MULTILATERAL cooperation needs to be strengthened to fight terrorist threats as no country is spared from its effects, a senior Singapore military official said.
Brigadier General Desmond Tan Kok Ming, director of Joint Operations of Singapore Armed Forces, said terrorism is a real threat in today's context, and can come in various forms.
"Increasingly, terrorism is also cross-boundary, it is not just a single nation nor is it a single agency, therefore international militaries are required to work together either by communication, intelligence exchange or even practical collaboration to deal with the source," he told The Brunei Times.
Brigadier General Tan was in Brunei to attend the Initial Planning Conference for the ASEAN Defence Minister Meeting (ADMM)-Plus-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise yesterday.
He went on to say that the most important part in combating terrorist threats was to cooperate better through exercises, building trust and confidence among militaries.
"With the recent rise of existing (terrorist) networks, I do not think any country in the world, not less than this region could be spared; thus we have to be very vigilant and work closely with each other to deal with it effectively," he added.
Brigadier General Tan said militaries across the globe played important roles in terms of information exchanges to deal with situations before they happen.
"(This includes) responding to it even after it happened, but terrorism issues are also beyond the military - some of it is ideological and some are done for different reasons.
"I think it has to be tackled from various fronts, and we have to cooperate with different agencies not just at the ministerial level but also with other front agencies," he added.
The ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise will tentatively be held sometime in May next year, according to a statement from Brunei's Ministry of Defence.
Brigadier General Tan said the exercise will be held in two phases - the first will be conducted in Brunei and Singapore the next.
Under the ASEAN Defence Minister's Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) framework, Brigadier General Tan said there are six expert working groups, including maritime security and counter-terrorism.
In one of the ADMM-Plus meetings last year, he said it was decided that the two groups should be put together.
"We feel that there could be some synergies in the form of maritime terrorism scenario, that we can combine the two working group and have and exercise with these components in Brunei as well as in Singapore," he said.
"The purpose of such was to foster practical cooperation between the ADMM-Plus countries at the military level; where the countries involved can come together to have mutual understanding how each other works."
A total of 89 delegates from 17 countries including US, Japan and China as well as representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat also attended the meeting to discuss the overview as well as administrative matters of the exercise.
The meeting was also co-chaired by Colonel Hj Hamzah Hj Sahat, Joint Force Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF).