamese army had just been created. It was still numerically weak, badly organised, led by inexperienced officers and non-commissioned officers, provided with old and insufficient equipment, a very limited stock of munitions and having neither tanks, airplanes nor artillery. With such an army how could serious resistance be undertaken and the attacks of the powerful and armoured division repelled? All it could do was to use up its stock of munitions before laying down its arms. In fact, the Vietnamese army was then weak in all respects and was destitute of everything. French colonialists were right in this respect. But is was not possible for them to understand a fundamental and decisive fact: this fact was that the Vietnamese army, though very weak materially was a people's army. This fact is that the war in Viet Nam was not only the opposition of two armies. In provoking hostilities, the aggressive colonialists had alienated a whole nation. And, indeed, the whole Vietnamese nation, the entire Vietnamese people rose against them. Unable to grasp this profound truth, the French generals who believed in an easy victory, went instead to certain defeat. They thought they could easily subdue the Vietnamese people, when, in fact, the latter were going to smash them.
Even to this day bourgeois strategists have not yet overcome their surprise at the outcome of the war in Indo-China. How could the Vietnamese nation have defeated an imperialist power such as France which was backed by the U.S.? They try to explain this extraordinary fact by the correctness of strategy and tactics, by the forms of combat and the heroism of the Viet Nam People's Army. Of course all these factors contributed to the happy outcome of the resistance. But if the question is put: "Why were the Vietnamese people able to win?" the most precise and most complete answer must be: "The Vietnamese people won because their war of liberation was a people's war."
When the Resistance War spread to the whole country, the Indochinese Communist Party emphasized in its instructions that our Resistance War must be the work of the entire people. Therein lies the key to victory.
Our Resistance War was a people's war, because its political aims were to smash the imperialist yoke to win back national independence, to overthrow the feudal land-lord class to bring land to the peasants; in other words, to radically solve the two fundamental contradictions of Vietnamese society - contradiction between the nation and imperialism on the one hand, and contradiction between the people, especially between the peasants and the feudal landlord class on the other-and to pave the socialist path for the Vietnamese revolution.
Holding firmly to the strategy and tactics of the national democratic revolution, the Party pointed out to the people the aims of the struggle: independence and democracy. It was, however, not enough to have objectives entirely in conformity with the fundamental aspirations of the people. It was also necessary to bring everything into play to enlighten the masses of the people, educate and encourage them, organise them in fighting for national salvation. The Party devoted itself entirely to this work, to the regrouping of all the national forces, and to the broadening and strengthening of a national united front, the Viet Minh, and later the Lien Viet which was a magnificent model of the unity of the various strata of the people in the anti-imperialist struggle in a colonial country. In fact, this front united the patriotic forces of all classes and social strata, even progressive landlords; all nationalities in the country - majority as well as minority; patriotic believers of each and every religion. "Unity, the great unity, for victory, the great victory "; this slogan launched by President Ho Chi Minh became a reality, a great reality during the long and hard resistance.
We waged a people's war, and that in the framework of a long since colonised country. Therefore the national factor was of first importance. We had to rally all the forces likely to overthrow the imperialists and their lackeys. On the other hand, this war proceeded in a backward agricultural country where the peasants, making up the great majority of the population, constituted the essential force of the revolution and of the Resistance War. Consequently the relation between the national question and the peasant question had to be dearly defined, with the gradual settlement of the agrarian problem, so as to mobilise the broad peasant masses, one of the essential and decisive factors for victory. Always solicitous about the interests of the peasantry, the Party began by advocating reduction of land rent and interest. Later on, as soon as the stabilisation of the situation allowed it, the Party carried out with great firmness the mobilisation of the masses for land reform in order to bring land to the tillers, thereby to maintain and strengthen the Resistance.
During the years of war, various erroneous tendencies appeared. Either we devoted our attention only to the organisation and growth of the armed forces while neglecting the mobilisation and organisation of large strata of the people, or we mobilised the people for the war without heeding seriously their immediate everyday interests; or we thought of satisfying the immediate interests of the people as a whole, without giving due attention to those of the peasants. The Party resolutely fought all these tendencies. To lead the Resistance to victory, we had to look after the strengthening of the army, while giving thought to mobilising and educating the people, broadening and consolidating the National United Front. We had to mobilise the masses for the Resistance while trying to satisfy their immediate interests to improve their living conditions, essentially those of the peasantry. A very broad national united front was indispensable, on the basis of the worker-peasant alliance and under the leadership of the Party.
