On September 27, Britain and Brunei held another iteration of their Joint Defense Committee meeting. The holding of the meeting, which came amid an active period of engagement for the two sides, spotlighted the defense relationship between the two countries.
As I have been noting in these pages, the UK-Brunei defense relationship is a longstanding one, and it has continued even following the Southeast Asian state’s independence from Britain in 1984. Indeed, Britain still maintains a military presence in Brunei till today in one of the few such arrangements it has globally, and both sides continue to maintain close security ties.
Within the defense relationship, which also includes visits, exercises, trainings, and education, one of the interactions is the Joint Defense Committee meeting. The JDC was established when both sides inked a memorandum of understanding back in December 2002.
Last week, the defense aspect of the relationship was in the headlines again with the holding of the 15th iteration of the Joint Defense Commission (JDC) meeting. The meeting was held at the Bolkiah Garrison at Brunei’s defense ministry, and it was co-chaired by the permanent secretary of Brunei’s defense ministry (MINDEF), and the head of International Policy Planning (Asia) in Britain’s defense ministry.
The meeting saw both sides take stock of their defense relationship as well as discussed ways of advancing ties even further out to the future. According to MINDEF Brunei, both sides reflected on recent engagements that included Exercise Setia Kawan III and the joint delivery of the Regional Jungle Warfare Symposium, and also discussed other regional and global issues that were of mutual interest.
There were other engagements that were tied to the holding of the JDC as well. This included the meeting between the head of International Policy Planning (Asia) of Britain’s defense ministry and the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), where the two also reviewed the state of defense ties.
To be sure, the JDC is only one of the many defense-related engagements that the two sides regularly hold. But in the wake of other activities that Britain and Brunei have held, the meeting was an opportunity for both sides to take stock of the overall relationship.