The event, themed “Military cooperation for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN”, saw the attendance of leaders of other ASEAN countries’ defense forces, heads of delegations to the 17th ASEAN Military Intelligence Meeting (AMIM-17) and the 10th ASEAN Military Operations Meeting (AMOM-10), along with ambassadors and defense attachés of ASEAN member states.

Senior Lieutenant General Phan Van Giang (centre) chairs the 17th ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces’ Meeting.

Although this was the first time the meeting had been held virtually, the meetings displayed the proactiveness and determination of the host and ASEAN countries to effectively carry out priorities and initiatives in the ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including successfully organizing the bloc’s defense - military meetings, timely proposing and realizing many initiatives to combat the pandemic, and implementing activities within the ASEAN defense and military cooperation framework.

In his opening speech, General Giang welcomed participants to the ACDFM-17, and congratulated the two newly-appointed chiefs of the defense forces of Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia on their new positions. He affirmed that he hopes the head delegates will actively contribute to the success of the meetings and the cooperation among the militaries of ASEAN. He also thanked the defense ministries and armed forces of ASEAN countries for supporting Vietnam during its ASEAN Chairmanship this year.

The Chief of the General Staff asserted that he believes with the efforts of ASEAN member states, the COVID-19 pandemic will be controlled and people’s lives will return to normal.

Recognizing outcomes of the earlier AMIM-17 and AMOM-10 meetings to prepare for this meeting, the ASEAN Chief of Defense Forces held that thanks to the efforts of each country and close coordination among member nations, ASEAN militaries have carried out cooperation activities fruitfully, especially those within the framework of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus Experts’ Working Groups.

Leaders of ASEAN countries’ defense forces take part in the online meeting. (Screen captured)

At the meeting, they reaffirmed their commitments and collective responsibilities to jointly cope with common challenges towards “a cohesive and responsive ASEAN”. They also agreed on the significance of multilateral defense cooperation in response to long-term challenges like terrorism.

Additionally, they acknowledged Vietnam’s initiatives on defense cooperation and COVID-19 pandemic response, which are stated in the Joint Statement of the ACDFM-17. They praised the discussion process on Vietnam’s initiative of placing ASEAN flags next to the flags of ASEAN member countries at the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions.

They affirmed their support for the maintenance of peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation in the East Sea, agreeing that ASEAN needs to be persistent in its principled stance of peacefully resolving disputes and disagreements on the basis of international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

At the meeting, Vietnam handed over the ACDFM chairmanship to Brunei Darussalam.

* Within the framework of the ACDFM-17, Senior Lieutenant General Phan Van Giang also hosted a reception for ambassadors and defense attaché of ASEAN countries in Vietnam on the same day.

At the reception for ambassadors and defense attaché of ASEAN countries in Vietnam

During the receptions, General Giang warmly welcomed the guests and expressed his thanks for their active participation to the ACDFM-17.

In turn, the guests spoke highly of Vietnam’s efforts to actively and effectively carry out priorities and initiatives in its ASEAN Chairmanship, including successfully organizing the block’s defense - military meetings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expressed their belief that the success of the ACDFM-17 will continue to improve the effectiveness of existing military cooperation mechanisms, contributing to building trust and strengthening solidarity among the militaries of ASEAN countries, as well as creating a collective strength to respond to common challenges, while maintaining ASEAN's central role in preserving regional peace and stability.

Translated by Trung Thanh