Asean Summit security operation 'as complex to plan for' as Trump-Kim Summit

SINGAPORE – The operation to safeguard the upcoming Asean Summit will involve fewer military personnel and resources than the Trump-Kim Summit held here in June, but is just as complex to plan for.

Colonel Lim Kok Hong, head of the Current Operations Group for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), said that although next week’s summit will involve 1,600 military personnel, compared to the 2,000 in June 2018’s historic meeting between the American and North Korea leaders, the circumstances are different.

“Every summit location will provide different challenges. The previous one (Trump-Kim Summit) was a lot closer to the sea, hence our security posture was different.

“This one is closer inland, there are a lot more heads of state, a lot more hotels, so the challenges are different, but we overcome them with planning,” added Col Lim, who spoke to the media on Friday (Nov 9) on board the RSS Sovereignty.

The 33rd Asean Summit and related summits will be held at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre from Nov 11 to Nov 15, and attended by leaders from 10 South-east Asian countries and their counterparts from China, the US, Japan and Russia.

The SAF will be deploying over 40 assets from several task forces to secure Singapore’s airspace and surrounding waters during the summit.

“We also work closely with our homefront agency partners like the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force in order to protect the Asean Summit location,” said Col Lim.

Preparations for the summit have been consistent and ongoing as this is a scheduled event, unlike the uncertainty surrounding the Trump-Kim Summit, added Col Lim.

United States President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, 2018. The meeting and venue was first announced on May 10, but then cancelled abruptly on May 24.

Later on June 2, it was announced that the meeting would take place.

For the Asean Summit, the Maritime Security Task Force will have two vessels – a littoral mission vessel and a patrol vessel – patrolling the anchorage around Marina Barrage, where an average of 200 merchant ships like tankers and container vessels sit daily.

The Air Defence Task Force will also adopt a heightened security stance. On high alert, there will be additional precautions such as F-15SG and F-16 fighter jets in the sky to conduct combat air patrol.

On land, the Island Defence Task Force and Special Operations Task Force will support the police in security operations, with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives (CBRE) teams and the Medical Response Force involved as well.

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