US Assistant Defense Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver once affirmed that Vietnam has appeared to be a valued partner for Washington in the Indo-Pacific region.
The senior official discussed the US-Vietnam strategic cooperation during a panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington earlier this week, according to the US Department of Defense.
Vietnam-US strong military ties
Randall G. Schriver noted that the defense relationship between the US and Vietnam is strong and represents one of the strongest pillars in the multifaceted bilateral relationship.
He said that the defense relationship with Vietnam has been strengthened even more over the last two years and plans are to keep strengthening it based on a foundation of shared interests.
The official stated that the US seeks enhanced military ties with Vietnam. For instance, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson visited Danang last year, marking the first such visit since the Vietnam War and with discussions about having another visit this year.
In 2017, the US transferred a major piece of defense equipment to Vietnam – the Coast Guard’s Hamilton-class cutter USCGC Morgenthau. That ship is now very active in maritime security missions for Vietnam, Schriver said, hoping that there will be a second such cutter available.
He said the US will continue to help enhance Vietnam’s military capabilities and pursue opportunities for military training and cooperation, concentrating on (i) Vietnam’s security and regional stability, (ii) Maritime security and maritime domain awareness, (iii) Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, (iv) Professional military education, including English language training, (v) Military medicine, (vi) Search and rescue, (vii) Peacekeeping operations.
According to Schriver, a Vietnamese peacekeeping unit is deployed to South Sudan, with some assistance from the US and other partners.
The US has upgraded the level of their annual defense talks and they had an unprecedented level of senior engagement, not only the president’s two visits to Vietnam since he took office, but last year alone two visits from [former] Secretary of Defense [James] Mattis, he said.
Reasons for strong relationship
Schriver said the US and Vietnam share a common interest in promoting a rules-based order, protection of sovereignty, and individual rights of countries, no matter their size.
He continued that “We share a view that for the Indo-Pacific to continue to flourish, each nation in the region must be free to determine its own course within a system of values that ensures opportunities for even the smallest countries to thrive and be free from the predations of strong countries. “In short, for Vietnam, what we want is a strong, prosperous, independent Vietnam, nothing else”, he noted.
The predation to which Schriver referred is by China.
“The region is increasingly confronted with a more assertive, confident China that is willing to accept friction in the pursuit of its interests,” the US Department of Defense quoted Schriver as saying, citing China’s militarization of islands in the East Sea as an example.