Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and New Zealand Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee visited Exercise Thunder Warrior 2017 at the Waiouru Training Area in New Zealand recently to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the exercise. This year’s exercise is being conducted from 6 to 26 January and involves about 500 personnel from the Singapore Artillery.
During their visit to Exercise Thunder Warrior, Dr Ng and Minister Brownlee observed an integrated live-firing exercise involving the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer Primus, the Safari Weapon Locating Radar and the Field Artillery Meteorological System. Both Ministers also interacted with the exercise participants, which included full-time National Servicemen and Operationally-Ready National Servicemen from the 24th and 289th Battalions, Singapore Artillery.
Following the exercise visit, both Defence Ministers held the first Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting. They discussed ideas on strengthening bilateral defence cooperation, including further training opportunities in New Zealand. They also exchanged views on a range of regional security issues, such as the impact of leadership changes in the US, as well as the regional security architecture.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Dr Ng expressed his gratitude toward Minister Brownlee and the New Zealand government for the SAF’s training opportunities at Waiouru Training Area and noted their discussion about exploring more training opportunities for the SAF in New Zealand during the Defence Ministers’ Meeting. He said, “I shared with Minister Brownlee how much the SAF values these training opportunities for our artillery in Waiouru Training Area… I thanked him and the New Zealand government for hosting us here and allowing us to train here. We also held our inaugural Defence Ministers’ Meeting and we talked about how to deepen that relationship and… see whether there can be more training opportunities for the SAF.
Minister Brownlee also affirmed the excellent bilateral defence ties between both countries, and noted both countries intent to deepen defence relations. He said “Singapore is one of the closest military relationships that New Zealand has… we have been able to very personally reaffirm the close relationship between our two countries and express the desire that we do expand the various interactions that we have as we move forward.”
The 20th anniversary of Exercise Thunder Warrior in New Zealand underscores the excellent defence ties between Singapore and New Zealand. In addition to training, both armed forces enjoy extensive interactions through professional exchanges, visits and military courses. Singapore and New Zealand also cooperate multilaterally under the auspices of the FPDA and the ADMM-Plus. These mutually beneficial interactions have bolstered interoperability and friendships between personnel of both armed forces.