India, Vietnam expand partnership, build defense IT system

India, Vietnam expand partnership, build defense IT system

Mandeep Singh

India and Vietnam reaffirmed their strong defense ties in August 2021 when India pledged a U.S. $5 million grant to the Center of IT and Foreign Languages at the Telecommunications University in Nha Trang City to develop an information technology (IT) system for defense work.

The grant follows months of cooperation between the countries and continues a pattern of enhanced defense relations following their establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016.

Since its inception in 2015, the center has trained more than 20,000 people in network management, programming, information security and foreign languages to meet the needs of defense missions, Col. Le Xuan Hung, the university’s headmaster, told Vietnam’s People’s Army Newspaper Online (PANO). In addition, it has developed IT products and supported training and IT collaboration with more than 30 local and foreign partners, Le added.

Senior Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien of the Vietnamese Peoples Army expressed thanks for the increased cooperation with India at the grant handover ceremony August 11. Bilateral defense cooperation has been strengthened and expanded, he said, with tangible benefits in areas including education and training, the defense industry and United Nations peacekeeping operations.

India’s assistance with developing the IT system was announced in January 2021 by PANO. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vietnam’s deputy military minister, said that expanding the center was a watershed moment that symbolized the nations’ cooperative relationship. (Pictured: Defense officials participate in the handover ceremony for a U.S. $5 million defense grant from India to Vietnam.)

The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding in 2018 on bilateral cooperation, which included enhancements to the IT and foreign languages center, PANO added. The agreement called for extended cooperation in human resources training, as well as collaboration between the nations’ armies, air forces, navies and coast guards. It also called for cybersecurity and information exchanges, India’s Ministry of Defence reported.

Five weeks prior to the grant announcement, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited his Vietnamese counterpart, Lt. Gen. Phan Van Giang, in Hanoi. “Both India and Vietnam share a long-standing tradition of helping each other in difficult times,” Singh said in a statement. “We have achieved substantial progress in defense industry cooperation in recent years.”

Such progress can be noted in defense agreements reached since the partnership was signed in 2016, India’s former Deputy National Security Advisor S.D. Pradhan wrote in The Times of India newspaper.

Several bilateral agreements stand out, Pradhan wrote, including two signed in December 2020: one on implementing arrangements for defense industry cooperation and another on nuclear cooperation between India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Vietnam’s Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety. Pradhan also noted India’s delivery of a high-speed patrol boat to Vietnam in 2020 and Vietnam’s procurement of nine other vessels manufactured in India under a U.S. $100 million line of credit.

Mandeep Singh is a FORUM contributor reporting from New Delhi, India.