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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Visit by Commander, United States

VZCZCXRO5832
PP RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #2051/01 3410404
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070404Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//ISA// PRIORITY
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6843
RHMFISS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC//J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DHO-3// PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J00/J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY
RHHMHAA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CDR JPAC HICKAM AFB HI PRIORITY
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH PRIORITY 4030
RUEHHI/USDAO HANOI VM PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 HANOI 002051

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND EAP/RSP
SECDEF FOR ISA/SHUBERT
PACOM FOR J5/MAJ MA
U-183-07

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS MOPS PHSA VM
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR VISIT BY COMMANDER, UNITED STATES
PACIFIC COMMAND

Introduction
------------

1. (SBU) Admiral, your visit to Vietnam is well timed to
complement the successes of recent trips by other senior
civilian and military leaders and will be an important
contribution to the growing U.S.-Vietnam relationship,
especially in advance of Vietnam taking its seat on the UNSC
next year. Your visit will build on positive participation
of Vietnam in the Chiefs of Defense conference you hosted in
Hawaii during early November as well as the June visit by
then Chief of Naval Operations, the May visit by your Deputy,
and last February's visit by then Commander, Pacific Fleet.
Your discussions will allow us to build-on advancements in
military bilateral cooperation that to date have grown but
continue to lag behind its full potential, particularly in
the areas of search and rescue and naval cooperation.

2. (SBU) A series of high-level bilateral visits, the
highlights of which were President Bush's trip to Vietnam in
November 2006 and President Nguyen Minh Triet's Washington
visit in June 2007, have helped push the bilateral
relationship to a higher plane. Vietnam's desire last year
to successfully host APEC and accede to the WTO also helped
strengthen bilateral ties. Vietnam's recent election to a
non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council during the
2008-2009 term, and its emerging leadership role in ASEAN,
are also key indications of the GVN's desire to pursue a more
outward looking and engaged role in the world community.

3. (SBU) Our strengthening relations are in large part due to
Vietnam's realization that the United States is an important
force in maintaining a stable geopolitical environment in
which even "small" countries like Vietnam are assured their
independence and freedom of action. Vietnam also sees in the
United States, its largest export market, an increasingly
vital source of development aid, technical assistance and
foreign direct investment. For these reasons, Vietnam's
leaders are committed to continued progress in bilateral
relations and will likely speak positively and optimistically
about the future of U.S.-Vietnam ties. Differences over
human rights remain, however, and lingering fears that the
United States supports the overthrow of the current regime
through &peaceful evolution8 continue to complicate the
relationship. China also looms as a factor coloring Hanoi's
reactions to our proposals in the security realm, as
discussed further below.

4. (SBU) We have planned a full schedule for your visit.
During your stay, you will have the opportunity to meet with
key senior civilian and military leaders in Hanoi. You will
also have an opportunity to meet again with the Minister of
Defense, the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, who also
serves as the standing director of the National Committee for
Search and Rescue (Vietnam,s Federal Emergency Management
Agency equivalent). Below are issues and topics that are
likely to be raised in your meetings in Hanoi.

Counterterrorism: Case-by-Case Cooperation
------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Vietnam says the right things about terrorism,
underscoring its willingness to respond rapidly to specific
cases or incidents. However, in response to our efforts,
together with like-minded countries, to urge GVN
participation in multilateral efforts such as the
Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative
to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the GVN has stood firm in
limiting its involvement to cooperation only on a
"case-by-case basis."
Nonetheless, the GVN and the United States have made gradual
progress in strengthening our joint counterterrorism efforts.
During President Bush's visit last year, the President and
his Vietnamese counterpart pledged to increase cooperation to
halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and
related technology and materials in accordance with
international and national laws and each country's

HANOI 00002051 002 OF 010


capacities. The U.S.-led project to repatriate Highly
Enriched Uranium (HEU) from the Nuclear Research Institute in
Dalat and convert the reactor to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU),
completed in mid-September, was an important deliverable on
this commitment. The United States provides counterterrorism
assistance to Vietnam by funding Vietnamese participation in
counterterrorism-related training at the International Law
Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, and through
military-to-military exchanges with an emphasis on
counterterrorism themes. We'd like to do much more.

6. (SBU) In the multilateral arena, Vietnam has signed eight
out of 13 UN terrorism conventions. Approval of the
remaining five is winding its way through the cumbersome GVN
bureaucracy, the delay explained in part by GVN concern with
its capacity to carry out obligations under the conventions.
Two of the remaining conventions are reportedly in the final
stages of GVN approval, while the status of the other three
remains unclear.

