Jakarta (ANTARA) - Commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Admiral Yudo Margono opened the 2023 ASEAN Solidarity Exercise Natuna (ASEX-01 N) at Batu Ampar Pier, Batam, Riau Islands, on Tuesday.

The exercise was attended by 10 ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste as observers. This activity is the first non-combatant exercise involving all armed forces from ASEAN member countries.

"TNI, as the initiator of this exercise, wants to emphasize that unity between member countries will continue to be maintained. ASEAN must always maintain unity and harmonious relations among each other amid diversity," Admiral Margono stated during his opening speech.

He believes that all military forces from ASEAN countries have agreed to continue to intensify cooperation, which includes knowledge and information exchanges and military tactics.

"In this joint exercise, the Army, Navy, and Air Force will be involved in various non-combatant activities, including maritime security activities, search and rescue actions, civil engineering programs (ENCAP), health services (MEDCAP), and expert discussion activities (Subject Matter Expert Exchange), deck landing qualification, and replenishment at sea," he stated.

The admiral expressed hope that the participants would learn from one another in this joint exercise and improve their work professionalism.

"This activity will strengthen and sharpen our ability to maintain peace, prosperity, and security in the region," he affirmed.

Related news: ASEAN to set joint military drills in North Natuna Sea

On the same occasion, he also reminded the participants to follow security and safety guidelines and procedures during the entire series of the joint exercise.

The 10 ASEAN countries involved in ASEX-01 Natuna 2023 are Indonesia, as the initiator and host, then Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and the Philippines, while Timor-Leste acts as an observer.

Several leaders from friendly countries were also present, including Commander of the Malaysian Army General Tan Sri Datuk Seri Mohammad bin Ab Rahman, Chief of Defense Force of the Singapore Armed Forces Vice Admiral Aaron Beng, and Deputy Chief of Joint Staff Royal Thai Armed Forces Admiral Thani Kaewkao.

During the exercise, TNI deployed two warships, namely KRI dr. Radjiman Wedyodiningrat-992 and KRI Jhon Lie-358. Meanwhile, the Malaysian Army deployed a patrol boat KD Trengganu, Brunei Darussalam deployed a patrol boat KDB Darulehsan, and Singapore deployed a corvette warship RSS Vigour.

The ships will patrol together in the North Natuna Sea during a series of joint exercises on September 18-23, 2023.

Related news: Minister presses for boosting defense cooperation with ASEAN countries

Translator: Genta Tenri M, Resinta S
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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