DR NG WRAPS UP CHINA WITH JOINT PRESS RELEASE
Dr Ng and his Chinese counterpart GEN Chang agree on guiding principles and plans for strengthening defence ties between Singapore and China.
24 Nov 2014, 1000 hours (GMT +8)
Playwright Michael Chiang reminds us why humour is healthy. Young Indian girl flirts with a dashing platoon commander. You are very young, no? To be an officer. Are you also in NS? No, I am a Regular. And I am a large. The audience cracks up on cue every time this scene comes on. Whether it was the original staging of Army Daze in 1987, the movie version in 1996 or the latest production last year, the response never wavers. What was hilarious a quarter of a century ago still tickles the funny bone now. I am often asked if my NS (National Service) experience was really so funny. How on earth could anyone have found humour in being a recruit? People frown at me with beady, suspicious eyes, like they've just discovered I am the cause of influenza. The truth is, nearly every situation around us has its lighter side. The first BMT (Basic Military Training) haircut can be a torment for an 18-year-old, and a disparaging comment from an indifferent section leader will only make things worse. But all it takes is for one smart-alecky recruit to make a cheeky quip and the entire barrack erupts in stitches. It's often said that humour helps us cope, conquer and carry on. As Dwight Eisenhower once said: A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done. Humour has been known to boost morale and increase productivity in many companies where it is openly encouraged. Of course, in an institution like the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), there are clearly limits as to how much mirth one should encourage. And humour comes in various ways, not purely in disrespectful jesting. When we learnt that our fierce Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) was a timid pussycat in front of his wife, his subsequent parade square drill sessions were met with secret smiles. Situations we encounter in life are never all good or all bad. It really boils down to what you make of it. So it's not such a bad thing to try and see the humour in situations, to put a little smile on your face instead of a huge frown. The NS experience upon which I based Army Daze might seem a far cry from today's. Yet despite the differences, many sentiments remain the same: a blur recruit today is every bit as blur as the one in the 80s. And just as funny. So can you come back home for grandpa's birthday on Friday night? I don't think so, mummy. We have a route march that night. Route march at night? What rubbish! Morning you march, afternoon you march, now they want you to march at night as well. Anyway, if you march a little faster, I am sure you can make it back here by 7pm! So when the going gets tough, it's probably time for a hearty good laugh. Michael Chiang is the playwright behind hits like Army Daze and Beauty World. He has just published a collection of his complete plays to commemorate his 30th year in theatre. PlayThings is now available in major bookstores, and you can win one of five copies by taking part in a contest at www.mindef.gov.sg/pnr/contest!
21 Nov 2014, 1700 hours (GMT +8)
With defence spending rising in the region, Asia needs to develop a security architecture which can accommodate this military modernisation, and provide for peace and stability. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said this at the fifth Xiangshan Forum, a high-level security forum held in Beijing, China on 21 Nov. Speaking at a plenary address, Dr Ng noted that economic prosperity in Asia had bankrolled military armament in the region in recent years. Defence budget in Asia rose by two percent in 2011, 4.5 percent in 2012, and nearly five percent in 2013. But in Europe and America, it went down by about four to seven percent. We must ensure that Asia remains peaceful and stable, even as military modernisation occurs against a backdrop of occasional tensions arising from maritime and territorial disputes, said Dr Ng. He proposed three elements for an effective security architecture. First, it needs to be open and inclusive. Second, it must provide regular platforms for dialogue, practical cooperation and confidence building. Third, it should have mechanisms to de-escalate tensions and resolve disputes peacefully. Dr Ng noted that a multi-layered security framework had already emerged in the region, with formal platforms such as the East Asia Summit and ASEAN Regional Forum as well as informal platforms like the Shangri-La Dialogue and Xiangshan Forum. He also highlighted the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM-Plus) Experts' Working Groups as an example of how militaries can come together for practical cooperation on areas of common interests such as maritime security, counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. But Dr Ng warned that for these regional platforms to remain credible, they must be used to address the security challenges facing the region today. The early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea will be an important deliverable for regional security, said Dr Ng. We can engage all we want, but until we find the mechanisms, the language, the platforms, to ease tensions, our credibility will be at stake. Brunei's proposal for a direct communication link between ASEAN, China, and other partner countries was thus an idea worthy of serious consideration, he added. Dr Ng was also encouraged by the fact that China and Japan had agreed to establish crisis management mechanisms. In addition, the United States and China had announced confidence-building measures that notify each other of major military activities and establish rules of behaviour during air and maritime encounters. Countries in the region must continue to build on these concrete practical measures for de-escalating tensions, even as we work towards long-term solutions for dispute resolution through peaceful means, Dr Ng said. The Xiangshan Forum is organised by the China Association for Military Science, a non-official Chinese think-tank on military science studies. Other topics discussed during the forum include the regional security architecture, counter-terrorism and maritime security.
