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India-Vietnam Strategic Relations

India-Vietnam Strategic Relations

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Published by Dr. PANKAJ JHA

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Published by: Dr. PANKAJ JHA on Dec 23, 2010
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08/12/2011

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India and Vietnam Strategic Ties-New Dimension
 Dr.Pankaj Jha Asssociate Fellow,IDSA
The process of Defence cooperation intensified with the signing of the MoU on DefenceCooperation in 2009 when Gen. Phung Quang Thanh visited India. Indian Navy has beeninterested in the long expeditionary port calls and visits and this was apparent when it has visitedChina, Japan and even Russia in the past few years. Though, this has been meant particularly tointegrate efforts with regard to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as coordinatingregional navies in case of any incidents like Piracy or maritime terrorism. India Navy hasparticipated in the rescue of Alondra Rainbow and also escorted of US ships in the past throughthe Straits of Malacca. Vietnam has somewhat being ignored in all these cooperative gestures withthe major regional navies like China, Japan, Korea and Singapore. This was meant to intensify cooperation with Vietnamese navy. As is well known that Indian naval ships have been visitingSingapore for maintenance and repair facilities due to their short turnaround time but of late,Singapore has been too crowded and also the cost of repairs have escalated to a certain extent. Vietnam also has a world class ship building and repair facilities, so it was felt that India could usethose facilities which are cost effective. Usually western media and even Indian media have beenhighlighting it as a major strategic gesture but it is nothing more than cost planning. Even Indiadoes not have any deep sea ports and so it was felt that it could visit few of those ports which havefacilitated major war and strategy planning during the Second World War and even during theIndochina wars. Though there has not been any commitment from the side of Vietnam but they have assured that they would offer those ports which have these repair facilities and it would beopen for all rather than only India as it would annoy the common neighbour, China and wouldsend wrong signals. Probably, the ports which might be available for Indian navy repair facilities would be Cam Ranh Bay. Indian navy does not have the off shore deployment capacity and they  would not like to disturb the strategic balance between India and China at the behest of any of those fabricated US writings and even over the board skeptics in media. Even though MaritimeStrategy Doctrine 2009 document does enlist Sunda and Lombok as sea lanes of strategic interest but these are primarily for the fact that it would not be possible for Malacca Straits to manageincreasing volume of maritime traffic and so these lanes would provide the alternate routes. Indiahas been cautious in regard to projecting its future regional strategy because it would not be ininterests of any of the Asian countries to be paranoid about each other and so is just projecting itsgoodwill gesture. Even when Indian navy conducted PASSEX (passing exercises with Vietnam in2000, it was felt that it would stymie relations with China and so it was discontinued. These portsin Vietnam would be ports of convenience for repairs and maintenance only. Vietnam has beenseeking assistance in communication networks, network centric warfare, assistance in weaponsmaintenance and training of personnel.Vietnamese army has been requesting India for the training of technicians formaintenance and upgrade of the Russian military weapons. Vietnam is trying to get Sukhoi 30MKV aircraft and also Kilo class submarines. It was also requested that Indian army should sendfew of its officers to Vietnam for English language training so that they can participate ininternational exercises as well as UN peace keeping operations. Also, Vietnam has been requestingIndian establishment for setting up Industrial infrastructure for small arms and non lethal weapons with the assistance of the DRDO. All these feasibilities have been studied. Also , it might be recalled that Indian military personnel had gone jungle/guerilla warfare training in Vietnam in2003 and it was requested that it should be continued and more officers should be send to Vietnam because of the increasing insurgency and Maoists threat in India. General VK Singhduring his younger days was personally very impressed with Vietnamese victory against US

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