Gradual Progress in Defense Cooperation
---------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Defense relations have advanced at a measured pace,
with a deliberate but positive shift in defense relationship.
Senior defense leader visits have been key to enhancing
mutual trust through the development of personal
relationships. We now conduct professional military
exchanges with the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) in a wide
range of areas including military medicine, meteorological/
oceanographic (METOC) prediction, search and rescue, military
law and disaster preparedness. PAVN officers have been
invited as observers to Cobra Gold for the past four years
and routinely attend U.S. Pacific Command-sponsored
multilateral conferences. This year, they also sent
observers to Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training
(CARAT) activities in Brunei. Since 1997, nearly seventy GVN
officials, including more than thirty-five PAVN officers,
have attended courses and seminars at the Asia Pacific Center
for Security Studies (APCSS).

8. (SBU) Since 2003, U.S. Navy ships have made five official
port visits at three different Vietnamese ports. The most
recent port visit was November 14-18 by two mine
countermeasures ships, the USS Guardian and the USS Patriot,
to Haiphong port. Additionally, the USS Peleliu visited
Danang City in July to carry-out humanitarian medical
activities and the USNS Bruce C. Heezen visited Danang City
in October to participate in hydro-meteorological technical
exchanges. Vietnam agreed to participate in the
International Military Education and Training Program (IMET),
in June 2005, and the first two officers from the PAVN
completed their IMET-sponsored (almost one year long) English
language training in Texas this year. In October, PAVN sent
another six officers for a year of English training in the
United States. This year, IMET will provide a language
laboratory in Hanoi. In addition, IMET will expand mil-mil
contacts in FY08 with a U.S. mobile training team (MTT) visit
for Search and Rescue and another MTT for military medical
techniques training. This will open a new phase in bilateral
military contacts.

9. These increased military contacts have elicited some
noticeable results. For example, the GVN recently responded
quickly (within 24 hours) by approving two different USPACOM
blanket overflight clearance requests for U.S. military
flights in support of disaster response in Bangladesh. This
was only the second time that such as clearance has been
approved by the GVN. The Ministry of Defense also has
recently invited the United States to send an officer to its
National Defense Academy's new International Officers Course
starting next spring. These are constructive steps, but we
have far to go to achieve our full potential for closer
cooperation in defense activities, including multilateral
peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance efforts and attendance
at U.S. military schools exists. These goals are attainable,
but will require time, persistence and patience.


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Expanding U.S. Naval Ship Visits
--------------------------------

10. (SBU) While we have regularized regular ship visits over
recent years, the GVN has remained firm in limiting the
frequency of port visits by U.S. Navy warships to one per
year. This restriction is frequently cited as being
consistent with GVN laws that regulate visits by foreign
warships; however, some other nations conduct more frequent
port visits, and we have not identified any published laws
that substantiate the limits of one visit per year rule. We
still seek to persuade the GVN to permit more frequent access
for ships to conduct limited, technical calls for refueling,
replenishment or special purpose visits (technical exchanges
or humanitarian assistance). This would support our overall
goal of increasing routine access for U.S. Naval vessels at
Vietnam's ports, while not escalating the pace of military
contacts beyond a level that is comfortable for the GVN. We
also hope to continue asking the GVN to participate in
fly-outs and believe that the general positive trend in the
relationship will result in an acceptance at some point. We
are eager to welcome the USNS Mercy's visit next year. This
visit will expand upon the groundwork laid by the July 2007
USS Peleliu visit and that greater PAVN medical participation
will be achieved.

Peacekeeping Operations
-----------------------

11. (SBU) Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) are well outside the
range of normal PAVN missions of protecting sovereignty,
building the nation and preserving the Communist Party
regime. Over past years, however, the GVN has expressed
increasing interest in potential involvement in PKO missions
organized under UN auspices. We believe that Vietnam's
recent election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security
Council during the 2008-2009 term has given significant
impetus to this thinking. Vietnamese military leaders remain
cautious, however, saying that Vietnam would focus Vietnam's
PKO participation only on providing medical or engineer
support missions, including demining.

