By Linda Khoo Hui Li
BANGKOK, Sept 9 (Bernama) -- Military exercise would strengthen cooperation and lead to sustainable security in the region, said United States (US) Army Chief of Staff, General James C. McConville.
He said military drills were very important for countries that shared mutual interest to build relationship between its armies.
“I think we have a strong relationship to secure a stable environment. We should continue those exercises because they lead to sustainable security in the region.
“It also allows economic growth for those who share the same interest with us,” he said at a joint press conference with Thai Army Chief Apirat Kongsompong here today.
He was asked to comment on whether the ASEAN-US military exercise would be viewed as provocative to countries such as China.
On Sept 2, ASEAN and US conducted their first exercise which was similar to ASEAN's exercise with China last year.
The five-day drills led by US and Thailand involving eight warships and four aircraft and more than 1,000 personnel were seen as a move to avoid being seen to favour either of the two superpowers.
McConville and his counterparts from 27 Indo-Pacific countries are in Bangkok to attend the 11th biennial Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conference (IPACC) aimed at promoting trust, understanding, and cooperation among land forces in the region, starting today till Sept 11.
IPACC, co-hosted by the Royal Thai Army and the United States Army, themed “Achieving Sustainable Security: A New Perspective for Indo-Pacific Armies” serves as a platform for army chiefs in the region to meet, exchange views and information, and discuss current security affairs.
Besides the IPACC, the annual Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS) and Senior Enlisted Leader Forum (SELF) are held concurrently.
IPAMS is a forum for senior military officers of Indo-Pacific Armies with the rank of colonel and above to strengthen relations and promote regional security on the basis of mutual cooperation and understanding.
SELF is an avenue for senior enlisted leaders from Indo-Pacific armies to exchange views and experiences on issues related to topics raised at the IPACC.
McConville said the gathering in Bangkok would build greater relationship among member countries and allow them to exchange ideas for mutual and regional interest.
“By doing so, we will be more effective in response to crisis and contingency together,” he said.
Meanwhile, Apirat hoped the army chiefs and other attendees would contribute to the exchange of invaluable information for the benefit of future cooperation.
“During these meetings, it is a prime opportunity for old friends to meet and new friends to be made, to create mutual understanding that could become a network of cooperation and a powerful force to face all forms of threats with unity towards sustainable security,” he said.