Commencing this week, around 1,000 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel will participate in training activities in Queensland and the Northern Territory as part of Singapore’s annual military training in Australia.
Singapore’s flagship training activity, Exercise Wallaby 21, will run from 10 September to 24 October in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, involving around 550 personnel.
According to Australia’s Department of Defence, this year’s training has been scaled-down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will include limited helicopter and land manoeuvres, as well as contactless naval training at sea.
A Republic of Singapore Air Force Fighter Detachment has also arrived in Darwin to conduct training exercises from 4 October to 26 November. The detachment involves around 450 personnel.
A strong and enduring bilateral relationship
“Australia’s bilateral defence relationship with Singapore is strong and enduring, as reflected in our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” the department said in a statement.
“Singapore’s military training in Australia is of mutual benefit for our respective armed forces and has provided significant economic opportunities for Australia. The current training will present economic opportunities for local communities in Rockhampton and Darwin.”
The department said the arrival of Singapore Armed Forces personnel had been carefully planned, including quarantine arrangements in Australian Defence Force-managed facilities in Brisbane and Darwin.
It reassured Australians that their arrival and quarantine does not affect the repatriation of citizens from overseas, or impact international arrival caps.
Strict Covid protocols for arriving personnel
All Singapore military personnel arriving in the country are fully vaccinated and subject to strict Covid-19 protocols prior to departing Singapore, including a seven-day quarantine period and daily temperature checks.
“The Department of Defence is working closely with the Queensland and Northern Territory Governments, and the Singapore Armed Forces, to ensure all COVIDSafe practices are strictly adhered to,” the department noted in its statement.
In March last year, the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Australia and Singapore was upgraded from a memorandum of understanding, signed in 2016, to a full treaty.
The Singapore-based Straits Times newspaper reported at the time that, in total, the Singapore military would be able to conduct training for up to 18 weeks annually in Australia, involving up to 14,000 personnel for 25 years when new training areas were completed.
This was up from six weeks and 6,600 personnel under the previous memorandum of understanding.