21 Nov 2014, 1100 hours (GMT +8)
Experience the highs and lows of the Hypobaric Chamber and Spatial Disorientation Trainer (SDT) with journalist Sherlyn Quek. Light-headedness. Tingling. Fatigue. Impaired judgment, confusion and the inability to concentrate. Poor muscle coordination. I grimaced as I read the list of hypoxia symptoms. Machiam (like) falling in love ah. Wisecracks aside, hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, is no laughing matter. It affects a person's cognitive abilities and most people do not even realise they are suffering from it until it's too late. The hypobaric chamber at the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Aeromedical Centre simulates high-alittude conditions, allowing air crew to experience its effects without leaving the ground. They learn to recognise hypoxia symptoms early, so they can quickly take corrective actions such as checking the oxygen system or flying lower to a breathable altitude. Harder harder to breathe But before I could start the simulated ascent, I had to breathe 100 percent oxygen for 20 minutes. This helps to purge nitrogen from the bloodstream and delay the onset of hypoxia. To prevent oxygen leakage, I had to put the mask on so tightly the edges dug painfully into my skin. It was so uncomfortable I couldn't wait to tear the mask off and not breathe oxygen. When time was up and after doing a check to ensure that I was ready, the operators began to reduce the atmospheric pressure within the chamber, simulating an altitude climb from 1,000ft (305m) to 25,000ft in five minutes. The only visible sign of the altitude increase? A surgical glove tied to the ceiling which had expanded to almost double its size! Can you spot it in the photo above? For air crew, the operators simulated a much more rapid decompression in the chamber, climbing from 10,000 to 25,00ft in just a few seconds. Finally, I was allowed to take my mask off. Ah, fresh… Oh wait, there wasn't much air for me to breathe. No air, no air What's seven times eight? I stared blankly at the worksheet for a shamefully long moment, before hesitantly scribbling down my answer. Sadly, my uncertainty wasn't because I was suffering from the effects of hypoxia or oxygen deprivation. My math skills are really that bad. After the masks are removed, air crew are asked to complete tasks such as arithmetic problems and spot the difference. When a person starts having trouble performing these simple tasks, he is likely to have reached the limits of his time of useful consciousness. If hypoxia continues, he can become euphoric, lose motor-coordination, colour vision and even consciousness. I'd chuckled when I saw one of the pilots in the previous training session struggle to finish the maze problem. Now that I was on the other side of the glass panel, I wasn't feeling as confident as I was an hour ago. While I didn't notice any difficulty going through the pen and paper exercises, after two minutes I felt increasingly cold and just a little dizzy. In another minute, my vision became slightly blurred and there was a mild tingling sensation as though ants were crawling on my hands. Luckily, three minutes was the limit. After that, I gladly placed the oxygen mask back on, and the chamber descended back to sea level atmospheric pressure. Later throughout the afternoon, I had to keep popping my ears by yawning or doing the Valsalva manoeuvre (exhaling while pinching the nose and keeping the mouth shut). This helps to equalise the pressure between the middle and outer ear canals. To my colleagues: Apologies if you thought I was bored and kept yawning during our conversations. And to those unfortunate folks standing around me in the MRT that day: Sorry if you assumed I was holding my nose because someone had just farted! Spin me right round As if going through oxygen deprivation wasn't enough, I returned to the Aeromedical Centre on another day to spin myself dizzy. The SDT is a full-motion simulator that trains pilots to be mindful of the sensory illusions that occur during flight. Here, the concept of trusting your gut doesn't work. In fact, it could cause grave danger. During poor weather conditions, a pilot may not be able to see the horizon. Without this important visual cue, his perception of his position and movements becomes heavily dependent on the balance organs in his ears. Unfortunately, this is not always a reliable sensor. Highway to the danger zone For example, if the aircraft makes a very slow roll to the right, balance-sensing fluids in the ear are unable to detect it as the rotation is too gentle and gradual. But when the pilot notices the tilt shown on the plane's instruments and attempts to correct it by rolling the plane to the left, he may feel that the plane is now leaning to the left instead. This is because even though the plane is already level, his balance organs continue to tell his brain that he is moving left. Aviators call this the leans. A more drastic example of this illusion is the aptly named graveyard spin. I was asked by the SDT operator to turn the aircraft into a left spin and continue it for several seconds until I could no longer sense the turn. I then had to recover the aircraft by turning to the right. Even though in-flight instruments clearly indicated that the plane was level, I had the overwhelming sensation that I was now