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Achievements: India – Vietnam Defence and Security Cooperation (Part 2)

29/06/2017


Achievements: India – Vietnam Defence and Security Cooperation (Part 2)


(Part 1)

Achievements: India – Vietnam Defence and Security Cooperation

Vinod Anand*

Forging of Defence & Security Ties

The formal framework of India-Vietnam defence security cooperation is based on on defense cooperation signed by India’s then Defense Minister Mr. George Fernandes on a visit to Vietnam in 2000. Training of Air Force pilots, joint naval and coast guard and naval exercises and regular dialogue at Defence Ministers’ level were institutionalized then.  This was further strengthened by the July 2007 Strategic Partnership Agreement which now provides the framework for furtherance of cooperation in the defense field.  The Agreement committed both the countries to strengthening their relations in the political, security, defence, cultural, science and technological fields. Civil nuclear cooperation, enhancing regional security, counter terrorism cooperation, including meeting the challenges of transnational crimes and drug trafficking formed part of the strategic partnership. 

Since the current government took over in May 2014 there has been acceleration of engagement between the two sides which also indicates to an extent the concerns of both sides regarding the situation in the South China Sea.

President Pranab Mukherjee visited Vietnam in August 2014 just before President Xi was to visit India. The seven agreements that were signed with Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang focused largely on deepening strategic partnership; the agreements covered such as political, defence and security cooperation, economic cooperation, science and technology, culture and people-to-people links, technical cooperation and multilateral and regional cooperation. Both leaders agreed that defence and security cooperation was an important pillar of the strategic partnership between the two countries. Later on during PM Nguyen Tan Dung to India in October 2014 PM Modi   observed that “Our defence cooperation with Vietnam is among our most important ones. India remains committed to the modernization of Vietnam’s defence and security forces. This will include expansion of our training programme, which is already very substantial, joint-exercises and cooperation in defence equipment.” 

     

Earlier, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India had visited Vietnam in August 2014. Swaraj had observed while speaking in Vietnam   that it was time to replace India's “Look East policy”, that aims to link the country's northeast with South East Asia, with an “Act East Policy.” Further, just before Sushma Swaraj’s visit Vietnam had renewed India's lease of two oil blocks in South China Sea, evidently a move that was not liked by China.

The institutional architecture for strengthening partnership include Joint Commission Meeting at Foreign Ministers’ level, the Foreign Office Consultations and Strategic Dialogue at Secretary level, Security Dialogue and Annual Defence Dialogue at Secretary level and other dialogue mechanisms between the two countries. The Annual Security Dialogue at Defence Secretary level is being held regularly.

In May 2015, Defence Ministers of the two countries   signed a "Declaration of common vision on defence ties Vietnam - India period 2015-2020” and witnessed the signing of an MoU between Vietnam and the Indian Coast Guard Forces on coordinating crime prevention efforts and the development of transnational cooperation. The agreement has provisions for renewal after a mutual review of the cooperation steps taken during the period. The five year Joint Vision statement builds on the earlier mechanisms and processes between the two nations for elevating the defence and security relationship. The Joint Vision statement has imparted further momentum to India-Vietnam’s expanding defence and strategic ties.

India’s National security Advisor, Mr. Ajit Doval was in Vietnam in April  2015 where he affirmed that India would do all it can to assist Vietnam in defence and security, specifically defence industry, military technology, intelligence, personnel training, cybercrimes and cybersecurity.

The Indian Armed Forces have been engaged with the capacity building of the Vietnamese Armed Forces particularly the Navy. The areas of focus have been training, repairs and maintenance support, exchanges between think tanks, study tour and ship visits. India has already been providing assistance to Vietnam’s navy through training to operate the new Russian-built submarines.

Vietnam has been steadily increasing its efforts to have a credible defence sector – mostly as deterrence against China’s rise and its aggressive moves in the South China Sea. India, with its increasing indigenous capabilities in defence production can do more to support development of defence industry in Vietnam.

PM Modi’s Visit to Vietnam IN 2016 and Defence and Security Aspects

During PM Modi’s visit to Vietnam in September 2016, India and Vietnam formally upgraded their relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ which in fact paid enhanced attention to evolving bilateral defence and security ties.  The upgraded partnership is designed to provide a new direction, momentum and substance to the bilateral cooperation. The common efforts of both the countries are expected to contribute to stability, security and prosperity in this region. Both sides also underlined their commitment to effectively implement the Joint Vision Statement India-Vietnam Defence Relations of May 2015.

During the visit India provided the biggest defence line of credit of US 500 million dollars so far.  Earlier India had   offered a $100 million line of credit for patrol boats. The $100 million LoC is being utilised to build Offshore Patrol Vessels for Vietnam’s Coast Guard construction of which has been contracted to Indian firm Larsen and Toubro.  India is also helping out in the construction of an Army Software Park at the Telecommunications University in Nha Trang as announced during PM Modi’s visit.

