U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen in the Pentagon this week to sign the enhanced defense cooperation agreement (DCA) that will provide a new framework for an expanded defense relationship between the two nations.
Under the enhanced DCA, both sides agreed on a broad framework for defense cooperation in five key areas, namely in the military, policy, strategic and technology spheres, as well as cooperation against non-conventional security challenges, such as piracy and transnational terrorism.
Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in new areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), cyber defense, biosecurity and public communications. Finally, the enhanced DCA also introduced new high-level dialogues between the two countries’ defense establishments.
The United States’ plans to deploy up to four littoral combat ships concurrently in the region by the end of 2017, and Carter and Ng welcomed the inaugural deployment of the P-8 Poseidon aircraft to Singapore. The aircraft’s deployment is expected to promote greater interoperability with regional militaries and to provide timely support for maritime security efforts.
The interoperability built up between the militaries through multiple exercises had allowed both countries to work well together in joint operations including ongoing counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
Carter and Ng also discussed initiatives to promote regional stability in the Asia Pacific, noting the need for countries to work closely together and foster practical cooperation to counter transnational threats related to terrorism, maritime security and natural disasters. To facilitate these efforts, Ng welcomed Carter’s Southeast Asia maritime security initiative (MSI) through which the U.S. aims to support the development of regional maritime security capacity and capabilities. Carter announced the initiative in May.