United States President Donald Trump in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, praised and thanked the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for coming to the US’ aid during the recent Hurricane Harvey.
He said: “When Hurricane Harvey struck our Gulf Coast in late August, Singapore deployed its own helicopters to help transport personnel and critical resources to areas in need. And the Prime Minister told me that and called me, and made that request himself. It was a great help, and we want to thank you very much – the use of your helicopters.”
PM Lee indeed offered to deploy the RSAF’s Chinook helicopters from its Peace Prairie detachment in Texas to assist in the disaster relief operations.
It’s interesting to note why Singapore offered to help, since its assets in the detachment is considered small as compared to the military assets that the US has on home ground, and also, the Chinook helicopters are manufactured by Boeing which is located in the US. So why, would Singapore offer to help?
The reason is plain and simple. A good friend never sits idle when a friend is in need.
And we all know how in a disaster, every ounce of help goes a long way.
In terms of fighting terrorism, President Trump also noted that Singapore lent support to the Defeat-ISIS Coalition, and it is the only Asian country to contribute both military assets and personnel.
And in the effort, the SAF is also pushing above its weight. Defence MInister Ng Eng Hen said that the SAF “is regarded as a “valued contributor” to the coalition, and won praise from coalition partners such as the US Central Command and Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF)”.
Singapore and the United States’ bilateral defence relations extend way back to 1990 when both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to allow the US navy and airforce access to Singapore’s military facilities.
The US has also supported the SAF’s training in the United States. In fact, the US hosts 4 RSAF detachments in different locations around the country.
Bilateral defence relations were further enhanced in 2015 with the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, to establish cooperation in non-conventional security areas like cyber, biosecurity, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Singapore has good bilateral relations with the US on many fronts, but perhaps in this day and age where security and safety is of paramount importance, it is the close defence relations that much needed in order to maintain peace and stability in our region.