HMA Ships Canberra and Newcastle have arrived in Phuket, Thailand as part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE ’19), Australia’s international engagement and capacity-building mission to south and south-east Asia.
The 800 members of Canberra and Newcastle’s ships’ companies, as well as their embarked forces, will undertake a busy program, which includes humanitarian assistance and disaster relief demonstrations from both Australian and Thai forces, as well as a variety of community engagements.
Commander of the IPE ’19 Joint Task Force, Air Commodore Rick Owen, AM, said the visit to Thailand would build on a long history of Australian and Thai co-operation to address shared security challenges.
"The strong defence relationship has a 70 year history covering a variety of areas crucial to maintaining regional stability and security," AIRCDRE Owen explained.
The IPE ’19 Joint Task Force visit takes place the week prior to the 4-6 May coronation of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
AIRCDRE Owen said, "Our nations have time and again proven the ability to work together when required, having both contributed to UN missions in East Timor, South Sudan and Iraq, as well as Combined Maritime Forces patrols in the Gulf of Aden."
The king’s completion of military studies at the Royal Military College Duntroon is a testament to the firm bonds of friendship that exist between Thailand and Australia.
IPE ’19 is the major Australian Defence Force regional engagement activity, delivering on the 2016 Defence White Paper promise to strengthen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces.
Minister Pyne said in late-2018 that Australia’s relationship with India had expanded significantly since the signing of the Whole-of-Government Framework for Security Cooperation in November 2014, and he was dedicated to further strengthening this partnership.
The Joint Task Force for next year’s expedition will involve up to five Royal Australian Navy vessels, including a Landing Helicopter Dock, Australian Army and RAAF assets and personnel, and foreign force elements.
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"IPE ’19 is the ADF’s major regional engagement activity, delivering on the promise of the 2016 Defence White Paper to strengthen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces," AIRCDRE Owen explained.
As part of IPE ’19, ADF personnel will participate in a series of engagement activities and military training exercises during port visits to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.