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Navies of 21 Countries Take Part in US-led Drills in Southeast Asia

Navies of 21 Countries Take Part in US-led Drills in Southeast Asia
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By Staff, Agencies

The United States-led ‘Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training’ [SEACAT] military exercises are underway in Singapore and online.

Now in its 20th year, the annual drills began on Tuesday and involve the navies of 21 countries.

They include Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, East Timor, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.

In a statement, the US Navy 7th fleet said this year’s drills include 10 ships and more than 400 personnel. The exercises are designed to encourage countries to use their maritime forces to enhance understanding of the “operational environment, build capacity for humanitarian support missions, and uphold international laws and norms”, it said.

The SEACAT exercises are taking place as China and Russia also undertake joint military exercises in China’s north-central Ningxia region and the US prepares for drills with South Korea that have raised tensions with Pyongyang.

The South China Sea, which is claimed almost in its entirety by China but also by Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, is one of the world’s busiest waterways and has become an increasing focus of maritime interest.