TUTONG – The monarch on Sunday called on the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) to continue involvement in bilateral and multilateral military exercises in order to enhance its operational capability. 

“The RBAF cannot afford to be left behind in today’s rapidly changing environment,” His Majesty the Sultan stressed in a titah at Penanjong Garrison. “Apart from physical capabilities, we must also focus of the spiritual integrity of the armed forces.” 

His Majesty, speaking at an event to mark the RBAF’s 57th anniversary, said soldiers need to guard themselves against destructive behaviour such as drug abuse because it can “weaken and destroy” resolve, impacting the country’s national security.

“The RBAF’s core responsibility is to protect the country,” he said. “It is a duty entrusted to them which must be carried out with integrity.”

“Our country does not ask for anything but this alone. Ask not what what the country wants, but [we should] ask ourselves what we can contribute to our country.” 

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HM the Sultan (R) watches the grand parade during the RBAF’s 57th anniversary at Penanjong Garrisson. He was accompanied HRH Prince General Al-Muhtadee Billah (C) and HRH Captain Prince ‘Abdul Mateen (L). Photo: Saifulizam Zamhor

The monarch also expressed his gratitude to retired military personnel and those deployed overseas, adding that the Ministry of Defence and RBAF needs to show the country’s youth that a military career can be exciting and rewarding.

During Sunday’s event, 1,157 RBAF personnel staged a parade, as well as a live demonstration and several static displays at the Tutong military base.

Also in attendance was HRH Prince General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; and HRH Captain Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, who is a helicopter pilot with the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF). 

Prince Mateen, who recently completed two years of helicopter training at RAF Shawbury in the UK, was presented with the RBAirF Air Wing Badge by his father the Sultan, in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the RBAF and Minister of Defence.

The air force captain is now training to be a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

The RBAF anniversary marks the formation of the Brunei Malay Regiment on May 31, 1961. Upon Brunei’s independence in 1984, the regiment was renamed to Royal Brunei Armed Forces. The annual event to mark its anniversary is usually held on May 31, but was postponed this year out of respect for the holy month of Ramadhan.