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Vietnam People’s Navy And Balance Of Power In South China Sea

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Vietnam People's Navy And Balance Of Power In South China Sea

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Written by Captain 1st rank A. Morozov; Originally appeared at Foreign Military Review #12 2019, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

Currently, South-East Asia (SEA) is one of the most dynamically developing regions of the world, whose economic growth is associated with the concentration of significant resources, primarily human (about 600 million people), and the most important maritime communications that pass through it (the South China Sea* SCS) and the Strait of Malacca).

Yet, the presence of external (international terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy) and internal (religious and ethnic contradictions, political instability) threats, as well as the clash of interests of the main countries of the region and non-regional powers determine the high conflict potential of South-East Asia.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV), increasing its role in SEA and building a state foreign policy, pays special attention to the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as control over the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the republic. Thus, in the course of reforming the Vietnamese People’s Army (VPA), which acts as a guarantor of national security, its priority is to develop its maritime component.

An overview of Vietnam’s Armed Forces that performs the following tasks: conduct of hostilities in maritime theaters of military operations; destruction of enemy forces at sea and in the bases; targeting of ground objects; disruption of communications; protection of sea transport and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the republic; assistance to land forces; amphibious landings and participation in repelling enemy landings; intelligence and control of the situation in the area of responsibility; conducting search and rescue operations as sea. The strength of the Navy is about 30 thousand people; the reserve is 50 thousand (the basis is self-defence units formed from public and private fishing, as well as transport companies).

Vietnam People's Navy And Balance Of Power In South China Sea

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The commander directly directs the naval forces through a system of bodies and control points, including the Navy Command, the Centre Command Post (Haiphong), the command post (CP) in the southern strategic area (Ho Chi Minh City) and the command posts of the naval areas.

Organisationally, the Navy includes surface and submarine forces, marine aviation, coastal defence forces, Marines and Special Forces. They consist of five naval districts, surface ship and combat boat brigades, Marines, coastal defence, combat boat divisions, coastal missile and artillery divisions, coastal defence battalions, radio engineering regiments and battalions. The fleet’s forces are based at the main naval base Haiphong, Da Nang, Cam Ranh, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau, Honggai, Anthoi and Nyongchat naval bases.

Training is conducted at the naval academy (Nha Trang) and the secondary technical school (Ho Chi Minh City). Training of submarine crews, as well as specialists in the operation of modern weapons systems, take place in Australia, China, Russia, the United States and the countries of the European Union.

In the course of operational and combat training (OCT) of the Navy, the ships’ crews and personnel of coastal units work out tasks for their intended purposes, master new types of weapons and military equipment, improve maritime training, including search and rescue at sea. Together with their partners, they are conducting OCT activities, and the Navy’s forces and assets are participating in multinational exercises, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Regular events are held in the waters of the South China Sea, with special attention paid to the training of marine units and garrisons stationed in the Spratly Archipelago, as well as interaction with other types of Armed Forces and branches of the Armed Forces.

The national Navy is armed with more than 200 units of marine equipment, including more than 120 warships and boats, up to 20 tactical missile launchers, about 20 aircraft and helicopters, 150 tanks and armoured vehicles. Currently, Vietnam has the most combat-ready submarine fleet among the Southeast Asian countries. According to the Vietnamese military leadership, the improvement of this component of the Navy allows it to increase the military presence in the Spratly area, as well as effectively counteract the warships of the Chinese Navy in this region.

The development of the naval forces is a priority task for the VNA, which contributes to improving the combat capability of the Armed Forces as a whole. One of the main areas is to increase the combat capabilities of the national Navy to a level that ensures the effective response against the enemy in case of armed conflict over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

To achieve these goals, a comprehensive programme of Navy modernisation by 2025 was adopted, which provides for the improvement of the organisational structure, optimisation of management and comprehensive support, equipping with modern airborne vehicles, as well as the development of the fleet basing system. Implementation of the planned activities is planned in two stages: 2018-2020 and 2021-2025. It is planned to allocate about 1.3 billion US dollars for their financing, 700 million of which will be spent on the purchase of new weapons.

By 2020, the Navy should have four brigade: guard ships, missile, rocket and artillery ships and patrol boats, as well as a division of surface ships and a centre for monitoring the underwater situation. It is planned to build two Sigma-type corvettes for the Navy, and purchase the French AS-565MV Puma helicopters for the Navy aviation.

In the future, the ship composition of the Vietnamese Navy is planned to increase to 40 warships and 180 boats.

Along with the purchase of military equipment abroad, it is planned to master the production of ships at the national shipbuilding facilities.

It is important to switch from purchasing finished products from foreign companies to their joint development, obtaining technologies and developing production on Vietnamese territory. One of the immediate tasks of the country’s leadership is to organise joint repairs of submarines with foreign partners. In this regard, the Vietnamese side intends to make significant efforts to launch a plant in Cam Ranh. In the future, this enterprise and production association “Bashon” (Ho Chi Minh City) is expected to service all types of ship and coastal weapons systems.

As part of the improvement of the fleet base system, infrastructure is being developed, including facilities on the islands in the South China Sea controlled by Vietnam. For example, the naval base Vung Tau is increasing the depth and increasing the length of berths. At the airfield (Spratly Island), the runway has been lengthened, the construction of defensive structures and logistics centre continues, and the fairway and anchorage areas are being equipped. An automated port air defence control system is being deployed.

The military and political leadership of Vietnam pays considerable attention to the development of the naval forces. The current long-term construction and modernisation programmes are aimed at improving their combat capabilities. At the same time, the scientific, technological and industrial potential of the state determines the interest of Hanoi in solving the tasks at the expense of cooperation with foreign partners.

* In the South China Sea, there are territorial disputes between Vietnam and China over the Paracel Islands, and between China, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines over the ownership of the Spratly Archipelago.

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  • Larry Rabinowitz, Ph.D

    What navy? 1 single USS Destroyer can annihilate the entire vietcong fleet.
    And China? All it takes is 1 single US carrier strike group to sink the entire chinese navy.

    • Ronald

      That’s just the fleet the US and China know about.
      Not only did they throw the Americans out, they threw out 250,000 Chinese in 1979 when they thought they were “smart”.
      Vietnamese understand the folly of bragging.

    • jade villaceran

      vietnam war, ring a bell?

    • Lone Ranger

      Thats a lot of tears Shlomo…
      Dont let your matzo ball soup get cold ;)

    • JIMI JAMES

      Infested with your corona aidz,against emf,i don’t think so dork!

    • viktor ziv

      Yeah, like Zumwalt.

    • anonim

      Childish statements, zero reasoning.
      Like this: What army? Arnold Schwarzenegger can beat the whole Chinese army by himself.

    • Cromwell

      Vietcong LOL!! if you mean the National Liberation front,it no longer exists,after they fried your balls,get over it.

    • occupybacon

      USA is allied with Vietnam there

  • Jens Holm

    Its a symbolic act. Some there should unite and only let China have their % of that territory. That goes for fishing as well as minerals.

    • JIMI JAMES

      Atleast china is dynamic,unlike 21st century,neo-liberal aidz leppar carriers from nocando!

  • Lone Ranger

    U.S. should leave, they wouldnt want Chinese guided missile cruisers near Pearl either…

    • occupybacon

      Haha, Russia is operating oil platform in cooperation with Vietnam in China claimed 9 dash, Russia supports Vietnam.

      • Lone Ranger

        Could you repeat that in english?
        Im not sure what yitu are saying…

        • occupybacon

          Russia sides with Vietnam in South China Sea. China doesn’t recognize Crimea as part of Russia and Russia doesn’t recognize South China Sea as Chinese territory.

          • Lone Ranger

            So?
            Russia had traditionally good relations with Vietnam.
            Non the less both Russia and China are part of the SCO, AIIB and BRICKS.
            Maybe Vietnam will join too.

          • occupybacon

            Russia has traditionally bad relations with China, long before they had any relation with Vietnam.

            Regarding Bricks, each of them has better relations with someonelse than the with themselves.

          • Lone Ranger

            According to CNN…

          • occupybacon

            You should read more than you write

          • Lone Ranger

            Indeed, you should.

          • occupybacon

            How old are you?

          • Lone Ranger

            Too old.

          • occupybacon

            Indeed, you are too old to say something like No U! Since you can type. Ohh wait you’re the guy who post the same comment every day. That reminds me of an episode from Married with Kildren when Kelly Bundy forgets who had four touchdowns in a single game. So better stick to that one so you don’t forget it.

          • Lone Ranger

            Thats a lot of passive agression…
            Are you ok?
            Need some virtual hug?

          • occupybacon

            Will you send me hugs from your safe space?

          • Lone Ranger

            Virtual hug.
            Loading…..
            Sent :)

          • occupybacon

            Whispers in your ear: Russia and China are enemies.

          • Lone Ranger

            To satanic globalists for sure ;)

          • occupybacon

            Apart of I don’t believe in Satan, what makes you think Russia and China are not globalist?

          • Lone Ranger

            They wont bend over.
            Especially Russia.

          • occupybacon

            You mean Russian and Chinese billionaires don’t keep their money in Dollars?

          • Lone Ranger

            Not anymore.
            Euro, Ruble, Yuan, gold, palladium.

          • occupybacon

            Yeah sure, in Russian and Chinese banks

          • Lone Ranger

            Increasingly.
            Even the most hardcore traitor oligarchs realized that for the CIA and MI6 they are more worth dead than alive.
            They started moving back their assets to Russia.
            Coupled with low debt and a Forex Reserve of $570billion makes Russia a solid competitor on the world market.

          • occupybacon

            Competitor for what?

          • Lone Ranger

            Energy, nuclear reactors, rare earth minerals, agriculture, big pharma.
            Only to name a few.

          • occupybacon

            And how does your 570 billion help?

          • Lone Ranger

            It pays the bills for the country.
            At current rate it should be enough for 10years even if the global economy stays the same.

    • MH370 Atok The Deceiver

      the Chinese claim of South Sea is ridiculous and out of logical position of China..China should fuck off from our area

      • Lone Ranger

        But U.S. claiming it is logical…