From July 11 to 19, Singapore and Indonesian special forces carried out the latest iteration of their annual bilateral exercise.
As I have pointed out before at The Diplomat, the security relationship between Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest state, and Singapore, the subregion’s smallest, has traditionally tended to be quite prickly. It took nearly a year for Indonesia to even officially recognize Singapore’s independence from Malaysia following Jakarta’s violent opposition to the creation of Malaysia, known as Konfrontasi. Even in recent years, disagreements have tended to simmer, whether around traditional issues such as air space or non-traditional security matters like the annual haze problem.
Nonetheless, the two countries have still maintained a cordial defense relationship that includes the usual components: visits, exchanges, and exercises. They have also made efforts to better manage lingering challenges, with one recent significant milestone being the conclusion of a landmark maritime boundary treaty that came into force in February as the two countries commemorate the 50th anniversary of their relationship this year (See: “Indonesia’s New Air Force Chief Visits Singapore”).
Indeed, as I pointed out earlier this week, a testament to the significance of the treaty is the fact that it was also included in Indonesia’s announcement of a new national map, apart from the obsession with the renaming of Jakarta’s portion of the South China Sea (See: “Why Did Indonesia Rename its Part of the South China Sea?“).
One of the regular engagements that the two sides have been carrying out since 1994 is Exercise Chandrapura, the annual bilateral exercise between their special forces – the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Commandos and the Indonesian National Defense Forces (TNI) Special Forces Command (KOPASSUS). The exercise is designed to allow the two sides to train together as well as exchange knowledge on special forces tactics and techniques.
From July 11 to July 19, both sides held this year’s iteration of the exercise at Batujajar, Bandung in Indonesia.
According to Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF), the focus of the exercise, the 24th of its kind to be held, was on cross-training for urban operations, including Close Quarter Battle (CQB) live-firing, fast-roping and rappelling. The exercise ended with a symbolic exchange of airborne wings during the closing ceremony, co-officiated by Commanding Officer of 1st Commando Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Ng Kiang Chuan and Commanding Officer of 11th Battalion, TNI KOPASSUS Group 1, Major Farid Yudho.
A total of 70 SAF Commandos from 1st Commando Battalion and 70 TNI KOPASSUS from 11th Battalion, TNI KOPASSUS Group 1 took part in this year’s iteration of the exercise.