In June, Vietnam asked the U.S. to end a ban on lethal weapon sales to the country in service of its ongoing military upgrade. In an email interview, Carlyle A. Thayer, an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defense Force Academy, discussed Vietnam’s military modernization.
WPR: What is the current size, scope and capability of Vietnam's military, and what are the major gaps it is seeking to fill?
Carlyle A. Thayer: The Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) totals 482,000 main forces, comprised of the army (412,000), navy (40,000) and air-defense air force (30,000). The armed forces also include a 40,000 strong paramilitary Border Guard and a reserve force estimated at 5 million.