Joint Statement - 20th Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Defence Chiefs' Conference
24 June 2021
Chief of the Defence Force
General Angus J. Campbell, AO DSC
1. The Defence Chiefs of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) member-nations convened yesterday via video conference for the 20th FPDA Defence Chiefs’ Conference (FDCC), which was hosted by Malaysia. The FDCC, which is hosted alternately by Malaysia and Singapore, is the highest military professional forum of the FPDA and serves as the key platform for dialogue and exchange of views among the Defence Chiefs. It was last hosted by Singapore in 2019.
2. The 20th FDCC, which was chaired by Malaysia’s Chief of Defence Force (CDF) General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Hj Affendi bin Buang RMAF, was attended virtually by Australia’s CDF, General Angus J. Campbell; New Zealand’s CDF, Air Marshal Kevin Short; Singapore’s CDF, Lieutenant General Melvyn Ong Su Kiat; and United Kingdom’s Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tim Fraser.
3. During the Conference, the Defence Chiefs reaffirmed their commitment to the FPDA and its founding principles. They also emphasised the importance of the FPDA as a constructive, transparent and peaceful arrangement which is an integral part of the regional security architecture. As the FPDA continues to enhance the operational value of the exercise programme in conventional areas, it will also build capacity in areas including counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maritime security, to keep pace with the evolving security challenges.
4. The Defence Chiefs welcomed that the FPDA will continue to boost its transparency through the formalisation of its observer programme, which provides the opportunity for regional countries to understand and observe major exercises. These efforts will ensure the FPDA maintains its relevance and effectiveness in supporting peace and security in this region.
5. The Defence Chiefs also acknowledged the need for flexibility and resilience in response to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and exchanged views on how exercises could still proceed safely. They commended the successful virtual conduct of Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2021. This commitment to working together in the face of adversity represents the true strength of the FPDA.
6. The conference started with a briefing by the Malaysian Defence Intelligence Staff Division on the regional security environment. They were also briefed on the FPDA activities and exercises that had taken place since 2019.
7. During the conference, the Defence Chiefs issued the FPDA Exercise Concept Directive 2021 and discussed a ten-year roadmap for the FPDA’s development. As this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the FPDA, the directive and roadmap will guide the development of FPDA exercises and activities, with the aim of further enhancing the FPDA’s capacity in conducting conventional and non-conventional operations, and to further strengthen interoperability and interactions among the armed forces of the five member nations of the FPDA. The Chiefs were also briefed by the Commander of Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System (HQIADS) Air Vice Marshal Geoffrey Harland on the prominent matters pertaining to the HQIADS’ developments and exercise conduct.
8. The 20th FDCC was held virtually in compliance with Malaysia’s COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), demonstrating the relentless effort by all the member nations in pursuing the FPDA activities despite the COVID-19 challenges.
9. The Defence Chiefs commended the successful conduct of the 20th FDCC and looked forward to the 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee celebrations of the FPDA in 2021.