Defense Officials Note Rapid Changes in Security Architecture

Meeting in Phom Penh, Cambodia last May 24, defense officials of ARF countries in their dialogue noted the rapidly changing regional security architecture as manifested by the East Asia Summit expansion to 18 countries with the inclusion of the US and Russia. This the summit and that of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus of the same composition and number of countries. Given this, they examined ways to further link the ARF and the ADMM-Plus through participation in each other’s activities and enhanced information sharing through the ASEAN Secretariat.

Remaining high in the agenda of the dialogue is the issue of enhancing military practical cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster response as well as cooperation on peacekeeping operations.

In the ARF Security Policy Conference (ASPC) that followed the next day, senior officials from the ARF countries exchanged views on a number of priority concerns for the region namely the West Philippine Sea, North Korea’s rocket launch, violence in Syria and Afghanistan. Overall, the participants urged the parties involved in the issue to clarify conflicting claims and exercise restraint. Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, the US, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Laos specifically alluded to the need to maintain freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of the dispute in accordance with international law. 

Positive developments specifically the successful elections in Myanmar and Timor Leste were also discussed. Assistant Secretary Efren Fernandez and Director Marita Yoro from the Department of National Defense took part in these meetings.