Asia Defense

Defense Dialogue Puts France-Singapore Security Ties Into Focus

The recent iteration of the dialogue spotlighted the ways both sides are attempting to advance security collaboration.

Prashanth Parameswaran
Defense Dialogue Puts France-Singapore Security Ties Into Focus
Credit: MINDEF Singapore

Last week, Singapore and France held the latest iteration of their annual defense policy dialogue. The interaction highlighted the ongoing efforts by both countries to advance the security aspect of their ties amid wider trends underway in the Indo-Pacific region.

As I have noted before in these pages, Singapore and France have developed a defense relationship within their broader, wide-ranging ties, which were elevated to the level of a strategic partnership back in 2012. The defense relationship includes not only regular interactions such as exchanges, visits, and exercises, but also other aspects including the fact that France has provided the city-state’s air force with space to train at Cazaux Air Base.

The development of defense ties has continued on over the past year as well, amid heightened discussions about wider security issues within the Indo-Pacific region. To take just one example, last July, in a high-profile development for the relationship, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited France to attend the Bastille Day parade where he was invited as a guest of honor amid a series of significant anniversaries for ties, including the 20th anniversary of the SAF’s Advanced Jet Training in Cazaux Air Base.

One of the mechanisms within that defense relationship is the Defense Policy Dialogue (DPD). The dialogue provides a forum for both countries to discuss ways to review and further strengthen bilateral security cooperation as well as to exchange views on strategic issues of mutual interest between them.

Last week, the two sides held the latest iteration of the Singapore France DPD. The meeting took place at Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF) and was chaired by Permanent Secretary Chan Yeng Kit and France’s Director-General for International Relations and Strategy Alice Guitton, who was visiting the city-state.

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According to MINDEF, during the DPD, both sides reviewed their existing defense cooperation, with cooperation in areas such as cybersecurity, counterterrorism, defense technology, and military-to-military exchanges. More generally, the two countries also exchanged views on their outlooks on key geopolitical developments as well at play both regionally and globally.

Beyond the Singapore-France DPD, Guitton’s trip, which lasted from January 31 to February 2, also saw her undertake a series of other interactions as well. She met with Singapore officials including Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen. She also visited Sembawang Air Base, where she received a brief on the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and took a familiarization flight on board an RSAF Super Puma helicopter.