BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah on Sunday called on the country’s defence institutions to create a “more holistic defence strategy” to reflect new strategic challenges in the region.

Speaking at the annual parade that marks the Royal Brunei Armed Forces’s (RBAF) 58th anniversary, the monarch said the new Defence White Paperset for release in 2021 — should be drafted through a “whole of government approach” to address any gaps in military and security capacity.

He added that the complexities of transnational crimes such as radicalism, marine and cybersecurity issues have become more difficult to tackle.

“By using a whole of government approach, the growth of the RBAF can be planned holistically to reduce any capacity gaps,” he said, addressing military personnel at the Bolkiah Garrison. “Such plans should result in uncompromised national security.”

Military personnel march at Bolkiah Garrison on June 30, 2019 during the annual parade to mark the RBAF’s anniversary. Photo: Infofoto
Female military personnel march on to the field at Bolkiah Garrison during the RBAF’s 58th anniversary parade on June 30, 2019. Photo: Infofoto

The sultan, who is also supreme commander of the RBAF, expressed hope that the 2016 update to the Defence Science and Technology Policy Framework would help spur innovation among RBAF personnel.

In his titah, His Majesty highlighted the importance of defence diplomacy through the RBAF’s involvement in international peacekeeping efforts, such as the International Monitoring Team and the Independent Decommissioning Body in Mindanao, Philippines, as well as the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon.

“All these efforts contribute significantly to our country’s commitment in the security of the region as well as globally. These efforts must be continued as long as they are needed.”

Special Forces Regiment demonstrate a threat scenario at Bolkiah Garrison on June 30, 2019. Photo: Infofoto
The Special Forces Regiment carry out a live demo at Bolkiah Garrison during an event to mark the RBAF’s 58th anniversary. Photo: Infofoto

Some 1,058 military personnel took part in the annual parade on Sunday, which was followed by a demonstration by the country’s Special Forces Regiment.

The sultan also presented his son, HRH Captain Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, who is a helicopter pilot in the Royal Brunei Air Force, with an honorary membership in the Special Forces Regiment.

HM the Sultan presents his son, HRH Captain Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, with an honorary membership in the Special Forces Regiment.¬†Photo: Infofoto

The anniversary of the RBAF marks the formation of the Brunei Malay Regiment on May 31, 1961. Upon Brunei’s independence in 1984, the regiment was renamed the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

Anniversary celebrations are usually held on May 31, but were postponed this year out of respect for the holy month of Ramadhan.