At the Budget debate, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen highlights the need for the SAF to constantly evolve to take on potential security threats.
BIGGER & BETTER: NDP 2015
S'pore's 50th birthday bash promises to be a historic occasion with funpacks for all households and more venues to enjoy the parade celebrations.
NSMEN MORE MOTIVATED FOR IPPT
The three-month pilot of the new three-station IPPT found that soldiers are now more motivated to ace their physical fitness tests. Read about the tweaks to the new IPPT format which kicks in on 1 Apr. Can you make the Gold Standard?
It comes as no surprise that this year's National Day Parade (NDP), marking the golden jubilee of Singapore's independence, will be groundbreaking in many ways.
For the first time, every Singaporean household will receive its own funpack. This was announced by Minster for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at the 2015 Committee of Supply Debate on 5 Mar. About 1.2 million funpacks - featuring over 50 unique designs - will be distributed.
This is part of the NDP 2015 committee's effort to allow as many Singaporeans as possible to be a part of the celebrations. As Dr Ng elaborated: This will allow everyone, at home watching their TVs or out, to wave the same banner, slap the same clappers all over the island.
Themed Majulah Singapura (Onward Singapore), this year's NDP calls on Singaporeans to reflect on what we have achieved over the past 50 years and also to anticipate our bright future ahead together as one nation.
Majulah Singapura was the rallying cry to all of us (during Singapore's early years) to move forward as one people to overcome our challenges and more, noted Dr Ng. And we have succeeded. NDP will tell this story...to remind us whence we came, and to recognise the contributions of our pioneer generation and leaders in nation-building.
Singapore's 50th birthday bash will feature many firsts while incorporating aspects seen in Parades of yesteryear.
Not only will the Parade will return to the Padang - where the first NDP was held - there will be an additional ticketed venue at The Float @ Marina Bay. For the preview show on 1 Aug and the actual Parade on 9 Aug, the entire Marina Bay area will be transformed into a large celebration of our nation's 50th year of independence.
Celebrations will be extended to various sites around the Marina Bay area. This includes Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, The Promontory, Merlion Park, Marina Barrage, and Gardens by the Bay, allowing an estimated total of over 150,000 spectators to take part in the NDP celebrations.
LED screens will be placed at these secondary locations for them to watch a live streaming of the Parade.
NDP 2015 will also feature an integrated Show, combining traditional crowd favourites like the Parade and Ceremony along with Aerial and Naval Displays to bring together a spectacular mass display with song and dance.
A key highlight of this year's Show is the Vintage Parade, which will feature items that re-enact segments of street parades that took place in the early '70s. For example, audiences can look out for Singapore Girls on trishaws and People’s Association members with streamers. The Vintage Parade aims to recognise the contributions of our pioneers in nation building.
For the first time ever, the Republic of Singapore Air Force will put up an aerial display comprising 50 aircraft in a 50 formation flypast. Its aerobatic team, the Black Knights, will also perform a bomb burst in salute to the nation.
The Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Police Force, and the Singapore Civil Defence Force will showcase their strength in a mobile column consisting of over 160 vehicles. Spectators in the bay area will also witness a display of eight naval crafts from the Republic of Singapore Navy.
And if you love fireworks, this year promises to be bigger and better than ever - NDP 2015 will feature two fireworks sites.
For those interested in attending NDP 2015, tickets will be allocated based upon a ballot. For the first time, individuals will be presented with a choice between the two ticketed venues - the Padang and The Float @ Marina Bay - during the balloting process.
Even with the most advanced military technology and equipment, national servicemen remain our greatest and most indispensable asset.
Said Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at the 2015 Budget debate on 5 Mar: It is ultimately the strong fighting spirit of our soldiers, airmen and sailors, as well as the quality of leadership, that will allow the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) to deter aggression and when that fails, prevail over potential aggressors.
To boost this commitment to defence, we must train our servicemen well, train them safely, be good stewards of their time and talent, and last but not least, give due recognition to our national servicemen where it is due, added 2nd Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing in his speech to Parliament at the debate.
Making NS more efficient effective
Following announcements at the Budget debate last year to implement the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) recommendations, Dr Ng revealed that the initiatives were well in progress.
One significant proposal was the reduction of waiting time for NS enlistment to not more than six months from the completion of their post-secondary education.
Mr Chan elaborated that the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were working to double the number of pre-enlistees enlisted within four months of leaving school from 45 to 90 percent.
And as time progresses, so must the SAF's training strategies evolve. Mr Chan noted that MINDEF would continue to widen the use of LEARNet to save up to 20 percent of learning time, which can then be used for hands-on practical learning. LEARNet is a Web-based system which allows trainees to quickly access learning.
To give servicemen more time to focus on their training rather than on administrative duties, the new Tactical Engagement System (TES) equipping station that will be rolled out this year will allow the SAF to fully equip an infantry or armour battalion within half a day as compared to 24 hours in the past.
Time taken to mobilise and equip soldiers will also be reduced from 24 hours to just a few hours, said Mr Chan.
