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Australia and Singapore reinforce strategic partnership

Singaporean soldiers demonstrate remote robot controls to Australian Army troops during an Exercise Matilda urban training package at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane (Source Dept of Defence/Private Jacob Hilton)

The Australian and Singapore armies have strengthened ties through training during Exercise Matilda, a two-week biennial activity at Gallipoli Barracks in Queensland.

The Australian and Singapore armies have strengthened ties through training during Exercise Matilda, a two-week biennial activity at Gallipoli Barracks in Queensland.

About 40 soldiers from the Singapore Army trained with their Australian counterparts from 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9RAR), focusing on key military practices, including urban operations and reconnaissance.

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Australia and Singapore enjoy a long history of bilateral and multilateral defence co-operation, through organisations including the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus and the Five Power Defence Arrangements.

Officer Commanding Bravo Company 8/9RAR Major David Bowden said the integration of troops at the tactical and headquarters level was an important and successful part of the exercise.

"We practised both urban and field-craft drills together for a couple of days, integrating some of our soldiers into their reconnaissance teams and employing some of their assets in support of our company-level operations," MAJ Bowden said.

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The Australia-Singapore defence relationship includes the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), which provides for the joint development of military training areas and facilities in Australia and Singapore to continue to exploit the benefits derived from the development of Exercise TRIDENT as the signature bilateral joint military exercise.

MAJ Bowden added, "At the headquarters (HQ) level, we also saw a combined Singaporean and Australian HQ overseeing the exercise. Both Singapore and Australia share some common training and standard operating procedures, which enabled us to hit the ground running. After a few days we were working quite well together."

The CSP will enable Australia and Singapore to work together on defence science and technology, in areas including combat systems/command, control, communications, computers and intelligence integration; and cognitive/human systems integration.

Corporal Nathan Cramer was one of six 8/9RAR soldiers embedded with patrols from the Singaporean RISTA (recon, intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition) contingent.

"The Singaporeans had their whole RISTA command team integrated into Bravo Company HQ, so they were planning the missions and delivering the orders, and my personnel and I were attached individually or as a pair and we would act as an extra man on patrols," CPL Cramer said.

The Singaporeans also brought their unmanned ground vehicles, which were used as a reconnaissance tool during urban training.

The exercise was also about building strong relationships through cultural exchanges, friendly sporting competitions and commemorating Remembrance Day together.

Brigadier Andrew Hocking, Commander 7th Brigade, said the exercise enhanced their ability to work together in the future.

"Exercise Matilda is an important activity as we continue to build the mutual respect, friendship and co-operation with our Singaporean counterparts," BRIG Hocking said.

"Troops gained valuable knowledge from one another, which helped build our foundation warfighting skills and strengthen the bond between our two nations."

The ASMTI is delivering enhanced training areas for the Australian Defence Force in central and north Queensland, enhancing Australia’s bilateral defence relationship with Singapore and providing significant local economic opportunities.

Over the life of the ASMTI, there will be an injection of about $2 billion into Queensland’s regional economies, including an estimated $50 million spent annually during the construction phase.

Additional work packages for fencing, potable water supply, waste consumption, fuel supply, consumables and quarry products will be awarded as part of an anticipated 200 sub-contract packages that will be available over the next five years in central Queensland.

Defence will hold information sessions in the Charters Towers and Townsville regions as part of the next release of work packages in north Queensland.

Australia and Singapore reinforce strategic partnership
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