This week, Singapore is hosting a military exercise designed to help counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Exercise Deep Sabre 2016 is an exercise under the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), an arrangement birthed during the George W. Bush administration to boost international collaboration to stem the proliferation of WMD, their delivery systems and related materials. As of today, over 105 countries including Singapore are part of the initiative.
This year’s exercise is being held from 27 to 30 September, involving 800 personnel from 21 countries. According to Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF), it includes a series of shore and sea activities, with a table-top policy simulation, a simulated maritime interdiction of a merchant vessel suspected of carrying WMD-related materials, and a port search demonstration on a shipping container suspected of containing WMD-related materials being some of the highlights.
In his address at the opening of the exercise, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman emphasized the value of the exercise as well as the need for a coordinated, interagency approach.
“Given the variety of ways and means that proliferators can exploit, the international community must constantly develop innovative and effective methods to address these challenges,” he said.
“This Whole-of-Government approach to counter-proliferation requires coordinated efforts among enforcement, intelligence and military agencies, port and civil aviation authorities, and industry players.”
This is the third time Singapore is hosting a PSI exercise. But it is the first time that the Information Fusion Center (IFC), established in 2009 and situated in Changi Naval Base, will feature in the exercise. As I have mentioned before, the IFC has become a crucial hub for strengthening multinational and interagency coordination to counter a range of maritime security threats over the past few years (See: “America’s New Maritime Security Initiative for Southeast Asia”).
Next year, the city-state will continue its efforts under the PSI by hosting the PSI Operational Experts Group meeting.