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Australia, Singapore sign training site access treaty

Shoalwater Bay Training Area
Singaporean and Australian soldiers during exercise Trident in Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia. Photo: Singapore MoD

Defense ministers of Australia and Singapore signed the Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia on March 23.

The treaty, which will allow Singapore Armed Forces access to Australian training sites, was signed during the 5th Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Meeting, via video conference in view of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The treaty is an upgrade of the bilateral memorandum of understanding on military training and training area development in Australia, signed in 2016 under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), and marks a significant milestone in bilateral defense relations.

In addition to providing the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) with enhanced military training access in Australia, the treaty envisions joint development of military training areas and facilities in an expanded Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) and a new Greenvale Training Area (GVTA) in Queensland, Australia.

Advanced training facilities, such as the Combined Arms Air-Land Ranges and Urban Operations Live-Firing Facilities, will be built within the expanded SWBTA by 2024 and the new GVTA by 2028.

Upon completion, the SAF will be able to conduct integrated training across all three Services for up to 18 weeks, involving up to 14,000 personnel annually, for 25 years in training areas approximately 10 times the size of Singapore.

The SAF and the Australian Defence Force have a long history of military cooperation, with extensive interactions including bilateral and multilateral exercises. Notably, the SAF will mark the 30th anniversary of its training in the SWBTA in October 2020.