SINGAPORE – The US Navy intends to increase its presence in Asia-Pacific, said Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Thursday (Oct 26), following his meeting with United States Navy Secretary Richard Spencer in Washington, DC.
Dr Ng said Mr Spencer reiterated that the US Navy would not only continue its influence in Asia-Pacific but intended to grow it.
“To achieve this, the US Navy would increase the number of ships in its orbat,” Dr Ng wrote on his Facebook page, after the meeting on Wednesday. The orbat, or order of battle, is used by militaries to indicate the hierarchical structure of its forces and their composition.
Dr Ng is in the US with the Singapore delegation accompanying Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his official working visit.
The US Navy’s intention to grow its regional presence was underscored in a press statement also sent out by Singapore’s Ministry of Defence. Mindef said that during their meeting, both Dr Ng and Mr Spencer noted the importance of the US’ continued leadership in the Asia-Pacific as a force for peace and stability.
According to Mindef, Mr Spencer also said that the US’ enhanced presence and increased engagement of partners in the region were key priorities for the Department of the Navy.
With Singapore taking over the chairmanship of Asean in 2018, the two leaders also discussed ways in which Singapore could support Asean-US cooperation in maritime security and counter-terrorism.
During the meeting, Mr Spencer thanked the Singapore Armed Forces for assisting in recovery efforts following the collision between the US warship USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in August.
Singapore and US are longstanding defence partners, with US Navy ships regularly calling at the Republic’s ports, while the Republic of Singapore Air Force has training detachments in American states such as Arizona and Idaho.
Singapore trains about 1,000 military personnel in the US every year. Both militaries also participate in joint exercises, and have worked together in international operations, such as those to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden.