KIMS Policy Report

The Vietnamese Coast Guard

The Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG) has been the newest service of the broader Vietnam People’s Army (VPA). It was established as a direct response to the
increasingly hybrid and sophisticated maritime disputes in the South China Sea where China has deployed the so-called “gray zone” tactics to exert its influence and actual control on the ground. “Gray zone” tactics are not entirely new, but its recent adaptation by revisionist states such as Russia and China making it difficult for small countries, like Vietnam, to have an effective counter policies because mostly of the lack of resources, and of the entangled political and economic interdependence between the targeted countries and their bigger counterparts. The VCG’s development and modernization in the last couple of years are unprecedented, especially in terms of capabilities and physical strength. In just a few years, the VCG has grown up remarkably from a force with just a few small and second-handed vessels in its service to a force whose rank at the moment is second to none in Southeast Asia in terms of both the number of vessels and overall capabilities.

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