Multinational exercise to fight terrorism and maritime security threats kicks off in Singapore

The Singapore Armed Forces Special Forces team fast-roping onto the deck of MV Avatar as the other multinational Special Forces teams storm the ship via rigid-hull inflatable boats. PHOTO: MINDEF
Special Forces teams from Brunei, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand closing in on simulated hijacked merchant vessel MV Avatar via rigid-hull inflatable boats as part of a scenario-based counter-terrorism exercise. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - The Singapore phase of a multinational exercise kicked off on Sunday (May8) as task forces intercepted and stormed a merchant vessel hijacked by "terrorists" at sea.

The action-packed drill was part of the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism exercise, which started last Monday (May 2) in Brunei and will end on May 12 in Singapore.

The 11-day exercise, which involves realistic sea- and land-based scenarios, aims to strengthen the capabilities of participating militaries in tackling terrorism and maritime threats.

About 3,500 personnel, 18 naval vessels, 25 aircraft and 40 special forces teams are taking part. The 18 countries involved are the 10 Asean nations as well as Australia, China, Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States of America.

This is the first time that the ADMM-Plus' maritime security and counter-terrorism working groups are collaborating on an exercise.

The exercise's joint operations director Brigadier-General (BG) Desmond Tan said such a collaboration is important as terrorism can occur out at sea.

"This has the added advantage of (adding) more relevance and realism to the exercise, (as) terrorism and maritime security are sometimes intertwined," said BG Tan.

He added that it will also allow for a bigger scope of interaction between the two working groups.

Citing piracy issues as an example, BG Tan also described the exercise as timely and relevant.

"I think we all recognise that these are transboundary challenges that no one country can tackle by itself," he said.

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While there have been challenges due to the participants' different languages, cultures and tactics, BG Tan said: "This is exactly the purpose of this exercise - to bridge some of these challenges and to allow the various countries... to come together to exercise and to understand each other better and to build trust and confidence."

The exercise will continue on Monday (May 9), with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen observing land operations in the Lim Chu Kang training area.

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