Foreign military officials have visited various sites across the Northern Territory and South Australia as part of the Service Attachés and Advisers Group (SAAG) engagement program’s goal to improve relationships with international partners.

The group visited ADF establishments, Defence industry facilities and cultural sites to provide the foreign military officials with exposure to a range of Defence capabilities and engagement opportunities with Defence representatives. 

Deputy Director of Defence Visits and Attaché Management, Wing Commander Sean Ahern, manages the engagement program for the SAAG contingent.

He said he recognised the importance of building enduring relationships to enhance understanding and improve how Australia works together with international partners.

“The SAAG engagement program is a critical component of Defence’s diplomatic engagement,” Wing Commander Ahern said.

“Significantly, this activity was the first tour of Defence establishments the SAAG has undertaken as a collective since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through the SAAG engagement program, the military representatives from other countries can meet many people and gain valuable perspectives on the Australian Defence Force.

“Growing relationships and building enduring partnerships is incredibly important for understanding the region and how we can work together.

“These multi-lateral relationships are integral to our core business in Defence, so that when we coordinate international responses to a crisis, event or engagement, we already have that existing relationship of trust and mutual understanding.”

Italian Air Force Defence Attaché to Australia and New Zealand, Colonel Salvatore Trincone, inspects the exterior of a PC-21 aircraft on the flight line at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia. Photo: Leading Aircraftman Sam Price

Defence Attaché to the Royal Cambodia Embassy Colonel Khanrithy Morn said he enjoyed the experience.

“The SAAG engagement programs have provided crucial benefit for the Defence Attaché community to build up a strong cooperation with both Australia and within the SAAG ourselves,” he said.

“Importantly, this event was another opportunity for SAAG members to get to know more about Australia’s air, land, and military technology development capabilities, and Australian culture.

“As a representative from Cambodia, one of Australia’s partners in the region, I believe that understanding your partner’s defence capabilities, culture and getting to know people are key for the military diplomatic job to promote harmony in support of a safe and secure environment in the region.”

The latest visits included capability displays from: 1st Aviation Regiment; Regional Force Surveillance Unit North West Mobile Force; 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment; 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery; 1st Combat Engineer Regiment; RAAF Base Darwin; Marine Rotational Force Darwin; No. 3 Squadron; HMAS Coonawarra; Supashock Advanced Technologies; South Australian Space Discovery Centre; Axiom Precision Manufacturing; RAAF Base Edinburgh; Defence Science and Technology Group; No. 24 Squadron; Air Warfare Centre; No. 3 Security Forces Squadron; No. 1 Combat Communications Squadron; RAAF Base Woomera; Woomera Range and Village; 1st Brigade Combat Arms; 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery; 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment; 1st Armoured Regiment; No. 92 Wing; No. 11 Squadron; and Defence Fairbairn Precinct.

The SAAG engagement program varies from year to year, and will continue throughout 2021 with visits to different Australian Defence establishments, industry partners, cultural sites and regional areas.