Cablegate: Imet: Positive Results, Tiny Impact


DE RUEHHI #1206/01 3130727
O R 090726Z NOV 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: IMET: Positive Results, Tiny Impact

1. (SBU) Summary: The International Military Education and
Training (IMET) program continues to be an integral component of
U.S. engagement with Vietnam, providing opportunities to improve
the professionalism of the Vietnamese military, as well as to
expose a young generation of officers to the U.S. thinking on
defense and security. However, current fiscal year funding of
$195K -- enough to fund English-language training in the U.S. for
six Vietnamese officers annually -- is inadequate given the needs
of the 450,000-strong Vietnamese military force and its long-term
potential to serve as a reliable security partner in the region.
Additional IMET funding for FY 2011 and FY 2012 would allow the USG
to enhance English language competence, professionalize Government
of Vietnam (GVN) forces, increase interoperability with U.S. and
other friendly forces, and enhance Vietnam's ability to participate
in GPOI and other multilateral defense and security efforts. End

2. (SBU) Since the IMET program began in Vietnam in 2005, 42
students have received training, primarily in English language
training for junior and mid-level officers. In FY 2009, the total
IMET allocation for Vietnam was $195,000 -- enough funding to send
three Vietnamese officers to attend nine weeks of specialized
English language training; of these, two continued with twelve
weeks of electronics training and one followed with thirty weeks of
weather forecast training. Another three officers attended English
language training and English language instructor training. The
remaining funds were not sufficient to send another student to
training, and so were used to purchase English language training

3. (SBU) During his meeting with the Deputy Secretary in Hanoi on
September 27, Vietnamese Defense Minister General Phung Quang Thanh
expressed his appreciation for IMET funding as an integral part of
the GVN's commitment to professionalizing Vietnam's military force.
Defense Minister Thanh also asked the USG to consider increasing
IMET funding to strengthen Vietnam's on-going professionalization
efforts, noting that English language skills were key to preparing
Vietnam to expand its participation in regional and eventually
global security operations, including peacekeeping. Citing the
roughly 1,000 military officials Australia has trained in English,
the Deputy Director General of the MFA's Americas Department, Mr.
Le Huy Hoang separately told poloff that Vietnam would like to have
"many, many more Vietnamese military officials with American

4. (SBU) The Deputy Director of MOD's External Relations
Department, Senior Colonel Thang, regularly points out that the
inability of Vietnamese officers to communicate directly in English
with other nations' militaries hinders MOD's ability to participate
actively in GPOI, as well as regional exercises and training. The
Director of the Office of Government International Cooperation
Department, Mr. Bui Huy Hung, has echoed this opinion, stating that
English is the primary pre-condition for participation in GPOI, as
many senior officials cannot gain needed training in working
directly with other militaries and exposure to international
service without English language capability.

5. (SBU) In a recent meeting with the Vietnam Marine Police (VMP),
the Director of International Relations, Senior Captain Phu Van
Lam, proudly shared that Vietnam actively participates in ReCAAP
(Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed
Robbery against Ships in Asia) through its 24-7 Information Sharing
Center. However, he noted that staffing is an issue because all
communications and reporting are conducted in English. The VMP
Deputy General Director, Senior Captain Tran Duc Hung, added that
the VMP would like to expand its cooperation with other nations in
the region, but until his officers can communicate in English, the
VMP remains largely on the sidelines.

6. (SBU) Vietnam lacks a cadre of officers who speak English and
who have been exposed to the U.S., since mil-mil engagement is
relatively recent. While Australia's effort to train a limited
number of Vietnamese military officers in English is consistent
with our larger goals, training in Australia does little to build
relations between the U.S. and Vietnamese militaries. As our
relationship with the VMP and other components of the MOD develop,
we would also like to expand training into specialized areas such
as military medicine, communications, and engineering -- all to
complement our current efforts to bring Vietnam's military capacity
up to par with others in the region so that they might become a
more active, contributing partner. Further, the MOD repeated a
request during the most recent Bilateral Defense Dialogue for
opportunities to send more senior level military officers to U.S.
military command and staff colleges. We concur that such an
experience would be invaluable for both the officer and the
potential benefit to the U.S., to send one officer to such a course
would cost approximately $65K -- one-third of last year's IMET

7. (SBU) IMET's benefits to the U.S. and host nation militaries
are well known. Post appreciates that an increasing number of
partners and potential partners are vying for a limited pool of
IMET resources. That said, senior USG and GVN officials recently
have reaffirmed the importance that both nations attach to
deepening security and defense relations, and agree that IMET is an
important tool to achieve this goal. As the Department and other
interested agencies examine IMET funding for FYs 2011 and 2012, we
encourage you to look for opportunities to allocate additional IMET
funding for Vietnam at levels commensurate with Vietnam's potential
as a key regional partner to achieve our long-term bilateral and
regional goals.

© Scoop Media

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