Political and Security Exchanges Grow Oregon-Vietnam Bonds

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by Sarah Wang
While on an exchange in Vietnam, the Oregon National Guard delegation and their Vietnamese counterparts partnered up, both for training exercises and to have a bit of fun. Image: Oregon National Guard.

Oregon recently followed in the footsteps of certain other US states, such as Alaska and Nevada, by increasing the ties between its National Guard and Vietnam’s military this year. Begun in 2012 under the National Guard State Partnership Program, this program allows the Oregon National Guard and its Vietnamese counterparts to exchange best practices and strengthen their bilateral ties. In August, the Oregon National Guard hosted a delegation from Vietnam’s National Committee for Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM). During their stay they attended workshops on emergency management, watched the certification training of the Oregon National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package, and met with local leaders at Portland State University’s Hatfield School of Government.

In late September, Vietnam reciprocated by hosting a delegation from the Oregon CBRNE group in Hanoi for a week. The Oregon delegates engaged in search-and-rescue scenarios with members of the 249th Engineer Brigade of the Vietnam People’s Army.

Oregon has provided training not only for soldiers but also for Vietnam’s next generation of engineers. Shortly after Intel built its assembly plant in Vietnam in 2010, the US tech giant discovered a significant lack of engineering knowledge among Vietnam’s domestic population. In response, Intel then spent $73 million to send 73 Vietnamese college-age students to study engineering at Portland State University. The program’s final class, which wrapped up this June, Intel placed special emphasis on selecting women for its program.

Portland State University’s Center for Public Service has had numerous programs and projects over the past eight years that further expanded Oregon-Vietnam ties. In 2012, the US Department of State awarded Portland State University a two-year grant to explore ways that Vietnamese and US business professionals can partner to increase economic empowerment. In October of 2012, Portland State partnered with UN-Habitat Vietnam to present on sustainable development principles at the Portland Sustainability Institute’s Eco District Summit. Most recently, in June 2014, Portland State’s Hatfield School of Government and the Vietnam-Oregon Initiative hosted Vietnam’s Ambassador to the US, Nguyen Quoc Coung.