All soldiers in the Vietnam People’s Ground Force are faced with several years of hard work and intense trainings before they can secure a spot in the military unit.
Located in Bien Hoa City in the southern province of Dong Nai, Nguyen Hue University, under the management of the Ministry of National Defense, is the long-time training center for ground troop candidates in southern Vietnam.
The schools top graduates move on to new missions following several years of challenging and demanding training.
Lieutenant Pham Van Ngan, one of the outstanding senior students at the academy, recounted his fear of midnight sirens during his first days as a trainee.
“The warning sound was a way to forge the soldiers’ agility, patience, and perseverance. We were required to be in uniform and ready to go in the swiftest and most unified manner possible,” Lt. Ngan said.
The drill has become an instant reaction to the solider whenever he hears the siren. “It has become a natural reflect for us, he said.”
Aside from compliance with strict regulations and disciplinary measures, the trainees are also required to undergo strenuous exercise to sharpen their endurance and will, according to Lt. Ngan.
The soldiers were ordered to balance themselves on one leg before switching to the other every three minutes. The exercise repeated for an entire hour.
“We could not even lift our legs as we climbed onto our bed after the workout,” the lieutenant recalled as he giggled.
Students who majored as infantry scouts were also trained on crossing extreme terrains, breaking into buildings, and disarming traps and bombs, he added.
Marching is a ‘specialty’
According to many foot soldiers, marching is the most memorable experience from training.
Lieutenant Le Van Tung, another trainee with excellent performance, recounted that he and his teammates sometimes had to walk for two hours without resting.
“We were ordered to march along rough and muddy paths in the middle of the night with heavy baggage on our backs. No one was allowed to fall out of line for fear they might get lost,” Lt. Tung stated.
Despite the pain and hard work, excitement ran high throughout the training course, he continued.
Tung considered his tactic course the most challenging subject during his training and all candidates were required to pass the course in order to graduate.
According to Colonel Pham Ngoc Chung, a lecturer at the university with 12 years of experience, tactical lessons are the primary focus of the school, as they determine the quality of graduates following their study.
“The students are evaluated based on their leadership and skills with weaponry. They are trained with real guns and bullets under all conditions and need serious determination to pass the course,” Col. Chung assessed.
Digging tunnels and camouflaging are also thought to be physically demanding to the foot soldiers, the military colonel said, adding that instructors at the academy are strict in their judgment.