Throughout his entire revolutionary career, no matter what position he was in, he always tried his best to fulfill his duties assigned by the Party, State, Army and people. He always heightened the spirit of the communist, the qualities of "Uncle Ho's soldiers," and wholeheartedly served the Fatherland and the people. His great contributions to the cause of building a politically strong Vietnam People's Army have been acknowledged and highly appreciated by the Party, State and people. His sharp political and military mind produced innovative approaches and philosophies, which are still valuable in the current context.

Former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu General Luong Cuong (second from the left), and officers of the GDP in a joint photo

General Phieu was born and grew up in a poor rural area of Thanh Hoa province, which is considered the land of glorious history and famous figures, and the cradle of the ancient Vietnamese culture of Dong Son. As he was raised by the foreign invader fighting tradition of Thanh Hoa, he joined the Viet Minh movement at the age of 15. When he was 18 years old, he was admitted to the Communist Party of Vietnam and then joined the army.

From a solder directly fighting enemies in the resistance wars against the French colonialists and American invaders as well as in his international service in Laos and Cambodia, he became the top political leader of the Vietnam People’s Army. General Phieu participated in numerous battles and held various leading positions, from company level to levels of regiment, division, army corps, front, military zone. He was appointed as the Director of the GDP of the Vietnam People's Army in June 1991. During his military career, he always proved to be an exemplary officer as well as a military leader with rich experience in war-fighting and great competence in Party and political work in the military.

In his capacity as the Director of the GDP, General Phieu attached much importance to building a pure and firm military Party organization and a comprehensively strong Vietnam People’s Army. He also led the GDP to give advice to the Party Central Committee and Central Military Commission on national defense and military strategies as well as the policy to build the whole people’s defense posture, to strengthen the absolute and direct leadership of the Party over all aspects and activities of the army.

General Le Kha Phieu left a special mark while he was the Director of the GDP. He held the highest political post in the army during a special historical period: The country entered the comprehensive Doi  Moi (renovation) process with many difficulties and challenges while the former Soviet Union and other former Eastern European socialist countries collapsed. Taking advantage of the meltdown of the socialist system in Eastern Europe, imperialist and hostile forces stepped up acts of sabotage and tried to isolate the remaining socialist countries, including Vietnam. They conducted their “peaceful evolution” strategy and attempted to cause socio-political instability, economic turbulence and overturn the revolutionary government, and called for the de-politicization of the army.

Their sabotage plots and activities had a direct impact on ideological-cultural work in the military and in society as a whole. They caused suspicion, confusion and fluctuation among some Party members and part of the population and undermined people’s trust in the leadership of the Party, Marxism, Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’s Thought.

In this situation, the ideological-cultural front became the most critical and most important. General Phieu thought day and night to find effective methods to fight against hostile forces’ plots and activities. With his sharp mind, strategic vision and rich practical experience, General Phieu gave excellent advice to the Politburo, the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee, the Central Military Party Committee (the Central Military Commission at present) and Ministry of National Defense on policies and solutions to deal with major political issues in the military and the entire Party.

General Phieu also decided that it was necessary to promote the revolutionary nature, the virtues of “Uncle Ho's soldiers” and revolutionary achievements of the Vietnamese people in the army while enhancing political education to improve all officers and soldiers’ awareness of hostile forces’ allegations and tricks. Therefore, the political and ideological situation in the army was stable and the whole army was devoted to Marxism, Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’s Thought, and firmly trusted the leadership of the Party over the military.

By doing so, General Phieu contributed significantly to the cause of building and consolidating the military, the whole-people’s defense posture, the people's warfare posture, and firmly defending the Socialist Fatherland of Vietnam as well as steering our country and our army out of the intensive political earthquake of the collapse of the Soviet socialist model in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 90s.

Comrade Le Kha Phieu attached special importance to Party building and reorganization in the Party organization of the military. He believed that, in order to build a healthy and strong military Party organization, first of all, all Party members in the military had to thoroughly grasp Uncle Ho's teachings: Politics serves as the foundations for the building of the Vietnam People’s Army while Party and political work must be seen as the “Soul, lifeline” of our army. Party committees and chains of command at all levels had to pay due attention to conducting political, ideological education for all troops, firmly consolidating the Party's leadership over the army, and frequently improving troops’ political knowledge so as to make the army committed to the goals and ideals chosen by the Party, Uncle Ho and people.

In one of his books, General Le Kha Phieu wrote: In the new context, the Party should enhance education of the nature of the working class, the people and nation for the army, craft a long-term strategy to train and foster army officers with a focus on “developing a core force consisting of cadres and Party members who are absolutely loyal to the Party and nation and have good political qualities, professional competence, practical experience and high credibility. The neglect of any of the above issues will negatively affect the quality of political work, the revolutionary nature of the army, and the quality of accomplishment of the main task of the military.”

With his strong will and high determination to overcome all difficulties and challenges, General Phieu along with other leaders of the GDP resolutely instructed Party committees and political agencies across the military to take drastic measures to improve  the leadership capacity and combat strength of Party organizations of defense agencies and units at all levels, as well as to raise the role and responsibility of Party cadres and Party members. 

