Expansion of English language training programme for officers of the Vietnam People’s Army is one of several strands of defence engagement which the UK and Vietnam agreed to advance during 2015. Others include increased training cooperation, Defence industrial cooperation, and Maritime cooperation.
Funded by the UK Ministry of Defence and provided by the British Council, the 2015 programme will provide English training for up to 72 officers to be trained in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City throughout the year. Since 2012, 105 officers of the Vietnamese People’s Army have completed English language training funded by the UK Ministry of Defence.
Commenting on the expansion of the programme, Group Captain Tim Below RAF, UK Defence Attaché to Vietnam said:
The expansion of this programme in this fourth year of the UK Ministry of Defence’s funding English Language Training delivered by the British Council to officers of the Vietnam People’s Army is a mark of the commitment of the UK to supporting Vietnam’s military modernisation. In the year ahead alone, we plan to provide training for nearly as many Vietnamese officers as in the last 3 years added together. Although there is yet much work to do between us, if we can combine this with achievement of the other initiatives agreed at the January 2015 bilateral Defence Working Group, by the end of the year we could potentially have in place an enduring and long-term strategy for providing UK Defence training to meet the requirements of the Vietnamese People’s Army, a bilateral mechanism to deliver it, and an English Language Training programme to feed it.
The first course of the 2015 programme was opened in Hanoi on 23 March with the participation of 35 Vietnamese military officers. They will undertake between 6 and 9 months of training according to their entry standard of English. At the end of their training, they will have the language skills they need to undertake specialist professional military training courses provided by the UK Ministry of Defence, with those whose fluency is most developed being eligible for some of the UK’s most advanced military Command training courses for future General Officers, run at the UK’s Defence Academy in Shrivenham, and in London, UK. Other officers are expected to be employed in future Vietnamese contingents deployed on Peacekeeping Operations, or to be prepared for future senior appointments in the Vietnamese People’s Army.
Joining at the opening ceremony were Group Captain Tim Below RAF, UK Defence Attaché to Vietnam; the leader of the Vietnam Peace Keeping Center, Ministry of National Defence; and representatives from the Ministry of National Defence’s Foreign Relations Department, Personnel Department, and Unit 871.
Defence cooperation also formed a part of the fourth Vietnam-UK Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and UK Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire in February this year.