Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Minister for Defence Dr. Ng Eng Hen met today in the Pentagon to sign the enhanced defense cooperation agreement (DCA) that will provide a new framework for an expanded defense relationship between the two nations.
During their meeting, Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Singapore. Dr. Ng expressed appreciation for the United States’ support for the SAF’s training detachments in the United States. Secretary Carter thanked Singapore for the logistical support that it provides to United States military aircraft and vessels in the region under the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), which is founded on the shared belief that a strong United States presence in the Asia-Pacific is vital for peace, prosperity and stability.
Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng also noted that it was timely for both countries to elevate defense relations through an enhanced DCA to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1990 MOU and the 10th anniversary of the SFA between the United States and Singapore. Under the enhanced DCA, both sides agreed on a broad framework for defense cooperation in five key areas, namely in the military, policy, strategic and technology spheres, as well as cooperation against non-conventional security challenges, such as piracy and transnational terrorism. Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in new areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), cyber defense, biosecurity and public communications. Finally, the enhanced DCA also introduced new high-level dialogues between the two countries’ defense establishments.
Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng commended the successful deployment of the second littoral combat ship (LCS), the USS Fort Worth, which was deployed to Singapore in December 2014 under the 2005 SFA. They looked forward to the third deployment in 2016, in line with the United States’ plans to deploy up to four LCS concurrently in the region by the end of 2017.
Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng also welcomed the inaugural deployment of the P-8 Poseidon aircraft to Singapore from 7 to 14 Dec. 2015, under the ambit of the 1990 MOU and 2005 SFA. They noted that the aircraft’s deployment would promote greater interoperability with regional militaries through participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises, while providing timely support for regional HADR and maritime security efforts.
Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng were pleased by the strong military-to-military cooperation between the SAF and the United States Armed Forces, which comprise joint exercises, personnel exchanges and cross-attendance of courses. They noted that 2015 marks the 35th year of Exercise Tiger Balm, the longest-running bilateral exercise between the Singapore and U.S. Armies, as well as the 25th year of Exercise Commando Sling, a bilateral air force exercise that has grown in scale and complexity since it was first conducted in 1990. They noted that both countries’ navies had recently commemorated the 20th year of Exercise Cooperation Afloat and Readiness Training (CARAT), an annual bilateral naval exercise. Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng noted that the interoperability built up between the militaries through these exercises had allowed both countries to work well together in joint operations, such as in previous multinational stabilisation and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in ongoing counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. Secretary Carter also took the opportunity to thank Singapore for its contributions to the U.S.-led counter-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) coalition since December 2014.
Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng also discussed initiatives to promote regional stability in the Asia Pacific, noting the need for countries to work closely together and foster practical cooperation to counter transnational threats related to terrorism, maritime security and natural disasters. To facilitate these efforts, Dr. Ng welcomed Secretary Carter’s maritime security initiative (MSI) through which the U.S. aims to support the development of regional maritime security capacity and capabilities.
Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng recognised the importance of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) to foster practical cooperation amongst the militaries of regional countries. They also welcomed the conduct of four ADMM-Plus field training exercises (FTXs) in 2016, covering maritime security, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian mine action, HADR and military medicine. Secretary Carter and Dr. Ng also affirmed the importance of the Shangri-La Dialogue as an avenue that promotes understanding and trust between many countries in the region. Secretary Carter also welcomed Singapore’s initiative to promote better coordination of regional militaries’ HADR efforts through the establishment of the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre (RHCC).