Grierson Reef soldiers maintain high vigilance and combat readiness in 2024

May 30, 2024 - 08:13
The mission to protect the sovereignty of the sea and islands and to build a regular, modern brigade comes under increased threat.
An overview of the Grierson Reef, part of the Spratly Archipelago. VNA/VNS Photo Ngọc Đức

GRIERSON REEF — In 2024, the situation in the Spratly Archipelago's waters remains complex and unpredictable. As a result, officers and soldiers on the Grierson Reef have a deep understand and sense of their duties, maintaining high vigilance and readiness for combat, according to Lieutenant Colonel Nguyệt Kỳ Hợp, the island's political commissar.

The Grierson Reef, part of the Spratly Archipelago, is located in Sinh Tồn Commune, Trường Sa District, in the south-central province of Khánh Hoà. The Grierson Reef is under the jurisdiction of Brigade 146, Naval Zone 4. It lies 326 nautical miles from the Cam Ranh Peninsula and about 15 nautical miles east of Sinh Tồn (Sin Cowe) Island. The island stretches in a northwest to southeast direction and is primarily composed of coral sand.

The soil and climate conditions on the Grierson Reef are harsh, supporting only a few types of vegetation such as bàng vuông (Barringtonia asiatica), mù u (Calophyllum inophyllum) and beach morning glory. Additionally, the island lacks fresh water sources, resulting in limited plant life.

Important defensive position

Despite these challenges, the Grierson Reef holds a significant strategic position within the defence system of the Spratly Archipelago. Affirming their commitment to protecting the waters around the Grierson Reef, the island’s political commissar, Hợp, stated that the soldiers on the island are always ready for combat and dedicated to fulfilling their duties.

In 2024, the situation in the waters around the Spratly Archipelago remains complex, with many unpredictable factors. The mission to protect the sovereignty of the sea and islands and to build a regular, modern brigade comes with extra pressure.

A soldier on the Grierson Reef tends to a vegetable plot. VNA/VNS Photo Thuỳ Giang

Hợp highlighted that the officers and soldiers deeply understand the resolutions, directives, and guidelines of the Party at all levels, especially the Resolution of the 13th Party Central Committee’s 8th Plenum on the strategy for national protection in the new situation.

Building on past achievements, the officers and soldiers know their core political tasks, effectively implementing breakthrough measures, enhancing internal solidarity and actively overcome difficulties. They also assist fishermen with rescue operations, he said.

Successfully Fulfilling All Tasks

In recent years, with the support of the Party, the State, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence, many facilities on the island have been improved.

Investments have been made in building housing, workplaces and other essential facilities. Wind and solar energy systems have been effectively put into use on the island, significantly improving the material and spiritual life of the officers and soldiers stationed on the island.

In March 2017, the General Political Department of the Việt Nam People’s Army installed an FM radio broadcasting station and earlier installed satellite television signal stations. This has enabled the military personnel and civilians on the island to stay updated with domestic and international information.

Hợp shared that the island has a reading room with nearly 2,300 books and over 30 types of newspapers. The reading room is also has a collection of law books.

Additionally, cultural, artistic and sports activities are regularly organised to motivate and encourage the soldiers to be confident in their mission to steadfastly protect the country's sovereignty over the seas and islands in all situations.

The officers and soldiers on the island also understand that search and rescue missions at sea are among their combat duties.

Major Nguyễn Văn Nam, Chief of the Medical Centre on the Grierson Reef, mentioned that medical examinations and treatments for soldiers and civilians are regularly organised with various plans.

The Grierson Reef Pagoda, a spiritual haven on the island. VNA/VNS Photo Ngọc Đức

Fishermen operating around the island receive medical care, fresh water and vegetables. The island also frequently distributes medicines to the local people. In 2023 and the early months of 2024, the medical station provided examinations and treatments for 64 fishermen, primarily with stomach and skin problems.

The facilities on the island meet the basic requirements for minor surgical operations and in October last year, the medical station successfully performed an appendectomy for a soldier.

“We have a telemedicine system that connects to mainland medical experts for professional guidance. This collaboration ensured the success of the surgery,” he said.

However, Nam said the centre faces challenges in preserving equipment due to harsh climate conditions. Therefore, the medical station regularly maintains the equipment and checks the connection system with the mainland weekly.

During a recent visit to the island, Nguyễn Văn Giáp, an employee of a Japanese pharmaceutical company, was deeply moved and shared that no matter where they are in the world, Vietnamese people always look to their homeland and the sea and islands of their country.

Giáp said after this trip, he would write articles to convey his experiences to the Vietnamese community living in Japan, so that they would gain more understanding about Việt Nam's sea and islands.

“Setting foot on this island, surrounded by the vast sea and sky, I felt a profound sense of meaning and sacredness. Seeing the soldiers standing solemnly by the sovereignty marker under the national flag filled me with emotion. I deeply admire the soldiers who are vigilantly guarding the remote islands day and night,” he said.

“Before visiting the Spratly Archipelago, I read numerous legal documents establishing Việt Nam’s sovereignty over its sea and islands, such as the 1982 Law of the Sea. I am truly proud to have visited the archipelago and I am determined to share meaningful messages about the spirit of protecting the sea and islands with the community of over 600,000 Vietnamese people living, working and studying in Japan." — VIETNAMPLUS/VNS