The imperatives of the people's war in Viet Nam required the adoption of appropriate strategy and tactics, on the basis of the enemy's characteristics and of our own, of the concrete conditions of the battlefields and balance of forces facing each other. In other words, the strategy and tactics of a people's war, in an economically backward, colonial country.
First of all, this strategy must be the strategy of a long-term war. It does not mean that all revolutionary wars, all people's wars must necessarily be long-term wars. If from the outset, the conditions are favourable to the people and the balance of forces turn in favour of the revolution, the revolutionary war can end victoriously in a short time. But the war of liberation of the Vietnamese people started in quite different conditions : We had to deal with a much stronger enemy. It was patent that this balance of forces took away from us the possibility of giving decisive battles from the opening of the hostilities and of checking the aggression from the first landing operations on our soil. In a word, it was impossible for us to defeat the enemy swiftly.
It was only by a long and hard resistance that we could wear out the enemy forces little by little while strengthening ours, progressively turn the balance of forces in our favour and finally win victory. We did not have any other way.
This strategy and slogan of long term resistance was decided upon by the Indochinese Communist Party from the first days of the war of liberation. It was in this spirit that the Viet Nam People's Army, after fierce street-com-bats in the big cities, beat strategic retreats to the countryside on its own initiative in order to maintain its bases and preserve its forces.
The long-term revolutionary war must include several different stages: stage of contention, stage of equilibrium and stage of counter-offensive. Practical fighting was, of -course, more complicated. There had to be many years of snore and more intense and generalised guerrilla fighting to realise the equilibrium of forces and develop our war potentiality. When the conjunctures of events at home and abroad allowed it, we went over to counter-offensive first by a series of local operations then by others on a larger scale which were to lead to the decisive victory of Dien Bien Phu.
The application of this strategy of long-term resistance required a whole system of education, a whole ideological struggle among the people and Party members, a gigantic effort of organisation in both military and economic fields, extraordinary sacrifices and heroism from the army as well as from the people, at the front as well as in the rear. Sometimes erroneous tendencies appeared, trying either to by-pass the stages to end the war earlier, or to throw important forces into military adventures. The Party rectified them by a stubborn struggle and persevered in the line it had fixed. In the difficult hours, certain hesitations revealed themselves, the Party faced them with vigour and with determination in the struggle and faith in final victory.
The long-term people's war in Viet Nam also called for appropriate forms of fighting: appropriate to the revolutionary nature of the war as well as to the balance of forces which revealed at that time an overwhelming superiority of the enemy over the still very weak material and technical bases of the People's Army. The adopted form of fighting was guerrilla warfare. It can be said that the war of liberation of the Vietnamese people was a long and vast guerrilla war proceeding from simple to complex then to mobile war in the last years of the Resistance.
Guerrilla war is the war of the broad masses of an economically backward country standing up against a powerfully equipped and well trained army of aggression. Is the enemy strong? One avoids him. Is he weak? One attacks him. To his modern armament one opposes a boundless heroism to vanquish either by harassing or by annihilating the enemy according to circumstances, and by combining military operations with political and economic action; no fixed line of demarcation, the front being wherever the enemy is found.
Concentration of troops to realize an overwhelming superiority over the enemy where he is sufficiently exposed in order to destroy his manpower; initiative, suppleness, rapidity, surprise, suddenness in attack and retreat. As long as the strategic balance of forces remains disadvantageous, resolutely to muster troops to obtain absolute superiority in combat in a given place, and at a given time. To exhaust little by little by small victories the enemy forces and at the same time to maintain and increase ours. In these concrete conditions it proves absolutely necessary not to lose sight of the main objective of the fighting that is the destruction of the enemy manpower. Therefore losses must be avoided even at the cost of losing ground. And that for the purpose of recovering, later on, the occupied. territories and completely liberating the country.
