India, Singapore renew army training pact

The Indian army's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Manoj Pande (far left), exchanging the renewed Army Bilateral Agreement with SAF Brigadier-General Dinesh Vasu Dash. Looking on are Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Si
The Indian army's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Manoj Pande (left), exchanging the renewed Army Bilateral Agreement with SAF Brigadier-General Dinesh Vasu Dash. Looking on are Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

Deal will allow S'pore army to continue training in India; They also agree to boost maritime intelligence sharing

Singapore and India have renewed a bilateral agreement that will see the Singapore Army continue to train and conduct exercises in India.

The two countries also 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 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.

A joint statement released after the dialogue said the renewal of the bilateral pact was of "particular significance" and would further strengthen the cooperation between the two armed forces.

Ms Sitharaman said they discussed the "use of India's firing ranges by the SAF for their specialist weapons firing".

She said: "I am confident we will be entering a new era in our defence partnership with Singapore."

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

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

Earlier in the day, Dr Ng attended the final phase of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise on board the INS Shakti.

The exercise saw a record 30 aircraft, ships and submarines participating this year - the 25th edition.

An Indian Defence Ministry statement said Dr Ng witnessed the successful missile engagements of aerial targets by ships of the two navies, anti-submarine warfare rocket firings, medium-calibre gun engagements and flying operations. He was also briefed on the exercises.

Dr Ng said: "I think most importantly, this exercise reflected the deep trust between the Indian Navy and our Republic of Singapore Navy. This is a relationship that has been cultivated over the years."

He also welcomed India's continued engagement in the region and emphasised the long history of defence cooperation between Singapore and India.

He said: "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."

The statement added that Singapore "strongly supports India's deep engagement with Asean member states' participation in patrols along the Strait of Malacca with Singapore".

It also said that both ministers looked forward to their inaugural trilateral exercise with Thailand in the Andaman Sea.

During the meeting, the two ministers also agreed to step up intelligence and information sharing, especially 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, the statement said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'India, Singapore renew army training pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe