Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds signed a Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore and the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, respectively on March 23.
The signing, witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, took place during the 5th Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Meeting, which was conducted via video conference in view of the global Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Treaty is an upgrade of the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia, signed in 2016 under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), and marks a significant milestone in bilateral defence relations. The Treaty facilitates the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) enhanced military training access in Australia, and the joint development of military training areas and facilities in an expanded Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) and a new Greenvale Training Area (GVTA) in Queensland, Australia.
Advanced training facilities, such as the Combined Arms Air-Land Ranges and Urban Operations Live-Firing Facilities, will be built within the expanded SWBTA by 2024 and the new GVTA by 2028. Upon completion, the SAF will be able to conduct integrated training across all three Services for up to 18 weeks, involving up to 14,000 personnel annually, for 25 years in training areas approximately 10 times the size of Singapore. The advanced training facilities will benefit both armed forces and deepen defence cooperation.
The SAF and the Australian Defence Force have a long history of military cooperation, with extensive interactions including bilateral and multilateral exercises, professional exchanges, cross attendance of courses, and joint operational deployment. Notably, the SAF will mark the 30th anniversary of its training in the SWBTA in October 2020.