entering a right spin. If I trusted my senses and believed the illusion, I would go back into a left spin. Continue doing that several more times, and I might lose enough altitude to crash my plane into the ground! Remaining calm and disciplined, and controlling the aircraft by relying on the instruments instead of flying by the seat of your pants could save your life. I believe I can('t) fly Life as a pilot may seem pretty glamorous, but having experienced the various machines at the Aeromedical Centre, I could see that it takes a strong physical constitution, quick reflexes, and most importantly, years of dedication and training. It's a good thing I had no such lofty goals! Now that this series is over, I'm happy to keep my feet firmly on the ground. Until the day I fall in love anyway! Catch this video about the hypobaric chamber at mindef.sg/aeromed2!
20 Nov 2014, 1045 hours (GMT +8)
Operationally-ready National Servicemen (NSmen) who face difficulties fulfilling their National Service (NS) obligations will now have a familiar face to approach in their units. …for other MINDEF and Home Team enquiries, please press *. NSmen, does this sound familiar to you? Now, you'll be able to pick up the phone and speak to your unit's S8 or National Service Relations Officer (NSRO), who will guide you in resolving your In-Camp Training (ICT) issues. A face to the voice The role of the NSRO was established about two years ago, in line with Committee to Strengthen National Service recommendations. Recruitment began in earnest and the NSROs started coming on board in June 2013. Previously, the NS Portal and NS Hotline were the primary contact points for NSmen. Unfortunately, those with complicated issues - such as family problems that forced them to defer their ICTs - often had difficulty explaining their situations to their superiors. Now, the NSROs provide a point of contact as well as a familiar face for them to seek the necessary help. The SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) recognises the importance of having a common touch point, said Colonel Chua Boon Keat, Head of NS Affairs Department, of the crucial role that NSROs play. We don't want the NSman to be calling a different person every time and repeating his issue over multiple channels. We want someone the NSman is familiar with and knows will look after him every ICT.
20 Nov 2014, 0900 hours (GMT +8)
On 18 Nov, a year-long journey came to fruition with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) inked between SAFTI Military Institute (SAFTI MI) and the Civil Service College (CSC). Through this partnership, both organisations aim to strengthen leadership and management development by conducting joint research and forums for networking and the exchange of personnel and ideas. We can trace our footsteps to September last year when the Permanent Secretary (Public Service Division), Ms Yong Ying-I, led a team from CSC to the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) Centre for Leadership Development (CLD) to better understand our work as well as to gather insights for mutual learning , said Commandant SAFTI MI Brigadier-General (BG) Benedict Lim on the beginnings of the MOU. Mr Khoo Boon Hui, the director of CSC's Institute of Leadership and Organisation Development (ILOD), added: We (the CSC and SAFTI MI) realised that we had similar missions and aims in building up leadership (development)... Both have a long tradition (in this) and are very keen to learn from each other and collaborate to increase the levels of expertise in leading people. BG Lim shared the same sentiments, saying: There is a certain commonality between public servants and the people in uniform... When it comes down to the core and the purpose (of what we do), it's the same: we serve Singapore and Singaporeans. And in all organisations, we need leaders, whether they're wearing civilian clothes or uniforms... That's what brings us together in this MOU. On how the pact will set the foundation for a deeper level of cooperation between SAFTI MI and the CSC, Mr Khoo said: I think that if we collaborate, we will be able to find areas whereby we can learn from each other... For example, values-based leadership is an area in which I think we are likely to find new insights. He explained: Most people have the impression that military leadership is only meant for the armed forces, but having spoken to senior officers and observing for myself, I realised that the SAF has expanded their scope and looks into many areas of leadership which are applicable to the public sector as well as the private sector. At the same time, the civil service is also looking into areas which we find some congruence with the military doctrine of leadership, especially with regards to values. In the military, you can't be a good leader just based on your skills - you must be rooted in your values. And that’s what we find is increasingly required not only in the public service but also the private sector. With the MOU in place, SAFTI MI and the CSC will explore further opportunities to conduct joint research on topics such as case studies on leadership and management theories, ethics and values, and doctrine. Members of both organisations will also attend and participate in conferences, seminars, and workshops relating to leadership, values and management hosted by the other.
