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Vietnam's Defense Policy

The 2019 White Paper on Vietnam National Defence highlights peace and self-defence as basic principles of the country’s defence policy. At the launching ceremony for the paper in Hanoi on 25 November 2019, Deputy Defence Minister of Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen Nguyen Chi Vinh said the paper defines Vietnam’s viewpoint in national safeguarding.

Vietnam respects independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and benefits of all nations in accordance with international law, and the country persistently struggle and settle all disputes via peaceful means based on international law, while carrying out necessary defence measures when its sovereignty, territory and national benefits are threatened, he stressed.

The paper continues affirming the Communist Party of Vietnam’s leadership in the national defence cause, as well as provides basic contents on organisational structure of the Defence Ministry, orientations to build the people’s army and militia, and transparency of the defence policy and Vietnam’s defence capacity. The contents aim to enhance trust and understanding between Vietnam and other countries around the world, while boosting cooperation to settle emerging security challenges for peace, stability, and development.

The people's armed forces comprise the people's army, the people's police and the militia and self-defense force. The military White Book on Vietnamese military published in 2010 stated that the Vietnamese defense is the national defense which is based on the integrated strength of the country, the great national unity, the political system led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, the combined strength of the nation and the time and the combined strength of the military force and the national defense with the national security force. Vietnam’s policy is to build the revolutionary army of Vietnam- an elite, seasoned and modernized regular army with revolutionary character as the most decisive factor. This is a fundamental difference between the Vietnamese army with armies of other countries.

Vietnam’s 2004 Defence White Paper identified two strategic roles for the VPA: ‘building and consolidating a strong all-people’s national defence, and, together with other components of the armed forces, taking part in the consolidation of the great national unity to guard against all plots to sow division among religions and nationalities, maintaining firmly the political stability, security and social order, protecting the peaceful life and labour achievements of the people, and building the country pursuant to the goal of making the “people rich, country strong and society civilized, democratic and equitable”’.

According to the LAW ON NATIONAL DEFENSE (No. 39/2005/QH11 of June 27, 2005) "The Socialist Republic of Vietnam State consolidates and strengthens national defense to construct and firmly defend the Fatherland. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam State exercises its sovereignty over its territorial integrity covering its land, islands, archipelagoes, sea regions, subsoil and airspace; employ legitimate and appropriate measures to prevent, repel and frustrate all schemes and actions of aggression in any form.

"The Socialist Republic of Vietnam State follows defense external policies in line with its foreign policies of independence, sovereignty, open door, multilateralization and diversification of international relations, being willing to be friends and reliable partners of all countries in the international community, striving for peace, independence and development against wars in any form; expands defense cooperation with neighboring countries and other countries in the world on the principles of respect for each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-intervention in each other's internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit for peace, in accordance with Vietnamese law and relevant treaties to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a contracting party.

"The Socialist Republic of Vietnam State acknowledges the merits of, and worthily commends, organizations and individuals that have recorded splendid achievements in the cause of consolidating and strengthening national defense and defending the Fatherland. All ploys and actions against the independence, soforeignty and territorial integrity of the Fatherland, against the cause of building and defending the socialist Vietnamese Fatherland shall be severely punished in accordance with law."

Building the VPA politically and spiritually strong is a principle in the building of the VPA, a basis to raise the overall quality as well as combat power of the VPA, manifesting the viewpoint of regarding the human factor as the determinant in the battlefield. Political and spiritual building is to strengthen the Party’s leadership and the effectiveness of the State’s management, to maintain the nature of the working class, the national and people’s characteristics of the VPA. The combat power in terms of politics and ideology of Vietnam’s armed forces also manifests in the striving for mastery of advanced military science and technology, and the spirit of “dare to fight and fight to win.”

Vietnam advocates enhancing the work of political education to make sure that the VPA brings into full play the tradition of patriotism and solidarity to fight the enemy and defend the country bequeathed from Vetnam's forefathers for national protection, the tradition of “determined to fight, determined to win” of the VPA. VPA cadres and soldiers must be educated and trained to ensure their firm political foundation and determination to fulfil any tasks, in any conditions and under any circumstances, especially in the face of ideology-sabotaging activities by hostile forces and negative effects of the society, their absolute loyalty to the Homeland and the regime, impregnation of revolutionary morals, close connection to the people, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives for national independence, freedom and interests, making contribution to the maintenance of peace in the region and world. The Party, command organizations, the system of political offices and the public mass organizations in the VPA should be made comprehensively powerful.

Vietnam is determined to counter all attempts of “depoliticizing” the VPA and People’s Armed Forces by hostile elements to separate the People’s Armed Forces from the leadership of the CPV.

Vietnam sees its army as poorly equipped and vulnerable and continues to lament the lack of an adequate capacity to manufacture side arms and shoulder arms. The army leadership is concerned that PAVN forces assigned to the Spratlys are ill-equipped, poorly led, and with low morale. Vietnam’s  stated  acquisition  priorities  are  focused on air and naval capabilities. PAVN is planning to purchase more SU-30 fighters. Vietnam is buying submarines and fighter jets from Russia. Vietnam is intent on a naval and marine force equipped with the latest in machine guns and laser sights and may be looking to Israel or Singapore for this equipment.

Despite the overall conservative tone of the Communist Party's 11th National Congress in 2011, there were some notable shifts away from the hidebound practices and zealously ideological ways of thinking about the role and organization of the military. The Defense Ministry is beginning to think in structured, practical categories  about  Vietnam’s  strategic partnerships, defense requirements, and procurement plans. The military is still focused on PAVN modernization and is paying systematic attention to acquisition, defining key PAVN priorities for growth and development, with a particular focus on naval and air force/air defense capabilities. The military is also beginning to embrace the idea of defense dialogues, strategic partnership agreements, and practical bilateral military cooperation, placing a priority on cultivating defense links with neighbors and  developing  Vietnam’s  role  in  multilateral   organizations as a critical component of national defense. The Political Report called for the development of an indigenous national defense industry and the deepening of technical capabilities relevant to the military and public security sector.

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Page last modified: 06-07-2020 19:46:30 ZULU