Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman visited the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) troops participating in Exercise Wallaby 2019 at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Queensland, Australia today. This year's exercise, conducted from 24 Sep to 7 Nov 2019, involves about 3,000 personnel and 300 platforms from the Singapore Army and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
During his visit, Dr Maliki witnessed a Combat Search and Rescue demonstration on board the RSAF's Super Puma helicopter and embarked on a familiarisation ride on the Light Strike Vehicle Mark II to experience the realistic training conditions in the SWBTA. He also interacted with exercise participants from the 1st Battalion, Singapore Guards and 6 Divisional Air Defence Artillery Battalion, and commended them for their professionalism and commitment.
Speaking at the end of his visit, Dr Maliki reaffirmed the strong bilateral defence ties with Australia and expressed appreciation for Australia's strong support for the SAF's training at the SWBTA over the past 29 years. Dr Maliki said, "We appreciate the support given by the Australian government, the Australian Defence Force and the local communities here in Rockhampton and Livingstone Shire… We treasure and cherish the relationship and friendship that we have with the local community". Dr Maliki also emphasised the importance of overseas training in providing realistic and challenging training opportunities for the SAF to hone its operational competencies. "Here you can see the SAF train in a scale and scope and complexity that is far beyond what we are able to in Singapore because of the space constraints that we have back home… [the SWBTA] is almost four times the size of Singapore. And I think that is really how important SWBTA is for SAF's training here", he said.
The SAF and the Australian Defence Force share a long history of military cooperation, and interact extensively through bilateral and multilateral exercises, mutual visits, and professional exchanges. Both armed forces have also conducted joint operational deployments in countries such as East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. Defence cooperation has deepened further under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed in 2015. In particular, there has been good progress on the joint development of the advanced training facilities in SWBTA, which will benefit both armed forces in future when completed.