Two Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships deployed for Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022 (IPE22) in October, signaling the launch of Australia’s flagship regional engagement. IPE returns with a full-scale bilateral and multilateral mission following two years of program changes due to COVID-19, and this year’s iteration marks the largest since it began in 2017.
“IPE21 achieved positive results through contactless, virtual engagements with key government and military leaders, proving that Australia and our partners can continue to strengthen our relationships no matter the challenges,” said Commodore Mal Wise, commander for IPE21 and IPE22, the Australian website Defence Connect reported. “IPE22 will take place in a more regular and open environment that will allow participants to take part in visits ashore, guests to be welcomed on board our ships, and collaborative activities between our militaries, government agencies and friends. After fulfilling and successful engagements in 2021, I’m excited about strengthening existing partnerships and laying the foundations for 2023 and beyond.”
The HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Anzac are leading the charge for IPE22. The full component includes five ships, 11 helicopters and nearly 1,800 Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Army and RAN personnel. The mission will traverse the Indo-Pacific, visiting a record 14 countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Thailand and Vietnam.
IPE22 runs through mid-December. In addition to military drills, workshops and training, there will be athletic and cultural events. (Pictured: A Royal Australian Navy Sailor, left, instructs two Timor-Leste military officers on operating a patrol vessel during Indo-Pacific Endeavor 2022.)
“By working together, we seek to realize the vision of an open, resilient and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” Vanessa Bell, acting superintendent for the Australian Border Force, which works with regional counterparts on civil maritime security, said in an Australian Defence Force (ADF) news release. “Indo-Pacific Endeavour provides us the opportunity to continue our work within the region, and we look forward to working with our valued partners throughout this exercise.”
One of IPE22’s first scheduled engagements was among ADF and Australian Federal Police representatives and senior Maldivian officials to reaffirm Australia’s commitment to the region. Another early engagement took place in Sri Lanka, where the RAN and Sri Lanka Navy conducted drills for replenishment at sea, maneuvering, communication and helicopter landing, according to ColomboPage, a Sri Lankan internet newspaper.
“Working with partners in the international environment is something navies have been doing for hundreds of years,” Wise said in an ADF news release. “Knowing and understanding the partners you have — what their sensitivities and interests are — is key to building a secure and stable neighborhood.”
IPE supports Australia’s commitment to humanitarian and security operations in the region. Engagements advance stability and security and build capacity.
“Regional security is more than a military task. I am pleased that a range of government agencies are contributing to Indo-Pacific Endeavour as we work together to support a peaceful and prosperous neighborhood,” Wise said. “I look forward to leading Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022 to make new relationships and strengthen our ties in the region. We plan to learn from our partners all the way from India to Indonesia.”
IMAGE CREDIT: AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE