Last week, Australia’s new army chief made his introductory trip to Singapore in his current capacity which he assumed last year. The trip put the focus on the development of the security aspect of ties between the two Asian states.
As I have noted previously, Australia and Singapore have long maintained defense ties as part of their wider relationship, which had been upgraded to the level of a comprehensive strategic partnership back in 2015 as both sides commemorated the 50th anniversary of the bilateral. Beyond aspects such as exchanges and exercises, Australia is among the key places where the Singapore military has conducted overseas training, which it considers critical for its development, and both sides have also participated in wider minilateral and multilateral engagements.
Over the past few years, both sides have continued to attempt to bolster the defense aspect of their relationship. Beyond the usual components of defense ties such as visits, exchanges, and exercises, among the significant developments in this respect were the expansion of Singapore’s military facilities in Australia and the launch of new a new dialogue on security issues.
Last week, the defense aspect of the relationship was in the headlines with the visit of Australia’s army chief. Richard Burr, the chief of army of the Australian Defense Force, was in Singapore for his first visit to the country in his current capacity, which he had assumed back in July 2018.
The visit itself lasted from September 5 to September 5 and consisted of several interactions. In terms of meetings, Burr met with several top defense officials in Singapore, including Chief of Defense Force Melvyn Ong, Chief of Army Goh Si Hou, and Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Per Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF), during the meeting between Burr and Ng, both sides reaffirmed the deepening relationship between their two armies and also talked about the progress in wider defense ties, with items such as the joint development of training areas and facilities in Queensland. They also reportedly exchanged views on regional security issues that included regional counterterrorism and the importance of multilateralism platforms such as the Five Power Defense Arrangements, which both countries are a part of along with Malaysia, Britain and New Zealand.
The visit also saw other notable developments between the two sides. Per Burr via his Twitter account, both sides signed their new Strategic Direction Agreement to enhance future collaboration between their two armies. He also paid a visit to Singapore’s Kranji War Cemetery where he paid respects to Australian personnel.