Boosting training safety
Improvements have also been made to the SAF's training and medical systems to take better care of soldiers.
The newly-opened SAF Cardiac Fitness Centre, for instance, is integrated with the National Heart Centre to provide centralised and dedicated specialist cardiac care for all SAF personnel and pre-enlistees.
The new SAF Emergency Ambulance Service (EAS) was also operationalised in January this year, said Mr Chan. With this, training activities outside SAF camps are now supported by ambulance evacuation services using both SAF and EAS ambulances.
The SAF has also leveraged the Soldier Tracker System to keep track of soldiers during difficult terrain and small unit operations. The system is linked to satellite services that are networked to exercise control headquarters, providing real-time information on the location of its soldiers.
Not only is this system operationally useful, it also builds greater confidence in our evacuation system, explained Mr Chan.
Other safety initiatives include the introduction of heat stress monitors to closely monitor localised weather conditions and reduce heat injuries.
In the area of fitness, the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) system will evolve to a three-station format from 1 Apr, to make it easier for servicemen to train and excel. Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) will have a year to transit to the new format, and can choose to do either the older five-station IPPT or the new IPPT till March 2016. More time - 12 months - has also been given for NSmen to train, prepare and meet their fitness standards.
Initiatives like IPT-in-the-Park were also introduced to make IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) more convenient for NSmen. They were also encouraged to take greater ownership of their fitness through trial use of fitness-tracking devices like iDAT and FitBit, said Mr Chan.
Additional Medisave grant
To strengthen the recognition of NSmen, the NS Recognition Award has evolved into the NS Housing, Medical and Education (NS HOME) Award.
Previously, an NSman would receive $9,000 to $10,500 across three milestones in his NS journey. But now, he will receive an additional Medisave grant of $6,000.
Mr Chan also revealed that more than 56,000 NSmen have benefitted from the NS HOME Awards since its implementation in September last year. He added that from this September, Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) would receive part of this additional grant to help cover their MediShield Life premiums while they are serving full-time NS.
SAF Volunteer Corps
Mr Chan also announced that the first intake of the SAF Volunteers Corps (SAFVC) would begin training in March. The Corps was set up last year following the implementation of the CSNS recommendations.
Since the launch of its recruitment last October, the SAFVC has received about 900 applications, and will take in about 100 to 150 volunteers in the first year.
What (these volunteers) bring to the table are not just operational capabilities for the defence of the country. As importantly, if not more… they demonstrate their willingness to go that extra mile to defend what is ours, explained Mr Chan.
And while NSmen form the backbone of the SAF, there must be adequate SAF Regulars to train units and build capabilities, said Dr Ng. There are plans to double the number of Regular trainers at the Basic Military Training Centre from the middle of this year.
He added that the SAF would also be recruiting more women as more opportunities opened up in different vocations due to advanced platforms.
Another CSNS recommendation implemented last year was the restructuring of the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) into three councils - the Employer and Business Council (EB), Families and Community Council (FC) and Educational Institutions Council (EI).
Mr Chan, who co-chairs the EB Council, revealed that one of the recommendations the council had come up with was to revamp the Total Defence Awards to recognise more people and organisations who have contributed to the defence of Singapore.
…instead of just recognising the employers and companies, we should also recognise the colleagues and immediate superiors who are supportive and made a difference to the national servicemen when they answer the call of duty, explained Mr Chan.
The council also proposed a closer working relationship between MINDEF and employers to keep them informed of their employees' In-Camp Training call-ups for both parties to plan ahead and make work arrangements. This would give NSmen greater peace of mind in preparing and discharging their NS duties, said Mr Chan.
Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, who co-chairs the FC Council and the EI Council, gave an update on the recommendations that the two councils proposed.
While NSmen can now enrol in special enrichment and refresher modules before they start their university courses, the EI Council will look into how these modules can be enhanced to better meet the learning needs of the students, as well as explore other efforts which further support NSmen.
Members of the FC Council will collaborate with the People's Association (PA) and SAFRA to offer more benefits and discounts to servicemen. PA will be looking at how they can offer privileges for use of facilities at Community Centres to servicemen and women, while SAFRA is looking at enhancing their membership privileges.
In an effort to reach out to women, the FC Council also recommends partnering the Singapore Council of Women's Organisation and PA's Women Integration Network to conduct sessions for mothers to share their experiences in supporting their children through NS, as well as engaging young women and wives of NSmen.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Education under the SAF-Schools Partnership Programme, 33 Post-Secondary Education Institutions were paired with 47 SAF units to co-organise activities such as unit visits for their students.
Dr Maliki noted that the restructured ACCORD was taking a proactive approach: The members are actively leading in various initiatives and such ground-up efforts will have significant impact on our outreach and engagement with various stakeholders to increase commitment to defence and support for NS.
Thanking SAF pioneers
As the SAF marks its 50th anniversary this year, a series of events has been lined up to recognise and honour the contributions of all who have served in the defence of Singapore.
