Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Minister for Defense Dr Ng Eng Hen met today in the Pentagon. Minister Ng is in the United States to witness the Singapore Armed Forces' Exercise Forging Sabre and the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Peace Carvin II F-16 detachment.
During their meeting, Secretary Hagel and Minister Ng reaffirmed the excellent and longstanding bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Singapore. Minister Ng expressed appreciation for the United States' support of the Republic of Singapore training detachments in the United States. Secretary Hagel 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, which is founded on a shared belief that a strong United States presence in the Asia-Pacific is vital for regional peace and stability.
Secretary Hagel and Minister Ng noted the completion of the inaugural rotational deployment of the United States Navy's first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS Freedom to Singapore from April to November 2013 under the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, and were pleased that the deployment had strengthened the United States' engagement with Singapore and the region. They looked forward to the rotational deployment of the next LCS, USS Fort Worth in late 2014, followed by the third LCS deployment in late 2015, in line with the United States' plans to deploy up to four LCS in the region by end 2016.
Secretary Hagel and Minister Ng were pleased to note the strong military-to-military cooperation between the United States and Singapore Armed Forces, comprising personnel exchanges, joint exercises and joint operations such as the U.S.-led multinational stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. Both militaries have enhanced their interoperability through increasing the complexity of their joint exercises, such as Exercise Commando Sling. They have also identified new opportunities to expand the scope of joint training, such as joint urban training through the use of the Murai Urban Training Facility in Singapore.
Secretary Hagel and Minister Ng also discussed initiatives to promote regional stability in the Asia Pacific region. Trans-national threats related to maritime security, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and large scale natural disasters could only be tackled effectively by the combined efforts of many countries. To meet these challenges, countries and their military forces should build confidence with each other through cooperation in bilateral and multilateral exchanges.
In this regard, Secretary Hagel and Minister Ng recognized the importance of the Shangri-La Dialogue and the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) which respectively foster dialogue and practical cooperation among regional countries. Secretary Hagel and Minister Ng agreed that these interactions contributed to a climate of cooperation and opened up the possibility for the ADMM-Plus to pursue practical measures in response to regional security challenges.