The U.S. security relationship with Vietnam continues to expand 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 12 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, security cooperation (regional issues, maritime security, humanitarian assistance), peacekeeping operations, and other 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 FY 2016 to FY 2021, the United States authorized the permanent export of $29.8 million in defense articles to Vietnam via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The top USML categories were XII: Fire Control / Night Vision ($25.5 million), XI: Electronics ($1.8 million), and I: Firearms and related articles ($777,592). The Department also has over $118 million in active Foreign Military Sales with Vietnam.
From FY 2017 to FY 2023, Vietnam received approximately $104 million in State Department-funded security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. Vietnam also received a separate $81.5 million of FMF in FY 2018 to support the Indo-Pacific Strategy.
FMF primarily supports Vietnam’s maritime security and domain awareness capacity building efforts, and their efforts to maintain the rights and freedoms specified under international law of the sea. 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, T-6 trainer aircraft, and the purchase of MetalShark patrol boats. The cutters currently represent the most significant major defense transfer between the United States and Vietnam. We look forward to continuing to expand our security cooperation with Vietnam.
The United States and Vietnam also partner closely to address our war legacy in Vietnam, including the remediation of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Since 1993, the U.S. government contributed more than $230 million for UXO efforts, which include locating and destroying UXO, 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.-Vietnam relations. A breakdown of the important humanitarian work being done by the United States 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. Notably, approximately 14% of deployed Vietnamese peacekeepers are women, 5% above the United Nations goal. Vietnam is also an active partner country of the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), having received $10.87 million through fiscal year 2021. In 2018, Vietnam deployed a level-2 field hospital to the UN Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) with GPOI funding and support. Vietnam deployed an engineering unit to the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei in 2023.
In 2018, Vietnam participated for the first time in the 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/X, .