Australia in Defence Exercise with Sri Lankan Armed Services

Zacki Jabbar, in Island, 15 March 2019, where the title runs “Australia’s largest ever defence engagement with Sri Lanka to commence next week”

Australia’s largest ever defence engagement with Sri Lanka would commence next Saturday, Australia’s Acting High Commissioner Jon Philp said in Colombo yesterday. Addressing a press conference at his residence in Colombo 7, High Commissioner Philp said that from March 23 to 29, a Joint Task Group comprising Australian naval, army and air force assets and personnel would visit Sri Lanka as part of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE-19) multinational programme.

“This would would be Australia’s largest ever defence engagement with Sri Lanka, with more than 1000 Australian personnel involved in IPE 19 and a valuable opportunity for both countries to improve cooperation and familiarity with one another’s Defence Forces and explore opportunities to further promote regional stability”, he noted adding that there would be a range of activities undertaken with the Sri Lankan armed services in Sri Lanka and the surrounding waters.”It will encompass disaster assistance planning, multinational naval manoeuvres and military training activities.But our cooperation long predates this. IPE19 takes place on a foundation of over 70 years of close diplomatic relations, underpinned by the warm relationship between our people.”

The High Commissisoner said that Australian ships would undertake port visits in Colombo and Trincomalee and Australian Air Force assets would visit Mattala .The Joint Task Group would comprise HMAS Canberra, which is an amphibious Helicopter Landing Dock and the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy and HMAS Newcastle – a Guided Missile Frigate which would visit Colombo during March 23 to 30. HMAS Parramatta, an anti-submarine frigate and HMAS Success, a replenishment ship would be visiting Trincomalee between March 23 to 27.

Australia’s vision for the Indo-Pacific was a region that was secure, open, prosperous and resilient. As Indo-Pacific nations, Australia and Sri Lanka shared interests in unimpeded trade and secure sea lines of communication and maritime approaches in the Indian Ocean, he pointed out.

Philp said that Sri Lanka was a partner of choice for Australia in the Indo-Pacific as both countries were increasingly likeminded on maritime security and Indian Ocean issues. He noted that Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper acknowledged Sri Lanka’s location on a vital maritime corridor in the Indian Ocean.

The High Commissioner said that after leaving Sri Lanka, IPE19 ships and assets would visit other regional partners such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Australian Defence Advisor and Airforce Group Captain Sean Unwin said that Colombo would be the main focus for Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE-19) multinational visit, during which Sri Lankan military personnel manning aircraft would also receive training onboard the HMAS Canberra, which is an amphibious Helicopter Landing Dock .

Outlining the activities happening in and around the Colombo area during the week, he observed that there would be a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Exchange with the Sri Lankan authorities including an ‘At Sea day’, for HMAS Canberra to demonstrate the capabilities its amphibious platform could bring to HADR operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

The other engagements Unwin said included a Peacekeeping exchange with Sri Lanka’s Institute for Peace Support Operations Training, an Australian Defence Industry reception on board HMAS Canberra, Maritime surveillance related training opportunities for the Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force and a number of social engagements, both formal and informal, between IPE personnel, the Sri Lankan Tri-Services, and the Sri Lankan public.

He said that the engagements in Trincomalee would focus on the Navy-to-Navy engagement between the two countries with a particular focus on interoperability between clearance diving teams focussing on explosive ordinance disposal counter-IED techniques. “This is a great opportunity for our two countries to engage on a number of capabilities and issues in order to broaden our defence relationship and build a stepping-stone for greater engagement in the future.”

The Australia-Sri Lanka defence relationship Unwin observed had grown steadily since 2015, with a strong focus on education and training, supporting Whole-of-Government counter-people smuggling efforts and maintaining a rules-based order in the Indian Ocean.

Indo Pacific Endeavour was designed to promote security and stability in Australia’s near region through bilateral and multilateral engagement, training and capacity building.Australia was committed to developing strong and positive defence relations with regional nations through dialogue and practical activities.Military-to-military engagement develops shared understanding, trust and capacity to respond to a full spectrum of real world incidents in our region, he added. Unwin said that for the first time, Sri Lanka had participated in Exercise KAKADU – a deployment of 25 Sri Lankan Navy Marines travelled to RIMPAC (Exercise Rim of the Pacific) on HMAS Adelaide as a part of IPE18.

“In March 2018, a Sri Lankan Air Force delegation attended the biennial Air Power Conference in Canberra. In May 2018, a Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force delegation visited Australia to learn about RAAF procedures for conducting maritime patrols. In July 2018, the Sri Lanka Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) visited Australia for the first time. The success of the visit resulted in Australia becoming a part of the DSCSC permanent visit programme. In September 2018, the Sri Lankan Army Commander attended Army Land Forces Seminar in Adelaide” , he recalled.

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Shamindra Ferdinando  “Australia follows up with big exercise in the wake of US setting up ‘logistical hub’‘ Island, 19 March 2019,


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