Defence’s flagship regional engagement activity, Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE), returned to Maldives in January for only the second time.
IPE first came to the country in 2022, paving the way for Australia’s inaugural P-8A Poseidon visit to Maldives later that year.
The most recent visit included key leadership engagement between senior leaders of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and an Australian delegation led by Commander IPE23 Air Commodore Tony McCormack and Commander IPE24 Commodore Michael Harris, and newly appointed Defence Advisor to the Maldives Colonel Amanda Johnston.
Air Commodore McCormack, who was on his final country visit before transferring command to Commodore Harris, said the visit had provided a platform for further engagement in Maldives as part of IPE24 later in the year.
“As Indian Ocean neighbours, Australia and Maldives share interests in maritime security, trade, combating transnational crime and collaboration on the oceans and environment,” Air Commodore McCormack said.
“Our engagement this week involving our key leaders, training experts, Air Force band and Navy Imam has allowed us to enhance relationships and plan future activities that support our joint interests.”
The visit was timed to coincide with a reception to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Maldives, which were formalised in 1974.
Air Commodore McCormack said the final round of engagement for IPE23 capped off a successful series of activities in the region.
“We engaged with 14 countries through ship, aircraft and personnel visits, with more than 2000 ADF personnel participating in IPE23,” he said.
In 2024, IPE will conduct engagements with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Thailand and Vietnam, in addition to Maldives.
Commodore Harris said IPE24, under his command, would continue to focus on deepening diplomatic and defence partnerships across Southeast Asia and the Northeast Indian Ocean.
“IPE is a key way we invest in our regional partnerships,” Commodore Harris said.
“Strong cooperation and the ability to work with security forces of the Indo-Pacific is critical to supporting a peaceful, secure and prosperous region.”