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UK military complete first of two major exercises in East Asia

1 April 2022
UK military personnel joined Indo-Pacific allies for the first of two major exercises this year off the coast of Malaysia.

Patrol ship HMS Tamar, a Royal Marines boarding team, and RAF personnel demonstrated Britain’s ongoing commitment to the safety and security of the region, participating in Exercise Bersama Shield, a two week-long multilateral exercise in support of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). Bersama means together in Malay.

The FPDA, signed in 1971 between the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, is Southeast Asia’s only collective security arrangement.

The FPDA exercise programme has expanded to include annual joint military exercises, cooperation on countering terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. 

Exercise Bersama Shield is the first of two exercises in 2022; in the autumn, Singapore will host Exercise Suman Protector.

During Bersama Shield, a joint naval task group trained closely together, working on surface and anti-air warfare techniques as well as live firing drills.

Tamar worked closely with Singapore’s RSS Valour and Malaysia’s KD Selangor, while Malaysian fast attack craft played the role of enemy during training to defend against attacks.  

“The exercise has been a fantastic opportunity for Tamar to work with our FPDA partner navies, strengthening our relationships and building tactical integration between forces,” said Tamar’s Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Matthew Millyard.

Tamar was joined by several RAF personnel who supported the aerial element of the exercise by providing logistics, intelligence, communications and flight operations expertise. 

“I have had great opportunities to travel to some amazing places with the RAF Reserves already, and this is definitely up there with the best of them,” said Flight Lieutenant Andrew Wolfe of Glasgow-based 602 Squadron.

“It was really rewarding to operate with nations I had not previously worked with, in a challenging exercise scenario, to provide logistics support to the Exercise. The issues faced by each nation were broadly similar, but the way in which they are tackled varied, and I learnt a lot from that.”

A Royal Marines boarding team from 42 Commando were also deployed to work closely with counterparts from Singapore and Malaysia. 

Together they shared knowledge and expertise and laid plans for future boarding exercises and operations together countering illicit activity in the region.

HMS Tamar is deployed to the Indo-Pacific on a five-year mission alongside her sister ship HMS Spey in support of UK interests in the region, as well as supporting allies and partners.

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