In the war of liberation in Viet Nam, guerrilla activities spread to all the regions temporarily occupied by the enemy. Each inhabitant was a soldier, each village a fortress, each Party cell, each village administrative committee a staff.
The people as a whole took part in the armed struggle, fighting according to the principles of guerrilla warfare, in, small packets, but always in pursuance of the one and same line, and the same instructions, those of the Central Committee of the Party and the Government.
At variance with numerous other countries which waged revolutionary wars, Viet Nam, in the first years of its struggle, did not and could not engage in pitched battles. It had to rest content with guerrilla warfare. At the cost of thousands of difficulties and countless sacrifices, this guerrilla war developed progressively into a form of mobile war that daily increased in scale. While retaining certain characteristics of guerrilla war, it involved regular campaigns with greater attacks on fortified positions. Starting from small operations with the strength of a platoon or a company to annihilate a few men or a group of enemy soldiers, our army went over, later, to more important combats with a battalion or regiment to cut one or several enemy companies to pieces, finally coming to greater campaigns bringing into play many regiments, then many divisions to end at Dien Bien Phu where the French Expeditionary Corps lost i6,000 men of its crack units. It was this process of development that enabled our army to move forward steadily on the road to victory.
People's war, long term war, guerrilla warfare developing step by step into mobile warfare, such are the most valuable lessons of the war of liberation in Viet Nam. It was by following that line that the Party led the Resistance to victory. After three thousand days of fighting, difficulties and sacrifices, our people defeated the French imperialists and American interventionists. At present, in the liberated half of our country, sixteen million of our com-patriots, by their creative labour, are healing the horrible wounds of war, reconstructing the country and building socialism. In the meantime the struggle is going on to achieve the democratic national revolution throughout the country and to reunify the Fatherland on the basis of independence and democracy.
After this account of the main lines of the war of liberation waged by the Vietnamese people against the French and American imperialists, I shall speak of the Viet Nam People's Army.
Being the armed forces of the Vietnamese people, it was born and grew up in the flames of the war of national liberation. Its embryo was the self-defence units created by the Nghe An Soviets which managed to hold power for a few months in the period of revolutionary upsurge in the years 1930-1931. But the creation of revolutionary armed forces was positively considered only at the outset of World War Two when the preparation for an armed insurrection came to the fore of our attention. Our military and para-military formations appeared at the Bac Son uprising and in the revolutionary bases in Cao Bang region. Following the setting up of the first platoon of National Salvation, on December 22, 1944, another platoon-strong unit was created: the Propaganda unit of the Viet Nam Liberation Army. Our war bases organised during illegality were at the time limited to a few districts in the provinces of Cao Bang, Bac Can and Lang Son in the jungle of the North. As for the revolutionary armed forces they still consisted of people's units of self-defence and a few groups and platoons completely free from production work. Their number increased quickly and there were already several thou-sands of guerrillas at the beginning of 1945, at the coup de force by the Japanese fascists over the French colonialists. At the time of the setting up of the people's power in the rural regions of six provinces in Viet Bac which were esta-blished as a free zone, the existing armed organisations merged to form the Viet Nam Liberation Army.
During the August insurrection, side by side with the people and the self-defence units, the Liberation Army took part in the conquest of power. By incorporating the para-military forces regrouped in the course of the glorious days of August, it saw its strength increase rapidly. With a heterogeneous material wrested from the Japanese and their Bao An troops - rifles alone consisted of sixteen different types including old French patterns and even rifles of the czarist forces taken by the Japanese - this young and poorly equipped army soon had to face the aggression of the French Expeditionary Corps which had modern armaments. Such antiquated equipment required from the Vietnamese army and people complete self sacrifice and superhuman heroism.
Should the enemy attack the regions where our troops were stationed, the latter would give battle. Should he ferret about in the large zones where there were no regular formations, the people would stay his advance with rudimentary weapons: sticks, spears, scimitars, bows, flint-locks. From the first days, there appeared three types of armed forces: para-military organisations or guerrilla units, regional troops and regular units. These formations were, in the field of organisation, the expression of the general mobilisation of the people in arms. They co-operated closely with one another to annihilate the enemy.
