2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) training in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Queensland, Australia. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds met virtually this morning to commemorate this occasion.
During the meeting, the Defence Ministers launched a commemorative video highlighting the key milestones of the SAF's training in the SWBTA over the past 30 years. Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong and Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) General Angus Campbell also virtually unveiled a commemorative plaque at Camp Growl, which has housed the majority of SAF personnel who trained in the SWBTA. Dr Ng expressed Singapore's appreciation for Australia's long-standing support of the SAF's training in Australia, and the opportunity for thousands of SAF servicemen to train in the SWBTA under Exercise Wallaby and Exercise Trident over the years. Both Defence Ministers reaffirmed the close and abiding defence relationship between Singapore and Australia, and released a joint ministerial statement in commemoration of this milestone.
Both Defence Ministers also welcomed the steady progress made in the joint development of training areas and advanced training facilities in Central and Northern Queensland – one of the key initiatives under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. When fully completed, these developments will further enhance professional exchanges and interoperability between both armed forces, and enable the SAF to train in an expanded SWBTA and a new Greenvale Training Area in Queensland that together is approximately 10 times the size of Singapore. The joint development was formalised under the treaty-level Agreement Concerning Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia, which both Defence Ministers signed in March 2020, and which the Parliament of Australia ratified on 10 December 2020.
Exercise Wallaby is the SAF's largest annual overseas exercise involving air, land and sea components. Inaugurated in 1990, the exercise has grown in scale with realistic and challenging training scenarios in the SWBTA. In 2013, Exercise Trident, the signature bilateral exercise between the SAF and the ADF, which involves all three services of both militaries, was incorporated.
The SAF and the ADF have a long history of military cooperation, with extensive interactions including bilateral and multilateral exercises, professional exchanges, cross attendance of courses, and joint operational deployments. Both defence establishments also cooperate closely at the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus and the Five Power Defence Arrangements. The Ministry of Defence looks forward to deepening the Singapore-Australia defence relationship and commemorating more milestones with Australia.