AS the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean is today becoming the centerpiece of all geostrategic games.
Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the global agenda of the international community, including the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Major powers such as the United States have strengthened and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region.
The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a conference initiated by the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) that aims to facilitate and improve interactions between armies in the Indo-Pacific region.
This year’s 46th IPAMS, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and USARPAC, ended in Dhaka.
IPAMS aims to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through mutual understanding, dialogue and friendship.
It is the largest conference for land forces in the region and one of the Army’s premier engagements that provides a platform for senior military leaders from the Indo-Pacific regional land forces to exchange views and opinions on peace and stability.
This year’s conference brought together senior military officers from 24 countries.
Under the theme “Opportunities and Challenges for Sustaining Peace and Security in the Indo-Pacific Region”, the event mainly focused on peacekeeping, women empowerment and land power in regional cooperation.
Among other issues, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, leadership development, the fight against transnational crime and the empowerment of women were discussed.
This is the third time that Bangladesh has hosted the conference. Previously, Bangladesh co-hosted the event in 1993 and 2014.
It is also the first time since 2019 that regional armies have come together for the annual forum due to the global pandemic.
Importance of military diplomacy
Bangladesh has always been part of the ancient Indo-Pacific connectivity.
Indeed, it is in Bangladesh’s interest to advocate and work for an open, resilient and interconnected Indo-Pacific.
In a broader sense, its own survival as an independent, sovereign and prosperous nation-state depends on this idea.
With nearly 40 nations that make it up, the Indo-Pacific region covers more than half of the earth’s surface, is home to 60% of the world‘s population, producing 60% of global GDP and contributing two-thirds of current global growth.
By 2030, the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy will live in the Indo-Pacific.
Seven of the world’s 10 largest armies are in the region where border disputes and sovereignty issues dominate the headlines.
Therefore, maintaining peace and security in the region is central to global progress.
However, during the Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, senior military officials from the regions engaged in discussions participated in plenary sessions and listened to distinguished guest speakers as they worked on the how to improve relations between national armies and work together to achieve lasting security in the region. .
The conference brings together senior Army leaders to discuss differences, build trust, mitigate miscalculations, solve problems and find commonalities among the participating multinational professional soldiers.
There are problems that cannot be solved by one or two countries alone.
This platform allows military leaders from all countries in the region to come together, share their ideas and find a collective solution to the urgent and immediate problems they face.
The relationships developed throughout the seminar and through army-to-army engagements would help identify issues of common interest to arrive at pragmatic multilateral solutions in the face of escalating threats. Trust must also be established at the strategic level.
Promoting regional stability in the Indo-Pacific armies requires working with the public sector in policy making and laying the foundation for development that links economic and social development with the protection of the environment and natural resources.
IPAMS promotes networking among military leaders at all levels to join forces in addressing diverse global changes and challenges for the sustainable progress of the region.
The forums provide a unique opportunity to advance understanding of key issues while respecting everyone’s role in promoting security and stability.
This would strengthen people-to-people relations, mutual trust between land forces in the region, which would reduce tensions and allow discussion of issues concerning common interests and concerns.
The 46th IPAMS brings the aspiration to foster lasting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through enhanced cooperation, mutual trust and strong bondage among the land forces of participating nations.
“IPAMS can create a sense of friendship and warmth so that peace and stability reign in the region,” Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at the opening ceremony of the seminar.
USARPAC Commanding General Charles A. Flynn assured that the United States would cooperate with Bangladesh and other Indo-Pacific countries to ensure the security of this important region.
The meetings are another symbol of close cooperation between Bangladesh and the United States.
It also paved the way for enhanced cooperation between the armies of the two countries.
Bangladesh’s army chief said: “The US military is one of the best in the world and highly developed. Working together will give the Bangladesh Army a lot of learning opportunities. We always find opportunities to learn from the experiences of others and always believe that where there is room for improvement.
This conference is encouraging and will take U.S.-Bangladesh relations to new heights.
While militaries from participating countries discussed disaster management, transnational crime, security issues and women’s empowerment, the issue of Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar was not overlooked.
It is undeniable that since the Rohingya crisis erupted in the heart of the Indo-Pacific region, it has all the potential to directly threaten peace and stability in the region.
Due to the prolonged stay of more than one million Rohingya in overcrowded camps, the region’s economy, environment, security and socio-political stability will be severely affected.
A delegation of senior military officials from 24 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Vietnam, visited the sprawling Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar, where the Rohingya expressed their desire to return to their homeland. from Rakhine State to Myanmar and not to a third country.
Members of the group witnessed first-hand the plight of the Rohingya and developed a “clear perception” of the seriousness of the refugee crisis and the need for their repatriation to Myanmar.
The positive and active role of the Bangladesh Army has earned the nation an international reputation with a well-recognized and credible political and diplomatic mileage with the UN and other international actors.
The Bangladesh Armed Forces have glorified the country on the world stage through their brilliant participation in UN peacekeeping missions.
As United Nations peacekeeping operations are constantly evolving, Bangladesh regularly conducts performance reviews of its peacekeepers and takes action to meet future challenges.
Although a late arrival (in 1988) as a troop contributor, Bangladesh has become a credible partner of the UN over the past three decades.
Since 1988, Bangladesh has participated in 54 peacekeeping missions in 40 different countries on five continents with over 175,000 uniformed personnel, including over 1,800 female peacekeepers.
Currently, more than 7,000 soldiers and police are deployed in 10 missions (according to data from the Armed Forces Division).
Praising the Bangladesh Army, Charles said, “The Bangladesh Army is known for its leadership globally due to its contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. Its campus and peacekeeping training center are not only known locally, they are known internationally.
“There are many things the U.S. military and so many other militaries can learn from the experiences of the Bangladeshi military in their international and global commitment to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and operations. peacekeeping.”
This recognition proved once again that our armed forces are a vital factor in maintaining world peace and are capable of protecting our country from the subversive activities of internal and external enemies.
Last but not least, this conference is a critical opportunity to connect with the world’s military leaders to foster alliance partnerships and cooperative relationships.
It is expected that such dialogues will further strengthen ties between Indo-Pacific countries and the Bangladeshi military and increase opportunities for mutual cooperation in addressing recent challenges so that the region can move forward in a safe manner. and sustainable.
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