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Vietnam’s Defense Chief Makes First Visit to Pentagon

Vietnam's defense chief visited the Pentagon yesterday, a milestone 40 years after the end of U.S. military action in the once-divided nation.

Senior Lieutenant General Do Ba Ty, chief of the general staff of the People’s Army of Vietnam, was escorted by Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs, into the Joint Chief’s meeting room, known as the Tank.

“This was the first-ever visit by a Vietnamese chief of defense to the Pentagon,” Navy Commander Scott McIlnay, a Dempsey spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

Among regional issues discussed by Dempsey and Ty was the Obama administration’s “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region,” McIlnay said. The Pentagon announced plans last year to shift more attention and military assets to the region.

Ty’s visit also reflects improving relations between the former combatants in a war that ended when communist forces seized Saigon in 1975. The U.S. and Vietnam resumed diplomatic relations in 1995.

Ty visited a day after the 40th anniversary of congressional approval of the Case-Church amendment that prohibited further U.S. military action in Vietnam effective August 15, 1973. The provision was named for Republican Senator Clifford Case of New Jersey and Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho.

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