Peasants, workers and intellectuals crowded into the ranks of the armed forces of the Revolution. Leading cadres of the Party and the State apparatus became officers from the first moment. The greatest difficulty to be solved was the equipment problem. Throughout Viet Nam there was no factory manufacturing war materials. Throughout nearly a century, possession and use of arms were strictly forbid-den by the colonial administration. Importation was impossible, the neighbouring countries being hostile to the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. The sole source of supply could only be the battlefront: to take the material from the enemy to turn it against him. While carrying on the aggression against Viet Nam the French Expeditionary Corps fulfilled another task: it became, unwittingly, the supplier of the Viet Nam People's Army with French, even U.S. arms. In spite of their enormous efforts, the arms factories set up later on with makeshift means were far from being able to meet all our needs. A great part of our military materials came from war-booty.
As I have stressed, the Viet Nam People's Army could at first bring into combat only small units such as platoons or companies. The regular forces were, at a given time, compelled to split up into companies operating separately to promote the extension of guerrilla activities while mobile battalions were maintained for more important actions. After each victorious combat, the people's armed forces marked a new step forward.
Tempered in combat and stimulated by victories, the guerrilla formations created conditions for the growth of the regional troops. And the latter, in their turn, promoted the development of the regular forces. For nine successive years, by following this heroic path bristling with difficulties, our people's army grew up with a determination to win at all costs. It became an army of hundreds of thousands strong, successively amalgamating into regiments and divisions and directing towards a progressive standardisation in organisation and equipment. This force, ever more politically conscious, and better trained militarily, succeeded in fighting and defeating the five hundred thousand men of the French Expeditionary Corps who were equipped and supplied by the United States.
The Vietnamese Army is indeed a national one. In fighting against imperialism and the traitors in its service, it has fought for national independence and the unity of the country. In its ranks are the finest sons of Viet Nam, the most sincere patriots from all revolutionary classes, from all nationalities - majority as well as minority people. It symbolises the irresistible rousing of the national conscience, the union of the entire Vietnamese people in the fight against imperialist aggression to save the country.
Our army is a democratic army, because it fights for the people's democratic interests, and the defence of people's democratic power. Impregnated with the principles of democracy in its internal political life, it submits to a rigorous discipline, but one freely consented to.
Our army is a people's army, because it defends the fundamental interests of the people, in the first place those of the toiling people, workers and peasants. As regards social composition, it comprises a great majority of picked fighters of peasant and worker origin, and intellectuals faithful to the cause of the Revolution.
It is the true army of the people, of toilers, the army of workers and peasants, led by the Party of the working class. Throughout the war of national liberation, its aims of struggle were the very ones followed by the Party and people: independence of the nation, and land to the tillers. Since the return of peace, as a tool of proletarian dictatorship, its mission is to defend the socialist revolution and socialist building in the North, to support the political struggle for the peaceful reunification of the country, and to contribute to the strengthening of peace in Indo-China and South-east Asia.
In the first of the ten points of his Oath of Honour, the fighter of the Viet Nam People's Army swears :
"To sacrifice himself unreservedly for the Fatherland, fight for the cause of national independence, democracy and socialism, under the leadership of the Viet Nam Workers' Party and of the Government of the Democratic Republic, to build a peaceful, reunified, independent, democratic and prosperous Viet Nam and contribute to the strengthening of peace in South east Asia and the world."
This is precisely what makes the Viet Nam People's Army a true child of the people. The people, in return, give it unsparing affection and support. Therein lies the inexhaustible source of its power.
The Viet Nam People's Army has been created by the Party, which ceaselessly trains and educates it. It has always been and will always be under the leadership of the Party which, alone, has made it into a revolutionary army, a true people's army. Since its creation and in the course of its development, this leadership by the Party has been made concrete on the organisational plan. The army has always had its political commissars. In the units, the military and political chiefs assume their responsibilities under the leadership of the Party Committee at the corresponding echelon.
