Sunday, September 24, 2017, 04:44 (GMT+7)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017, 08:02 (GMT+7)
Vietnam - India strategic partnership in the fields of defence and security

After the establishment of diplomatic relationship, especially since the signing of Strategic Partnership (2007) and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Vietnam - India Cooperation has developed to a new height in all fields, with defence and security as a pillar.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets General Secretary
Nguyen Phu Trong (photo: VNA)

Vietnam - India traditional friendship relation was derived from cultural, historical and religious exchanges preserved and developed by President Ho Chi Minh, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, leaders and the people of the two countries. In 1954, right after peace was restored in North Vietnam, Prime Minister Nehru was the first foreign leader to pay an official visit to Vietnam. In return for that sentiment, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam Pham Van Dong paid a visit to India, which laid a foundation for the two sides to establish diplomatic relations and then Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. In all fields of cooperation, defence and security cooperation have made considerable, multiple-tier, wide and deep developments.

Within the framework of bilateral cooperation, Vietnam and India have set up and effectively run the mechanism of Strategic Defence Dialogue at Deputy Ministerial-Level. Up to now, 10 sessions of the Strategic Defence Dialogue have been held in turns in the two countries. Recently, the two sides agreed to establish Ministerial-Level Defence Dialogue Mechanism every two years. On such basis, Ministries of Defence of the two countries signed a number of agreements on defence cooperation and exchange as well as cadre training, and signed a Joint Vision Statement on Defence Cooperation for 2015-2020 period. Those documents serve as the legal grounds for the two countries’ armed forces to implement. Services and arms of the two countries' armed forces, particularly Navy and Air Force, have frequently visited each other and shared experience in force building, command and staff officers training, training, repair, logistic and technical support, etc. The two sides have promoted cooperation on responding to traditional and non-traditional security challenges, and information exchange in fields, especially those concerning maritime issues. In the area of security, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cyber security cooperation with India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The two sides have also strengthened cooperation in counter-terrorism, trans-national crime and training. India helped Vietnam build hi-tech crime data recovery lab.

Multilaterally, Vietnam and India always have a consensus about viewpoints towards the implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions on counter-terrorism, millennium goals, restructuring and operation, Cooperation Program on the UN peacekeeping. Within the framework of ASEAN, Vietnam and India always closely work with each other in the spirit of mutual understanding and benefits, together aiming at shared benefits in maintenance of peace, stability, cooperation and development of Asia-Pacific Region, on the basis of international law. At present time, as the Coordinator of ASEAN-India relations for 2015-2018 period, Vietnam has encouraged and supported India’s connection programs in all fields with Southeast Asia.

Notably, within the framework of ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), Vietnam and India co-chaired Experts’ Working Group (EWG) on Humanitarian Mine Action for 2014-2017 period. Under the chairmanship of Vietnam and India, the EWG has held conferences, workshops, exhibitions on bomb and mine clearance equipment, training experience exchange, particularly the Field Training Exercise on humanitarian mine action and peacekeeping in India (March 2016).

In the time to come, the global and regional situations will continue to be complex and unpredictable. Nevertheless, peace, stability and cooperation for development will be the mainstream of the times and international relations. Vietnam and India are not out of that mainstream. India is rising in economic, political areas, particularly in defence and security, gradually asserting its status as a major power in the region and the world. Therefore, Vietnam regards its defence cooperation with India as a significant pillar and pledges to maintain and further deepen this relationship. To successfully fulfil targets and realize content of cooperation, the two sides will focus on the following points.

1. Stepping up delegation exchange activities at all levels, particularly senior levels, to enhance mutual understanding and seek opportunities for defence and security cooperation. In this regard, it is necessary to improve the efficiency of defence policy dialogue mechanism at deputy ministerial and ministerial levels aiming at reference and cooperation of defence strategy and policy of each other. Throughout meetings and exchanges, leaders of the two countries will reach many strategic agreements and general directions for their relations in both medium and long terms to timely settle difficulties and strengthen mutual understanding and confidence. The two countries speed up defence and security cooperation against trans-national crime and enhance the capabilities to respond to traditional and non-traditional challenges. Regarding maritime security, the two sides agree on the freedom of navigation to ensure  security and stability in Asian-Pacific Region in general, the East Sea in particular, on the basis of international law. Besides, India should continue to have stronger and clearer positions on the issue of the East Sea as well as the right to access to regional natural resources, particularly cooperation to explore and exploit petroleum in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

2. Promoting cooperation in training, meeting the demands and the strengths of each other. In this regard, it is important to focus on language, military technical training, cooperation between navies, air forces, coast guard, several arms as well as UN peacekeeping training. Nowadays, English language holds an important position to cadres of the Vietnam People’s Army, especially those in forces moved forward to modernity, enabling them to fulfil their task, directly work with their partners, participate in the UN peacekeeping activities, exercises and joint patrols, study weapons and equipment of other countries. India should accelerate the expansion of the Centre for English Language and Information Technology Training in Information Officers Training College and the establishment of Centre for English Language in the National Defence Academy in Vietnam. Moreover, it should draw up a plan for assisting Vietnam in training commanding, technical officers of Navy, Air Defence - Air Force and Coast Guard, to make sure that they be able to effectively exploit and use new-generation weapons and equipment. Vietnam should select highly-qualified cadres, especially those having a good command of English, from services and arms to send to study in India. This is a good opportunity for cadres of the VPA to broaden their knowledge of command, modern weapons and equipment. Vietnam, in return, is ready to receive Indian cadets to come to Vietnam to study Vietnamese language and Indian senior officers to study strategic-level defence and security.

3. Fostering cooperation and developing defence industry. Vietnam is mobilizing its resources and technology to build “gradually modern” armed forces, with several ones moving forward to modernity. Thus, promoting cooperation in defence industry with India is of importance and practicality. With limited budget, defence cooperation with India should focus on core fields: innovation and digitization of degraded, old weapons and technical equipment, such as aircraft, warships, radar, missiles, anti-aircraft gun and artillery; exploitation and use of new-generation weapons and equipment. First and foremost, it is necessary to transfer technology of innovation, upgradation and digitization of old aircraft, radar, warships and electronic equipment. Also, it is important to transfer maintenance and repair technology and line for new weapons and equipment, such as aircraft, vessels, electronic equipment, even transfer production technology of a number of modern weapons and equipment. Vietnam should be more actively work with India in science and technology to take advantage of India’s great advancements in various fields, including defence and security.

4. Actively working with each other in multilateral cooperation activities regionally and globally. Vietnam has now established the Peacekeeping Centre and deployed several officers to the UN Peacekeeping Missions in South Sudan and Central African Republic, which is highly appreciated by the UN. In the time ahead, Vietnam will continue to deploy level-2 field hospitals, engineering units and liaison and staff officers to the UN peacekeeping missions. To better perform its role and contribute to maintaining international peace and security, Vietnam should learn from India’s experience. Concerning ASEAN multilateral activities, the two countries should be active in counselling, supporting, promoting cooperation mechanisms based on ASEAN’s central role, particularly the ADMM Plus. It should be noted that ADMM Plus has maintained and will maintain dialogues on regional security issues and simultaneously implement 6 fields of cooperation, namely humanitarian assistance and  disaster relief, maritime security, military medicine, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and humanitarian mine action.

To conclude, 10-year Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership has achieved encouraging progresses in all fields, especially defence and security. With solid background of the traditional friendship and resolve of army leaders and people of the two countries, Vietnam-India defence and security cooperation will develop more comprehensive in the future, satisfying the requirements set by the task of national construction and protection of each other and contributing to regional and global peace, stability, cooperation and development.

Major General Vu Tien Trong

Director of the Institute for Defence International Relations    

 

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