Vietnam needs strong peacetime military, says Vice Defense Minister

Thanh Nien News

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Soldiers stand by during celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam People's Army in Hanoi on December 20, 2014. The army was founded on December 22, 1944 and led by General Vo Nguyen Giap in Cao Bang province. Photo: Reuters Soldiers stand by during celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam People's Army in Hanoi on December 20, 2014. The army was founded on December 22, 1944 and led by General Vo Nguyen Giap in Cao Bang province. Photo: Reuters

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Vietnam must develop a solid military to keep the peace and protect the country’s sovereignty, according to Vice Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh.
In an interview with Thanh Nien in advance of the country’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnam People's Army (December 22), Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh identified Vietnam's three major defense challenges.
“The first challenge is building a military solid enough to protect the fatherland,” said Vinh. "This is also the main challenge."
“It wouldn't be accurate to say that a peacetime military needn’t be strong. The stronger a peacetime military is, the more sustainable the peace it can provide,” he said.
“For dozens of years, we have been living in peace and preserving our sovereignty, over land, sea, and in the air. We have always resolved our disputes through peaceful measures, which has earned us support from the global community.”
The second challenge, according to Vinh, is maintaining political and social stability.
“Vietnam is a stable and friendly country and a safe destination for international friends. But there are still agitators,” he said.
“The third challenge is non-traditional. It includes search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, and dealing with natural phenomena such as climate change. Though many government units are responsible for these issues, they're all related to national defense,” Vinh said.
“For years, we have not only protected our population, but also participated in international activities aimed at protecting global peace and stability,” the Vice Defense Minister said.
He added that Vietnam’s defense forces must “try very hard” to catch up in terms of weapons systems and training.
The country is currently moving to rapidly modernize its forces.
In recent years, it has focused on adding to its naval fleet by purchasing Kilo-class submarines, patrol boats, Gepard-class frigates, fast attack crafts and air-defense systems.
Early this month, Vietnam received a third Kilo-class submarine from Russia.
Russia will deliver three more submarines by 2016 as well as train Vietnamese crews based upon a US$2.6 billion deal signed in 2009.
The diesel-electric submarines, which are considered improvements over the older Kilo-class, are equipped with six 533mm tubes capable of launching TEST-71 series anti-surface and anti-submarine heavyweight torpedoes.
India is set to sell four patrol boats to Vietnam under a $100 million line of credit.
These coastal patrol vessels will be about 35m by 10 meters and will be outfitted with specialized aluminum hulls. 
Vietnam needs at least seven more such ships and GRSE, a Kolkata-based Defense Public Sector unit, is expected to get the order for the rest of the ships as well, New Delhi Television quoted retired GRSE chairman AK Verma as saying on December 19.
Vietnam and five other nations and territories is locked in a territorial dispute with China in the East Sea (South China Sea).

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