SAF50 is a way of saying thank you to the pioneers and all the men and women who dedicated themselves to preserving our sovereignty and defending our way of life, said Dr Maliki. What the SAF lacked in resources in its early years, our pioneers made up for with their fortitude and determination.
Celebrations kicked off last month with SAF50@Vivo, which attracted more than 87,000 visitors. The event was anchored on an exhibition that featured SAF stories of pioneers' convictions and sacrifices. These stories will also be published in a commemorative book.
To be launched in July this year, the book is a collection of over 70 stories that showcase many aspects of the SAF, ranging from diplomacy, defence technology and operations to family and community support, media and entertainment, said Dr Maliki.
SAF pioneers will be invited to key events such as the SAF50 Parade, SAF50 Commemoration Dinner and SAF50@Istana presidential garden reception. Those invited will include Officers and Warrant Officers from the first batch of national servicemen and pioneers who served before 1965.
SAF formations and units will also engage SAF pioneers as part of their own celebrations.
Explained Dr Maliki: We want to bring ourpioneers and previous batches of ex-servicemen closer to our younger generation. They inspire us with their experiences, memories and motivations.
In addition, the SAF launched the Commitment to Defence Ambassadors' Programme, where some of the pioneers and ex-servicemen will engage younger Singaporeans to share with them their early struggles, experiences and accomplishments in the face of adversity.
I hope these stories will help inspire younger Singaporeans, and give them the spirit and strength to do their part for Singapore, said Dr Maliki.
As we celebrate SG50 and SAF50 this year, we must remember this spirit and strength exemplified by our pioneers. We must harness it and work towards building a more secure and prosperous future for Singapore.
The Singapore of today did not come easy. Through bitter periods during the Japanese occupation and the Konfrontasi episode, our founding generation realised that only with a strong defence could Singapore safeguard its sovereignty and chart its own destiny.
Now, Singaporeans can have the quiet confidence that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is a strong and capable military, able to protect our interests and borders. This is because of steady investments over the last five decades, as well as the efforts and sacrifices of national servicemen.
This was the point Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen made at the Committee of Supply or Budget Debate on 5 Mar, where he updated Parliament on defence-related issues and MINDEF’s long-term plans.
Combating hybrid warfare
In an ever-changing landscape of new security threats, the SAF will have to re-make itself to deal with cyber threats and the growing use of dis-information in warfare.
Dr Ng noted that there were numerous discussions on hybrid warfare at the recent Munich Security Conference. The opposite of the Total Defence concept, hybrid warfare is an orchestrated campaign to fracture the solidarity of the target nation by undermining its defences in civil, economic, social, psychological and military spheres.
Citing examples such as the recent unrest in Ukraine and the radicalising effect of ISIS, he said: The concept of hybrid warfare is as old as war itself… What is new is the amplification of dis-information due to social media.
No country, including Singapore, is immune to this dis-information war. The SAF will have to raise capabilities to detect and counteract such threats in the cyber and info domains.
He also urged Singaporeans to never take our peace for granted and said that peace could only be purchased through the collective commitment of our NSmen (Operationally-Ready National Servicemen) and all Singaporeans.
Emphasising the importance of having a strong military, Dr Ng added that Singapore should learn from the experiences of Europe, where many countries had reduced defence spending and some had even scrapped or suspended military conscription only to suffer from fears of a potential threat to their sovereignty when they least expected it.
Lithuania, for instance, had suspended their form of National Service (NS) in 2009. Now the small Baltic state, one of the closest to Russia, is in a frantic bid to raise an army again.
Noting that Singapore is also a small country, Dr Ng highlighted that we would do well to heed these cautionary tales. When danger is upon us, as it is precipitously for the Baltic states, it will be too little and too late to build up a defence.
Never weaken the strong defence that we have built up over the years through neglect or complacency. The time to build up a strong defence is during peace.
In his speech, Dr Ng also gave an overview on Singapore's defence ties with other countries.
Our defence relations with (Malaysia and Indonesia) are strong through frequent interactions at all levels, said Dr Ng.
The SAF spared no time in offering its assistance in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and AirAsia flight QZ8501.
He added that Singapore is stepping up its coordinated naval patrols with Indonesia, Malaysia and other littoral states to combat piracy and sea robbery in regional waters.
Relations with the United States (US) and China also remain strong, with military forces from both nations exercising regularly with the SAF.
Dr Ng noted that the US' presence in Asia has promoted regional stability, and Singapore recently facilitated the deployment of a US Navy Littoral Combat Ship to the region.
Our close relationship with the US also affords us access to high-end defence systems as well as training space in the US, he said.
And during his visit to China in last November, Dr Ng and Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan jointly issued a press release to further enhance defence interactions and commemorate the 25th anniversary of Singapore-China diplomatic ties this year.
To promote practical cooperation between regional militaries, Singapore will continue to host conferences such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM), ADMM-Plus and Shangri-La Dialogue. The setup of the Information Fusion Centre and the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)Coordination Centre will also allow Singapore to do more and play a constructive role in regional security.
