Jakarta (ANTARA) - The 20th ASEAN Chief of Defense Forces Meeting (ACDFM) Forum was held on Wednesday at the Candi Ballroom, Apurva Kempinski Hotel, Bali.

Military chiefs of countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) participate in the ACDFM that is held on an annual basis. The meeting was held with the objective of strengthening and expanding ASEAN's security.

For this year's ACDFM, in which Indonesia serves as host as part of the country's 2023 ASEAN chairmanship, Timor-Leste had also participated.

Myanmar's military chief, on the other hand, did not participate in the meeting, which is unrelated to the political issue that occurs in the country.

Despite this, Chief of the Indonesian National Defense Forces (TNI) Admiral Yudo Margono stated that Myanmar had sent its representative, Myanmar Defense Attaché to Indonesia, Brigadier General Phyo Zaw Soe DA.

Before the ACDFM began, Margono welcomed the military chiefs of ASEAN member countries in a dinner event on Tuesday in Nusa Dua, Badung, Bali.

The arrival of the ASEAN military chiefs was welcomed by a Bali traditional dance accompanied by the sounds of Bali gamelan.

These military chiefs comprised Malaysia's Chief of Defence Forces General Tan Sri Dato' Sri Hj Affendi Bin Buang RMAF and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Andres C. Centino PA.

Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Muhammad Haszaimi bin Bol Hassan and Singapore's Chief of Defence Force RADM Aaron Beng were also extended a warm welcome.

In addition, Thailand's Chief of Defense Forces General Chalermphon Srisawasdi and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces High Command Headquarters General Vong Pisen were given a hospitable reception.

Moreover, Deputy Minister of National Defense and Chief of the General Staff Department of the Lao People's Army Lieutenant General Khamlieng Outhakaisone and Chief of Staff of Falintil Forca Defesa De Timor Leste Commodore Donaciano Rosario Costa Gomes were also warmly welcomed.

The dinner event concluded with an Indonesian song and dance performance. The military chiefs began departing from the dinner location at around 9:20 p.m. local time.

During the ACDFM, military officials discussed numerous strategic security issues impacting both the region and the world in a bid to drive prosperity of ASEAN countries.

From a security standpoint, Indonesia prioritizes a safe, peaceful, and stable region to improve the prosperity of Southeast Asian nations, Margono noted.

To realize peace and prosperity in the ASEAN, Indonesia requires to foster cooperation with member countries by continuing to hold on to ASEAN centrality in the region and promoting the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP), he affirmed.

This is an outlook on the Indo-Pacific that is open, free, and inclusive.

This effort requires ASEAN’s contribution in maintaining peace in the region in which ACDFM became the center for military cooperation formed in the ASEAN, Margono stated.

According to Margono, several agreements were reached during this year's ACDFM.

These include supporting the expansion of ASEAN's cooperation in the AOIP and Defense Perspective.

As the initiator of AOIP, Indonesia highlighted the importance of the ASEAN approach toward the Indo-Pacific from the defense perspective, specifically defense cooperation with ASEAN dialogue partners, Margono explained.

This defense cooperation has a significant contribution in creating peace and prosperity in the world.

To realize this, the ASEAN can expand the scope of cooperation to four main pillars: maritime cooperation, connectivity, sustainable development goals, and economic cooperation.

Moreover, 10 military officials in the ASEAN agreed to unite to strengthen the bloc’s position, especially to maintain stability of the region, such as conducting routine joint training and coordinated patrols in border areas.

Another agreement reached at the ACDFM involved strengthening cooperation of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

As the realization of that commitment, the ACDFM forum had agreed to hold a joint military training involving all military forces in the North Natuna Sea, Riau Islands.

A joint training named ASEAN Solidity Exercise (ENatuna) or Asec 01N will be held in September 2023, Margono stated.

Materials that will be delivered during the ENatuna or Asec 01N concern maritime security search and rescue (SAR) as well as community service activities in Natuna.

According to Margono, the joint military exercise involving the Southeast Asian countries is the first in the history of ASEAN member countries' military meetings.

The fact that this joint military training between ASEAN member countries had never been held before was one of the driving forces for the military chiefs to hold this training.

Military trainings throughout this time were held only between two countries.

However, the scope of the upcoming ENatuna or Asec 01N is expanded to include Timor-Leste that recently received approval to become a full member of ASEAN.

Despite this, Margono noted that the joint training, involving personnel of the Army, Air Force and Navy, will be oriented towards non-combat training activities.

Through this training, ASEAN countries' military will be more centered and stronger to maintain stability of the region, especially the ASEAN.

At the end, Margono handed over the ACDM forum chairmanship to the military chief of Laos, as the 21th ACDFM host in 2024, in accordance with the agreement results of the ACDFM in Bali.

Similar to the support given by ASEAN countries' armed forces chiefs, the TNI chief will also extend his full support for the 21st ACDFM meeting in Laos.

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Editor: Sri Haryati
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