12. (SBU) Several PAVN officers have already gone abroad to
participate in Peace Operations Military Observer's Courses
offered by several nations and in 2005 the GVN hosted a
strategic-level peacekeeping seminar in Hanoi co-sponsored by
Great Britain. PAVN leaders nonetheless have yet to discuss
Vietnamese commitment to any actual PKO contingency. To move
to that stage, the GVN would have to do much more to meet the
remaining challenges of the lack of interoperability, the
paucity of English language speakers in the military and
complications due to funding issues. Vietnamese military
leaders have told us that any PKO participation by Vietnam
troops would have to be approved by the National Assembly,
which has not yet publicly considered that initiative.

Consequences of War
--------------------

13. (SBU) In your meetings, you are likely to hear references
to "consequences of war" or "legacies of war" issues. This
is the catch-all term that the GVN applies to a myriad of
problems, including Agent Orange(AO)/Dioxin contamination,
unexploded ordnance (UXO) and land mines from the war era,
and the incomplete recovery of missing Vietnamese military
personnel.

14. (SBU) While scientists and GVN officials continue to
debate the human impact of the 80 million liters of AO
sprayed over 2.6 million hectares and 3,000 villages in
Vietnam, recent GVN-approved studies reveal that Dioxin
contamination is not widespread, but rather is concentrated
in roughly 20 "hotspots." Former U.S. bases, from which
Operation Ranch Hand missions were staged and AO was stored,
have soil dioxin concentrations exceeding concentration
levels recommended by the U. S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization, while other areas
thought to be targets of heavy aerial spraying do not

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currently have soil concentrations considered hazardous to
health.

15. (SBU) Much has been accomplished recently in turning a
new leaf on the AO/Dioxin issue with regard to
government-to-government relations and changing the tone of
the dialogue both in meetings and in the press. The
Department of Defense role in this effort has been to share
data on wartime Operation Ranch Hand sites and share DOD
experiences in remediation efforts that DOD supervised during
and after the Vietnam War. To this end, DOD sponsored a
dioxin remediation workshop in Hanoi in 2005 where the U.S.
experience in dioxin remediation was reviewed. In addition a
second DOD workshop was held in 2007 in Hanoi to provide
Vietnam's Military with updated data on Operation Ranch Hand
sites and potential hazardous areas. On November 17, 2006 the
Joint Statement between the GVN and USG on the occasion of
President Bush's visit to Vietnam stated: "The U.S. and
Vietnam also agreed that further joint efforts to address the
environmental contamination near former Dioxin storage sites
would make a valuable contribution to the continued
development of their bilateral relationship."

16. (SBU) Beginning in 2006, the State Department and EPA
provided USD
400,000 in technical assistance to the GVN's Office 33 and
PAVN,s Chemical Command for remediation planning and
immediate interventions at the Danang City airport. Congress
recently appropriated an additional USD 3 million in Economic
Support Funds (ESF) for "dioxin mitigation and health
activities," thereby helping Vietnam to remediate areas with
demonstrably high levels of dioxin and assist those with
disabilities. This follows four years of USG support to
build the capacity of the Vietnam Academy of Science for
analysis of contaminated soils and sediment. The USG is
continuing to work with the GVN, and in parallel to efforts
by UNDP, Ford Foundation and other NGOs, to examine the next
steps in the environmental remediation of three priority
hotspots in Danang, Hoa Binh and Phu Cat airfields.
Developing a partnership to share all information and best
practices in environmental remediation between the DOD and
MOD would be well received by the GVN.

Impacts of Remaining UXO
------------------------

17. (SBU) Since 1989, USAID and the U.S. Department of
State,s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA),
through support from the Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund
(LWVF) and other sources, has provided over USD 43 million to
support NGOs and private voluntary organizations to develop
comprehensive programs for people with disabilities. In
addition, since 1993 the USG has been actively involved in
assisting the people of Vietnam in overcoming the social and
economic impacts of remaining UXO from the war. Vietnam was
formally accepted as the 37th participant in the U.S.
Humanitarian De-mining Program in June 2000, and the USG is
now the largest donor of humanitarian assistance for mine
action programs in Vietnam. The USG has invested over USD 37
million in a broad spectrum of programs not only to locate,
remove and destroy unexploded ordnance and landmines, but
also to address the UXO effects on health and livelihood of
Vietnamese living in affected areas.

