The United States and Vietnam last week announced the formation of a “comprehensive partnership” to deepen bilateral ties in a host of areas from defense and security to trade and science and technology. News of the partnership came in a joint statement following the July 25 meeting of President Obama and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang in the White House. The agreement is meant to “contribute to peace, stability, cooperation, and prosperity in each country, in the region, and in the world,” reads the statement. With regards to defense and security, the two leaders “agreed to expand mutually beneficial cooperation to enhance capabilities such as search and rescue and disaster response,” reads the statement. The United States also will conduct an environmental assessment of dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa Air Base northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) as part of its assistance in cleaning up toxic materials from the Vietnam War, according to the statement. Vietnam has expanded ties with the United States in recent years, particularly as it seeks to strengthen its position against China’s growing military power and influence in southeast Asia. (See also Voice of America report and Sang’s July 25 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.