Keeping abreast with technology
To maintain the SAF's edge as a respected, capable and professional force, technological upgrades are a must.
Starting from next year, the Navy will replace its Patrol Vessels with new Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs), while the Army will have Protected Response Vehicles in place of the V200 vehicles. The Air Force's Super Puma helicopters, which have served for almost 30 years, will also see replacements done over the next decade.
To deal with the impending manpower crunch as a result of long-term demographic trends in Singapore, the SAF must also operate effectively with a leaner force. Through the use of advanced technologies, the restructured SAF has been able to maintain its fighting edge, said Dr Ng.
For example, Unmanned Ground Vehicles are being considered by the Army to conduct security patrols while Unmanned Surface Vessels may be used to patrol at sea.
These advanced technologies have greater precision, endurance and use less manpower, allowing the SAF to remain potent with a leaner force, explained Dr Ng. But even in the need for advancements, MINDEF manages its budget prudently by upgrading existing platforms instead of purchasing new ones unless necessary, said Dr Ng.
The recently upgraded Mine Counter-Measure Vessels (MCMV), for example, can integrate with unmanned underwater systems and are able to clear mines up to five times faster than their predecessors.
To cope with limited land resources, the Multi Mission Range Complex (MMRC) houses seven ranges that can simulate day and night conditions on the site of a single 100m range, providing more efficient training for soldiers.
Realistic training and operations
The SAF also consistently benchmarks itself with militaries from other countries and tests its systems through realistic training and real operations.
Over the last decade, the SAF has taken part in four editions of Exercise Forging Sabre in the US, and in Exercise Wallaby in Australia annually since 2000. Both soldiers and platforms, which include Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, F-15 and F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, were put through complex and realistic test scenarios.
The SAF has also actively contributed to missions that have strengthened international peace and security as well as for HADR, said Dr Ng.
In January this year, SAF ships and aircraft were deployed in the search for AirAsia QZ8501. The Army also deployed water purification teams and equipment to Kelantan to supply potable water for Malaysian flood victims.
Whether through exercises or real operations, the SAF has shown that it can move decisively as one integrated professional force and succeed in missions and tasks assigned, explained Dr Ng.
However, even with the most advanced military technologies and equipment, he noted that the cornerstone of Singapore's defence remained in the strong fighting spirit of its people.
Concluding his speech, Dr Ng said: With the strong commitment of NSmen, their families, employers and the community, the SAF will continue to safeguard Singapore's independence and sovereignty… so that future generations may also enjoy the peace and security that we enjoy today.
As the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) celebrates its 50th birthday, here is a look at some of the things it has done over the past year in defending the nation.
In a reply to a Parliamentary Question last November on Singapore joining the multinational coalition to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said: Singapore must resolutely oppose the spread of terrorism in order to safeguard our security here. ISIS exports terrorism to our region, whether by sending foreign terrorists to carry out terrorist operations or by radicalising regional elements who engage in violence in Iraq, Syria and subsequently their home countries.
If this terrorism threat is allowed to grow and spread, innocent civilians here and elsewhere could be endangered and killed. By contributing to the international effort to tackle the threat at source, we are contributing directly to our own security.
Following the announcement, the SAF has sent a liaison officer and a Needs Assessment and Survey Team to the United States (US) Central Command Headquarters to facilitate planning and coordination for the SAF. Planners will be further deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Centre. There are also preparations being made for the deployment of a KC-135R tanker aircraft to support air-to-air refuelling for coalition forces.
Today's ever-evolving security threats often transcend boundaries, and a small country like Singapore will always be at risk to attacks. Fifty golden years of peace is no small feat but after patting ourselves on the back for having done things right, we must look forward.
On 26 Jan, at the third International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Forum: The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting, Dr Ng emphasised that we lived in an interdependent world and it was crucial to recognise that regional peace and stability depended on the collective will and efforts of nations to address security challenges facing the region.
Beyond building good defence relations, Singapore has also made significant headway internally in reaching out to our soldiers. Here's a look at how it has done both.
Soldiers are doing better and are more motivated to ace their annual physical fitness test.
Results from the three-month pilot implementation of the new three-station Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) format showed improvements across the board: 88 percent of participants improved or maintained their standards for sit-ups, and 73 percent, for the 2.4km run.
For the new push-up station, 74 percent of participants achieved average and above average performance, compared to current international standards.
The pilot, which ended in December last year, saw some 5,000 servicemen and women taking the new IPPT format.
The results validated our belief that the new IPPT generates greater ownership and motivates our people to do well, said Colonel (COL) Ng Ying Thong, Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Training) at a media brief on 27 Feb.
For the 27 percent who did not do better in the 2.4km run, the majority were servicemen or women who had already achieved Gold or Silver, according to COL Ng.
COL Ng also updated on other changes to the IPPT system, including tweaks to the performance standards. Soldiers will have new standards to meet when the three-station IPPT officially rolls out on 1 Apr.
Soldiers must now score 85 points for Gold and 75 points for Silver. This is a four-point increase from the standards announced for the three-month IPPT trial.
The Gold mark for elite soldiers - Commandos, Guardsmen and Divers - has also moved up by five points to 90.
The scoring tables have also been improved to encourage soldiers to do better by making the allocation of points more consistent with the number of repetitions performed for the sit-up and push-up stations, and the 2.4km run times.
This move is to enable fitter servicemen to continue to find challenge in meeting the higher IPPT award standards, said COL Ng.
We were very careful when refining these standards; to make sure that we not only encourage our fitter servicemen and elite forces to do well, but also not de-motivate the bulk (of our soldiers) from trying to do well, added COL Ng.
For example, an average 35-year-old NSman will have to do 39 sit-ups, 39 push-ups and run 2.4km in 10 minutes 40 seconds to attain the Gold award.
Operationally Ready National Servicemen will have a year to transit to the three-station IPPT format. This means that they can choose to do either the older five-station IPPT or the new format up to 31 Mar 2016. Active service personnel will move to the new format on 1 Apr 2015.
For 29-year-old NSman, Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) Christopher Ng, the new IPPT standards will push him to train and do better. The new IPPT system is better and the new standards are more challenging, but I think they are do-able, said LTA (NS) Ng.
I can now train for the IPPT even at home, without equipment like pull-up bars, added LTA (NS) Ng, who serves in an Infantry unit. He took part in the IPPT pilot, scoring a Silver award.
For full-time National Servicemen such as Corporal (CPL) Napolean s/o Parthiban, the scoring system motivated him to do well for the IPPT.
The more reps (repetitions) you do and faster you run, the more points you get. That makes me work to try to max out in all three stations, said the 23-year-old NSF from 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
A new Preparatory Training Phase (PTP) exemption criteria for NS will also come into effect from 1 Mar. Combat-fit pre-enlistees will have to attain 61 points or more when they take the National Physical Fitness Award or NAPFA test with push-ups, to be exempted from the PTP.
Getting settled into a new role on board a warship, training to be an aircraft controller, going overseas on exercises, moving house and getting married (sorry, guys) - all in a year.
No wonder the question of what she likes to do on weekends draws a blank expression. Last year was quite a big change for me so I haven't had time for much else, said the fresh-faced 25-year-old who tied the knot last September.
Trained as a Naval officer, she has a master's degree in War and Psychiatry. As the Assistant Operations Officer on board frigate RSS Intrepid, part of her job is to act as the bridge between the warship and the Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters.
When the pilots are 40 to 50 miles away from the ship, we need to tell them what to do and then they will relay the information which the ship needs, explained CPT Sim.
She has managed to bring her other love - playing the guzheng - into her job in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). At last year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, she played the classical Chinese stringed zither during a reception on board the frigate. RIMPAC 2014 involved 22 countries and about 25,000 personnel.
Going back to the question about her weekends, CPT Sim quipped: Maybe if you ask me one year later, when I'm more settled, I'll have an answer!
Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen can now choose between Adidas and Zoot for their running shoes. Journalist Koh Eng Beng tests out the new foot gear.
When news of the new running shoes was out, I was more curious about the Zoot sneakers. Unlike Adidas, the American endurance sports brand is little known in Singapore. I tested out both pairs in 4km runs and 200m short sprints at the scenic Southern Ridges near my office.
The Zoot Energy shoes have an incredible level of cushioning; I could feelthe bounce in every stride that I took.Comfort is premium as the inside of the shoes and its insoles are lined with silky smooth, dri-fit fabric. I could even run comfortably without wearing socks as the lining helps to prevent blisters by reducing friction and wicking away moisture.
If you have flat feet, these are the shoes for you. Designed for runners with low-to-neutral arch,their stiff mid-sole and strong heel counter lock your foot in and keep it from rolling inward excessively.This awkward movement is known as over-pronation.
Your foot arch is a natural shock absorbent system, and without it the impact will be transferred to the rest of the leg.
The Adidas Duramo, on the other hand, does not have that foamy feel of the Zoot Energy. With less cushioning, it is a tad lighter at 288g compared with the Zoot's 314g.
The Adidas shoes provide a good balance of cushion, stability and support for runners with neutral-to-high arched feet. Most runners fall into this category.
My feet felt well-supported whether I was doing sprints or long distances. The little bump in the mid foot area fitted snugly around the arch of my foot. I liked the feeling of having such firm support under my feet.
Runners with high arched feet will love the German brand shoes. They havesofter and more flexible midsoles that do not inhibit the natural rolling of the feet.
As I have neutral arched feet, I can wear both pairs of shoes. I found the AdidasDuramomore form-fitting for my feet, and a better balance of comfort and support. But for long-distance runs like a marathon, I would prefer the Zoot Energy which provides more cushioning.
