This week, Indonesia and Singapore completed this year’s iteration of their annual bilateral army exercise. Although the holding of the exercise itself was routine, the development put the spotlight on some of the ongoing activity within the defense aspect of the relationship between the two Southeast Asian countries.
While security ties between Indonesia and Singapore have tended to be prickly historically and both countries continue to have their differences even today in some areas, the two countries have nonetheless maintained a cordial defense relationship that includes the usual components, including visits, exchanges, and exercises, and cooperation on a range of areas including countering the threat from terrorism and violent extremism and aspects of maritime security management.
One of the interactions between the two sides in the defense aspect of the relationship is Exercise Safkar Indopura, the flagship annual exercise between infantries from the Singapore and Indonesian armies first held back in 1989. The last iteration of the exercise was held last November in Indonesia.
This week, the defense aspect of the bilateral relationship was in the headlines again with the conclusion of this year’s iteration of Exercise Safkar Indopura. The 31st edition of the exercise took place from September 17 to September 26 in Singapore in consonance with the alternating of locations that regularly occurs between the two countries.
This year’s iteration of the exercise lasted for about 10 days. As with previous iterations, it included a series of activities – professional exchanges, live-firing and urban operations tactical drills, and a field training exercise at the Murai Urban Training Facility where troops on both sides executed a combined battalion-level urban assault – for both armies to enhance collaboration, understanding, and interoperability. The closing ceremony was co-officiated by Singapore’s Chief of Army Goh Si Hou and the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army Andika Perkasa.
All in all, per Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF), this year’s exercise featured about 470 personnel from the Singapore Army and the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD), comprising troops from Headquarters 3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade and 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment from the Singapore Army, as well as troops from the 16th Mechanized Infantry Brigade and the 512th, 516th and 521st Mechanized Infantry Battalions from the TNI-AD. This was a slight increase from the 460 personnel that were reported to be involved last year, with a roughly similar level of distribution in participation on both sides as well.