17/08/2021 12:17 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

“Messengers" of peace

On May 27 2014, the Vietnam Peacekeeping Center, now the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations (VDPO), was established. After 7 years of highly-regarded contributions, the Vietnamese peacekeeping force has helped enhance the standing and role of Vietnam and the Vietnamese military in the international arena.
Deep in the forest is the training camp of VDPO. Captain Nguyen Thanh Trung, the youngest member of a twelve-soldier team, was searching for more than 10 types of edible vegetables, practicing setting animal traps, finding fresh water and setting up a shelter. His final task was to build a fire using natural materials. Those were parts of the survival skills training for Vietnamese green beret soldiers before they went on peacekeeping missions for the United Nations (UN).

According to Colonel Le Dai Duong, the instructor of the training program, green beret soldiers must master five skills before going on such missions. First, to live, travel, or to carry out duties with stealth. Secondly, to select survival positions to provide camouflage and secure a retreat route. Thirdly, to anticipate every possible scenario. Fourthly, to ensure that the living area was habitable in terms of vegetation, food and water. Lastly, to maintain body temperature in extreme weather conditions.

 

The vegetables and food found in the jungle are gathered to be checked and classified
during the survival skills training session for soldiers of VDPO who are about to depart for a new mission. Photo: Cong Dat / VNP


Participants of the survival skills training course are divided into teams that go into the forest to look for food. Photo: Cong Dat / VNP


Creating fire from natural items is an important skill in survival skills training classes. Photo: Cong Dat / VNP
 

After making fire comes the process of learning to cook. Photo: Cong Dat / VNP
 
Creating fire helps not only to cook food but also to scare away forest animals. Photo: Cong Dat / VNP

According to Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien, Deputy Minister of National Defense, serious and arduous training was one of the reasons Vietnamese peacekeeping forces, so far, had always completed their tasks, and were held in high regard by the UN peacekeeping.
 
Green beret soldiers must master five skills before going on such missions. First, to live, travel, or to carry out duties with stealth. Secondly, to select survival positions to provide camouflage and secure a retreat route. Thirdly, to anticipate every possible scenario. Fourthly, to ensure that the living area was habitable in terms of vegetation, food and water. Lastly, to maintain body temperature in extreme weather conditions.
Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien said that Vietnam had four officers working in individual positions at UN missions and also at UN peacekeeping headquarters. Of these, three were in charge of planning, synthesis and training at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York. The other was a coordinator at the UN Peacekeeping in Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Those officers had all passed the rigorous tests of the UN, which saw competitions amongst 150-200 candidates for each position.

Notably, Vietnam is highly appreciated by the UN for the participation rate of females in peacekeeping operations, following UN resolution 1325 on promoting women’s roles in peacekeeping, security and development. Vietnam has sent 34 female soldiers to join UN peacekeeping forces, a rate of over 16%, which is significantly higher than the UN's request of less than 10%.

On the morning of April 21, at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Level 2 Field Hospital No. 3 (Field Hospital 2.3) departed to join the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (phase 2). Field Hospital 2.3 replaced Field Hospital 2.2 and would work for a one-year term according to the Decision of the President. Field Hospital 2.3 was formed in March 2020 with a staff of 70 members (63 official, 7 reserves).



On the morning of April 21, at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Field Hospital 2.3 departed for
a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (phase 2). Photo: Thong Hai / VNP



Field Hospital 2.3 would replace Field hospital 2.2 in performing tasks within
one year following the decision by the President of Vietnam. Photo: Thong Hai / VNP 




Soldiers say farewell to comrades before they depart for the mission. Photo: Thong Hai / VNP


In 2020, Vietnam Field Hospital 2.2 passed all UN test criteria on COVID-19 prevention and control. Photo: VDPO’s files


Vietnamese peacekeepers in South Sudan are friendly with the locals. Photo: VDPO’s files


Field Hospital 2.1’s female soldiers with children in South Sudan. Photo: VDPO’s files

Taking place during the raging COVID-19 pandemic, Field Hospital 2.3’s training was ensured a full coverage of military medicine and professional skills by VDPO and relevant agencies, such as Advanced Trauma Emergency (ITLS); Airborne Rescue Team (AMET); international humanitarian law and field trips; trailer and BRT 152 armored vehicles driving, etc.

