Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne has revealed an increased focus on the South Asian and Indian Ocean regions for the ADF with the announcement of a deployment of a major joint task force (JTF) deployment for Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE19).
IPE19 will be the third such annual deployment to the region. The task force will be led by the LHD HMAS Canberra, and will include at least two other major surface assets, a replenishment vessel, an RAAF P-8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and a number of embarked helicopters.
Minister Pyne says engagement with India, as one of Australia’s key strategic partners in the Indian Ocean region, will be the cornerstone for IPE19. “Australia and India share a commitment to a peaceful and secure region, and to upholding a rules-based global order,” he said.
“Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 is a major contribution to this effort. It reinforces Australia’s commitment to engaging all Indo-Pacific nations and promoting regional maritime security cooperation.”
The IPE19 deployment will include port visits to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, and will participate in the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus maritime exercise, and Exercise Bersama Shield.
“The Joint Task Force will demonstrate the ADF’s ability to conduct combined activities with our strategic partners including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Minister Pyne said.
“Building interoperability with key partners and improving coordination of responses was a key strategy outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper. IPE19 is an important element of Defence putting this strategy into practice.”
The IPE19 JTF will depart Perth in March, and is scheduled to return in June.