The U.S. security relationship with Vietnam grew rapidly in recent years, and the two countries share a common vision for the future of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Our robust security partnership is based on our mutual commitment to deepen defense cooperation and shared resolve to address regional security challenges.
This common vision was articulated by President Trump and Vietnamese President Quang in their November 2017 Joint Statement, made during President Trump’s state visit to Hanoi. It was further amplified by Secretary Pompeo’s July 2018 visit to Vietnam. His visit affirmed President Trump’s and Vietnamese leaders’ commitment to a new three-year Plan of Action for Defense Cooperation for 2018 to 2020.
On March 9, 2020, the United States completed its second aircraft carrier visit to Vietnam with the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s five-day port call to Danang. Sailors participated in cultural and professional exchanges during community service events, sports competitions, ship tours, and a formal reception aboard the aircraft carrier. The March 2018 visit by the USS Carl Vinson was the first by an U.S. aircraft carrier in more than 40 years.
From CY2015 – CY2019, the Department authorized permanent export of $52.86 million in defense articles to Vietnam via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The top three DCS categories were: fire control, laser, imaging, and guidance equipment, (USML category XII); military electronics (category XI); and gas turbine engines and associated equipment (category XIX). The Department has over $130 million in active Foreign Military Sales (FMS) with Vietnam.
From FY2016 – FY2019, Vietnam received more than $150 million in State Department-funded security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program.
- Over $58 million in bilateral FMF supported the transfer and refurbishment of two former U.S. Coast Guard cutters to Vietnam under the Excess Defense Articles program. These vessels represent the most significant major defense transfer between the United States and Vietnam, and are currently the largest vessels in Vietnam’s military FMF also funded the acquisition of 24 45-ft Metal Shark fast patrol boats, the final six of which were delivered in May 2020.
- In addition to the bilateral assistance, Vietnam received $5 million of FMF in FY2018 in support of the Indo-Pacific Strategy. Funds will support Vietnam’s maritime domain awareness capacity by funding maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft training, additional unmanned aerial systems, coastal radar, and additional professional training.
- From FY2016 – FY2020, Vietnam also received $20 million in FMF funds under the Department’s Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (SAMSI) regional FMF account, which is designed to enhance maritime domain awareness, increase the presence of partner countries in their own territorial waters, and help them to maintain the rights and freedoms specified under the international law of the sea.
The Department of Defense also provided Vietnam with approximately $10 million in additional assistance from FY2016 – FY2020 through the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative, a Title 10 authority that supports maritime domain awareness capacity in the Indo-Pacific.
Vietnam has been a contributor to UN peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. It is also an active partner country of the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). In 2018, Vietnam deployed a level-2 field hospital to the UN Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) with GPOI funding and support. Vietnam is in the process of pledging the deployment of an engineering unit to a future UN mission.
In 2018, Vietnam participated for the first time in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise, after first sending observers in 2012 and 2016. RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise, biennially hosted by the U.S. and its allies and partners in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
The U.S. government continues to work addressing Vietnam War legacy issues in Vietnam. These include the remediation of unexploded ordnance (UXO), agent orange/dioxin remediation, and the humanitarian issue of POW/MIA accounting.
Since 1993, the U.S. government contributed more than $154 million for UXO efforts, which include survey and clearance operations, information management, risk education, survivors’ assistance, and capacity building for the Vietnam National Mine Action Center (VNMAC). A breakdown of the important humanitarian work being done by our implementing partners in Vietnam is available in the Department’s To Walk The Earth In Safety report.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.