Field Hospital 2.1 of Vietnam had performed medical examination and treatment for 2,022 patients with 63 surgeries (23 were middle and major level surgeries). Upon departure, Field Hospital 2.1 and its 4 individuals were awarded the Certificate of Merit by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The United Nations also awarded a peacekeeping medal to Field Hospital 2.1.

Taking the baton from Field Hospital 2.1 from November 2019, Field Hospital 2.2 had continued to solidify and promote the successes of Field Hospital 2.1, organizing medical examinations and treatment for more than 1,400 patients. It is a reputable health care provider for more than 2,200 UN staff in Bentiu, South Sudan.



Field hospital 2.2 organizes medical examinations and treatment for more than 1,400 patients and provides
a prestigious healthcare facility for more than 2,200 United Nations staff in Bentiu, South Sudan. Photo: VDPO’s files



Images of Vietnamese military medical soldiers are presented by the international media
as a devoted force taking care of patients. Photo: VDPO’s files



An emergency case at Field hospital 2.2 in South Sudan. Photo: VDPO’s files


Not only does VDPO fulfill the task of keeping the peace but also appears as "messengers"
of peace and friendship to indigenous communities. Photo: VDPO’s files



Uncle Ho's soldiers are helping people grow vegetables, sew
and distribute masks to protect themselves against the COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: VDPO’s files


Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Lien has become a beautiful symbol of a messenger of peace. Photo: VDPO’s files

In 2020, with the unprecedented attack of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam's Field Hospital 2.2 passed all UN tests on COVID-19 prevention and control and on treating patients suspected of being infected. UN leaders have sent a letter of gratitude to the Government of Vietnam to hail Field Hospital 2.2 for their contribution.

Field Hospital 2.3 joined the UN peacekeeping at a time when the pandemic was accelerating, the deployment area was at an epicenter and disadvantaged in terms of healthcare. 100% of medical staff and doctors of Field Hospital 2.3 before departure therefore were vaccinated against COVID-19 and received pandemic control and prevention training.

According to Major General Hoang Kim Phung, Director of the VDPO, from June 2014 to December 2020, Vietnam sent 179 officers to go on UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Central African Republic and also to work at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at UN Headquarters. 53 military officers were sent to individual positions and 126 as the teams of Field Hospital 2.1 and Field Hospital 2.2.



With contributions highly appreciated by the UN, the Vietnamese peacekeeping force has
raised the position and role of Vietnam and its military to a new level in the international arena.
Photo: VDPO’s files



Major General Hoang Kim Phung, Director of Vdpo receives the flag from Thailand
during the handover of the chairmanship of the ASEAN Peacekeeping Centers Network. Photo: VDPO’s files 



The results of Vietnam in the peacekeeping missions show the image of an innovative country,
a reliable partner, and a responsible member of the international community. Photo: VDPO’s files

In 2018, Vietnam was selected by the UN as the first country among the four Southeast Asian countries to chair and organize an international training program for countries in the Asia-Pacific that are sending troops to a UN peacekeeping force. The program is within the framework of the UN Triangular Partnership Program (TPP).
As assessed by the UN, the Vietnamese peacekeepers not only fulfill the task of peacekeeping but also are the “messengers” of peace, who “sow green seeds” of peace and friendship in native communities.


Accordingly, from 2018 to 2020, Vietnam successfully organized three training courses for many military forces in the region. Vietnam's international training courses are highly appreciated by the UN and by Japanese partners.

Vietnam is proposing to upgrade VDPO into a regional and international peacekeeper training center. This proposal has received strong support from the UN and countries in the region. The Ministry of National Defense of Vietnam is coordinating with the UN and experienced partners in the region to develop curricula, lectures, and training courses up to UN standards.

Vietnam is also building a team of capable engineers, ready to go on UN missions. This engineer team has 290 officers and 29 people in reserve. The team will be responsible for construction work, such as roads, bridges, airports and ports; building barracks, high-rise buildings (no more than four floors). Of the more than 300 members, 31 are women, accounting for about 10% team members, a rate that far exceeds the UN's recommendation of 5-7%.

The training of the engineer team has been carried out for more than four years. During this period, three international training courses on the use of heavy equipment were held in collaboration with Japan and the UN. “All three courses are highly appreciated by the UN and Japan,” said Major General Phung. 

 
Story: Thao Vy         Photos: Cong Dat, Thong Hai & VDPO's Files          Translated by Hong Hanh