Permanent Secretary for Defence Mr Chan Yeng Kit hosted the high commissioners and senior officials from the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) member-nations to observe Exercise Bersama Lima 2018 today. Exercise Bersama Lima is a major FPDA joint exercise involving naval, air and land forces from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
Hosted by Singapore this year, the exercise is taking place from 1 to 19 October 2018, and involves around 3,000 personnel, 14 ships, one submarine, three dive teams, 58 aircraft, five Ground-Based Air Defence units, five platoons of ground troops and various support elements from the FPDA member-nations. The FPDA naval forces will conduct training such as naval gun firing, encounter exercises, helicopter operations, and anti-air defence exercises. Participating fighters, transport aircraft, helicopters, ground-based air defence systems, as well as command and control squadrons from the FPDA air forces also exercised together in combined air operations. These include air defence and air-to-air refuelling missions, air-land scenarios such as close air support and troop lift missions, as well as sea-air scenarios such as maritime air surveillance with anti-surface and anti-submarine missions. The Republic of Singapore Air Force and Royal Malaysian Air Force will conduct fighter landaways at each other’s air bases. The FPDA land forces also conducted professional exchanges and urban operations training in a built-up environment.
As part of the FPDA's move to remain relevant in light of contemporary security challenges, the FPDA has expanded the focus of its exercises to include non-conventional scenarios. A two-day humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) planning operation, involving humanitarian organisations such as the Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief, was conducted as part of the exercise, where participants provided medical aid and evacuated "affected civilians" during the simulation. The exercise also included maritime infrastructure protection, as well as maritime counter-terrorism and security drills.
Highlighting the significance of Exercise Bersama Lima, Exercise Director Rear-Admiral Edwin Leong said, "The FPDA continues to play an important role in maintaining regional peace and security by evolving to meet the demands of an increasingly complex security environment. In response to the emergence of transnational non-traditional threats, the FPDA has expanded its focus to include areas such as HADR, maritime security and counter-terrorism as shown in Exercise Bersama Lima. These exercises are important to strengthen the military cooperation between the FPDA defence forces. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has benefitted operationally from such practical cooperation with our FPDA partners, which builds up our competencies and capabilities."
Formed in 1971, the FPDA plays an important role in the regional security architecture, and continually adapts to remain relevant in the face of an evolving regional security environment. The SAF’s regular participation in FPDA exercises is a testament to Singapore's strong commitment to the FPDA.