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 security cooperation is based on our mutual commitment to deepen defense cooperation and shared resolve to address regional security challenges.
The United States and Vietnam have held 11 Political, Security, and Defense Dialogues to discuss bilateral security cooperation. These talks further promote the growing bilateral relationship between our countries and reflect our shared commitment to a free, open, and independent Indo-Pacific region. Discussion topics included legacy of war issues, maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR), peacekeeping operations, and international Women, Peace, and Security initiatives.
The March 2018 visit by the USS Carl Vinson was the first by a U.S. aircraft carrier in more than 40 years. 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 Da Nang. Sailors participated in cultural exchanges and community service projects including making crafts, playing sports, a language exchange, gardening, and painting, demonstrating the importance of people-to-people ties between the United States and Vietnam. A professional exchange also took place during the visit focused on cooperating on infectious disease prevention. Then-Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Aquilino hosted a reception for senior government leaders.
From CY2015 through CY2019, the Department authorized permanent export of more than $32.3 million in defense articles to Vietnam through Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). For those same years, the top three DCS categories were: fire control, laser, imaging, and guidance equipment (USML category XII); military electronics (category XI); firearms and related articles (category I). The Department also has over $162 million in active Foreign Military Sales with Vietnam.
From FY 2017 to FY 2021, Vietnam received approximately $60 million in bilateral State Department-funded security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and more than $20 million under the Department’s Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (SAMSI) regional FMF account. Vietnam also received an additional $81.5 million of FMF in FY 2018 to support the Indo-Pacific Strategy.
- FMF primarily supports Vietnam’s maritime security/domain awareness capacity building efforts. Key projects for the Vietnam Coast Guard include the transfer, refurbishment, and sustained maintenance of two former U.S. Coast Guard cutters under the Excess Defense Articles program and the purchase of MetalShark patrol boats. The cutters represent the most significant major defense transfer between the United States and Vietnam.
- SAMSI is designed to enhance maritime domain awareness, increase the presence of partner countries in their own territorial waters, and help them maintain the rights and freedoms specified under international law of the sea. Vietnam purchased Scan Eagle UAS using SAMSI funds.
The U.S. government is continuing cooperation with the Government of Vietnam to address war legacy issues in Vietnam. These include the remediation of unexploded ordnance (UXO), agent orange/dioxin remediation, assistance to persons with disabilities, and the humanitarian issue of POW/MIA accounting.
In 2020, the United States and Vietnam marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War. Since 1993, the U.S. government contributed more than $166 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). UXO assistance continues to be a foundational element of U.S.-Vietnamese relations. 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.
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 United States and its allies and partners in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
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.