United States (US) Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is in Singapore from 26 to 28 July 2021 for an introductory visit. He was welcomed by a Guard of Honour at the Ministry of Defence this morning, before a bilateral meeting with Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen.
During the meeting, Dr Ng and Secretary Austin reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral defence relations between Singapore and the US. Both sides expressed satisfaction that military cooperation continued to be strong despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Ng and Secretary Austin also exchanged views on geopolitical developments and regional security issues, and agreed on the importance of the US’ continued engagement in region.
A Joint Statement released by Dr Ng and Secretary Austin after their meeting reaffirmed both countries’ commitment to strengthen defence cooperation. Both Dr Ng and Secretary Austin recognised the positive trajectory of bilateral defence relations that has expanded into new areas of cooperation such as cyber defence and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
This is Secretary Austin’s inaugural visit to Singapore as the US Secretary of Defense. As part of his introductory visit, he also called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong this morning. Secretary Austin will also be giving a lecture on the “The Imperative of Partnership” at the Fullerton Hotel in the evening.
The defence establishments of Singapore and the US interact regularly through military-to-military exchanges, training and cross-attendance of courses, and defence technology cooperation. Both defence establishments also provide long-standing support for each other’s forces in their home countries. In 2019, both countries renewed the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Regarding US Use of Facilities in Singapore and signed an MOU concerning the establishment of a Republic of Singapore Air Force Fighter Training Detachment at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Earlier this year, both sides also announced the US Department of Defense’s selection, in consultation with MINDEF, of Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Arkansas, as the preferred location to host the RSAF’s future F-35B fighter aircraft, as well as F-16 fighter training detachment which will be relocated from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
Relevant health checks and safety measures were taken by the visiting delegation.