19 Nov 2014, 1730 hours (GMT +8)
The Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (SAFSA) football team impressed with its attacking flair even as it went down 1-0 against the Singapore Police Force Sports Association (SPFSA) in the 42nd G.E. Bogaars Cup held on 18 Nov. This year, SAFSA fielded a strong squad with six former Prime League and National Football Academy (NFA) players, including goalkeeper Private (PTE) Farshah Iskandar who was a Singapore Youth Olympic team player. The Prime League is the reserve league of the S-League, while the NFA grooms promising Singapore youth players. SAFSA thrilled the spectators at Bedok Camp 2 stadium, and dominated the first half with their free-flowing attacking football. Playing on away ground, SPFSA sat back and played a patient, passing game. But its soak and strike tactic worked, as it scored the only goal of the game through a header against the run of play from a set-piece in the 27th minute. SAFSA's right winger PTE Azmeerudin Bin Jamludain, who last played for Tampines Rovers Football Club (FC), and striker Lance Corporal (LCP) Bharath Ravindren, formerly from Warriors FC, were SAFSA's most dangerous players. The duo were not afraid to take on defenders, and constantly troubled the SPFSA's defence. In the second-half, PTE Azmeerudin was moved to the centre, playing as a false number 9, as the team pressed forward for an equaliser. But the elusive goal never came. SAFSA's team captain 2ndLieutenant (2LT) Andrew Leow said the team played well despite the loss. We were clearly fitter... I think overall we played well, we stick to our game plan, said the holding midfielder, who was part of the NFA Under-17 squad in 2011. It was a lapse of concentration which resulted in the Police's goal; we let in one corner which could have been prevented. Nevertheless, it was a good game for both sides, (and it was good) to come together and play. Team manager Captain (CPT) Julianah Jamal said this year's team, which comprised mostly Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) from different formations, was better prepared and organised. They had been training thrice weekly for more than a month, and undergone a one-week centralised training. In the 2013 game, SAFSA had lost to SPFSA 4-0. This year, they played much better. I am proud of the boys, they put up a tough fight, and were very dedicated, said the Deputy Logistic Staff Officer (S4) of 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade. The G.E. Bogaars Cup was first held in 1971 in honour of the late Mr George Edwin Bogaars, who served as the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Defence (MID) from 1965 to 1970. MID is the predecessor of today's Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The game aims to maintain the historical ties and close working relationship between the Armed Forces and Police. Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng and Commissioner of Police Mr Ng Joo Hee were the guests of honour at this year's game. In the earlier curtain-raiser match for players aged 35 and above, the SPFSA Veterans defeated SAFSA Veterans 4-0. SAFSA, which will be taking part in the National Football League next year, is looking for new talent. Interested servicemen can contact the SAFSA team manager (Tel: 63052041) for a trial.
17 Nov 2014, 1855 hours (GMT +8)
Members of the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) from the Educational Institutions (EI) and Family Community (FC) councils gained better understanding of the Basic Military Training (BMT) system from a visit to Pulau Tekong on 15 Nov. Hosted by Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, the ACCORD members got the opportunity to check out the Tekong - A BMTC Journey Centre, NS landmark, accommodation spaces and the equipment used by recruits during their BMT. Said Dr Maliki: At the heart of it all is the intent to create a more effective National Service (NS) experience which empowers and motivates individuals and we hope the visit will help members to better consider ways to support pre-enlistees and their families. The ACCORD members were brought around Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) by Commander BMTC, Colonel (COL) Desmond Yeo, and other key appointment holders from BMTC. Ms Joanna Portilla, member of the FC council, was very impressed with the training and safety systems. She shared: It was an eye-opening experience. It is heartening and reassuring to know that BMTC and SAF place serious emphasis on safety with things like hydration and temperature-taking regimes. As a member of the FC council, she found the visit very useful and elaborated: I deal a lot with parents and the community. They often ask me questions regarding what their boys will experience within the Army. After this visit, having seen and walked through the processes, I can better share the experience with parents, and even those who are soon to be recruits.
