The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) hosted the third session of the Regional Consultative Group (RCG) on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific from 5 to 6 December 2017. The meeting was held at the SAF's Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Coordination Centre (RHCC). The event was organised with the support of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and United States Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (US CFE-DM). This year's session saw the largest participation, with more than 130 participants from 26 countries and 24 regional/international organisations, academia and the private sector. Over the two-day conference, participants discussed important HADR issues, such as ways to strengthen regional coordination in HADR, as well as the use of technology for HADR efforts.

At the opening ceremony yesterday, Singapore's Permanent Secretary (Defence) Mr Chan Yeng Kit highlighted the need for humanitarian practitioners to tap on technology to improve disaster response. He shared how the Changi RHCC has used technology as a force multiplier in HADR efforts. Mr Chan said, "Since its founding, the Changi RHCC has employed technology, such as its OPERA Computer Information System to facilitate military-to-military HADR coordination in the region, including during our deployment to Nepal during the earthquake in 2015." Mr Chan also highlighted the need to build a strong foundation of mutual trust and interoperability between humanitarian stakeholders. Thus, Singapore's key thrust in the 2017 chairmanship of the RCG was to strengthen civil-military cooperation in the region.

On the sidelines of the RCG, Mr Chan met Director of OCHA Geneva and Chief of the OCHA Emergency Services Branch Mr Rudolph Muller to express appreciation for UN OCHA's support of Singapore's Chairmanship of the RCG and that Singapore looked forward to further cooperation between Singapore and UN OCHA. Mr Chan also met incoming RCG Chair for 2018, Bangladesh Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Mr Md. Shah Kamal, and offered Singapore's support for Bangladesh's RCG Chairmanship.

Formed in 2014, the RCG seeks to advance humanitarian civil-military coordination in disaster preparedness and response. It facilitates the coordination of operational planning and exchange of innovative ideas among civilian and military actors to enable a needs-based and well-coordinated disaster response. The chairmanship of the RCG is rotated on an annual basis, and this is the first time that Singapore chaired the RCG.