International defense cooperation has taken on new importance in the global fight against terrorism after the September attacks on the United States as U.S. and Singapore military forces launch their eighth annual 12-day joint training exercise in the South China Sea.
Some 2,000 navy personnel from the two countries are taking part in the bilateral exercise, involving 14 ships, maritime patrol aircraft and naval divers.
The current exercise, which began Tuesday in the South China Sea, is the eighth in a series with Singapore under the annual program called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).
This round of exercises includes search and rescue, evacuation, medical and logistics support and base defense.
The Singapore Navy's fleet commander, Rear Admiral Sim Gim Guan, says the bilateral exercises are especially relevant with the emergence of new threats such as international terrorism, as shown in the cases of the September 11 attacks on the United States and the war in Afghanistan against the al-Qaida network.
He says it is no longer enough for militaries to act unilaterally to combat terrorism but must now to pool their resources to fight these new threats.
A spokesman from the U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Leslie Hull-Ryde, says the CARAT exercise will establish close relations between American and Singaporean officers and familiarize them with operations if called upon to work together to enhance regional security.
The United States also holds CARAT exercises with Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.