NEWTON, Singapore, June 2, 2017 —
Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam today presented Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Singapore’s Military Distinguished Service Order medal for the general’s steadfast support of the U.S.-Singaporean partnership.
Yam held the award ceremony at the Istana -- Singapore’s presidential residence. Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and Chief of Staff Army Lt. Gen. Perry Lim Cheng Yeow also attended the ceremony, as did many of Singapore’s military leaders.
Dunford trooped the line of a military honor guard outside the presidential palace. He and his wife, Ellyn, then went inside for the ceremony.
The United States and Singapore have a close military-to-military relationship. The island nation has one of the great harbors of the world and is strategically located at one end of the Strait of Malacca. Arriving at Changi Airport earlier that day, Dunford could see hundreds of ships plying the waters in and around Singapore.
Dunford was cited for his “outstanding contributions in enhancing the defense relations between the United States armed forces and the Singapore armed forces.”
Singapore hosted the inaugural overseas deployment of the U.S. Navy’s P-8 Poseidon aircraft in 2015. During the deployment, Navy aviators worked with Singaporean military officials to fight terrorism and piracy. The Poseidon is an anti-surface ship, anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft based around the Boeing 737 aircraft fuselage.
In addition, the United States and Singapore increased bilateral cooperation in “non-conventional security areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cyber defense and bio-security,” according to the award citation.
Singapore’s armed forces have worked closely with U.S. forces in combating the scourge of terrorism cooperating in intelligence sharing and cooperating in anti-piracy efforts as far away as the Gulf of Aden.
Singapore has hosted U.S. Navy littoral combat ships, and built docks at the Changi Naval Base that can accommodate U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.
The United States, in turn, has facilitated training for Singapore’s armed forces in the United States. The island nation is small and doesn’t have large training areas for air and ground forces. The U.S. provides bases and airfields for Singaporean airmen to train in Arizona, and a detachment of high-mobility artillery rocket systems personnel trains at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
In addition, Singapore’s military participates in exercises with U.S. and other partner nations. Singapore will participate, along with China, in the biannual Rim of the Pacific exercise. Singaporean troops have also participated in Exercise Cobra Gold, in Red Flag exercises in Nevada and Alaska, and will participate in the inaugural Pacific Griffin exercise scheduled to take place in Guam in August.
After the ceremony, Dunford and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with Singapore’s government leaders and then returned to the Shangri-la Dialogue to listen to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discuss the challenges facing his county.
Tomorrow, Mattis will take center stage at the meeting as he discusses, “The United States and Indo-Pacific Security.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)