Earlier this week Russia announced it would be reviving it's presence on three military bases, claiming to do this so they could better coordinate with allies globally. I hope anyone reading this will pardon my skepticism but considering the culture of Russia and their stated expansionist goals in the region I don't believe it, especially with the way they are provoking the Chinese, The Peoples Republic of China has long had an interest in Vietnam as part of the greater Asian continental land mass, and with the Russians announcing an increased presence at Cam Ranh airbase (which is in and of its self interesting as historically the U.S.S.R. denied involvement in Vietnam and those denials were continued by the new Russian government later. One could surmise that those denials were not in fact entirely accurate since according to Pravda this announcement dealt specifically with reviving presences at specific locals) it is impossible to believe that the former soviet state is taking this action blindly or lightly.
The question then becomes what is that goal? Well, Russia has had one of its state goals as the reacquisition of former territories, and considering that a military presence really only has three uses it is clear. Before I go on I'll state that those three purposes are intertwined or at least complimentary. The collection of intelligence for strategic and tactical planning is the first of these reasons and does not need to be gone in to. Diplomacy is another of the reasons, sharing military expertise is a long established method of building trust and is a form of "soft power" that often leads to cooperation on a larger scale. The final reason is of course the projection of "hard power" in terms of military force, when taken in total it is a very worrying move.
That picture is only somewhat reduced in its pure shock value when you understand how greatly reduced the Russian Navy and Air Force are in terms of materiel strength. You can look on Google Earth and see the rusting hulks in most of the Russian military shipyards. George Little at the Pentagon said Russia has the right to seek international partnerships and he is right, but I certainly hope no one in planning is treating this likely, the lack of materiel is our biggest advantage over a resurgent expansionist Russia since it gives us time to prepare, but it is an advantage that needs to not be squandered by indecisiveness. As Washington said, the best way to secure peace is to prepare for war.