The opening ceremony for the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus Military Medicine (MM) and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise was held this morning in Chonburi, Thailand. The exercise is being conducted from 1 to 11 September 2016. Permanent Secretary for Defence Mr Chan Yeng Kit and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Director of Joint Operations Rear-Admiral (RADM) Frederick Chew were present at the exercise opening ceremony officiated by Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence General Prawit Wongsuwon, together with representatives from the other 17 participating nations and the ASEAN Secretariat.
Co-organised by Thailand and Russia as the co-chairs of the ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on Military Medicine (EWG-MM), and Laos and Japan as the co-chairs of the ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on HADR (EWG-HADR), the exercise aims to strengthen the capability and interoperability of ADMM-Plus militaries in joint MM/HADR operations. This is the second ADMM-Plus MM/HADR Exercise. The inaugural exercise was conducted in 2013 in Brunei and was co-organised by Singapore, Japan, Vietnam and China.
The exercise officially commenced today with the multinational militaries undertaking coordinated MM/HADR operations in response to realistic disaster scenarios such as tsunami, earthquake and typhoon. They will exercise search and rescue operations, evacuation of casualties, as well as the delivery of medical aid to affected communities. Through these activities, the ADMM-Plus militaries also seek to validate the operating procedures under the newly-established ASEAN Centre for Military Medicine. Prior to the exercise's opening, the ADMM-Plus militaries underwent force preparation and force integration training from 1 to 4 September, which involved professional exchanges, area orientation and task familiarisation.
This year's exercise involves approximately 2000 personnel, seven helicopters and four ships as well as military medical, engineering and search and rescue teams and assets from all 18 nations. The SAF is participating with 62 personnel, which include a medical team, liaison officers, planners from the Changi Regional HADR Coordinating Centre (RHCC) as well as two Super Puma helicopters and the RHCC's OPERA Computer Information System.
RADM Chew affirmed the ADMM-Plus MM and HADR Exercise's value for the ADMM-Plus militaries. "The SAF hopes to build on the success of the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise held in May this year to strengthen the momentum of practical cooperation under the ADMM-Plus. For MM and HADR operations, this ADMM-Plus exercise is an important one for militaries in the region and beyond to strengthen our joint capabilities, and also helps to foster confidence and strengthen military-to-military relations across all levels," said RADM Chew.
The ADMM-Plus comprises 18 countries, namely the ten ASEAN countries as well as Australia, China, Japan, India, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States. Since its establishment in 2010, the ADMM-Plus has made significant progress in facilitating strategic dialogue between defence officials as well as practical cooperation between militaries. This positive momentum of practical cooperation is seen from the organisation of three other ADMM-Plus exercises this year, including the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise which Singapore co-organised with Australia, Brunei and New Zealand in May 2016. Such exercises contribute to confidence building and the promotion of stable military-to-military relations to enhance regional peace and stability.