Australia to launch Indian Ocean military exercises from Colombo

Saturday, 16 March 2019 00:20 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Australian Acting High commissioner Jon Philp and Australian Defence Adviser to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Royal Australian Air Force Group Captain Sean Unwin participate the press conference yesterday morning


  • IPE-19, Australia’s biggest ever defence engagement in SL with 1,000 Australian military next week
  • Says SL is a vital partner in the Indian Ocean 



By Shanika Sriyananda

Reinforcing strong ties and Sri Lanka’s strategic location, Australia will launch its Indian Ocean military exercises from Colombo next week.

“Australia’s Defence White Paper 2016 acknowledges Sri Lanka’s strategic location on the important maritime corridor in the Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka is also a partner of choice for Australia in the Indo-Pacific region,” Acting Australian High Commissioner Jon Philp said.

At a media briefing held in Colombo yesterday to announce the Australian largest-ever defence engagement – Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE-19) to be held from next week, he said that Indo-Pacific nations, Australia and Sri Lanka were sharing common interests in trade, secure sea lines of communication and maritime approaches in the Indian Ocean.

“Sri Lanka and Australia have very strong common views for future of the maritime security and peace in the region,” he said.

The IPE-19, a multinational joint exercise, including the Australian tri-forces, is a defence engagement to enhance regional security and stability. In Sri Lanka, both Colombo and Trincomalee harbours and the Mattala Airport have been included in the exercise which will be held from 23 to 29 March.

Over 1,000 ADF personnel and four Royal Australian Naval ships – the Canberra which is an amphibious helicopter landing dock and the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy; the Newcastle, which is a guided missile frigate; the Parramatta, which is an anti-submarine frigate and the Success, which is a replenishment ship – would arrive Sri Lanka to join the week-long military engagement.

Philp said that the ADF would engage in a range of military activities with the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the military engagement would be an important opportunity for Australia-Sri Lanka to improve cooperation and exchange common knowledge of both military.

“Both countries have similar interests on maritime security and Indian Ocean issues and this military engagement will enhance the 70 years of close diplomatic relations between the two countries,” he said.

The Australian High Commission Defence Advisor Group Captain Sean Unwin said that the Australia-Sri Lanka defence relationship had grown steadily since 2015.

The two nations are mainly focused on education and training, supporting Whole-of-Government counter-people smuggling efforts and maintaining a rules-based order in the Indian Ocean.

“This initiative is designed to promote security and stability in Australia’s near region through bilateral and multilateral engagement, training and capacity building and Australia is committed to developing strong and positive defence relations with regional nations through dialogue and practical activities,” he noted.

Group Captain Unwin said that military-to-military engagements between the two countries had developed shared understanding, trust and capacity to respond to a full spectrum of real-world incidents in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2018, 25 Sri Lanka Navy Marines joined the RAN Canberra for the first time to join in the ‘Exercise Rim of the Pacific’ in Hawaii.

He said that IPE-19 activities would include humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning, peacekeeping exchange, maritime surveillance related training opportunities for the Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force.

“This is a great opportunity for our two countries to engage on a number of capabilities and issues in order to broaden our defence relationship and build a stepping-stone for greater engagement in the future,” he noted.

After the exercise in Sri Lanka, the IPE-19 ships and assets will visit other regional partners such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Pic by Lasantha Kumara