The Commander of the United States (US) Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John C Aquilino concluded his three-day visit to Brunei on Tuesday.
The visit focussed on enhancing security cooperation between the US and the Sultanate for the mutual benefit of both countries and in defence of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
On Monday, Admiral Aquilino met 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.
He expressed gratitude to His Majesty for the monarch’s unwavering support of the security partnership and continued defence cooperation between Brunei and the US.
He was joined by US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Caryn McClelland, Executive Assistant Captain Melvin Smith, and the US Embassy’s Chief of the Office of Defence Cooperation Lieutenant Commander Samuel Kim.
Through meetings with the Ministry of Defence, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Admiral Aquilino discussed ways to strengthen Brunei’s security cooperation with the US and regional partners to address global challenges such as violent extremism and climate change.
He also focussed on enhancing training collaborations and intelligence sharing to respond to and prevent emerging threats.
His trip included a visit to the Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque, where he learnt about the rich history of Islam in the Sultanate and gain an appreciation of the cultural and architectural elements that make the mosque unique.
“We were delighted to have Admiral Aquilino in the country for his first official visit as the US Indo-Pacific Commander,” said McClelland.
“His visit speaks volumes about the US’ commitment to our security partnership with Brunei.
“We plan to build off this to continue increasing the joint interoperability of our forces and improving regional security awareness and cooperation,” he added.
The close relationship between the US and Brunei began when the USS Constitution dropped anchor in Brunei Bay on April 6, 1845 – a visit that led to the signing of a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation that remains active today.
The US and Brunei’s armed forces regularly engage in joint exercises and training programmes, with the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise at the core of the bilateral defence relationship.
The Pahlawan Warrior exercise between the US Army and Royal Brunei Land Force in June this year was the largest combined exercise the two nations have ever conducted.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) made a port call on July 25 to Brunei in honour of His Majesty’s 76th birthday.
The US Indo-Pacific Command is the states’ oldest and largest combatant command, and Admiral Aquilino is the region’s most senior US military commander, reporting directly to the US Secretary of Defence.