Regional defence ties strengthened as south-east Asia exercise concludes

Regional defence ties strengthened as South East Asia exercise concludes
RSS Stalwart leads the formation of warships from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand during Exercise Bersama Shield 2017.

Members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) have improved their ability to work together during Exercise Bersama Shield 17.

From 26 April to 9 May 2017, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom conducted the exercise in international waters off the coast of Malaysia as part of the longest standing multilateral arrangement in south-east Asia.

Acting Chief of Joint Operations Major General Stuart Smith said Bersama Shield was an important opportunity for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to strengthen co-operation with other FPDA nations.

"Around 300 ADF personnel have taken part in Exercise Bersama Shield 17, drawn from Navy, Army and Air Force," MAJGEN Smith said.

"All have worked seamlessly with other members of the FPDA through a variety of exercise scenarios.

"Bersama Shield 17 has highlighted the key defence relationships Australia has in south-east Asia, which contributes significantly to security in the region."

Major ADF assets deployed to Bersama Shield included Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Farncomb and Anzac Class frigate HMAS Ballarat.

A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and a KA350 King Air tactical mobility aircraft also took part in the exercise.

Exercise Bersama Shield 17 was conducted over four phases, culminating in a practical regional security exercise and post-exercise debrief.

The FPDA were established in 1971 to contribute to regional security.

Exercise Suman Protector 17 is the next major FPDA exercise and is scheduled for the second half of 2017.

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