The principle of the Party's absolute and direct leadership in all aspects of the army was maintained and strengthened by specific regulations crafted by the GDP led by General Phieu.  Meanwhile, inspection work of the Party organizations and party members was intensified, contributing to maintaining internal unity and consensus in the military Party organization. The Party organizations of defense and military units at all levels were instructed to promote good examples of Party cadres and Party members, effectively practice criticism and self-criticism, resolutely struggle against signs of degradation in morality and lifestyle of Party members while boosting ideological and political education for cadres, Party members and all troops, with the aim of building a comprehensively strong Party organization and a politically strong unit. 

Thanks to the comprehensive and intensive Party building and rectification drive across the military Party organization, the army stood steadfast on the ideological and political front, contributing importantly to maintaining political stability, social order and safety in the country and creating a favorable environment for national socio-economic development in the first stage of the Doi Moi (renewal) process.

At the same time, General Phieu together with the leaders of the GDP directed the political sector of the military to supplement various new contents to subjects of social sciences and humanities taught in all military schools. The military schools increased their education programs on the subjects of Vietnamese National History, Vietnamese Cultural History, Ethics, Psychology, Law, Religion, Ethnology, Aesthetics, Literature and Arts as well as the Marxist-Leninist theories, Ho Chi Minh’s Thought, History of the Communist Party of Vietnam, and Party and Political Work.

He was very interested in political education, focusing on educating officers and soldiers about the Party's resolutions and policies and laws of the State. During the time he assumed the positions of deputy director and director of the GDP, General Phieu directed the political sector of the military to launch a large number of political education programs across the military. These education programs made officers and soldiers understand more about the glorious traditions of the Army, national history and history of the Party, therefore contributing to promoting national pride, patriotism, national unity and healthy life-styles among troops. At the same time, troops could recognize and struggle against wrong views of reactionary forces and plots of hostile forces.

As the Director of the GDP, General Phieu drew from his experience in leading the building of a clean and strong military Party organization: First, it is important to regularly promote political and ideological education along with consolidating the organization of Party organizations and improving the quality of Party activities at grassroots levels. Second, it is necessary to increase Party memberships while restlessly enhancing education, training and management of Party members. Third, it is necessary to closely combine the building of the officer corps and the development of a contingent of Party members.

These valuable lessons are still valuable and need to be applied in the current mission of building a healthy and strong military Party organization.

General Le Kha Phieu was a straightforward and fair person with an objective and clear view on issues. In many conferences of the army, he pointed out the limitations and shortcomings of the work on political, ideological and cultural education in the military. He also brought forth many theoretical issues of Marxism-Leninism, Ho Chi Minh's Thought on renovation that needed to be further studied and clarified. These issues include theory of renovation, theory of transitional periods to socialism, theory of the road to socialism, theory of Party and political work, theory of military transition from wartime to peacetime, theory of the fight against conspiracies and acts of sabotage by hostile forces, theory to combat hostile forces’ plot to “de-politicize”  the army, theory to prevent corruption and social economic stratification, and issues of building an all-people defense posture and people’s warfare.

General Phieu considered the above questions as “bottlenecks” in both thinking and practices, which might make the army and people feel confused and worried. In this context, he urged scientists and scholars inside and outside the military to conduct research and quickly find the answers to the issues. He directed the political sector of the military to enhance political education based on scientific research results and be aware of signs of “self-transformation” and “self-evolution.”

Under the leadership of General Le Kha Phieu, the GDP successfully performed its function as a think-tank, effectively assisting the Politburo, Party Central Committee and Central Military Commission  in crafting guidelines, policies on Party and political work as well as consolidating the absolute and direct leadership of the Party in all aspects of the army.

It must be noted that General Le Kha Phieu represented a generation of political cadres of the military that were very dynamic and creative in both thinking and actions. He was competent in both theory and practice. He was always close to junior officers and soldiers, willing to listen to his juniors. But he was also decisive at critical times; that is why he usually made excellent conclusions at meetings and sound decisions on major issues.

The life and revolutionary career of former Director of the GDP and former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu was a shining example of sacrifice to the revolutionary cause, loyalty to the Party and devotion to the people. Comrade Le Kha Phieu has passed away but his sentiment for the Vietnam People's Army and the people, his belief in the national revolution and his good virtues will forever be remembered.

Following his example, all officers and soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Army are committed to successfully implementing all resolutions of the Party, building a comprehensively strong military Party organization, building a revolutionary, regular, elite and gradually modern army, and excellently completing all missions entrusted by the Party, State and people. The Vietnam People’s Army Forces promise to be absolutely loyal to the Party, State and people, firmly protect the Fatherland and strive for a peaceful, developed, prosperous and civilized Vietnam.  

Written by General Luong Cuong, Member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, Permanent Member of the Central Military Commission, Director of the GDP of the Vietnam People’s Army

Translated by Thu Nguyen