Brunei braces for military exercise

National 4 minutes, 11 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BRUNEI and Singapore will play host to a large-scale military exercise involving over 3,000 personnel and 18 warships from ASEAN, together with its dialogue partners, next week. The maritime security and counter-terrorism exercise will focus on a fictional trade passage used by extremist groups to transport weapon and terrorist cell members, and for the hijacking cargo and offshore platforms to demand the release of their key members. The Brunei Times' Rabiatul Kamit speaks with Joint Force Commander Brigadier General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Hamzah Hj Sahat on the sultanate's role and how the exercise contributes to regional stability. 

Q: Can you briefly share with us what the ADMM Plus multinational military exercise is about?

A: The Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) are set to co-host the upcoming multinational military exercise codenamed ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) Maritime Security and Counter Terrorism (MS & CT) Exercise.

This exercise is scheduled to take place from May 2 to May 12, and will see the participation of militaries from the 18 countries comprising the ASEAN member states and its dialogue partners.

This exercise will be launched in Brunei. The maritime security aspect will be conducted enroute to Singapore, whereas the counter terrorism part of the exercise will be held near Singapore waters and on land.

Q: What role will RBAF play in the exercise?

A: As mentioned earlier, the exercise has two ‘operational focus’, namely maritime security and counter terrorism, that are ‘supervised’ by the respective co-host countries.

The RBAF, as the chair of expert working group (EWG) on maritime security, together with New Zealand will look after the maritime security aspect of the exercise whereas SAF together with Australia will oversee the counter terrorism part of the exercise.

All in all, Brunei and Singapore are the co-hosts of the overall multinational military Maritime Security and Counter Terrorism Exercise.

For RBAF, the exercise is coordinated by Joint Force Headquarters with the participation of Royal Brunei Navy and the Special Force Regiment.

During the exercise, some tactical exercises will be conducted at sea, enroute to Singapore.

Before reaching Singapore, the task group will conduct counter terrorism exercise at sea where the task group will do a ship boarding exercise simulating a hijacked vessel.

Meanwhile, most of the land counter terrorism element will also conduct a land assault on a hijacked building. The counter terrorism part of the exercise will be taken care of by Singapore and Australia as the co-chairs of the expert working group on counter terrorism.

Q: What are the objectives of this exercise?

A: There are four agreed objectives for this exercise.

B. Maintain the momentum for practical cooperation between the ADMM-Plus Expert Working Groups.

C. Enhance interoperability between ADMM-Plus nations in responding to maritime terrorism.

D. Promote information sharing on maritime terrorism

E. Provide better understanding of capabilities of ADMM Plus nations in responding to relevant and contemporary scenarios.

Q: Which countries will be involved in this exercise and can you describe the scale and nature of involvement of each participating countries?

A: The exercise will [involve] militaries from all 10 ASEAN countries including eight Plus Countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and United States.

The scale and nature involvement varies between each participating countries, dependent on their respective capabilities and commitment.

To date, the response has been very encouraging and we can confirm that there will be 18 vessels, two maritime patrol aircraft, and various special forces teams from participating nations.

Q: What is the scenario for this exercise and how is it different from the previous ADMM Plus exercise held in 2013?

A: The previous multinational military exercise, which was held in Brunei in 2013, was focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

For this upcoming exercise, the general idea and scenario will focus on the fictional South Equatorial Region Sea Lane of Communication (SLOC) where it serves the most important trade passage in the region as it is the economic line connecting Asia.

The exercise will look into the SLOC used by the fictional extremists group as a potential avenue to transport weapons of mass destruction components and terrorist cell members throughout the region.

The fictional extremist group here then plans to hijack cargo ships (LNG or Oil Tankers) and offshore platforms and demand the release of their key or influential personnel.

This kind of exercise where elements of piracy, maritime security and countering the terrorist collaborate will be the first of its kind where a maritime exercise is combined with counter terrorism exercise.

Q: What are your hopes and aspiration on the outcome of this multinational exercise?

A: Apart from bringing the regional militaries together, it is hoped that this exercise will enhance cooperation among ASEAN and the Plus countries towards a more peaceful region.

By working together, we can reduce or negate possible security threats in the region.

As we all know, the use of military is not only an instrument used in conflicts but also an instrument to promote peace through diplomacy.

The Brunei Times