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Carter, Singapore Defense Minister Sign Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement

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Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen met today in the Pentagon to sign an enhanced defense cooperation agreement, or DCA, that will provide a new framework for an expanded defense relationship between the two nations, according to a readout provided to the media.

“During their meeting, Carter and Ng reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Singapore,” the readout said. Ng expressed appreciation for U.S. support of the Singapore air force’s training detachments in the United States.

Carter thanked Singapore for its logistical support to U.S. military aircraft and vessels in the Asia-Pacific region under the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding and the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, which is founded on the shared belief that a strong U.S. presence in the region is vital for peace, prosperity and stability, the readout said.

Carter and Ng also noted that, in light of the 25th anniversary of the 1990 memorandum and the 10th anniversary of the agreement between the United States and Singapore, it was timely for both countries to elevate defense relations through an enhanced DCA, the readout said.

“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,” the readout said. “Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in new areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cyber defense, biosecurity and public communications. Finally, the enhanced DCA also introduced new high-level dialogues between the two countries’ defense establishments.”

Carter and the defense minister commended the successful deployment of the USS Fort Worth, the second littoral combat ship to be rotationally stationed in Singapore. The ship was deployed to Singapore in December 2014 under the 2005 agreement, the readout said. The two leaders also said they look forward to the deployment of the next littoral combat ship in 2016, in line with the United States’ plans to deploy up to four such ships concurrently in the region by the end of 2017, the readout noted.

The defense secretary and Ng also welcomed the inaugural deployment of U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft to Singapore from Dec. 7 to 14, in accordance with the 1990 memorandum and 2005 agreement, the readout said. “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 [humanitarian assistance and disaster relief] and maritime security efforts,” the readout said.

Carter and Ng said they were pleased by the strong military-to-military cooperation between the Singapore air force and U.S. military, which includes joint exercises, personnel exchanges and cross-attendance of courses, the readout said.

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, the readout said. The two leaders also noted that both countries’ navies had recently commemorated the 20th year of the Cooperation Afloat and Readiness Training annual bilateral naval exercise, the readout continued.

“Carter and 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 stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in ongoing counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden,” the readout said.

The defense secretary also thanked Ng for Singapore’s contributions since December 2014 to the U.S.-led coalition to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the readout noted.

The two leaders also discussed initiatives to promote regional stability in the Asia-Pacific region, 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, the readout said. To facilitate these efforts, Ng welcomed Carter’s maritime security initiative, through which the U.S. aims to support the development of regional maritime security capacity and capabilities.

Carter and Ng recognised the importance of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus to foster practical cooperation amongst the militaries of regional countries. They also welcomed the conduct of four ADMM-Plus field training exercises in 2016, covering maritime security, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian mine action, HADR and military medicine. The two leaders also affirmed the importance of the Shangri-La Dialogue as an avenue that promotes understanding and trust between many countries in the region.

The defense secretary also welcomed Singapore’s initiative to promote better coordination of regional militaries’ humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts through the establishment of the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre.

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