13 October 2014
Exercise Bersama Lima, an annual Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) exercise, began in Singapore yesterday.
Bersama Lima is designed to exercise Defence Forces of the FPDA nations (New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom) in combined operations on land, at sea and in the air, in response to a range of possible threats.
This year the NZDF contingent comprises a platoon group from the Army’s 2nd /1st Royal NZ Infantry Regiment based at Burnham camp near Christchurch, the Navy’s Operational Dive Team and a group of staff officers working in the exercise headquarters in Singapore. Other nations are contributing a range of naval and air assets as well as ground forces.
New Zealand was represented at the opening ceremony last week by the Maritime Component Commander, Commodore (CDRE) John Campbell. CDRE Campbell also attended a senior officers’ seminar at the Changi Naval Base held in conjunction with Exercise Bersama Lima.
CDRE Campbell said that this year’s Bersama Lima is the latest in a long line of exercises dating back to the establishment of the FPDA.
“The FPDA is a core relationship for the NZDF, based on a longstanding relationship between a group of regional defence partners,” he said.
“These countries are our close friends and allies, and exercising with them in a variety of scenarios enhances the capability and interoperability of us all, not just in defence areas but also in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tasks around the region.
“By exercising together we understand the strengths that we all bring to the table when we are required to work together,” CDRE Campbell said.
Bersama Lima will conclude on October 21, after a separate two-day humanitarian and disaster relief section.
The FPDA was created by the partners in 1971 to take the place of UK forces as they withdrew from the region, leaving Malaysia and Singapore with significant gaps in their defence capabilities. The FPDA initially provided Malaysia and Singapore with a security umbrella during a period of change in South East Asia, and helped both nations in the development of their own defence capabilities. In addition they have created a framework for the other partners’ strategic engagement with the region. There is a strong focus on training, and in more recent times, assistance during and after disasters.