An MOU has also signed between the two sides to establish a    Vietnam-India Centre for English Language and Information Technology Training at the Telecommunications University, Ministry of Defense of Vietnam. The Centre will provide a permanent venue for teaching English language and information technology for raising the general level of proficiency of trainees in these skills. It shall train and upgrade the skills of English language teachers from schools and training institutions of the armed forces and also prepare students for tests essential for tertiary education. It will strive to develop into a Centre for Excellence while at the same time; collaborate with other Centres of English and IT education set up in Vietnam with the assistance of the Government of India. 

Space & Cyber Security Cooperation: During PM Modi’s visit in September last year the countries signed another important pact   – the Inter-Governmental Framework Agreement for the Exploration of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes.  This would also enable   in downloading images from Outer Space to provide real time picture of activities in Vietnam’s areas of Interest.  Vietnam has already been chosen as the location for establishing an ISRO satellite tracking centre, however the project is under the aegis of the ASEAN-India initiative and not a bilateral arrangement. Further,   a MOU on Cyber Security between Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India and the transfer of equipment to the Indian funded Indira Gandhi High-Tech Crime Laboratory has also been signed.  Both sides have agreed to conclude a pact between their national security councils and set up a dialogue at the deputy ministerial level that would enhance cooperation on traditional and non-traditional security issues, cyber security, counter-terrorism, transnational crimes, disaster management and response, and undertaking training and capacity building programmes.

Forging of Defence & Security Ties

The formal framework of India-Vietnam defence security cooperation is based on on defense cooperation signed by India’s then Defense Minister Mr. George Fernandes on a visit to Vietnam in 2000. Training of Air Force pilots, joint naval and coast guard and naval exercises and regular dialogue at Defence Ministers’ level were institutionalized then.  This was further strengthened by the July 2007 Strategic Partnership Agreement which now provides the framework for furtherance of cooperation in the defense field.  The Agreement committed both the countries to strengthening their relations in the political, security, defence, cultural, science and technological fields. Civil nuclear cooperation, enhancing regional security, counter terrorism cooperation, including meeting the challenges of transnational crimes and drug trafficking formed part of the strategic partnership. 

Since the current government took over in May 2014 there has been acceleration of engagement between the two sides which also indicates to an extent the concerns of both sides regarding the situation in the South China Sea.

President Pranab Mukherjee visited Vietnam in August 2014 just before President Xi was to visit India. The seven agreements that were signed with Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang focused largely on deepening strategic partnership; the agreements covered such as political, defence and security cooperation, economic cooperation, science and technology, culture and people-to-people links, technical cooperation and multilateral and regional cooperation. Both leaders agreed that defence and security cooperation was an important pillar of the strategic partnership between the two countries. Later on during PM Nguyen Tan Dung to India in October 2014 PM Modi   observed that “Our defence cooperation with Vietnam is among our most important ones. India remains committed to the modernization of Vietnam’s defence and security forces. This will include expansion of our training programme, which is already very substantial, joint-exercises and cooperation in defence equipment.” 

Earlier, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India had visited Vietnam in August 2014. Swaraj had observed while speaking in Vietnam   that it was time to replace India's “Look East policy”, that aims to link the country's northeast with South East Asia, with an “Act East Policy.” Further, just before Sushma Swaraj’s visit Vietnam had renewed India's lease of two oil blocks in South China Sea, evidently a move that was not liked by China.

The institutional architecture for strengthening partnership include Joint Commission Meeting at Foreign Ministers’ level, the Foreign Office Consultations and Strategic Dialogue at Secretary level, Security Dialogue and Annual Defence Dialogue at Secretary level and other dialogue mechanisms between the two countries. The Annual Security Dialogue at Defence Secretary level is being held regularly.

In May 2015, Defence Ministers of the two countries   signed a "Declaration of common vision on defence ties Vietnam - India period 2015-2020” and witnessed the signing of an MoU between Vietnam and the Indian Coast Guard Forces on coordinating crime prevention efforts and the development of transnational cooperation. The agreement has provisions for renewal after a mutual review of the cooperation steps taken during the period. The five year Joint Vision statement builds on the earlier mechanisms and processes between the two nations for elevating the defence and security relationship. The Joint Vision statement has imparted further momentum to India-Vietnam’s expanding defence and strategic ties.

India’s National security Advisor, Mr. Ajit Doval was in Vietnam in April  2015 where he affirmed that India would do all it can to assist Vietnam in defence and security, specifically defence industry, military technology, intelligence, personnel training, cybercrimes and cybersecurity.

The Indian Armed Forces have been engaged with the capacity building of the Vietnamese Armed Forces particularly the Navy. The areas of focus have been training, repairs and maintenance support, exchanges between think tanks, study tour and ship visits. India has already been providing assistance to Vietnam’s navy through training to operate the new Russian-built submarines.

Vietnam has been steadily increasing its efforts to have a credible defence sector – mostly as deterrence against China’s rise and its aggressive moves in the South China Sea. India, with its increasing indigenous capabilities in defence production can do more to support development of defence industry in Vietnam. (Part 3)


* Brig Vinod Anand is a Senior Fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi, India

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