Vietnamese engineers prepare to participate in UN peacekeeping

Vietnam has invited a United Nations inspection team to review Vietnamese engineers ahead of their deployment before the year's end
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Vietnamese engineers prepare to participate in UN peacekeeping
Major General Hoang Kim Phung, director of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Photo: VnExpress

A UN team is set to inspect a group of Vietnamese engineers this summer with a view to them being deployed in South Sudan before the end of the year.

The inspection will include the capacity of each individual, from staff to officers and specialized officers, and a survey and check of the equipment the Vietnamese engineers will carry.

The equipment includes all kinds of kit available in the Vietnam People's Army, for those engineering activities. Some of which has been converted to suit the technical and tactical elements required by United Nations operations, with some additional equipment needing to be purchased.

"We have almost fully equipped the engineer team, so that they are ready to carry out the task by the end of this year," said Major General Hoang Kim Phung, director of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operation,s on May 26.

Along with the deployment of a level two field hospital in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Vietnam has prepared and is ready to send a team of engineers to carry out UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan.

The United Nations offers a possible implementation in the Central African Republic. This is also the area where the Vietnamese army has deployed forces here for nearly 7 years, "so the base is very solid."

Vietnamese engineers prepare to participate in UN peacekeeping
Preparation for the engineers to participate in UN peacekeeping operations. Photo: qdnd.vn

Previously two field hospital deployed to United Nations Mission in South Sudan had more than 60 people, but with the Vietnamese engineers it will be much larger. The team has a total of 290 official officers and 29 people in the reserve force, who will be responsible for the construction of ground works, such as road construction, bridge construction, airports, harbors and buildings (no more than 4 floors).

In addition, the United Nations proposed to increase the function of mine clearance, bridging and ferrying, all strengths of Vietnamese engineers.

The Vietnamese engineers have a special elite force - commandos - responsible for protecting the work the safety of the unit when on working outside.

The Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations has brought in capable soldiers from the high command of the commandos into the formation. They will protect the safety of their comrades, as well as the structures that will be built at the United Nations Mission.

Of the more than 300 soldiers of the engineering team, there are 31 women (about 10%), holding positions such as clerical, interpreter or communications and staff. This rate far exceeds the United Nations' recommendation and practice of about 5 to 7%.

According to Major General Phung, when the Peacekeeping Department asked female soldiers in volunteer units to join the engineers team with a target of 31, the department received 61 volunteer letters. "This shows that female soldiers are always willing, eager to try and contribute to UN peacekeeping operations," he said.

The training of the engineer team has been carried out for more than four years. The Department of Vietnam Peacekeeping has coordinated with the Command of Engineers to conduct a number of pre-deployment, professional training courses and English classes. In particular, three international training courses on the use of heavy equipment were also held in collaboration with Japan and the United Nations.

“All three courses are highly appreciated by the United Nations and Japan," Major General Phung said.

Vietnamese engineers prepare to participate in UN peacekeeping
General Phung Quang Thanh presents the flag in the establishment ceremony of the Vietnam Peacekeeping Center. Photo: dangcongsan.vn

On May 27, 2014, the Ministry of National Defense held a ceremony to establish the Vietnam Peacekeeping Center and sent Lieutenant Colonels Mac Duc Trong and Tran Nam Ngan to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, marking Vietnam's official participation in UN peacekeeping operations. On Jan. 5, 2018, the Vietnam Peacekeeping Center was reorganized into the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Over the past seven years, Vietnam has sent 55 military officers to participate in the duties of liaison officer and staff officer in two United Nations Mission in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. From 2020 to now, Vietnam has had three officers recruited to work at the Department of Peace Operations in United Nations headquarters in New York, USA.

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