17 Nov 2014, 0900 hours (GMT +8)
To help NSmen take greater charge of their fitness, a slew of changes to the IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) system has been introduced. Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) who need more help with their physical fitness have seen their options increase in the past few months. On 1 Sep, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) rolled out five IPT programmes to give NSmen more choices when it comes to fitness training. Instead of just focusing on the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) stations, the programmes give NSmen the option of working on areas such as endurance, agility and aerobic capacity. The SAF also announced trials of several IPT-related initiatives. NSmen could soon clock IPT sessions at public spaces nearer to work and home, during their lunch times and even do some sessions on their own by logging their exercise routines with the aid of fitness-tracking technology. The rationale is simple: The SAF hopes more fitness choices will better motivate NSmen to keep fit and in turn, boost the SAF's overall operational readiness. Physical fitness is a personal responsibility and we want our NSmen to take ownership of their physical fitness, said Chief of Army Major-General Perry Lim on the changes to the IPPT system. Key changes IPT sessions will now last 75 minutes, down from the previous two hours. NSmen will also get more coaching as class-sizes have been reduced to 30 from the previous 50 per class. NSmen will now be able to book IPT sessions on the same day. Previously, IPT and Remedial Training (RT) sessions had to be booked by 12pm for next-day sessions. There will also be more IPT and RT sessions held at the Fitness Conditioning Centres on weekdays and weekends. On trial And the SAF is already working on making it even more convenient for NSmen to stay fit. A four-month trial, started in September, lets NSmen use fitness trackers to clock IPT sessions. Another trial initiative lets NSmen attend IPT sessions at locations outside the Fitness Conditioning Centres, and is called IPT-in-the-Park. The idea is to move from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that gives NSmen more choices, said Colonel Ng Ying Thong, Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Training). See overleaf for the complete picture.
15 Nov 2014, 1955 hours (GMT +8)
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen rounded up his seven-day trip to China on 14 Nov with a Joint Press Release that laid out how Singapore and China planned to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation through a Four-Point Consensus. 1. Both sides will strengthen the healthy and steady development of their defence relationship based on mutual respect and accommodating each other's security concerns for mutual trust. 2. Both sides will enhance dialogue and mutual understanding through the conduct of regular high-level meetings and strategic consultation. 3. Both sides will promote confidence building and mutual trust by strengthening practical cooperation, such as joint training exercises. 4. Both sides will deepen people-to-people ties and friendship by increasing working-level exchanges and dialogues between both militaries. Emphasising the significance of the release, Dr Ng said: It goes beyond the motherhood statements. One, it lays out the principle that we have mutual regard, respect and we try to accommodate each other's security needs for mutual trust. And then two, substantively how we are going to do it through high-level exchanges… Finally, all of these leading to more exchanges between senior commanders as well as troops. Dr Ng remarked that his trip was very productive for a few reasons. They included the fact that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) went to great lengths to facilitate the visit which covered several major Chinese cities, how the meetings had allowed both sides to share their motivations and goodwill, and the substantive outcome of the Joint Press Release. The meeting between Dr Ng and his counterpart Minister of National Defence General (GEN) Chang Wanquan also reaffirmed both militaries' commitment to strengthening bilateral defence cooperation and delved into the specifics of the high-level exchanges they could have. We were very keen on specialised areas such as counter-terrorism and maritime exercises, and also increasing collaborations between our military academies, said Dr Ng. He added that as next year will be the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Singapore and China, he invited GEN Chang to visit Singapore. He said he would very much like to, so I look forward to the visit. On the significance of the increase in cooperation with China for Singapore's relations with other partners, Dr Ng explained that multilateralism among defence agencies and militaries is the recognition that relationships are not mutually exclusive. He elaborated: I think our strong partners, the United States, other ASEAN countries recognise this. And I would also say that they will welcome our increased defence ties with China. In fact, they themselves are seeking closer ties with China. On how Singapore characterises its relations with China in relation to neighbouring countries, Dr Ng emphasised that our way of defence diplomacy was not to over-project our importance, nor demand excessively others' attention. He concluded the interview by observing that our stronger defence ties is consistent with our overall relationship with China, which has been growing. On tensions in the South China Sea, Dr Ng said: The less involved our militaries are the better for all of us. This is not an issue that requires a military solution. It should never require a military solution and in fact, the military should stay as far away as possible from this and allow diplomatic and other aspects of resolution. And I hope that that’s the prevailing attitude among all defence ministers and certainly that's Singapore's position. Besides GEN Chang, Dr Ng also met other Chinese leaders including Vice-President Li Yuanchao and Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman GEN Xu Qiliang during his visit. The visit which began on 8 Nov was part of regular high-level bilateral and defence visits by top leaders of Singapore and China.
