The Central Highland Army Corps and Army Corps 15, are most credited as having made significant contributions to developing the region over the years.
VOV interviewed Major-General Nguyen Xuan Sang who is commander and general director of the Army Corps 15, known as hero of the people’s armed forces and labour hero in the renewal process, and Major-General Nguyen Duc Hai, commander of the Central Highland Army Corps, on changes in the region in the past 30 years.
Could you elaborate on what your unit has done to help local people?
Major-General Hai: As a mobile and key army corps of the Ministry of National Defence, we are always ready to get involved in the cause of protecting and developing the nation. To fulfil the task we have to rely on local people. We have established closely worked with local Party and administration in Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Dak Lak to encourage ethnic minority groups in remote mountainous areas to move to new residential areas. We have successfully persuaded those living scattered in the forest, to resettle in areas where they are guided to cultivate wet rice and build cultural houses.
Major-General Sang: We all try to fulfil our duties and responsibilities with love and confidence. We have come to each hamlet to stay and work with people as if in a close-knit family.
Major-General Hai: I agree with Sang. The Central Highland Army Corps always stands side by side with local people, especially when floods occur. Another important task that the army corps did better is generating jobs for local people. We have established close links with people from remote villages and helped them become outstanding workers at the army corps’ farms. This is a model that the army corps has built effectively.
Major-General Hai has mentioned a successful model that will be expanded to other localities. Could you tell us more about it?
Major-General Sang: Soon after Army Corps 15 was established we set out a motto: the army corps being closely attached with province and districts, the company with districts and villages, and production unit with communes. Since then, Kinh households have worked closely with ethnic minority ones. Most companies and production units are situated in remote and border areas. In 2010, 2,000 Kinh households coordinated well with 2,000 ethnic minority partners.
Major-General Hai: I think that helping local people with all our might is an important factor in developing a safe border area.
What about the Central Highland Army Corps’ initiative to build a model of “soldier villages”, schools and hospitals?
Major-General Hai: Thanks to great support from the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence, and efforts from the district Party committees and leaders of army corps, we have built more than 350 flats in three “soldier villages.” Many soldiers with low incomes have brought their parents, wives and children to stay at these flats. Recently, Chairman of the Gia Lai provincial People’s Committee and leaders from relevant agencies conducted a fact-finding tour of air defence army corps H34 and found that soldiers are living under difficult circumstances, so they decided to grant land to 115 households and help them build houses. The Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade, in coordination with the People’s Army Newspaper, built more than 50 houses, worth VND2.5 billion, for soldiers. The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam provided the Army Corps with VND10 billion to build houses for soldiers.
Major-General Sang: Fully aware that our economic tasks are closely associated with national defence and social development, we have built many kindergartens with a total of 1,000 teachers and more than 7,000 women have volunteered to take care of 5,000 children. We have also built a hospital with 150 beds and 10 clinics in remote areas. Social and healthcare insurance services are now much better than before.
You have spent dozens of years in the Central Highlands so you must have many fond memories. What has impressed you most?
Major-General Sang: Oh, yes! For example, in the initial period, I did not know any ethnic minority dialect so I had to use body language. As we wanted to be closer to local people we had to eat their dishes, prepared in a strange way and find it swallow.
Major-General Hai: I recall Storm No 11 in 2009 when we were ordered to rescue people in Ayun Pa and Ia Pa. After one day, we evacuated around 1,000 people. Then, unfortunately, a PTS vessel with 7 soldiers on board was swept away. There was no hope that they would survive. However, by some miracle, two soldiers were able to grab a bridge span and fishermen used their personal equipment to rescue the five others in distress. We came to rescue local people, and they did not let us down. This experience is unforgettable.
Major-General Sang: The relationship between local people and soldiers is very special and we will do at our utmost to make the Central Highlands ever more prosperous.
Major-General Hai: That is our greatest wish.