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Analyzing U.S.–Singapore Maritime Security Cooperation through the Indo-Pacific Lens

Issues & Insights Vol. 21 SR4, pp. 36 – 41

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Singapore Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Singapore. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Singapore relationship. Between September 2020 and August 2021, cohort members engaged with senior experts and practitioners as they developed research papers addressing various aspects of the bilateral relationship.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Singapore is arguably the United States’ closest partner in Southeast Asia. Ties between the two sides are comprehensive and extend across politics, economics, and security. Given Singapore’s strategic coastal location, maritime defense is an especially critical component of the relationship. The longstanding and steadfast U.S.–Singapore maritime defense cooperation could receive a fillip through the ‘Indo-Pacific’ concept, which has become a geopolitical cause célèbre of late. Several countries within the Indo-Pacific geography (including large powers, such as the United States, India, Japan, and Australia) have laid out defense strategies and initiated mechanisms about the zone. As the polity spanning both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, ASEAN is also at the core of Indo-Pacific dynamics. Therefore, the implications of the Indo-Pacific are salient for contemporary U.S.–Singapore maritime defense and warrant analysis. To that end, this paper aims to both contextualize and analyze U.S.–Singapore maritime defense ties through an Indo-Pacific lens.

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Ankush Wagle is graduate student and Li-Ka Shing Foundation Scholar at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (NUS). He was previously a research analyst at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at NUS, where he focused on relations between South and Southeast Asia, and maritime security. He has written articles for ISAS, the Jakarta Post, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, The Diplomat, and The Conversation. He has also co-authored two book chapters on ASEAN’s maritime engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Ankush has held internships at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, American Chamber of Commerce Singapore, and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Caption: The littoral combat ship, USS Coronado (LCS 4), moors in Changi, Singapore, in preparation for the International Maritime Defense Exhibition, May 13, 2017. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Deven Leigh Ellis/Released