Asean defence forces chiefs discuss counter-terrorism initiatives


SINGAPORE - Against a backdrop of rising terrorism and growing sophistication of terrorists' tactics and capabilities, Asean defence forces chiefs reaffirmed their commitment to work together to maintain peace, security and stability in the region on Thursday (March 8).

They were in Singapore for the annual 15th Asean Chiefs of Defence Forces' Informal Meeting (ACDFIM), chaired by Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Perry Lim.

A key focus of the discussion was enhancing regional counter-terrorism and cooperation.

In particular, they discussed improving Asean's collective capability to respond to chemical, biological, and radiological threats from terrorist groups and rogue states, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said.

They also discussed the development of a code for unplanned encounters in the maritime and air domains.

The Asean defence chiefs signed a joint statement to reaffirm their militaries' commitment and collective responsibility in addressing traditional and non-traditional security challenges - such as those that arise primarily out of non-military sources, like climate change and infectious diseases.

Among other things, they declared that they will "work towards the operationalisation of mechanisms to enhance Asean member states' responses to natural disasters".

They welcomed the formalisation of the ACDFIM, which was first held in 2001 as an informal dialogue.

"The meeting is an important avenue for Asean militaries to build mutual trust and capacity, as well as strengthen practical cooperation," said Mindef.

The defence forces chiefs were also hosted to breakfast by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, at which they discussed regional security issues and the Asean militaries' agenda for the year ahead.