The People's Army is the instrument of the Party and of the revolutionary State for the accomplishment, in armed form, of the tasks of the revolution. Profound awareness of the aims of the Party, boundless loyalty to the cause of the nation and the working class, and a spirit of unreserved sacrifice are fundamental questions for the army, and questions of principle. Therefore, the political work in its ranks is of the first importance. It is the soul of the army. In instilling Marxist-Leninist ideology into the army, it aims at raising the army's political consciousness and ideological level, at strengthening the class position of its cadres and soldiers. During the liberation war, this work imbued the army with the policy of long-drawn-out resistance and the imperative necessity for the people and army to rely on their own strength to overcome difficulties. It instilled into the army the profound significance of mass mobilisation in order to achieve rent reduction and agrarian reform, which had a decisive effect on the morale of the troops. In the new stage entered upon since the restoration of peace, political work centres on the line of socialist revo-lution in the North and of struggle for the reunification of the country.
But that is not all. Political work still bears upon the correct fulfilment in the army of the programmes of the Party and Government, and the setting up of good relations with the population and between officers and men. It aims at maintaining and strengthening combativeness, uniting true patriotism with proletarian internationalism, developing
revolutionary heroism and the great tradition of our army summed up in its slogan : " Resolved to light, determined to win ". Political work is the work of propaganda among and education of the masses; it is, furthermore, the organisational work of the Party in the army. We have always given particular attention to the strengthening of organi-sations of the Party in the units. From 35 to 40 per cent of officers and army men have joined it, among the officers, the percentage even exceeds 90 per cent.
The Viet Nam People's Army has always seen to establishing and maintaining good relations with the people. These are based upon the identity of their aims of struggle: in fact, the people and army are together in the fight against the enemy to save the Fatherland, and ensure the full success of the task of liberating the nation and the working class. The people are to the army what water is to fish, as the saying goes. And this saying has a profound significance. Our Army fought on the front; is has also worked to educate the people and helped them to the best of its ability. The Vietnamese fighter has always taken care to observe point 9 of its Oath of Honour:
"In contacts with the people, to follow these three recommendations :
To respect the people
To help the people
To defend the people... in order to win their confidence and affection and achieve a perfect understanding between the people and the army".
Our army has always organised days of help for peasants in production work and in the struggle against flood and drought. It has always observed a correct attitude in its relations with the people. It has never done injury to their property, not even a needle or a bit of thread. During the Resistance, especially in the enemy rear, it brought everything into play to defend ordinary people's lives and property; in the newly liberated regions, it strictly carried out the orders of the Party and Government, which enabled it to win the unreserved support of the broadest masses, even in the minority peoples' regions and catholic villages. Since the return of peace, thousands of its officers and men have participated in the great movements for the accom-plishrnent of agrarian reform for agricultural collectivisation and socialist transformation of handicrafts, industry and private trade. It has actively taken part in the economic recovery, and in socialist work days. It has participated in the building of lines of communication, it has built its own barracks and cleared land to found State farms.
The Viet Nam People's Army is always concerned to establish and maintain good relations between officers and men as well as between the officers themselves. Originating from the working strata, officers and men also serve the people's interests and unstintingly devote themselves to the cause of the nation and the working class. Of course every one of them has particular responsibilities which devolve upon him. But relations of comradeship based on political equality and fraternity of class have been established between them. The officer likes his men; he must not only guide them in their work and studies, but take an interest in their life and take into consideration their desires and initiatives. As for the soldier, he must respect his superiors and correctly fulfil all their orders. The officer of the People's Army must set a good example from all points of view: to show himself to be resolute, brave, to ensure discipline and internal democracy, to know how to achieve perfect unity among his men. He must behave like a chief, a leader, vis-a-vis the masses in his unit. The basis of these relations between army-men and officers, like those between officers or between soldiers is solidarity in the fight, and mutual affection if brothers-in-arms, love at the same time pure and sublime, tested and forged in the battle, in the struggle for the defence of the Fatherland and the people.
The Viet Nam People's Army practises a strict discipline, allied to a wide internal democracy. As requires point 2 of its Oath of Honour: "The fighter must rigorously carry out the orders of his Superiors and throw himself body and soul into the immediate and strict fulfilment of the tasks entrusted to him". Can we say that guerrilla warfare did not require severe discipline? Of course not. It is true that it asked the commander and leader to allow each unit or each region a certain margin of initiative in order to undertake every positive action that it might think opportune. But a centralised leadership and a unified command at a given degree always proved to be necessary. Ile wno speaks of the army, speaks of strict discipline.
Such a discipline is not in contradiction with the internal democracy of our troops. In cells, executive committees of the Party at various levels as well as in plenary meetings of fighting units, the application of principles of democratic centralism is the rule. The facts have proved that the more democracy is respected within the unit, the more unity will be strengthened, discipline raised, and orders carried out.
The combativeness of the army will thereby be all the greater.
The restoration of peace has created Viet Nan a new situation. The North is entirely liberated, but the South is still under the yoke of American imperialists and the Ngo Dinh Diem clique, their lackeys. North Viet Nam has entered the stage of socialist revolution while the struggle is going on to free the South from colonial and feudal fetters. To safeguard peace and socialist construction, to help in making the North a strong rampart for the peaceful reunification of the country, the problem of forces of national defence should not be neglected. The People's Army must face the bellicose aims of American imperialists and their lackeys and step by step become a regular and modern army.
First of all, it is important to stress that, in the pro-cess of its transformation into a regular and modern army, our army always remains a revolutionary army, a people's army. That is the fundamental characteristic that makes the people's regular and modern army in the North differ radically from Ngo Dinh Diem's army, a regular and modern army too, but anti-revolutionary, anti-popular and in the hands of the people's enemies. The People's Army must necessarily see to the strengthening of the leadership of Party and political work. It must work further to consolidate the solidarity between officers and men, between the troops and the people, raise the spirit of self-conscious discipline, while maintaining internal democracy. Taking steps to that end, the Party has during the last years, given a prominent place to the activities of its organisations as well as to the political work in the army. Officers, warrant officers and army men, all of them have followed political courses to improve their understanding of the tasks of socialist revolution and the struggle for national reunification, consolidating their class standpoint and strengthening Marxist-Leninist ideology. This is a particularly important question, more especially as the People's Army has grown up in an agricultural country, and has in its ranks a great majority of toiling peasants and urban petty bourgeois. Our fighters have gone through a dogged political education and their morale has been forged in the combat. However, the struggle against the influence of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology remains necessary. Thanks to the strengthening of ideological work, the army has become an efficacious instrument in the service of proletarian dictatorship, and has been entirely faithful to the cause of socialist revolution and national reunification. The new advances realised by it in the political plan have found their full expression in the movement "with giant strides, let us over-fulfil the norms of the programme" a broad mass movement which is developing among our troops, parallel with the socialist emulation movement among the working people in North Viet Nam.
It is essential actively and firmly to continue, on the basis of a constant strengthening of political consciousness, the progressive transformation of the People's Army into a regular and modern army. Thanks to the development realised during the last years of the Resistance War, our army, which was made up of infantry-men only, is now an army composed of different arms. If the problem of improvement of equipments and technique is important, that of cadres and soldiers capable of using them is more important. Our army has always been concerned with the training of officers and warrant officers of worker and peasant origin or revolutionary intellectuals tested under fire. It helps them raise their cultural and technical level to become competent officers and warrant officers of a regular and modem army.
To raise the fighting power of the army, to bring about a strong centralisation of command and a close cooperation between the different arms, it is indispensable to enforce regulations fitted to a regular army. It is not that nothing has been done in this field during the years of the Resistance War; it is a matter of perfecting the existing regulations. The main thing is not to lose sight of the principle that any new regulation must draw its inspiration from the popular character of the army and the absolute necessity of maintaining the leadership of the Party. Along with the general regulations, the statute of officers has been promulgated; a correct system of wages has taken the place of the former regime of allowances in kind ; the question of rewards and decorations has been regularised. All these measures have resulted in the strengthening of discipline and solidarity within the army, and of the sense of responsibility among officers and warrant officers as well as among soldiers.
