Indonesia: RI to host ASEAN + 8 humanitarian relief drill

Indonesia will host a joint military exercise for ASEAN member states and eight partner countries on the Batam Island on March 21 next year to increase the region’s capacity in humanitarian relief, Indonesian Navy chief of staff Adm. Marsetio said on Wednesday.

He said he hoped that the ASEAN member countries and the eight additional countries scheduled to participate, namely the US, South Korea, Australia, Russia, China, India, New Zealand and Japan, would attend.

“In March Indonesia will also hold the fourth Jakarta International Defense Dialogue themed “Building Maritime Collaboration for Security and Stability,” Marsetio said on the sidelines of the 2013 International Maritime Security Symposium at the Borobudur Hotel, Central Jakarta.

Marsetio underlined the great significance of maritime freedoms for the global good.

He noted that there is a necessity to facilitate humanitarian and disaster relief in times of need, especially for countries in the Ring of Fire.

“Through confidence-building efforts we will further enhance maritime cooperation and maintain regional peace and security,” Marsetio said.

Speaking at the Symposium, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Chief of Staff Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano underlined that humanitarian assistance and disaster relief would be a major field for strengthening defense cooperation and exchange.

Kawano cited the concerted efforts by the international community in carrying out disaster relief operations after the 2011 great east Japan earthquake.

He noted that when ground infrastructure was damaged, it was up to the navy to offer sea-basing capabilities as a supply station hub and central command post.

“Smooth communication and high interoperability were the success factors,” he said.

Malaysia Navy Chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said that ASEAN Navies will continue to play their roles in contri-buting to peace and stability in the region.

He underlined the greater need for exchanging information in enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness, or the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could have an impact on security, the economy or the environment.

“A strong regional cooperative mechanism would allow for a greater flow of information,” Jaafar said.

He said that confidence-building measures, such as joint exercises, had been proven to be one of the most effective measures in promoting regional peace and stability.

“The Malacca Strait Patrol is a good example of a collaborative effort in conducting an operation at sea,” he said.

Jaafar noted that the ASEAN navies are making progress in adopting the ASEAN Information Sharing Portal and the ASEAN Maritime Security Information Sharing Exercise initiated by the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Indonesian Navy.

“I believe this open line communication should be enhanced to a personalized level, where communication is just a phone call away,” he said.

A similiar exercise was held in Brunei Darussalam last June, in which 18 Asia-Pacific countries participated in the four-day ASEAN Defense Minister’s Meeting-Plus Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Military Medicine Exercise.

More than 1,200 military personnel were involved in the exercise, held in the jungles of Borneo.