Locklear Suggests Arms Ban on Vietnam Will End

Following tensions over aerial intercepts of US aircraft in the South China Sea, and a historic visit by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Hanoi, America’s top commander in the Asia-Pacific suggested the long-standing arms embargo on Vietnam may soon end. A dialogue between the US and Hanoi on the subject is ongoing, US Pacific Command boss Adm. Samuel Locklear told reporters at the Pentagon on Sept. 24. But, he said, decisions on the specifics have not been agreed upon yet. “However, it has been my perspective as a military commander that where we are with our relationship with Vietnam, that it would be a positive thing to consider the lifting of some of those restrictions that might allow us to provide better support,” Locklear said. Vietnam is in an important region that has significant interests and requirements for its own security, which it needs to improve, particularly maritime surveillance and “situational awareness” tools. The US is still in the “nascent, early stages” of talking about what type of military assistance it could provide to Vietnam, and for what purposes, Locklear noted, but a lot will depend on what the Vietnamese government wants from the US in the future. “They have many partners and many neighbors … and they have a growing number of security concerns,” Locklear said. (Locklear transcript)