Cablegate: Vietnam's Marine Police Seeking Equipment, Cooperation

DE RUEHHI #1208/01 2980802
R 240802Z OCT 08



EAP/RSP FOR Keith Sheives, Andrew Mueller
Pass to U.S. Coast Guard

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Vietnam's Marine Police Seeking Equipment, Cooperation

HANOI 00001208 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary. In an October 21 meeting in Hai Phong, Rear
Admiral Pham Duc Linh, Director General of the Ministry of Defense's
Department for the Vietnam Marine Police (VMP), explained the
mission of the VMP, expressed their interest in U.S. equipment to
build their patrol capabilities, and highlighted their desire for
greater contact and cooperation. In line with U.S. regional
maritime security interests and Vietnam's membership in Regional
Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against
Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and other multilateral fora, this seems an
organization and and an area ripe for future U.S. contact and
cooperation. End summary.

2. (U) Established in 1998, the Vietnam Marine Police (VMP) are
responsible for security and order along the coastline and in
Vietnam's territorial seas, as well as carrying out Vietnam's
responsibilities related to international conventions, such as the
Law of the Sea. The organization's main missions include:
1)preserving and protecting security, law and order; 2) countering
drug trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, and fraud; 3)
conducting search and rescue operations; 4) protecting the
environment and responding to environmental incidents at sea, e.g.
oil spills; 5) cooperating with international partners; 6)combating
piracy at sea. While the VMP is currently headquartered in Hai
Phong, RADM Linh noted that the headquarters will move to Ha Dong
City, an outlying area of Hanoi, in the future.

3. (SBU) The Vietnam Marine Police fall under the Ministry of
National Defense (MOD); however, RADM Linh was quick to point out
that while the MOD provides administrative management for the VMP,
the organization is not military and is "completely transparent."
When asked about the rationale for having a law enforcement
organization under the MOD, RADM Linh explained that VMP ships have
to coordinate closely with the People's Navy of Vietnam (PNV) ships
when operating at sea and VMP ships are dependent upon PNV shipyards
for maintenance and repair. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS)
simply does not have the technical expertise to manage a sea-going
organization, he explained, adding that 60 percent of the VMP
officers and staff have degrees in engineering. MPS does provide
professional instruction and training on the law enforcement aspects
of VMP's mission and frequently gives lectures and seminars to VMP

Purchasing U.S. Equipment, Vessels and Aircraft
--------------------------------------------- --

4. (SBU) RADM Linh explained that as the VMP is a relatively new
organization, the GVN has been making a significant investment in
equipment, vessels, and patrol aircraft (to detect illegal shipping,
pirates, and locate boats in distress), clarifying that the patrol
aircraft do not carry weapons or any combat equipment. RADM Linh
commented on the high quality of U.S. equipment and went to express
an interest in buying U.S. aircraft. He half-joked that once the
Marine Police had acquired a sufficient number, they would like to
have a U.S company set up a maintenance and repair shop to service
the aircraft. There is currently a team in the United States to
look at surveillance aircraft the VMP is interested in purchasing,
he added. When asked about future requirements for equipment, RADM
Linh reflected that Vietnam is still a poor country and must
prioritize its spending across many important areas, and declined to
cite specific requirements.

International Cooperation in Combating Piracy

5. (SBU) RADM explained that the South China Sea, or the East Sea as
it is known in Vietnam, is the second busiest after the
Mediterranean. Given Vietnam's geographical location, the Vietnam
Marine Police has a responsibility to ensure that ships traveling in
these waters are safe. As such, the organization serves as the GVN
point of contact for information sharing on piracy and actively
participates in the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating
Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information
Sharing Center in Singapore.

6. (SBU) Poloff noted that the VMP's mission and duties closely
mirror those of the U.S. Coast Guard. RADM Linh responded that the
VMP has had no past contact or cooperation with the U.S. Coast
Guard, but appeared very interested in the prospect, adding that as
a new maritime law enforcement organization, there is much the VMP
could learn from the U.S. Coast Guard.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: While demurring on specific requirements, the
conversation with RADM Linh clearly reflected an interest in U.S.
airplanes, helicopters, and their parts to improve VMP capabilities.
RADM Linh was open and straightforward in the meeting, emphasizing
on several occasions that the VMP is not like MOD and is open to

HANOI 00001208 002.2 OF 002

international cooperation and coordination. Given U.S. regional
maritime security interests and the Vietnam's membership in ReCAAP
and other multilateral fora, this seems an organization and an area
ripe for future U.S. contact and cooperation, particularly with the
U.S. Coast Guard and similar organizations.


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