14 Nov 2014, 2245 hours (GMT +8)
Winning an award or medal is often all about personal glory. And for some, it is also an acknowledgement of the support from family, colleagues and superiors. Almost a decade ago, 2nd Warrant Officer (2WO) (NS) Chew Thiam Soon, then a Battery Sergeant Major in 257th Battalion, Singapore Artillery (257 SA) was asked if he would be interested in extending his National Service (NS) after his 10-year cycle. His first thought was to talk it through with his wife. My wife would have to take care of the family while I was away. But I discussed it with her, and she said, yes, she would support my decision, said the 38-year-old. Now into his sixth year as the Regimental Sergeant Major of 290 SA, he has the blessings of not only his wife, but also his parents and in-laws, who help with looking after his four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son whenever he goes for In-Camp Training. On 14 Nov, 2WO (NS) Chew's wife, Mdm Ng Soo Rei, looked on proudly as he received the Efficiency Medal from 2nd Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing at the National Day Awards Investiture at the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). Five hundred and ninety-six MINDEF and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel who have displayed outstanding performance and dedication to duty and service were recognised with the national awards at the event. Officiated by Mr Chan and Minister of State for Defence Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, the event saw 81 Commendation Medals, 114 Efficiency Medals and 415 Long Service Medals presented to both military and non-military personnel. Of these personnel, 14 received the Long Service Medal along with one other medal. Like 2WO (NS) Chew, Commendation Award recipient Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Mohd Fahmi bin Aliman also thanked his family for their unwavering support. They gave me the opportunity to concentrate on my work and that helped me in (my) decision-making and playing my part in the team, said the Branch Head of General Staff (Operations). He dedicated his award to his late mother, who passed away in April. Apart from his family, SLTC Mohd Fahmi was also grateful to his superiors who had been his pillars of support throughout his 22-year career in the SAF, which included deployments to Aceh (Indonesia) and Afghanistan. I thank my senior commanders who trusted me and my abilities, and gave me the opportunity to…serve in various appointments. They are always there, looking out for me, the 42-year-old added thoughtfully. His sentiments were shared by Military Expert (ME) 3-2 Inderani d/o Narayanasamy. In her 30 years with the SAF, she has been empowered by her superiors to challenge herself by taking on greater responsibilities. For instance, just a few years ago, the Senior Supervisor at Headquarters Naval Logistics Command (HQ NALCOM) was asked to step up as Acting Logistics Officer in the absence of an officer. Then-Commander NALCOM told me to give it a try. It was a challenge as the job was new to me, but I learnt from the officers in other units, she explained, citing NALCOM's tight-knit culture and strong cooperative spirit as other factors that helped. The 50-year-old believed her Efficiency Medal award would not have been possible without the support of Commander NALCOM, ME7 Andy Tay and Head Logistics ME5 Goh Huat Chye: They believed in me and this is the recognition they have given to me. The awardees also hoped to inspire their men to see their duties in a different light. Said SLTC Mohd Fahmi: I want to tell my men that nothing is impossible. If you set your heart and mind to something you believe in, you will have all the chance to not just win awards, but touch people's lives and also to inspire others to do well in the army too. 2WO (NS) Chew added: When I first came (to 290 SA), people wondered why I wanted to extend my NS. But I felt that I could still contribute my knowledge and experience to the new unit and help them build up their skills and capabilities… I hope it (my extension) will get them thinking about their purpose in their 10-year NS cycle and how their roles contribute to a stronger SAF.
