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SINGAPORE - Flag and general officers from eight navies across South and Southeast Asia gathered in Singapore Dec. 6-7 for a leadership summit aimed at deepening their security partnerships with the U.S. Navy.
The summit was hosted by Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, Task Force 73, and included senior officers from the navies of Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The summit also included representatives from other U.S. 7th fleet task forces along with country experts from the academic and defense attaché communities.
"This summit provided an opportunity to bring regional naval leaders and subject matter experts together for meaningful dialogue and exchange that contributes to sustaining relevant maritime partnerships," said Gabrielson. "The U.S. Navy appreciates and values every partner in the region and we want to understand their challenges, then plan exercises that address our shared security priorities, using both bilateral and multilateral engagements."
During the summit, leaders from all nations exchanged their ideas for enhancing cooperation during existing exercise programs such as the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series conducted with 10 nations across South and Southeast Asia, along with Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), an annual multilateral exercise that includes 11 regional nations. The naval leaders also discussed other opportunities for regional navies to come together for training and security cooperation engagements.
“There were some very productive discussions and exchanges during this leadership summit,” said Lt Cmdr. Ben Visger, Assistant Chief of Staff for Security Cooperation at Task Force 73. “Bringing together senior leaders in this kind of forum helps us better understand our security priorities and then act on those priorities during our exercise planning and execution during the course of the year.”
The exchanges also provided an opportunity for naval leaders and exercise planners to get to know each other on a personal and professional level.
“Relationships matter to us and they matter to our partners,” said Visger. “These are opportunities to build trust that leads to stronger maritime partnerships that benefit all of our nations.”