Military training, and political education, arc key tasks in the building of the army in peace-time. The question of fighting regulations, and that of tactical concepts and appropriate tactical principles gain a particular importance. The question is to synthesize past experiences, and analyse well the concrete conditions of our army in organization and equipment, consider our economic structure, the terrain of the country-land of forests and jungles, of plains and fields. The question is to assimilate well the modern military science of the armies of the brother countries. Unceasing efforts are indispensable in the training of troops and the development of cadres.
For many years, the Viet Nam People's Army was based on voluntary service: all officers and soldiers voluntarily enlisted for an undetermined period. Its ranks swelled by the affluence of youth always ready to answer the appeal of the Fatherland. Since the return of peace, it has become necessary to replace voluntary service by compulsory military service. This substitution has met with warm response from the population. A great number of volunteers, after demobilisation returned to fields and factories; others are working in units assigned to production work, thus making an active contribution to the building of socialism. Conscription is enforced on the basis of the strengthening and development of the self-defence organisations in the communes, factories and schools. The members of these para-military organisations are ready not only to rejoin the permanent army, of which they constitute a particularly important reserve, but also to ensure the security and defence of their localities.
The People's Army was closely linked with the national liberation war, in the fire of which it was born and grew up. At present, its development should neither be disassociated from the building of socialism in the North, nor from the people's struggle for a reunified independent and democratic Viet Nam. Confident of the people's affection and support, in these days of peace as during the war, the People's Army will achieve its tasks: to defend peace and the Fatherland.
"...As is said above, the history of the national liberation war of the Vietnamese 'people, that of the Viet Nun People's Army, is the history of the victory of a weak nation, of a colonised people who rose up against the aggressive forces of an imperialist power. This victory is also that of Marxism-Leninism applied to the armed revolutionary struggle in a colonised country, that of the Party of the working class in the leadership of the revolution that it heads, in the democratic national stage as well as in the socialist one.
The vanguard Party of the Vietnamese working people, headed by President Ho Chi Minh, the great leader of the people and the nation, is the organiser and guide that has led the Vietnamese people and their army to victory. In the light of Marxism-Leninism applied to the national democratic revolution in a colonised country, it has made a sound analysis of the contradictions of that society, and stated clearly the fundamental tasks of the revolution. On the question of the national liberation war, it has dialectically analysed the balance of opposing forces and mapped out appropriate strategy and tactics. In the light of Marxism-Leninism, it has created and led a heroic people's army. It has ceaselessly instilled revolutionary spirit and the true patriotism of the proletariat into the people and their army.
The Party has known how to learn from the valuable experiences of the October Revolution which, with the Soviet Red Army, showed the road of liberation not only to the workers of the capitalist countries, but also to colonial people ; and those of the Chinese Revolution and Liberation Army which have enriched the theories of the national de-mocratic revolution, of revolutionary war and army in a semi-colonised country. Their wonderful examples have ceaselessly lighted the road of the struggle and successes of the Vietnamese people. In combining the invaluable experiences of the Soviet Union and People's China with its own, our Party has always taken into account the concrete reality of the revolutionary war in Viet Nam, thus is able in its turn to enrich the theories of revolutionary war and army.
At present, on the international plane, the forces of socialist countries, led by the Soviet Union, have become a power previously unknown; the national liberation movement has developed considerably everywhere; the possibilities for achieving lasting peace in the world are greater. However, imperialism is still pursuing its war preparations and seeking to strengthen its military alliance for aggression. While there is a certain relaxation of tension in the international situation, South-east Asia still remains one of the centres of tension in the world, American imperialism is ceaselessly strengthening its military and political hold on the South of our country. It is pursuing the same policy of interference in Laos, aimed at turning it into a colony and military base for a new war of aggression.
Profoundly peace-loving, the Vietnamese people and their army support every effort for disarmament, every effort to relax tension and establish a lasting peace. But they must at the same time heighten their vigilance, strengthen their combativeness, increase their potentiality for defence, and contribute to strengthening the fraternal bonds between the peoples and the revolutionary armed forces of the socialist countries. They are determined to fulfil their sacred duties: to defend the work of socialist revolution and the building of socialism in the North, to pursue the struggle for the peaceful reunification of the Fatherland, to be ready to break every imperialist attempt to provoke a war of aggression, and to contribute to the safeguarding of peace in South-cast Asia and throughout the world.