Australian Minister for Defence to Attend Second ADMM-Plus

Australian Minister for Defence to Attend Second ADMM-Plus

On Wednesday, 28th of August, Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith departed Australia for Brunei Darussalam to attend the second ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus).

The ADMM-Plus brings together Defence Ministers from the 10 member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the eight ‘Plus’ countries of the East Asia Summit, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.

The ADMM-Plus builds on the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting, which was established in 2006 by ASEAN and is the Defence Ministers’ Meeting format equivalent of the East Asia Summit. It provides a forum for key regional partners to discuss peace and security cooperation, build stability and promote greater practical defence cooperation among the 18 nations.

The Australian Minister attended the inaugural ADMM-Plus in October 2010 in Hanoi, Vietnam, with Australia as a founding member. In recognition of its growing significance as part of the Indo-Pacific regional architecture, Defence Ministers last year agreed to increase the frequency of the ADMM-Plus from every three years to every two years effective from this year’s meeting.

The ADMM-Plus fosters practical defence-to-defence and military-to-military cooperation in counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, military medicine, maritime security and peacekeeping operations.

Practical cooperation under the ADMM-Plus occurs formally through Experts’ Working Groups (EWGs). Australia is an active participant in the EWGs and currently co-chairs the Maritime Security EWG with Malaysia.

Three significant military exercises occur under the ADMM-Plus framework during this year.

A Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Military Medicine Exercise was held in Brunei Darussalam in June, and a Counter-Terrorism Exercise will be held in Indonesia on 9-13 September.

On 29 September – 1 October, Australia will host a Maritime Security Field Training Exercise in the vicinity of Jervis Bay and the East Australian Exercise Area. This will involve representatives and ships from 14 of the 18 ADMM-Plus member states. This is a significant demonstration of the practical military cooperation that occurs under the auspices of ADMM-Plus.

As the 2013 Australian Defence White Paper notes, the Indo-Pacific region has benefitted from a long period of peace, stability and security by encouraging dialogue, cooperation and confidence building.

ASEAN has played a central role in generating stability in the region. The ADMM-Plus represents an important addition to the strategic architecture of the Indo-Pacific and provides a mechanism for enhancing the habits of cooperation that underpin regional security.

Australia has long been a reliable partner of ASEAN and an active participant in ASEAN-related meetings, including the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit. Australia became ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner in 1974 and the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN Australia dialogue relations will be celebrated in 2014.

In ongoing recognition of Australia’s important relationship with ASEAN, last month Australia announced the appointment of Mr Simon Merrifield as Australia’s first resident Ambassador to ASEAN. His appointment begins next month in Jakarta.

The Minister will be joined at the ADMM-Plus by the Deputy Secretary Strategy of the Department of Defence, Mr Brendan Sargeant, and the Commander of Joint Operations for the Australian Defence Force, Lieutenant General Ash Power.

He will also take the opportunity to conduct bilateral discussions with regional partners.

Press Release, August 28, 2013; Image: Australian DoD