The Singapore and Indonesian armies have successfully conducted their annual bilateral exercise, Singapore’s defense ministry said October 21.
The 27th iteration of Exercise Safkar Indopura, a combined battalion field exercise conducted alternately in each of the two countries, was hosted by Singapore this year and was held from 12 to 23 October 2015.
According to a press release by the city-state’s ministry of defense (MINDEF) seen by The Diplomat, it involved about 150 personnel from the Headquarters 3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade and 6th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, together with about 150 personnel from the Indonesian Army’s 7th Infantry Brigade and 121st Infantry Battalion.
The exercise included professional exchanges, cross training on urban operations, live firing, a map training exercise and a combined field training exercise.
The closing ceremony of this year’s exercise, held at the Murai Urban Training Facility, was co-officiated by Commander 3rd Singapore Division, Brigadier-General Ong Tze-Chin and Commander of Military Area I, Indonesian Army, Major General Lodewyk Pusung.
Last year’s exercise, held in Magelang, Central Java in Indonesia, was mired in controversy, with two full-time Singaporean national servicemen being pulled out of the exercise and flown back to the city-state because they were Indonesian citizens who also held permanent residency in Singapore. While Indonesian law prohibits citizens to serve a foreign military, in Singapore male permanent residents can be called up for national service.
This year’s exercise comes amid strains in the bilateral relationship over familiar issues such as the annual haze problem, airspace control and asset management, as Singapore’s former ambassador to Indonesia Barry Desker recently noted.
Safkar Indopura was the first bilateral army exercise involving the Singaporean and Indonesian militaries, which have trained together since the 1970s. The conduct of such regular bilateral exercises, MINDEF said, helps enhance interoperability between the two armed and foster mutual understanding between personnel.