Against a backdrop of rising terrorism and the 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 yesterday.
They were in Singapore for the annual 15th Asean Chiefs of Defence Forces' Informal Meeting (ACDFIM), chaired by the 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.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen hosted a breakfast for the defence forces chiefs at which they discussed regional security issues and the Asean militaries' agenda for the year ahead.