18. (SBU) Today, various NGOs conduct UXO and land mine
clearance, risk education and victim rehabilitation. The USG
has also donated a significant quantity of equipment to the
PAVN to assist efforts in UXO and landmine clearance and
return land to productive use. In 2006, the State Department
provided USD 3.5 million to support UXO action and demining
activities in Vietnam, almost a third of which went directly
to PAVN in the form of donated demining equipment. In 2007,
an additional USD 2.5 million was provided to underwrite mine
action related activities in Vietnam, however, sharp
decreases in humanitarian mine action (HMA) funding in 2008
due to tight budgets will force the cancellation of key
programs.


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19. (SBU) The GVN remains keenly interested in building
capacity to conduct underwater mine and UXO detection and
clearance. In 2005, the maritime economy contributed about
fifteen percent of the overall GDP, however the GVN announced
in January 2007 a goal of growing the maritime economy to
constitute 53-55 percent by 2020. After 20 years of reform
development, Vietnam still does not have a deep water port
that can handle large container ships, adding some 28% to the
cost of shipments to the United States. The development of
deep-water ports to augment existing inadequate port
infrastructure is thus viewed as a critical requirement to
fuel the growing maritime economy.
20. (SBU) Additionally, Vietnam's fishing fleet consists of
more than eighty thousand small fishing vessels with less
than 500-600 horse power, operating both close to the coast
and offshore. Of these, fishing boats in the 40-50 horse
power-range account for about two thirds of the fleet, and
most of these do not have the equipment to maintain contact
with the land. One of the biggest disaster preparedness
challenges faced by the GVN is that of recalling vessels back
to port in case of a storm, as well as providing adequate
safe havens and anchorages for all these vessels. Thus,
another key component of Vietnam,s design for the future of
the maritime economic sector is the development of coastal
and island safe havens for its fishing fleet. This
necessitates extensive mine/UXO clearance activities in the
coastal areas of many of the northern provinces and
assistance in these activities would undoubtedly be welcomed.
Fullest Possible Accounting
---------------------------

21. (SBU) Predating the re-establishment of diplomatic
relations and normal defense contacts, U.S. military and DoD
elements continue their efforts toward the fullest possible
accounting of Americans missing from the Vietnam Conflict.
Since 1988, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), a
USPACOM subordinate element, has evolved to include forward
Detachments in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand/Cambodia. With
its Vietnam Detachment (Det 2), it has completed 90 Joint
Field Activities (JFA), which incorporated extensive
research, interviews, analysis, and excavations in order to
accomplish its mission. From its inception, Det 2 has forged
excellent relations with its GVN counterparts (notably, the
Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons or VNOSMP).
Ultimately, JPAC's efforts in Southeast Asia have resulted in
accounting for 880 American's who were previously unaccounted
for. The foundation has been set for sustaining JPAC's
success as it continues to account for the remaining 1766
missing Americans throughout Southeast Asia.

22. (SBU) JPAC Det 2 is currently working toward the: (1)
admission of JPAC teams to research or recover cases located
in select areas of high GVN sensitivity; (2) the access to
information held in classified military and security ministry
archives and records that have not previously been made
available to USG; and (3) further assistance in resolving
cases in Laos and Cambodia where members of Vietnam's armed
forces might provide the largest pool of eyewitnesses.

23. (SBU) An area of heightened bilateral cooperation is the
undertaking of investigation and recovery efforts at sea.
During the Vietnam Conflict, more than 400 American aviators
were lost in the waters off the coast of Vietnam. While the
majority of those American's were declared dead and their
remains deemed not recoverable, JPAC continues to conduct
underwater investigation and survey activity when information
obtained and validated has the potential to lead to a
recovery. This is a resource-intensive endeavor. In
December, 2006 the GVN gave its approval for the use of U.S.
naval vessels to operate within their territorial waters in
order to enhance JPAC's underwater investigations towards the
identification of potential recovery sites.

Humanitarian Assistance
-----------------------

24. (SBU) Since 1995, U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) programs have provided aid in legal

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reform, governance, economic growth, HIV/AIDS, environmental
protection and disaster prevention. For FY 2007, total U.S.
assistance from all agencies was about USD 86.6 million, most
of which has gone towards providing health-related
assistance, notably in the area of HIV/AIDS treatment and
prevention. Vietnam is one of fifteen countries in the
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The
United States provided USD 65 million in 2007 to expand
integrated HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs.
This figure includes approximately USD 3.1 million dollars
for the Department of Defense (DOD)-managed portion of PEPFAR
HIV/AIDS programs with Vietnam's Ministry of Defense.

25. (SBU) Since 2000, when Vietnam experienced a particularly
devastating season of floods and storms, DOD has supported a
wide variety of Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid
(OHDCA) projects in Vietnam. Through USPACOM, DOD sponsored
the construction of eight medical clinics in Thua Thien-Hue
Province, a primary school in Quang Binh Province, and two
centers for disabled children in Quang Binh Province. In
2006 two additional humanitarian assistance construction
projects were completed in Central Vietnam: a medical clinic
in Quang Binh Province, and a 10-room primary school in Quang
Tri Province. This year USPACOM has used OHDCA and APRI
funds to sponsor construction of a medical clinic and school
projects in Danang City, Lai Chau and Nghe An Provinces as
well as Flood Management Centers in both Danang City and
Quang Nam Province. Additionally, USPACOM has facilitated
multiple donations of excess medical property to various
medical facilities throughout Vietnam. The Defense Attache
Office and other Country Team members are currently working
with Vietnamese officials to gain information to develop a
rationale, scalable plan for focused HA that will provide a
greater impact over a larger area and over an extended
timeframe for future HA proposals. We believe this is
similar to recent initiatives being recommended by your
USPACOM J4.

26. (SBU) Through a combination of Fulbright grants and the
Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), an innovative program
created through legislation to facilitate the training of
Vietnamese scientists, the United States sponsors over 100
students yearly for graduate study in the United States. The
Fulbright program is the largest in Asia. The VEF was
established with the unpaid proceeds of loans extended to the
old South Vietnamese government. Another important activity
is the Fulbright Education Training Program, through which
seventy mid-level Vietnamese professionals receive in-country
training in economics and public policy each year.

A Word on the Economy, WTO and Investment
-----------------------------------------

27. (SBU) Vietnam today is fueled by a dynamic economy, which
grew at an 8.1% rate last year. Per capita annual income
jumped from about USD 220 in 1994 to USD 720 in 2006. The
ongoing implementation of economic reforms first launched in
1986 in a program known as "Doi Moi" (renovation) has been
effective in promoting market-oriented changes and has
improved the quality of life for many Vietnamese. Foreign
trade and foreign direct investment have increased
dramatically and poverty rates have dropped. Vietnam
formally acceded to the WTO as its 150th member on January
11, 2007. Vietnam's chief exports are crude oil, textiles,
footwear and aquatic products. The United States is
currently Vietnam's fourth largest overall trade partner
(behind China, Japan and the EU), but remains its largest
export market. The economy still faces challenges,
especially from the inherent difficulties of transforming
legacy command-economy structures, systemic corruption and
the slow pace of reform in many areas.

Future Prospects
----------------

28. (SBU) Since 1991, the GVN has sought to improve
diplomatic ties both regionally and worldwide. The GVN
recognizes the strategic importance of the United States in

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the region and the world, but is not shy about raising the
specter of "peaceful evolution," or to criticize U.S. actions
it perceives as outside the multilateral system. They
routinely chafe over U.S. criticism of Vietnam's record of
human rights and religious freedom. Nonetheless, Vietnam's
leaders are also pragmatic and recognize that Vietnam's own
continued economic well-being, growth and security are, in
large measure, inexorably tied to its relationship with the
United States.

29. (SBU) Vietnam has begun to explore opportunities within
regional organizations, to increase joint efforts against
terrorism, narcotics, maritime piracy and other issues of
shared concern. Vietnam has also recently begun joint sea
patrols with other neighbors in the Gulf of Thailand and has
established hotlines to help facilitate coordination along
sea boundaries. The recent success of the Royal Thai Navy
rescue of Vietnamese seamen adrift in the Gulf of Thailand
was largely credited to the use of one such hotline.
Nevertheless, for historic and foreign policy reasons, the
GVN is generally reluctant to speak out against its
"traditional friends" such as North Korea and Iran when they
engage in behavior that the rest of the international
community condemns.

30. (SBU) In November the National Defense Academy (NDA)
Director announced Vietnam's new professional military
education course for foreign senior officers and civilians.
Much of this course is likely to be little more than a
government primer on Vietnam, but the opportunity for
interaction among the thirty or so foreign officers and their
host nation instructors (many of whom do speak English)
coupled with the increased contact and access to military
facilities could make this a credible step forward towards
increase military transparency and international cooperation
between Vietnam and other militaries.

