Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/02/2014 -- Speaking at the 14th Defence Services Asia summit held in Kuala Lumpur in April 2014, Singaporean Defence Minister Dr Eng Hen took the opportunity to emphasise the need for a new 'multipurpose' military which can tackle the increasing range of non-traditional security challenges currently facing the international community. Citing the ongoing search mission for the Malaysia Airlines jet believed to have crashed in the South Pacific as an example, Dr Eng sought to demonstrate the extent to which militaries now actively contribute to non-traditional areas. Singapore is leading multilateral efforts to enhance the military response to such non-traditional security threats.
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Indeed, during an ASEAN-United States Defence Ministers meeting, Singapore offered up the uses of its command and control centre in Changi as a location for a planned ASEAN disaster response hub. Singapore's Ministry of Defence noted that such a centre would allow ASEAN militaries to respond speedily and effectively to any disaster in the region. This proposed centre would see the command and control hub permanently based in Singapore, rather than the disaster-affected country as has traditionally been the case. The centre has infrastructure which would allow an affected country to plug into all the information that various agencies would bring to bear when such a crisis occurs, providing a coherent picture that everyone can see.
It is perhaps telling that Singapore is taking a lead in this endeavour when the militaries of several neighbouring countries are consumed by ongoing territorial conflicts with China. During Q214, the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsein long, declared that Singapore would steer well clear of such disputes by 'not taking sides in the tussle over the South China Sea'. Singapore retains good relations with both China and the United States, the principal regional powers, as well as neighbouring countries with the partial exception of Indonesia. Leading multilateral initiatives to counter non-traditional security threats is an effective way for Singapore to maintain and nurture good relations with all countries in the region.
Despite maintaining good relations with the vast majority of countries in the region, Singapore is investing vast sums into its military. Indeed in 2012 Singapore was one of the world's top five importers of arnmaments. Furthermore, Singapore is widely considered to possess South East Asia's most capable military, with a competent force of fourth-generation fighter jets and perhaps in the near future the fifthgeneration F-35 strike fighter. It is perhaps this relative military strength which allows Singapore to prosper as one of the most stable and peaceful countries in the region.
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