Issues such as activities for 2013, implementation of the ASEAN Political Security Community Blueprint, ASEAN centrality, as well as cross-sectoral coordination were center to the discussion themes during the ASEAN Defence Ministers and the Minister representing the Defence Minister retreat. The session took place in the historical city of Siem Reap on 16 November 2012.

2013 will be an exciting year for the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) as   three field exercises; ADMM-Plus Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Military Medicine Exercise – termed the AHMX, counter terrorism, and maritime security will be carried out. In preparation, this year alone, two table-top exercises on military medicine and maritime security were conducted successfully in Tokyo on 17-20 July 2012 and in Langkawi on 3-7 September 2012, respectively.

These exercises are critical to enhance capacities and capabilities of ASEAN militaries. They also provide platforms for ASEAN militaries to interact with the Plus countries’ militaries in responding to common threats in the region. Furthermore, the sharing of information and best practices in the exercises promotes transparency among the the ADMM-Plus countries.

While unanimously expressing  their satisfaction on the ADMM’s achievements in the past six years, the Ministers too agreed that in view of the ASEAN Community 2015, there is a need to accelerate the full realisation of the ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) Blueprint and to pursue more robust efforts on shaping and sharing of norms in the future ADMM cooperation. The ADMM is a showcase of ASEAN’s four and a half decades of successful confidence-building which has led to a greater level of understanding and cooperation among the defence sectors of the ASEAN Member States.

As the ADMM’s engagement with the Dialogue Partners is flourishing, the Ministers were aware of the increasing significance of ASEAN’s central role in this process. The calls for ASEAN unity and strategy to strike a balance in working with the major powers   to enhance cooperation through moderation to gain a win-win solution were clearly articulated at the retreat.

The retreat was concluded with the handing over of the chairmanship of the ADMM from Cambodia to Brunei Darussalam. At the sidelines of the retreat, the ASEAN Defence Ministers had an informal meeting with the United States Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta.