Think Tank (July to August 2019)
Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman delivering the keynote address
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29 Jul 2019

The 21st Asia Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO 2019) was held at Singapore’s Village Hotel Changi from 29 July to 4 August 2019. It was organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and its component Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS). More than 50 senior military officers and defence officials from over 20 countries, spanning the entire Asia-Pacific region and beyond, attended the APPSMO 2019.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of APPSMO. To commemorate this milestone, the APPSMO Distinguished Alumni Speakers Series was launched. As part of the series, distinguished alumni such as Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Chan Chun Sing (who is the former Chief of Army), and Commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, Brigadier General Ng Ying Thong, were invited to speak on topics that covered Singapore’s Total Defence strategy and the role of the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) role in peacetime. More such talks by distinguished APPSMO alumni are planned for the future.

This year’s theme, “Security Challenges and Opportunities in the Asia-Pacific” reflects the growing debate within policy circles about both long-standing and more recent security trends in the region. It follows on from last year’s theme on ASEAN and its role in managing regional security within the Asia-Pacific and possibly beyond. Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, delivered the keynote address. It reflected on the history of the region and highlighted new opportunities and common security threats, emphasising the important role that ASEAN played in maintaining the regional security architecture. The Programme also had the honour of hosting Prof Wang Gungwu, University Professor at the National University of Singapore, who delivered a Distinguished Lecture titled “China and Change: Domestic and Foreign Imperatives”. The lecture gave important insights into China’s worldview and how this has translated into its domestic and foreign policy.

Over the course of the week, APPSMO participants attended a series of panels addressing issues such as visions of the regional security architecture, the military’s role in humanitarian emergencies and non-traditional security, competing norms and strategic implications (in cyberspace), emerging technologies and the changing nature of warfare, and ASEAN and power dynamics in the region. They also had the opportunity to visit the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre (RHCC), Information Fusion Centre (IFC), and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), as well as attend National Day Preview Parade on 3 August 2019.

Overall, the lectures and informal discussions gave participants the opportunity to learn about and update their knowledge of the key trends in defence and security-related issues, and get a feel of regional security developments. At the same time, social interaction and recreational activities encouraged participants to interact with one another in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. Through these, APPSMO 2019 has been successful in fostering closer ties and working relationships among the participants, nurturing a network of defence thinkers and planners, and contributing towards fostering a dynamic yet stable environment conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

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