KUALA LUMPUR: The United States strongly valued its long and established partnership with Malaysia in the security and defence sector, said US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Reed B Werner.
He said the relationship is long-standing and the US is looking forward to further deepening the ties – particularly in the area of maritime security.
“Our defence relationship with Malaysia is deep and it is long-standing and it is encouraging as we look forward to the future.
“We look forward to resuming a number of our exercises and engagements once the Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted,” he told Bernama in a phone interview from Washington, Thursday.
Werner said Washington’s commitments in defence ties with Malaysia are translated into cooperation and engagements in diverse areas of the defence sector, specifically in efforts to enhance maritime domain awareness.
He said this was critically important, given the South China Sea issues right now, while reaffirming that the US remains very much focused on that with the Malaysian Armed Forces.
“Basically, maritime domain awareness is important for Malaysia, given where it sits geographically. Since 2017, we have provided nearly US$200 million in grant assistance to the Malaysian Armed Forces to enhance maritime domain awareness, and that includes ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), maritime surveillance upgrades, and long-range air defence radar.
“Of note, the first batch of our ScanEagles, our UAVs, arrived in Malaysia in May. That’s one area that we are proud of, and we have good cooperation with your military,” said Werner.
He added that Washington and Kuala Lumpur also cooperate in various other security engagements, including over 100 security cooperation activities that range from training and courses to defence trade and military training.
“We also have bilateral defence dialogues as well, which are important, certainly for policymakers and diplomats on both sides for discussing defence cooperation and other defence engagements in the defence calendar, in the year ahead,” Werner said.
To date, he said armed forces from both the US and Malaysia are having 14 bilateral or multilateral military exercises every year.
Among them are Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), Cope Taufan, Keris Strike, Tiger Strike and Air Warrior.
“All of these are mutually beneficial. We get as much out of these as we believe the Malaysian military does,” he said.
In training relationship, he said the US has been long involved in training Malaysian military officers and personnel, wherein 300 officers and personnel from Malaysia’s Defence Ministry had been trained by the US across 50 courses in 2019 alone.
“One stat (statistic) that’s particularly notable and we’re very proud of and we’d like to continue is (that) one out of approximately three senior Malaysian officers have attended US-funded training at US military institutions,” Werner said, adding that currently there are nine Malaysians attending service academies in the US, while over 30 have graduated from such academies. – Bernama