Honestly, the technical features do not matter to me as much as their looks. Like most Operationally Ready National Servicemen, I am a recreational runner. We might be slow, but we must always look stylo! I like the Zoot Energy's swanky combination of bright blue, silver and yellow. While the minimalist blue and white AdidasDuramomay not be a head-turner, the more you look at its famous three-stripe logo, the more it'll grow on you.
At $39.49 for the Adidas Duramo and $43.96 for the Zoot Energy, these performance sneakers are value for money. If you're using SAF eMart credits to buy, they are as good as free. Grab yours at the eMarts now!
The Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) has submitted 18 proposals to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) to boost support and recognition for National Service (NS).
ACCORD was restructured last August into three councils - the Employers and Business Council, the Family and Community Council and the Educational Institutions Council - to enhance engagement and support for NS and Total Defence.
The proposals reach out to all levels of the community. They include measures to provide needy Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) with financial assistance beyond the two-year NS period; smoothen NSFs' transition into the workforce by jointly organising career fairs with the business community; and raise awareness of NS in foreign-system educational institutions such as international schools.
There are also initiatives targeted at easing manpower arrangements in the business community. For example, employers and business owners will receive early notification when their employees are due for In-Camp Training so that they can better plan their staffing needs.
Families and the wider community can look forward to programmes that will raise awareness of NS and defence. One of the recommendations calls for MINDEF to work with the People's Association to reach out to Permanent Residents and New Citizens to raise awareness and understanding of NS and Total Defence.
The initiatives also call for greater outreach to educational institutions. For example, students can look forward to a Total Defence experience if MINDEF accepts the proposal to partner the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Discovery Centre to produce a cohort experience for all primary six students.
ACCORD is chaired by Second Minster for Defence Chan Chun Sing, and supported by Deputy Chairman Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman.
Commenting on the progress made by the three ACCORD councils in engaging key stakeholders, Mr Chan said: I am heartened by the strong societal support for national defence and NS.
He added: The committee members have done a good job in engaging their respective communities, and the proposals reflect the effort and commitment of the ACCORD members.
For the full list of proposals, visit http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2015/feb/25feb15_nr/25feb15_fs.html
Lead yourself; lead others
3SG NUR HAFIZUDDIN BIN RAHIM, 19
3rd Battalion, Singapore Guards (3 Gds)
Before enlisting, 3SG Hafizuddin was a banquet server at Marina Bay Sands. Despite having over a year of experience, he never took the initiative to guide new staff. Why bother? After all, he was just a part-timer. I let the manager do everything, recalled the 19-year-old who had dropped out of the Institute of Technical Education.
But his attitude changed in National Service (NS). During specialist cadet training, he mentored his bunkmates who were fresh out of Basic Military Training (BMT). He was then the most experienced soldier, having gone through the Guardsmen's advanced infantry training as a rifleman.
I had already learnt about teamwork and understood that, with my experience and knowledge, I could help my section, said 3SG Hafizuddin, who received the Silver Bayonet award when he graduated from the Specialist Cadet School (SCS) last December.
Riflemen usually attain the highest rank of Corporal First Class, and he had never imagined he would don the 3rd Sergeant rank.
It all began when his BMT section commander appointed him the section 2nd-in-command (2IC), which meant greater responsibilities. Whether it was battle assault drills, rappelling, fast marches or coastal swims, he worked hard and eventually emerged as the best in the company. His commanders were impressed not just by his performance as a soldier, but also as a leader and thus recommended him for specialist training at SCS.
His toughest time was during a defence exercise in SCS where, as a platoon sergeant, he had to lead 40 trainees and ensure that all trenches and wire obstacles were completed.
I had to dig my own shellscrape, as well as run around through the night to pass information. It was very tiring but I told myself there must be a reason I was given this appointment, so I never gave up.
The current section commander in 3 Gds added: Nobody is born a leader; everything needs hard work. I did my best to learn from people around me. Before NS, I was not disciplined. But now, I have a disciplined mindset, and have responsibilities to take charge of.
The boys are back! But this time, they face the seemingly insurmountable challenge of training to become members of the elite Naval Diving Unit (NDU).
We were waiting quietly at the J Team office when Joshua Tan burst in. A flurry of introductions ensued and not long after, Maxi Lim and Wang Weiliang arrived too. Everyone looked tired, about five shades darker and slimmer.
It was clear that their training at NDU had been fruitful. For almost a month, the main cast of Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen went through the same gruelling training that naval divers do. Due to hit cinemas during Chinese New Year, the movie is about how the original characters would fare if they were posted to NDU for their Basic Military Training instead of Pulau Tekong.
Despite the crazy schedules and special diet which they were put through, it was evident that the boys enjoyed reminiscing about the good ol' days. Ask them about one aspect of their training, and they would ramble non-stop and interject one another about how strenuous it was. But at the end of the day, there is no doubt they had gained tremendous respect for the frogmen of the Republic of Singapore Navy.
You guys are looking good. So how has your training been?
JOSHUA - Training was in three main stages. First was NDU immersion. We report at 7am, do morning PT (physical training) till 11am, break for lunch and train in the pool till 5pm. So it was like a full day of physical training (i.e. torture)… The warrant officers taught us swimming strokes as NDU's strokes are different from the conventional ones.
