Engaged with our Sri Lankan partners
The first leg of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE19) will be Australia’s largest ever Defence engagement activity with Sri Lanka.
It will build on last year’s engagement, which included the integration of Sri Lankan force elements in Australian military exercises and senior delegations that attended air, land and maritime events.
Commander Joint Task Force 661 Air Commodore Rick Owen said maritime lanes that connect the Indian and Pacific Oceans were historically strategic trading routes and Australia’s connection to the rest of the world.
“Australia recognises the importance of Sri Lanka in a stable Indo-Pacific region, so for IPE19 it should come as no surprise it will be our first port of call,” Air Commodore Owen said.
“It is important for the task force to re-establish our relationships politically, militarily and personally.”
Commander Joint Task Force 661 Air Commodore Richard Owen addresses the Sri Lankan media on arrival into the port of Colombo.
The joint task force will visit Colombo and Trincomalee as part of the government’s commitment to the region.
Trade between the two countries is worth about $500 million and open sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean are crucial for the region’s growth.
The Australia-Sri Lanka defence relationship, which has grown steadily since 2015, focuses on education and training, counter-people smuggling and maintaining the rules-based order in the Indian Ocean.
Air Commodore Owen said as the maritime picture became more congested and contested, many of our near neighbours were increasing their naval and civil capability and Australia was doing the same.
Australia is also increasing its focus on maritime issues at regional forums such as the East Asia Summit and the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
Australian government agencies will also look to collaborate on humanitarian aid and disaster relief, counter-terrorism and maritime safety and security with Sri Lanka and other nations to promote confidence and cooperation.
Air Commodore Owen said he was keen to deliver on the task force objectives he has set.
“What I’m looking forward to most is to catch up with old friends, make some new ones and enjoy the fantastic Sri Lankan hospitality,” he said.
IPE19 aims to strengthen relationships and promote security and stability with Australia’s key regional partners, including Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
Military-to-military engagement develops shared understanding, trust and capacity to respond to a full spectrum of real-world incidents in the region.
HMA Ships Canberra, Success, Newcastle and Parramatta are joined by force elements from Army, Air Force and representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
You can keep up with Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 on its Facebook page.