Our colleague, Army MG Tom Needham, has made comments on this distribution list several times over the years. Tom ran the DOD operation in South East Asia to locate, identify and bring home the bodies of US servicemen missing in the Vietnam War and still has contacts in the Vietnamese government. Over the last several months I have forwarded to you numerous documents and analysis on the disputed Spritely Islands and asked Tom for his comments from the perspective of the Vietnamese. He agreed to reach out to his old associate and was able to get some limited feedback from him, which I thought you might find of interest. Thanks, Tom, for taking the time to gather this.
I heard from my contact in the Vietnamese government. Remember that all his messages to us are monitored. He is brief as always.
1. Vietnam was doing very well economically thanks to our help on rice from MIT and our heavy farm equipment. They are now getting four rice crops a year and are the world’s largest rice exporter. Their economy is also assisted by factories of large multi-national companies like IKEA, Nike.
2. They are not afraid of China and are happy with their share of the oil-rich Spritely Islands.
3. Their infrastructure, mostly built by us during the War, is doing well except for roads which they are working on.
3. Their main problem still exists. His code word for corruption!
He is a good man and we accomplished a lot while I was in Hanoi.
Hope this answers your questions.