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Cablegate: U.S. Coast Guards Begins Training the Vietnam Marine Police

VZCZCXRO0810
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHHI #1198/01 3100729
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 060729Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0408
INFO ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHMCSUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFISS/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001198

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP, ISN/ECC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SNAR KNNP MASS VM
SUBJECT: U.S. Coast Guards Begins Training the Vietnam Marine Police

HANOI 00001198 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) kicked off
its partnership program with the Vietnam Marine Police (VMP) under
the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program by
conducting two sessions of the Maritime Law Enforcement Boarding
Officer course in Haiphong and Phu Quoc, October 12-23. Vietnamese
participants received practical instruction and hands-on training
on a range of issues, including interdiction and boarding
procedures, and a briefing by the Embassy's acting Drug Enforcement
Agency Attache. The participants were active, posed questions, and
offered favorable feedback reviews. Overall, the training was not
only beneficial for the participants, but highlighted opportunities
for more in-depth future training in specific subject areas. End
summary.

2. (U) A 4-person team from USCG visited Vietnam October 12-23 to
conduct two training sessions as part of the partnering program
established earlier this year between the USCG and VMP. The
sessions, conducted in Haiphong and Phu Quoc, consisted of two days
of classroom instruction, followed by three days of practical
hands-on training. Classroom subjects covered international law,
boarding preparation and procedures, use of force, stopping
uncooperative vessels, tactical concepts and tactical procedures,
smuggling trends and hidden compartment detection, occupational
hazards, drug identification, introduction on explosives and
improvised explosive devices, alien migration interdiction
operations and the use of personal radiation detection devices
("pagers"). At the end of each class, radiation pagers were handed
over to VMP Regions 1 and 5 and several more will be transferred to
VMP Headquarters to help strengthen their non-proliferation
capacity. Hands-on training, including easy weapon removal,
frisking, handcuffing, and boarding exercises, allowed students an
opportunity to apply the lessons in simulated boarding situations.
The Acting DEA Attache joined the session in Phu Quoc, where he
gave an overview of the DEA counternarcotics mission in Vietnam,
discussed the overall narcotics smuggling situation in Southeast
Asia, and explained new methods used by drug criminals in the
region.

3. (SBU) The VMP Headquarters and their regional offices organized
the training at their facilities, providing classrooms as well as
boats for the practical exercises for the 45 VMP students who
attended the two classes. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) limited
this initial training event to the VMP, and the VMP leadership
easily filled all of the available slots with students with various
experience and expertise. Customs and Navy officials have also
expressed a desire to send their officers to such training, and the
MOD and VMP have agreed to include these agencies in future events.
(Comment: We suspect the MOD limited the initial offering to VMP
officers only as this fit the scope of the agreed partnership
proposal and this was their first opportunity to see what the
training entailed. We are hopeful that MOD is now more comfortable
with the training and will allow other agencies to participate in
future. End comment.)

4. (U) During the two courses, students posed questions concerning
the USCG's organizational structure, U.S. laws and regulations,
USCG investigation authority, cooperation and coordination between
USCG and other relating agencies, and information collection and
sharing, as well as how USCG handles different situations at sea,
especially when a foreign vessel is involved. The students of the
second class, comprised of younger officers with greater English
capability than the first, were particularly enthusiastic and
engaged in the training activities. The Acting DEA Attache also
reported great interest in counternarcotics issues from the second
class, particularly in how the U.S. undertakes such operations on
the sea.

5. (U) Despite differences in U.S. and Vietnamese laws and
regulations and the relative level of experience of the two forces,
the students' evaluated the training highly and said it was a
valuable opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills. They
were impressed with the combination of theory and practical
exercises and were also complimentary of the instructors, who got
high marks for being dedicated, enthusiastic, and friendly, yet
disciplined and professional.

HANOI 00001198 002.2 OF 002


6. (U) The students shared their ideas for improving future
training, including lengthening the course, adding more advanced
courses and specialized courses in drug interdiction, search and
rescue, and international law, and offering specialized English
language training. As the VMP is still in the planning process to
develop its own training facility, both the students and the VMP
leadership asked for additional USCG training opportunities for
more attendees. The senior VMP officials present also requested
additional equipment, including contraband detection tools,
narcotic field test kits, and fraudulent document detection
machines.

7. (SBU) Comment. This was the first USCG engagement with the VMP
under their new partnership program. Its positive results bode
well for future cooperation between the two forces. The training
courses received a great deal of attention from the VMP leadership,
as well as the Ministry of Defense, with senior representatives
from MOD both attending the opening and closing ceremonies, and
hosting farewell lunches and dinners. The VMP leadership's
recommendations for future training will not only be very useful
for planning purposes, but represent clear signals that they are
eager for further cooperation. Continuing the partnership plan,
the USCG has invited one VMP officer to attend the 15-week
International Maritime Officer Course starting in March 2010 at the
USCG Training Center in Yorktown, Virginia.
Palmer

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