The Vietnamese delegation to the event was led by Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Tan Cuong, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army and Deputy Defense Minister.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Tan Cuong at the event

At the meeting, ASEAN chiefs of defense forces expressed their support for the ASEAN 2022 Year theme chosen by the host Cambodia as “Solidarity for Peace and Harmony.” In addition, they discussed  regional and international issues, especially traditional and non-traditional challenges that have direct impacts on the region, reviewed cooperation results among ASEAN militaries, contributing to enhancing practical and effective collaboration among them in the time to come.

Speaking at the meeting, Sr. Lt. Gen. Cuong exchanged views on regional and global issues with ASEAN counterparts. The Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army emphasized that the strategic competition among major world powers has not shown any signs of cooling down and this continues to be a challenge for ASEAN's central role. Regional countries began to reopen after implementing large-scale COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, but the impacts of the pandemic on all walks of life still remain. In addition, security challenges are still a constant factor of instability, in which maritime security issues, including disputes in the East Sea (South China Sea), continue to develop complicatedly.

The head of the Vietnamese delegation called on countries to continue to maintain peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the East Sea, strengthen trust-building, fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), soon finalize an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), in accordance with international laws, including the United Nations Convention United Nations on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982. Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Tan Cuong asked ASEAN countries to support initiatives and activities chaired by Vietnam on the ASEAN military and defense cooperation channel in 2022.

Heads of delegations sign the ACDFM-19 Joint Statement.

At the event, the Vietnamese defense leader thanked the countries for participating in the discussion of and contributing to Vietnam's initiative to establish the ASEAN Military Intelligence Community. He hoped to receive continuous supports from them to launch the initiative soon.

Delegates to the ACDFM-19 also listened to the reports on the results of the 19th ASEAN Military Intelligence Meeting (AMIM-19) and the 12th ASEAN Military Operations Meeting (AMOM-12) which were jointly held on March 15. Additionally, they approved the two-year action plan of the ASEAN militaries (2022-2024) and agreed to sign the ACDFM-19 Joint Statement.

At the end of the meeting, a ceremony to hand over the ACDFM-20 Chairmanship to Indonesia, the Chair of ASEAN for 2023, was held. On the evening of March 17, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces held an official banquet for the delegations taking part in the ACDFM-19.

* On the sidelines of the ACDFM-19, General Cuong had bilateral meetings with the head delegates of the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.

At the meeting between Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Tan Cuong and General Andres Centino

At the meeting with General Andres Centino, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the two sides reviewed defense ties over the past time and agreed to continue directing relevant agencies of the two defense ministries to enhance exchange programs in 2022. They hoped that these practical cooperative activities will contribute to boosting friendship and enhancing mutual trust between the two militaries in the time to come.

At the meeting with the head delegate of Brunei Darussalam, General Cuong congratulated Maj. Gen. Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Muhammad Haszaimi bin Bol Hassan for his new appointment as the 12th Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, as well as applauded the success of the Brunei Ministry of Defense and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces in hosting the 2021 ASEAN Chairmanship.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Tan Cuong (left) and Maj. Gen. Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Muhammad Haszaimi bin Bol Hassan

The two generals also shared the COVID-19 situations in each country and their armies’ participation in the pandemic prevention and control efforts over the past time. Regarding the bilateral ties, the two sides agreed that there is still room for strengthening their relationships in the time to come, particularly in delegation exchange, training cooperation, young officers exchange, and so on.

During the meeting with General Chalermphon Srisawasdi, Chief of Defense Forces of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, General Cuong and his Thai counterpart highly valued the implementation of comprehensive cooperation activities between the two sides over the past time. The two head delegates affirmed that they will continue directing their affiliated units to foster cooperation in the time to come, especially in delegation exchange, consultation mechanisms, dialogues, and language and professional training.

At the meeting between Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Tan Cuong and General Chalermphon Srisawasdi

Previously, on March 16, General Cuong had bilateral meetings with Laos’ and Myanmar’s head delegates.

Translated by Trung Thanh