Think Tank (4/2023)
(L-R) Ms Wichuta Teeratanabodee, Brigadier General Marc Le Bouil, Dr Alistair D.B. Cook, Dr Lina Gong
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Air Operations in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the Indo-Pacific
27 Jun 2023

The Embassy of France and RSIS co-organised a seminar which took place on 27 June 2023, on the occasion of the PEGASE 2023 mission visit to Singapore. The seminar was titled “Air Operations in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the Indo-Pacific”. As Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) proficiency is an indicator of operational readiness in conventional security forces, this seminar explored the wide domain of HADR in the Indo-pacific region, and the role of modern air operation to improve the efficiency of disaster responses. The panelists analysed 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.

This seminar reaffirmed how the high speed, long reach, mobility, and technological intensity of air power make the air force a strategic tool to provide a quick and efficient response to face the growing climate change challenges. Moreover, beyond air capacity, it is cooperation and mutual training which are essential for HADR operations and the preservation of Southeast Asia’s population security.

The cooperation between France and Singapore is embodied by the PEGASE 2023 mission, the third air power deployment in the Indo-pacific from the French forces since 2018. Furthermore, both countries have fostered an intensive defence partnership for several decades, including numerous maritime and aerial stopovers to reinforce interoperability, and the implantation of the 150th Squadron of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), which has been on Cazaux base for 25 years.

The panelists emphasised the fact that both countries still have a lot to learn from each other, pointing out recent examples: (i) The RSAF deploying two C-130 planes to Myanmar in support of relief efforts, as a reflection of their deep commitment to regional stability and security, and (ii) The French Air Forces rescuing more than 900 citizens during the Sagittaire operations in Sudan.

Singapore is diligent in the choice of its partners and saw in France a credible partner, and friend, to preserve the international order and the security equilibrium in the Indo-pacific. By learning through shared experience and knowledge, seminars like this can build trust and mutual understanding, and continue growing the long-standing bilateral defence relations between Singapore and France.

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