MAXI - It's done with flippers. Sort of a tactical way to remain hidden while carrying equipment. You're not allowed to break the surface of the water or create lots of splashes. And it's long distances back and forth.
Who did you train under?
J - 1st Warrant Officer Frankie Chong is one of our chief trainers. His nickname in NDU is Psycho. If you're known as a psycho within NDU, it's really something.
M - I think he does get a lot of respect. When we were in NDU and people asked who we were training with, we said Frankie and they would say: Oh Psycho Frankie ah? Wah.
J - Whatever he asked us to do, he would do it with us. He's on the platform during morning PT and we are forced to look at him from the ground. So that we know whatever he asks us to do, he can do it better. And he's like 40-plus. It's a motivating factor - he's older but still fitter than us. Really lao kui (Hokkien for embarrassing) lor.
Maxi, I heard that you had a phobia of water. How did you overcome it?
M - It's a bit bo bian (Hokkien for no choice) 'cos I wanted to be in this movie. But I'm glad that whenever there was a task to perform in the water, my friends and the instructors would stop (what they were doing) to look after me. The training was done in a safe environment so I was able to keep all the negative thoughts away and just focus on what I needed to do.
Were you also motivated by the encouragement from your fellow Ah boys?
M - (laughing) I think it was more like insults. They'll insult my physical appearance, just to make me train.
J - He's called the dead seal!
M - Before the training, I was called the dead seal. After the training, I became the baby seal.
WEILIANG - We don't say Bro, you can do it. We say: You confirm cannot do it. This movie doesn't have you only mah, you should just sit in the corner. This is how we motivate each other - tough love. But he was really hardworking. He lost 10kg!
I heard that you guys had to go through a special diet... (all groaned simultaneously)
J - Aiyoh. This is one portion in which we suffered more than the divers.
M - Our healthy diet was basically chicken breast and red rice...
J - The chicken breast is steamed. So you can chew on it for 20 minutes and you're still chewing, till it becomes powder in your mouth.
WL - Because we're filming, the food is already cold when we eat it. And it's like a piece of wood. But we have no choice 'cos we're hungry and we have to eat.
J - Actually we should thank our chef 'cos he helped us exercise our jawline to make it more defined with all the chewing!
Which part of the training was most xiong (Hokkien for tough) for you, individually?
J - For me, it was drown-proofing. There's this thing calledno man's land. In a 4m pool, it's around 2m. We were doing the underwater somersault, and suddenly I had no more air. It was either that I kicked up or continue to sink down and kick up. The proper way is actually the latter. It's faster than fighting your way up.
I think this is the most challenging 'cos I've never tried it before. And you have to trust both your instructors and teammates to look out for you.
WL - On land, everything is ok. The moment you go into water, itís a different ball game. Our instructor told us that we cannot be scared of water. Instead of fighting it, we must flow with the current.
M - Once, the instructors told us to fill our masks (which cover our eyes and noses) with water, put them over our faces and do flutter kicks while lying on our backs and counting out loud. It was so hard to breathe, to shout and to do flutter kicks at the same time. That was very torturous.
You really went through a lot, but I guess it's all worth it?
J - There were some of them who were skeptical, who thought we were just there (in NDU) to show face and act like we're interested. But when the divers saw that none of us gave up, they decided to take the training to a higher level. Gaining their respect and acceptance meant a lot to us.
WL - Getting Warrant Frankie's and the divers' approval, and then seeing how we changed from the start of filming to the end, it was really precious to us.
What message do you hope this movie will bring across to the public?
J - For me, it's very simple. I want public recognition for the divers. The US Navy Seals are very popular and they inspire so much respect at the very mention of their name. Singapore has our own elite forces and they deserve recognition too.
WL - I hope that this film can bring recognition to all these people who are not known - that we have this bunch of people who are protecting us in Singapore.
M - A lot of times it's about attitude. The NDU divers are pretty much the same as us, but what sets them apart is their attitude. And not much is known about the divers and how they train, so I hope this film helps to shed some light on them.
For Singapore, our pioneer generation left us, by their words, their deeds and their sacrifices, a very strong and resilient legacy to follow - which is that every generation…must hand to the next generation a more united, harmonious, progressive society.
If we keep to this example set by our pioneers to leave a better Singapore than the one that you inherited, then each generation can look forward to the next, expecting a better Singapore, said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen on the need for future leaders to continue the good work of our pioneers.
On Singapore's and the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) humble beginnings, he said: We were very poor at the starting point, but our pioneers had enormous ambition and conviction to put their backs to what they believed they could achieve. And I hope that we can retain some of their optimism and dynamism to keep Singapore going.
Dr Ng was speaking to undergraduates from the National University of Singapore (NUS) at the latest Kopi Talk session, organised by the Ministry of Communications and Information’s REACH (Reaching Everyone for Active Citizenry @ Home) and the Military Justice Project, NUS Law Criminal Justice Club, held on 16 Feb at University Town. Kopi Talks is a series of dialogue sessions that bring together Political Officer Holders and tertiary institution students to discuss policy issues.
About 200 students from NUS Law School, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Business and International Relations schools, University Scholars Programme and Yale-NUS College, as well as other invited guests, attended the event. During the two-hour dialogue, Dr Ng engaged in a lively and candid question-and-answer session with the attendees.
One attendee, NUS Business School undergraduate Albert Ho, asked if more could be done to energise and motivate Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) who were in non-combatant roles.
Dr Ng replied that in our modern day SAF, we can utilise people much better because while manpower and manual work have been significantly reduced because of advanced technology, the resultant enhancement in information and intelligence gathering has increased the need for analysts. Thus, the non-combatants are now very valuable to us, because I need them to study the data and tell us what to do said Dr Ng.
He added that efforts have also been made to match NSF vocations with their relevant experiences and courses of study: What we've done is to expand the number of vocations and we tried to reduce the divide between combat and non-combat (roles), because in the modern arena, that’s less relevant.
Added Dr Ng: That was also the reason we opened up the Volunteer Corps. We felt that there would be older Singaporeans, women, new citizens with expertise who believe in the defence of Singapore and who’d be able to add their expertise.
On the topic of military technological advancement, NUS student Bernard Leong wanted to know if a fully-mechanised army was a possibility in the future.
I like that thought, Dr Ng said to laughter from the floor, before explaining that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had already adopted unmanned systems in several areas. However, he added: I wouldn't say that that would be your starting point (using technology to the extent that it replaces NS). It may be a consequence; if you can do it, fine.
Besides taking questions from the floor, Dr Ng also answered questions that had been submitted online. When asked about his perspective on whether NS and In-Camp Training cause NSmen to be less competitive than their foreign counterparts in the global economy, Dr Ng said: We are aware of that, and we've be trying to work with employers to make NS count. He then highlighted the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence, which recently set up a council specifically to engage employers.
He also expressed his hopes that local employers would follow in the footsteps of the United States: In many countries, if you have military training, it's a plus. And I will tell you that’s an enlightened employer. In the US, one of the best things to put on your resume is that you came from the US military.
In the military sense, we ask you to plan, we throw you in an uncertain environment, we give you a few objectives and then tell you to go implement. That's similar to the business environment. So I think we have to win that battle of convincing employers to make sure that they realise that when they have employees who have commanders, for instance. Because they can take charge of men and they have experience that they can also transfer (those skills) to the civilian (environment).
An animation clip to show appreciation for the men and women in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) won the top prize at the ninth N.E.mation! competition.
Produced by team Millennium Dragons from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, the clip was made with a mix of digital and traditional methods - they created a handmade 3D pop-up book in which a model of a different military asset would pop up with every flip of a page.
The innovative clip titled Thank You SAF won the nods of public voters and a judging panel which comprised industry professionals and academics. A record 48,052 votes were received from members of the public.
This edition of N.E.mation!, organised by Nexus, the central coordinating agency for National Education, started in May last year.
The top 10 teams were shortlisted from over 1,700 students who submitted 735 story ideas. The shortlisted teams then spent close to a month during their school holidays to produce clips centred around the theme Believing in Singapore: Because This is Home.
Ms Kay Yeung of Millennium Dragons said one of their inspirations for the clip came from their elder brothers who had served National Service. (They told us about their NS journey)...and we would like to share with the public how much the SAF does for our country and our people.
For their efforts, the team of four will go on a fully-sponsored learning trip to renowned animation studios in the United States. They received the award from 2nd Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing in a ceremony held at Golden Village cinema at VivoCity on 15 Feb.
Speaking to the N.E.mation! participants, Mr Chan highlighted the role of pioneers in nation-building and commended the students for producing clips that reflected the spirit of these pioneers and their contributions.
The most powerful weapon that Singapore and the SAF have is... the desire and the willingness to fight for our independence, to remain independent so that we can determine our destiny for years and generations to come, he said.
Your effort produced not just the animation clips… Your collective effort is also a demonstration of your commitment to set aside your individual desires (and) put something above your own interests to answer to a higher calling, to do something for this country of ours that we call home.
Second runner-up team Chunky Monkeys from Singapore Chinese Girls' School produced a clip titled The Pioneer Connection to tell the story of, among other pioneers, Mr Lim Boon Keng, the philanthropist who founded their school to provide education for girls.
First runner-up team HigherThanYou from Cedar Girls' School turned to an interesting approach to narrate the Singapore story. The team of girls used mathematical concepts such as integration in their clip titled The SG Equation to illustrate the formula for Singapore's success.
Explaining their idea, team leader Isabella Lok, 16, said : In Maths, we have to put our faith in the formula… Similarly for Singapore, we have to apply our SG formula - which is our people and our determination… to help Singapore progress even further.
To view all the top 10 clips, visit www.nemation.sg.