The China Factor
----------------

31. (SBU) China constitutes Vietnam's most important
strategic preoccupation. Relations must remain on an even
keel, and Hanoi has no illusions about the relative power
balance. Vietnam's huge neighbor to the north constitutes a
vital and necessary commercial partner and former ally. The
two nations share ideological roots. At the same time, China
is perceived as a constraint to Vietnam's freedom of action,
and the undertone of Beijing's dominance in the relationship
has a nasty implication due to China's 1,000 year history of
colonial domination. Even today, Beijing appears to be
willing to set aside its core policy strategy of improving
relations with nations on its periphery when faced with
energy security and sovereignty issues. Both of these are
coming into play as China engages in bullying of foreign
companies to cause them to cease oil and gas exploration
efforts in the South China Sea, as has been reported in the
press.

32. (SBU) Recent rhetorical disputes over territorial
sovereignty in the Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) and Truong Sa
archipelagos (Spratly Islands) have escalated recently with
strong GVN criticism concerning PRC military exercises in the
Hoang Sa islands in late November and the PRC,s recent
establishment of Sansha Administrative Town in early
December, which includes both the disputed Hoang Sa and
Truong Sa islands. GVN re-affirmations of claims to
territorial sovereignty to both island chains were widely
carried in the local press, which also expressed dismay over
the PRC,s unilateral moves to abrogate the spirit of the
2002 Declaration on the Code of Parties in the East Sea.

33. (SBU) Sensitivity about China's possible reactions to
engagement with the United States has definitely not
constrained Hanoi willingness to engage on broad economic
issues. We are a driver of Vietnam's integration into the
world economy, which is not proceeding according to the
"Chinese model." On security matters, however, GVN
reluctance to engage with us more fully is attributable to

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concern over China's potential reaction, in particular, mixed
with an institutional conservatism born out of concern over
"peaceful evolution" as a real threat to the regime. Also,
there is an ingrained caution on the part of Vietnam's
military in the face of relative power calculations vis-a-vis
China. As documented above, while progress is still being
made, we are moving at a measured pace and within these
constraints.

PAVN'S ROLE
------------

34. (SBU) PAVN has three primary missions: to defend
Vietnam,s territorial sovereignty, to support and preserve
the CPV regime, and to contribute to the economic welfare and
development of the nation.

35. (SBU) PAVN currently has about 480,000 active duty
forces, backed by twice as many paramilitary forces and a
pool of reserve soldiers that potentially also numbers up to
a million strong. The defense establishment also includes
perhaps an additional half million civilian workers whose
livelihood is tied into the success of military-run,
state-owned enterprises and factories. In principle, Vietnam
has universal eighteen-month conscription for men and women
aged 18-25 years and this ensures a ready pool to fill the
active duty, paramilitary and reserve ranks. Many former
conscripts find employment in military businesses. The PAVN
is professionalizing, but slowly and at an uneven pace. In
the past five years, it has sought to improve the officer
accession process, link promotions to education, and
standardize everything from military salaries to military
training curricula. Most recently, Vietnam also reduced the
obligated service time for conscripts.

36. (SBU) PAVN forces are arrayed in bases throughout the
country. This includes Border Guard forces deployed at
hundreds of checkpoints along Vietnam's borders with China,
Laos and Cambodia and along the coast. Vietnam also has
troops deployed on reefs it claims in the Spratly Islands.
PAVN has a large footprint in the Central Highlands
provinces, where it participates in large-scale economic
development and community building projects.

37. (SBU) PAVN is not a particularly well-equipped force.
Equipment modernization is constrained by limited resources
and the government's emphasis on fostering economic growth
through infrastructure investment. Some high-tech
acquisitions have been made for modern air and air defense
systems including: Russian S-300 Surface to Air Missile (SAM)
systems, a limited number of SU-27 and SU-30MK multi-role
fighters, SU-22 ground attack aircraft, and M28 Skytruck
STOL-class, multi-role cargo aircraft. The navy continues a
slow buildup of its capability to defend the coasts and
territorial claims in the South China Sea. It hopes to have
a ship capable of cross-ocean voyages by 2010, and even
mentioned this during a recent visit by senior State
Department Official, but Vietnam is not building toward a
serious blue-water navy capability.

