Australia and Brunei have continued to develop their defence and whole-of-government relationship with a number of activities held at sea and virtually as part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 (IPE21).

Commander IPE21 Commodore Mal Wise said while the entire engagement was contactless because of COVID-19 restrictions, it had been beneficial to both countries. 

“Australia’s defence relationship with Brunei has grown significantly in recent years,” Commodore Wise said.

“Our relationship is grounded in regular military exercises, senior level visits and annual dialogues, and Indo-Pacific Endeavour is an opportunity to build trust and closer ties in support of our shared interest in regional security. 

“While in future we hope to return to in-person engagement, we welcomed the maritime and virtual activities as a way to learn from Brunei’s experience and perspectives and make IPE21 a success for our strengthening relationship.”

Exercise planners from both countries designed programs to ensure outcomes were achieved, according to the regulations and guidelines set by Brunei’s government. 

HMA Ships Canberra and Anzac conducted maritime exercises with Royal Brunei Navy ship KDB Darulehsan that included flag hoists and ship-driving manoeuvres to increase interoperability. 

The IPE21 program continued in the following days with virtual workshops – conducted while the ships were at anchor – on topics including maritime law, unmanned aerial systems, clearance divers, maritime domain awareness, small boats, offshore patrol vessels and religious engagement with a Royal Australian Navy chaplain.

Virtual meeting participants included senior leaders from the ships, as well as military and government officials in both Brunei and Australia.

The Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, Tiffany McDonald, welcomed IPE21 to Brunei, where Australia’s defence history dates back to World War II.

“I am extremely pleased that Indo-Pacific Endeavour marked the third visit to Brunei by the Royal Australian Navy in 2021,” Ms McDonald said

“The activities on the IPE21 program provided valuable opportunities to enhance interoperability, improve coordination, and to work with Brunei in support of a peaceful, inclusive and resilient region.”

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