India, Singapore review defence cooperation

October 9th, 2008 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Oct 9 (IANS) India and Singapore have concluded a two-day defence dialogue to take stock of their growing military ties, assess threats to stability in the region and share security concerns. Indian defence secretary Vijay Singh and his Singaporean counterpart, permanent secretary-defence Chiang Chie Foo, led the two sides at the fifth round of the India-Singapore Defence Policy Dialogue, which ended here Wednesday.

Singh also had a meeting Wednesday with Singapore’s Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean where they exchanged views on security issues of common concern and ways to strengthen defence cooperation.

The policy dialogue was set up under a 2003 India-Singapore defence cooperation agreement with the meetings to be held alternately in the two countries.

“The annual dialogue serves as a forum for Singapore and India to oversee and advance the bilateral defence relationship,” the Singapore ministry of defence said.

Defence ties between India and Singapore have been growing steadily over the past few years, expanding in scope and intensity with numerous rounds of joint exercises involving their land, sea and air forces.

In August, India and Singapore signed a bilateral agreement under which India would provide facilities for Singapore Armed Forces to conduct joint military training and exercises involving both armour and artillery in Babina in Uttar Pradesh and Deolali in Maharashtra, where the Indian army’s artillery school is located.

Singapore armed forces will once again be in India in November for separate army and air force exercises. A second round of army exercises has been scheduled for February 2009, an Indian official said Thursday.

The annual defence policy dialogue provides Indian and Singaporean officials an opportunity to review the status of their defence relationship, identify future areas of cooperation and share mutual security concerns, the official said.

In 2007, India had signed an agreement with Singapore allowing the air force of the land-scarce city state to train its personnel at the Indian Air Force base in Kalaikunda in West Bengal.

The two navies have conducted joint anti-piracy exercises around the Straits of Malacca and the Bay of Bengal aimed at protecting commercial sea lanes and enhancing maritime security.

Apart from the joint exercises and manoeuvres, more importantly, the defence establishments of the two sides have kept up a regular dialogue sharing strategies on counter-terrorism and maritime security.

Also, the two military research and development organisations - India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) - have been involved in defence technology cooperation.

During his visit, Singh was shown the new uniform that has recently been approved for induction by the Singapore armed forces. The uniform’s unique pixelated design gives improved camouflage cover making it more difficult for soldiers to be detected in combat situations and in hostile environments.

Singh also visited the Tengah air base, Changi naval base and Singapore Artillery facility. At Changi base, he went aboard Singapore’s state-of-the-art Formidable class frigate. The multi-role stealth frigate, one of six that Singapore is developing under a technology transfer agreement with France, has been described as the “most advanced surface combatant ship in Southeast Asia”.

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