38. (SBU) Most new naval vessels have been acquired through
foreign sales, but some are now domestically built through
partnership arrangements with foreign governments. In a 2003
contract worth USD 120 million, Vietnam reportedly received
two Russian-built Tarantul II Class fast attack missile boats
and eight more will be locally assembled under license using
Russian components. Russia remains the primary source of
high-tech acquisitions, but Vietnam has also acquired defense
articles from Poland, Ukraine, India, Israel, Slovenia,
Hungary, China, and the Czech Republic. In September 2005
the last of six Search and Rescue patrol boats was handed
over to Vietnam,s National Maritime Bureau (VINAMARINE).
Although these vessels will be based in the central region of
Vietnam, they were primarily built at the Song Cam Shipyard
in Hai Phong using a complete component package delivered by
the DAMEN Technical Cooperation of the Netherlands. Another
USD 19 million contract with the DAMEN Technical Cooperation
led to the construction of four 5,000 HP Rescue tug boats for

HANOI 00002051 009 OF 010


Vietnam's Marine Police (under the Navy) at the military,s
Danang-based Song Thu Shipyard. PAVN,s organic shipbuilding
capacity while good is still limited to vessels less than 70K
DWT, and remains constrained by the use of many imported
components, such as navigation and communication systems, as
well as engines and weaponry.

39. (SBU) PAVN,s missions include disaster relief and search
and rescue in times of natural calamity. PAVN also plays an
active and important role in maintaining domestic political
stability through its widespread programs aimed at
indoctrinating Vietnam,s citizenry in their moral and
patriotic duties. Conscription, in combination with
long-term mandatory militia and reserve service, serves to
underscore the idea that each citizen has an obligation to
participate in defending the state and the regime against
attempts to erode or usurp the party,s grip on power. The
threat of &peaceful evolution8 and efforts by unspecified
forces (the United States/West) to use ideas like
&democracy8, and &human rights8 to foment social unrest
continue to be employed as ideological bogeymen.

40. (SBU) PAVN also plays a vital role in fostering economic
development and infrastructure modernization throughout
Vietnam, but particularly in those areas that are underserved
by other government or commercial development programs.
Military participation in productive matters is not simply an
expedient means to fund force modernization in an era of
dwindling defense budgets. It also reflects a long-standing
historical linkage between national defense and the nation,s
productive capacity that remains central to the doctrinal
roles of a People,s Army in both wartime and peacetime.

41. (SBU) PAVN also operates more than 250 economic
enterprises in a wide range of fields including capital
construction, tourism, textiles, agriculture, chemical
manufacturing, shipbuilding, aqua-culture, petroleum
distribution, port operations, banking and
telecommunications. PAVN businesses operate nationwide and
many are diverse conglomerates with a wide spectrum of
interests. PAVN has recently consolidated the number of
military-run businesses to gain efficiencies, and although
there has been recent talk about reducing the military,s
role in business, few meaningful changes have apparently
taken place to date.

42. (SBU) Along with the Public Security Forces, PAVN remains
perhaps the most conservative and insular of GVN institutions
and it zealously carries out the mission of conducting
national defense education. This program is compulsory for
almost every citizen. It includes rudimentary military
training and political indoctrination. PAVN applies
significant resources to defense education and continues to
expand the network of defense education centers throughout
the country, including those at most high schools and major
universities. Priorities for training focus on youth, ethnic
minorities in sensitive areas, and provincial or local
government officials. Millions of citizens undergo some form
of defense education training every year.

43. (SBU) Leadership and decision-making in the military is a
fragmented and often prolonged affair because it utilizes a
Communist Party system of committees at all levels. Recent
efforts to weaken the unilateral authority of military
commanders in favor of strengthening the role of these party
committees and units political commissars and political
officers was intended to re-invigorate the controlling
influence of the Communist Party over all military matters.


What You Can Expect
--------------------

44. (SBU) You can expect your interlocutors not only to be
articulate and well informed, but also to speak in terms
generally supportive of growth in the bilateral relationship.
As noted above, lingering suspicions still exist among
conservatives in leadership about the development of closer

HANOI 00002051 010 OF 010


ties with the United States, but the overall tenor is one of
support and interest at a measured pace that will not upset
the GVN's calibrated attempts to maintain balance among its
other regional partners. Your upcoming trip to Hanoi will
continue to help translate those good feelings into
measurable accomplishments in the defense and security
relationship.

45. (SBU) We look forward to your visit and stand ready to do
everything we can to make your time in Vietnam as productive
as possible.
MICHALAK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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