A closing ceremony for Exercise Bersama Lima 2019, the annual Five Powers Defence Arrangements exercise that the RAF have been taking part in, has been held at the Royal Malaysian Air Force airbase at Butterworth Penang.
Addressing participants from all five nations that had taken part in the exercise, the Singaporean Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Melvyn Ong Su Kiat said:
“Today Exercise Bersama Lima is the key stone exercise for our militaries, enhancing peace and security in the region.”
He added he wanted to “reassure the FPDA remains relevant and is evolving and developing”. He reminded the audience that the FPDA is the second oldest military partnership in the world after NATO and “we should treasure the FPDA as we work toward the 50th anniversary."
Following his address General Ong then received a presentation Kris, a traditional dagger from the region, from the Malaysian Chief of the General Staff, General Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin. The presentation marked the handover to Singapore of the organisation of the next exercise in the series, Exercise Bersama Lima 2020.
This year Exercise Bersama Lima saw over 2700 personnel from; Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom take part. Nine ships deployed on the exercise and 42 aircraft were also committed.
From the United Kingdom the RAF deployed six Typhoon jets flown by pilots from II (AC) Squadron and a RAF Voyager aircraft. The Voyager was deployed to Singapore for the first time to conduct air-to-air refuelling and has therefore allowed the Typhoons to increase their endurance in the air significantly. The aircraft have been supported by personnel drawn from across the service and in total more the 200 have been deployed.
The British Army deployed an infantry platoon to join a composite company that was formed from platoons drawn from all five nations. This composite company conducted jungle warfare training and area security for an exercise Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation. The army also deployed a party of staff officers drawn from 5th Battalion The Rifles and elements of 148 Battery, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery.
The Royal Navy deployed, this year, a small party of Royal Marine Commandos to conduct boarding at sea training with the other nations.
The key objective of Exercise Bersama Lima series is to bring the militaries the FPDA nations together in the region to develop their joint training, interoperability and understanding. The FPDA is therefore an important element of the UK’s relationship with Malaysia, Singapore and is a key regional defence arrangement.