Apirat urges better Asean military ties

Apirat urges better Asean military ties

Army chief calling for joint exercise to help combat forest fires

Army chief Apirat Kongsompong is calling for improved cooperation between Asean's military forces to improve the efficiency of the bloc's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

"Cooperation ... is vital because we can solve problems in a swift and timely manner if Asean countries work together," Gen Apirat told the commander of the Royal Brunei Land Forces, Gen Awang Khairul Hamed bin Awang Haji Lampo yesterday.

Gen Apirat is wrapping up a two-day visit by high-ranking Thai military officers to Brunei, in which he discussed with Gen Awang ways to deepen military cooperation and information sharing for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations.

The Thai army chief met the commander of the Royal Brunei Land Forces as well as other high-ranking officers from Brunei's defence ministry during his visit.

During the meeting, Gen Apirat suggested joint firefighting training be carried out to combat forest fires -- a major source of transboundary pollution in the region.

Collectively, the area encompassing the 10-member organisation is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world.

Between 2004 and 2014, the region contributed to more than half of global disaster fatalities -- about 354,000 of the estimated 700,000 deaths recorded.

In 2018 alone, the bloc reported over 400 disaster occurrences, from earthquakes in Indonesia, flash floods in Lao PDR and typhoons in the Philippines, according to figures on Asean's website.

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