Singapore signs enhanced defence cooperation pact with Germany

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen signed an enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement on the sidelines of the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue on June 2, 2018.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen signed an enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement on the sidelines of the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue on June 2, 2018.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Singapore and Germany have deepened defence ties with an enhanced agreement that provides for cooperation against new forms of threats such as cyber-attacks and hybrid warfare.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday (June 2) signed an enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement on the sidelines of the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue, building on a pact signed in 2005.

The new agreement consolidates key areas of existing cooperation between the two countries and paves the way for future cooperation particularly in non-conventional security areas, said Singapore's Ministry of Defence in a statement.

Mr Ng, in remarks after signing the MOU, spoke of the "warm and friendly" bilateral defence relationship between Singapore and Germany, calling the enhanced agreement a "timely move".

"We signed the first DCA between Singapore and Germany in 2005. Since then, defence relations have grown in breadth as well as in depth," he said.

"We have new threats, if not new in nature, certainly new in intensity. An obvious area is cyber threats, we may be separated by oceans but all countries face cyber threats on a daily basis."

He also highlighted the phenomenon of 'hybrid attacks' where adversaries simultaneously employ conventional and non-conventional measures to attain their objectives. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) trounced the Iraqi Army in 2014, for example, by using hybrid attacks - a combination of guerrilla warfare, terrorism and semi-conventional battle tactics.

Speaking of the enhanced defence agreement, Dr von der Leyen said: "It's a modern agreement taking into account the current challenges. It puts an emphasis, for example, on cyber security and hybrid threats."

The two ministers discussed military modernisation and counter-terrorism in a bilateral meeting before the signing, where Dr Ng conveyed Singapore's appreciation for Germany's support for the Singapore Armed Forces' training in Germany since 2009, which includes an annual live-firing exercise between the two armies.