Australia and the other members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) have commenced Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2012. The Exercise promotes a shared understanding of procedures for air and maritime operations, the protection of the marine environment and disaster relief management.

The FPDA is the longest standing multilateral arrangement in South East Asia. In 2011, the FPDA celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Australian Defence Force has deployed 12 aircraft and two naval vessels to participate in the exercise this year, as well as 20 personnel to work in the exercise headquarters.

“This exercise provides the Australian Defence Force with an important opportunity to enhance relationships and interoperability with our security partners and ensuring the practices and plans are in place to respond to security and humanitarian missions in our region, should the need arise,” Commander Australian Contingent, Wing Commander Louis Nuttycombe said.

Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2012 will occur between 23 April and 5 May 2012 and will take place in Malaysia, the South China Sea and Singapore.

"The Australian Defence Force was a founding member of Five Power Defence Arrangements and this year marks the 41st anniversary of our involvement in these exercises,” Wing Commander Nuttycombe said.

Many of the Australian participants will be operating at Head Quarters – Integrated Area Defence Systems (HQ IADS) at Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) Base Butterworth in Malaysia, from where the exercise will be commanded.

Royal Australian Air Force aircraft including F-18 Hornets and AP-3C Orions will operate from RMAF Butterworth. HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Collins will participate in the naval component of this exercise.