Regional co-operation at the forefront of military exercise

Regional cooperation at the forefront of military exercise
Republic of Singapore Defence Force Major Mark Wong, Deputy Chief Joint Safety Officer from Headquarters Integrated Air Defence System, delivers an address on the opening day of Exercise Bersama Shield 17 at Changi Naval Base, Singapore.

Exercise Bersama Shield 2017 commenced in Malaysia and Singapore with Australian Defence Force personnel supporting south-east Asia’s longest enduring multilateral defence relationship, the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

The long-running Bersama exercise series aims to enhance the interoperability between the founding members of the FPDA – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Acting Chief of Joint Operations Major General Stuart Smith said working alongside FPDA partners reinforces ties with regional partners in south-east Asia and provides an invaluable opportunity for the Australian Defence Force to exercise in the region.

"Exercise Bersama Shield 17 is a visible example of the types of Defence relationships Australia maintains throughout the region," MAJGEN Smith said.

"This exercise is the centrepiece of a series of Five Power Defence Arrangements activities this year which aim to increase co-operation and interoperability between its members and makes a practical contribution to regional security resilience."

"The addition of a Royal Australian Navy submarine this year demonstrates the value the ADF places on the exercise and will certainly test those maritime and air assets participating," added MAJGEN Smith.

Approximately 300 Australian Defence Force personnel will participate in the exercise, which is being held in international waters and within the FPDA exercise area in Malaysia and Singapore, between 27 April and 9 May 2017.

Major Australian Defence Force platforms assigned to Exercise Bersama Shield 17 include the RAN frigate HMAS Ballarat and the Collins Class submarine HMAS Farncomb, while the Royal Australian Air Force has contributed an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and a KA350 King Air tactical mobility aircraft.

During Exercise Bersama Shield 17, the FPDA will conduct an air/land integration working group to further enhance the interoperability and co-operation of FPDA nations.

Established in 1971, the Five Power Defence Arrangements contributes both to the security of Singapore and Malaysia and to general stability in south-east Asia.

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