Bilateral agreement renewed for Singapore Army to train, exercise in India

NEW DELHI - Singapore and India renewed a bilateral agreement that will see the Singapore Army continue to train and exercise in India and agreed to step up intelligence and information sharing in maritime security.

The armed forces of Singapore and India have held armour and artillery exercises for over a decade as part of the Bilateral Agreement for Joint Army Training and Exercises. The exercises have taken place at the Babina field firing range in the central state of Uttar Pradesh.

The exchange of the renewed agreement was witnessed by defence minister Ng Eng Hen and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman after they co-chaired the third India-Singapore Defence Ministers' Dialogue in Visakhapatnam in India on Tuesday (Nov 20).

A joint statement released after the dialogue said the renewal of the bilateral agreement was of "particular significance" and would further strengthen the cooperation between the two Armed Forces.

Bilateral ties between Singapore and India are strengthening, with defence emerging as an important aspect of the relationship.

The two countries hold regular military exchanges and joint training for the army and air force, and last year, they signed a naval pact which included cooperation in maritime security and joint exercises.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Singapore in June, he and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong agreed to build on defence cooperation.

Earlier in the day, Dr Ng attended the final sea phase of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) on board the INS Shakti. Conducted in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the exercise saw a record 30 aircraft, ships and submarines participating this year, the 25th edition.

Dr Ng welcomed India's continued engagement of the region and emphasised the long history of defence cooperation between Singapore and India.

"Singapore is very supportive of India's vital security of the Indo-Pacific region and we share common security interests geographically that is the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea, which is really a continuous body of water that is a critical Sea Lines of Communication," said Dr Ng.

The joint statement also said Singapore "strongly supports India's deep engagement with Asean member states participation in patrols along the Strait of Malacca with Singapore" and that both ministers looked forward to the inaugural trilateral exercise with Thailand in the Andaman Sea.

During the meeting the two ministers also agreed to step up intelligence and information sharing, particularly in the areas of maritime security and counter terrorism and expand collaboration on submarine safety and rescue.

The next Defence Ministers' Dialogue will be held in Singapore next year with dates to be worked out according to the joint statement.