Defense Ministers Go on a Retreat

With the increasing reliance on cyber infrastructure by defense establishments and the increasing cyber challenges, it is time for the ADMM to promote practical cooperation on cyber security and defense. This was stressed by Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin to the 9 other defense ministers of ASEAN during their retreat in Malaysia. Held in Kuala Lumpur and hosted by Malaysia as the 2015 Chair of ASEAN, the ADMM Retreat was held a day prior the 3rd ADMM-Plus. The retreat among ASEAN defense ministers enabled them to put forth proposals on how to move the ADMM process after taking stock of the progress of the ADMM since it first convened in 2006. The Philippine proposal was received well by the other defense ministers.

Given the existence of the current six ADMM-Plus working groups (on HA/DR, maritime security, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations, military medicine and humanitarian mine action), Secretary Gazmin made pitch for rationalizing the various mechanisms 
within ASEAN to include the ASEAN Regional Forum to ensure that they complement one another and do not duplicate the efforts made within each mechanism. 

Secretary Gazmin likewise called on his fellow defense ministers to work on a shared protocols of interaction while a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea is being worked out by ASEAN and China. This could be ADMM-Plus' contribution to the maintenance of stability within the South China Sea. These protocols become increasingly important with the anticipated increase in activities in the area given the proposals to conduct joint patrols and other multilateral activities in the South China Sea/West Philipine Sea.

Meanwhile the ASEAN defense ministers witnessed the signing of a contract between Brunei as representative of the ADMM with a commercial business firm to operationalize the Direct Communication Link (DCL) which would enable two ASEAN defense ministers to consult and communicate with each other when conflict arises between any two members of the ADMM. The system is expected to go on-line in early next year.