13 Nov 2014, 2200 hours (GMT +8)
To realise the great promises of Asia in the 21st century - also known as the Asian century - peace and stability in the region must be maintained or Asia's rise could be derailed. This point was made by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen with regard to the growth of China, India, ASEAN and other Asian countries in his speech on The Asian Century at the People's Liberation Army (PLA) National Defence University (NDU) on 13 Nov. Speaking to an audience comprising about 100 students from the Graduate School of the PLA NDU, Dr Ng also talked about the important relationship between Singapore and China, and China's leadership role. By virtue of its strategic global weight, China has a crucial role to play in maintaining peace and stability in the region, and indeed globally. It is thus heartening that China has been actively engaging regional countries in the political, economic and defence realms, and has been a responsible and active player in the regional security architecture, he said. In the light of commemorating 25 years of diplomatic relations next year, Dr Ng noted that Singapore and China have developed a strong bilateral relationship through joint projects and initiatives such as the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin Eco-city. He added that a third Government-to-Government project between Singapore and China is in the works for the Western region of China. Said Dr Ng: Similarly, I hope that the defence relationship between our two countries will grow in tandem. To achieve stronger military-to-military ties, General (GEN) Chang Wanquan and I will discuss new initiatives to enhance dialogue and mutual understanding through regular high-level exchanges. He added: Singapore would also like to propose more regular and larger joint training exercises to promote confidence building and mutual trust between the PLA and the SAF. On the region's great potential for growth, Dr Ng warned against being complacent and to watch for the risks and challenges faced within Asia. Noting that there have been several near-miss incidents in the past year, he said: Tensions in the South China Sea have also escalated periodically with the series of actions and reactions taken by various parties from time to time. Such developments are all the more worrying as rapid economic growth in Asia has also led to a rise in defence spending and capability development. Dr Ng was thankful that the leaders of the United States, China and Japan met up on the sidelines of the economic leaders' meeting this week and hoped that this was a sign of improving relations and an assurance of regional stability in Northeast Asia. In closing, he said: Asia's prosperity is intrinsically intertwined with China's and the rest of the world. It is my hope that China will continue to participate and contribute actively to the region, taking a leadership role to create conditions of lasting peace and stability. To date, Dr Ng's seven-day trip to China, which began on 8 Nov, included visits to Exercise Cooperation 2014 at Nanjing, Bayi Nanchang Uprising Museum at Nanchang and the PLA Navy's North Sea Fleet at Qingdao. He also met PLA NDU Political Commissar GEN Liu Yazhou, and called on Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao and Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman, GEN Xu Qiliang.
10 Nov 2014, 1730 hours (GMT +8)
After hours of walking, Singapore and Australia troops creeping under the cover of night finally broke their silence. Weapons blazing, they took several objectives at the Urban Operation Training Facility (UOTF) in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Australia. Nearing their final objective - a four-storey building - they were pinned down by heavy fire from opposing forces. But that was not for long. Dodging into a nearby building to regroup, the main bulk of the attacking troops charged towards their objective while the rest remained behind to provide cover fire. Despite the different uniforms, soldiers from both sides fought as one force. The bigger purpose was to clear the adjacent sections of road so that friendly forces could flow through unhindered. That was the scene at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area on 10 Nov as about 100 troops from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) took out multiple objectives in their final mission at Exercise Wallaby. Despite only meeting two days ago, the two forces integrated well, said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) James Yin, Commanding Officer Battalion Task Force. The two sides had a day on 9 Nov to observe each other's urban fighting drills and work out how to work together as a cohesive fighting unit. Commenting on the dawn attack conducted by the two forces, LTC Yin said: It went well. We had to adapt and change our battle plans along the way (to suit conditions on the ground) but overall, both sides did well. Ultimately we wanted the stealth and the element of surprise. If we came in too late (and day breaks), then the whole night of walking (to the objective) would be wasted, added LTC Yin. Said ADF trooper Lance Corporal Jarrad Gouma: The Singaporean soldiers have been very professional in the way they worked with us. Overall it has been a good experience working with the guys. He is 2nd-in-charge of a section within the7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment based in Adelaide. The unit had returned from deployment in Afghanistan about a year ago. For SAF troopers such as Corporal (CPL) Raden Jafni Bin R Jafri, it has been an eye-opener. Training out here, we see how other forces fight and it's been an interesting learning experience. Starting with their amphibious landing on the beach at Freshwater Bay from the Republic of Singapore Navy's Landing Ship Tank RSS Persistence on 8 Nov, the soldiers marched inland to take several land objectives before the final dawn attack on 10 Nov. This year's Exercise Wallaby is conducted from 18 Sep to 15 Nov, and involves more than 5,000 SAF personnel and over 400 SAF platforms. Exercise Wallaby 2014 marks the 24th year of the SAF's training in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.