Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Australian Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert visited Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) troops participating in Exercise Wallaby 2013 today at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Queensland, Australia.
The delegation included Member of Parliament and the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs Alex Yam.
This year's Exercise Wallaby is conducted from Oct 3 to Nov 30, and involves more than 5000 SAF personnel and over 300 SAF platforms, including the Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and the Light Strike Vehicle Mark II (LSV MK. II) which are participating in the exercise for the first time.
During their visit, Dr Ng and Mr Robert visited the Republic of Singapore Navy's Landing Ship Tank RSS Resolution, which was at the SWBTA to participate in the inaugural bilateral exercise component of Exercise Wallaby, codenamed Exercise Trident.
Exercise Trident is a Ship-to-Shore exercise under a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) scenario, involving more than 900 personnel from the SAF and 14 personnel from the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Dr Ng and Mr Robert also witnessed the capabilities of the newly acquired Light Strike Vehicle Mark II (LSV MK. II) as part of an integrated live-firing demonstration which also involved the AH-64D Apache helicopters, following which Dr Ng affixed a vehicle plate onto an LSV MK. II as a symbolic gesture to mark the operationalisation of the platform.
Dr Ng also interacted with SAF and ADF personnel participating in Exercise Trident, as well as servicemen from the HQ Guards and 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade who participated in the live-firing exercise during his visit.
Speaking to the media at the end of his visit, Dr Ng said "We have reached a level of development of the SAF where our capabilities are usually using three services. The Air Force, the Army and the Navy require a particular terrain that we can exercise meaningfully. This area that the Australian Government and the Ministry of Defence in Australia has allowed us to train here is really a very precious opportunity because it is twice the size of Singapore."
Exercise Wallaby 2013 marks the 23rd year of the SAF's training at the SWBTA, and is a testament to the close and longstanding defence relationship between Singapore and Australia.
The SAF and the ADF share a long history of military cooperation, with extensive interactions that include bilateral and multilateral exercises, mutual visits, professional exchanges, and the cross-attendance of personnel at professional courses.
The two armed forces have also worked together in close partnership in the multinational reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
In addition to the SWBTA, the SAF also conducts training in other Australian training areas such as Pearce, Western Australia, Oakey, Queensland, and Tamworth, New South Wales.