Royal Air Force (RAF) Personnel have taken part in the first of this year’s Five Power Defence Arrangements exercises in South East Asia. Exercise Bersama Shield 2021 was the first FPDA exercise since 2019 due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to personnel from the five nations based in Malaysia, the exercise also took place online for the first time, with personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and United Kingdom augmenting the Malaysian based personnel from their respective nations. This novel means of working has been assessed by the FPDA to have been a success.
A key element of the exercise was to use of the new Joint Warfare Centre at the Joint Force Headquarters in Kuantan, Malaysia for this exercise. This allowed the new facilities to be tested and potential issues identified, that can now be addressed. This will be essential for the successful conduct of Exercise Bersama Lima 2021 scheduled for October, the major FPDA exercise of the year and which the RAF is currently planning to deploy Typhoons and a Voyager to take part in. Exercise Bersama Shield 2021 was the first key event of the 50th Anniversary year for the FPDA. The next exercise will be Exercise Suman Warrior 2021 in July, hosted by Singapore, and then Exercise Bersama Lima 2021 in October, hosted by Malaysia.
The exercise, known as a Command Post exercise, was designed to prove the organisational structure of the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters and confirmed the serviceability of the associated communications infrastructure In addition to this year’s exercises, the FPDA Defence Chiefs Conference will be held in June hosted by Malaysia. This will be followed by the FPDA Defence Ministers Meeting in October also in Malaysia. The FPDA exercises are designed to offer significant value, by enhancing cooperation on conventional military operations, building trust and confidence, developing greater people-to-people links and fostering interoperability between member nations’ armed forces.