| Aziz Idris |
THE long-standing Brunei-United Kingdom (UK) defence ties are more than just a defence agreement – they demonstrate how both militaries have evolved into a unique personal connection, especially among service members tasked with ensuring security in the region.
This was highlighted by United Kingdom’s Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger during an interview with the local media yesterday.
The senior Royal Marines Officer is in the Sultanate for his first visit while discussing military cooperation and security challenges among his counterparts in the Ministry of Defence (MinDef) and Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF).
General Sir Gordon Messenger also had an audience yesterday with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Discussions included long-term military agreement with the British Army Gurkha Battalion troops as well as delivering support for Royal Marines to conduct jungle warfare training in Brunei, along with short-term security measures in the region.
He was delighted to see the next phase of the Gurkha battalion in Brunei Darussalam for another five years and hoped His Majesty and the people of Brunei will feel the Gurkhas’ presence in the country as living proof of the strong relationship between Brunei and Britain at the military level.
He also pointed out the importance of the continuous jungle warfare training between the Royal Marines and RBAF personnel. Brunei is the hub for jungle warfare training for British forces where there have been joint-exercise with the RBAF who are known to have a specific skills set on jungle warfare. The senior Royal Marines Officer lauded the success of the Jungle Warfare Symposium jointly organised by the RBAF and British Forces last year, saying, “This further demonstrated the good military cooperation between both nations to other military forces in the region.”
General Sir Gordon Messenger also discussed security issues in the region.
He thanked His Majesty’s Government for the warm welcome and hospitality to the British naval ships that passed through the Sultanate recently and revealed about another goodwill visit in March.
“This visit is an opportunity to look back on the UK-Brunei military history and the close relations established between both nations, as well as to look forward to further engagement in military cooperation,” he said.
General Sir Gordon Messenger will also visit a memorial in Limbang, the site of a military engagement between the British Royal Marines commandos and the North Kalimantan National Army insurgents on December 1962, during which several marines and rebels perished in the battle.