About the Seminar
The seminar is co-organised by the Embassy of France and RSIS on the occasion of the PEGASE 2023 mission visit to Singapore. It will explore the roles of air operations in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Indo-Pacific.
The Indo-Pacific is now a global focal point in international relations recognising its place as a strategic region for international competition and cooperation. Globally, the Indo-Pacific is the region most affected by natural hazards and compounded by climate change most likely increasing the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters. Amidst the rising political tensions between global powers in the region, the role of foreign military assistance to support affected states and societies alongside United Nations Agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, NGOs and the private sector has become more pronounced.
The Indo-Pacific has a long history of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations provided by militaries. Since 1970, Singapore has deployed HADR missions to support affected states and societies. Most recently it deployed two C-130 from the Republic of Singapore Air Forces in Myanmar in support of relief efforts for Cyclone Mocha. Likewise, the French Air Force deployed their A400M and C-130 from Soudan to Djibouti to rescue 900 citizens. Indeed, air power and modern air operations are central in HADR operations, as aircraft have the potential to access and deploy in multiple environments around the world. The capabilities of aircraft as high speed, long reach, mobility and technological intensity, make the air force a strategic tool to provide a quick and efficient response while allowing for cooperation. On the occasion of the PEGASE 2023 mission, as France demonstrates the high capacities and expertise of its French Air and Space Force, it intends to reinforce interoperability and training capabilities with Singapore, a core partner of France in the HADR domain.
As HADR proficiency is an indicator of operational readiness in conventional security forces, this seminar will explore humanitarian action in the Indo-Pacific and the role of modern air operations to improve the efficiency of disaster responses. The panellists will analyze the role of air forces, their new capabilities, their participation in the potential evolution of HADR operations and the difficulties of humanitarian assistance in a crisis environment.
About the Panellists
Brigadier General Marc Le Bouil is the Deputy Commander of the Strategic Air Command and the chief of PEGASE 2023 mission. After graduating from the French Air Force Academy, he became a fighter pilot in 1993. In 2000 he is appointed as Deputy Commanded and then Commander of the French Air Force Combat School, in Cazaux Air Force Base. After joining the War College, he has notable appointments as Chief in the nuclear and risk management fields in the Ministry of Defence. Brigadier General Le Bouil is a fighter pilot with more than 3000 flying hours and flew 107 combat missions, for which he received numerous high-level military medals.
Ambassador Minh-di Tang is a career diplomat. Prior to her assignment as the French ambassador in Singapore, she was the head of Southeast Asia division at the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs for 3 years. Ms Tang was mainly trained as an economist, studied at the Paris Institute of Political Science and holds a degree in Chinese language and civilization. She joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 25 years ago where she held positions in the fields of climate change, defence and security issues. She was the Deputy Permanent Representative of France at the Conference on Disarmament, in Geneva, and Deputy to the Consul General in Jerusalem, who represents France to the Palestinian Authority. Her first assignment abroad was in Singapore (2001-2004).
Ambassador Barry Desker is the Distinguished Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), and Nanyang Professor of Practice, Nanyang Technological University. He is a Member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, Singapore and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellowship. He was the Chair of the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2018. From 2000 to 2014, he was the Director, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies and served as founding Dean of RSIS from 2007 to 2014. He was the Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Trade Development Board from 1994 to 2000 and Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993. Ambassador Desker served as Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to the Holy See and Spain from 2007 to 2020.
Dr Alistair D. B. Cook is the Coordinator of the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme and Senior Fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research interests focus geographically on the Asia-Pacific and thematically on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), foreign policy and regional cooperation.
Dr Lina Gong is a Research Fellow with the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Her research interests include humanitarian studies, China’s foreign policy, global governance, and non-traditional security studies in East Asia. She has published journal articles and book chapters on humanitarian affairs, China’s foreign policy, and non-traditional security issues in Asia.