Singapore hosts Indonesian soldiers in first physical bilateral drills here since Covid-19 pandemic began

An SAF (left) and an Indonesian army soldier securing an objective during Exercise Safkar Indopura 2021. PHOTO: MINDEF
Indonesian army soldiers conducting an assault during Exercise Safkar Indopura 2021. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - Army troops from Singapore and Indonesia on Thursday morning (Nov 18) jointly assaulted targets at Murai Urban Training Facility in Lim Chu Kang in the first bilateral exercise to be held in the Republic since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Over the past week, they were drilled on urban operations and carried out live firing.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said there were also a series of professional exchanges.

"The exercise provided an opportunity for both armies to strengthen interpersonal bonds and deepen mutual understanding," Mindef said on Thursday. "These interactions have enhanced the interoperability and strong people-to-people ties between the two armed forces."

The 33rd edition of Exercise Safkar Indopura involved about 150 people, a third of the 470 servicemen who took part in the 2019 exercise.

Mindef said all participants this year had to be fully vaccinated and were subjected to safe management measures like rostered routine testing and cohorting by functional groups.

Last year's edition was held virtually, culminating in only a table-top exercise where exercise participants worked together to develop a joint response to a disease outbreak scenario.

This year's exercise involved troops from the Headquarters 3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade, the 5th battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment and Indonesian troops from the 15th Infantry Brigade Military Area Command III (Kodam III), a regional division which covers Banten and West Java province.

Brigadier-General Goh Pei Ming, commander of the Singapore Army's 3rd Division, and Major-General Agus Subiyanto, commander of the Indonesian Army's Kodam III, co-officiated the closing ceremony on Thursday.

Brigadier-General Goh said: "Exercise Safkar Indopura has seen the participation of generations of (Singapore and Indonesian armies') key leadership, officers, specialists and soldiers, and the mutual trust and close friendships we have built through the years have contributed to the deep and longstanding defence relationship that our two armies enjoy.

"With the Covid-19 situation, necessary precautions were made by implementing stringent and effective safe management measures to achieve a safe and meaningful exercise."

Exercise Safkar Indopura was first conducted in 1989. Both countries engage in a wide range of bilateral activities, including exercises, army visits, professional exchanges and the cross-attendance of courses.

It is not the first exercise that the Singapore Armed Forces has conducted in person since the pandemic started.

Exercise Bersama Gold was conducted in October with 2,600 troops from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain over Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and adjoining waters.

Just last week, maritime security agencies, including the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, practised neutralising a hijacked vessel that was on course to crash into Jurong Island in Exercise Highcrest.

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean has said that the pandemic has not had an impact on Singapore's operational readiness.

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