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?
BE A PART OF THE ACTION AT SAF50 @ VIVO
We bring you the highlights of SAF50@Vivo! From ship tours to interactive exhibits to static displays of military assets, there’s something for everyone at this exciting event.
COLLECTIVE ACTION NEEDED TO AVOID PERILS, REAP PROMISES IN REGION
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen highlights reasons for worry and for optimism on the future of the Asia-Pacific region in view of the current security concerns.
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.
Members of Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) gained better understanding of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) after a visit to SAF50@Vivo on 14 Feb.
Hosted by Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, the visit gave the ACCORD members the opportunity to tour the Landing Ship Tank (LST) RSS Endurance, ride on the Fast Craft Utility (FCU) and view the SAF50 Stories Zone.
Held from 12 to 15 Feb, SAF50@Vivo marks the start of a year-long celebration which celebrates 50 years of the SAF. This large scale tri-service event is a showcase of the SAF's hardware and capabilities, as well as a tribute to the men and women who have contributed to Singapore's defence.
ACCORD was recently expanded last year into three councils: the Educational Institutions (EI), Family and Community (FC) and Employer and Business (EB) councils.
FC Council member Mr Yeong Gah Hou, who enjoyed the ship visit and FCU ride tremendously, felt that the event gave him a deeper understanding of how the SAF worked and how it interacted with the rest of the community and the public. It was especially meaningful for him as this would help him educate the importance of defence to new citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) in Singapore.
I think this exhibition provides a very good insight to what the SAF does... and (will help) Singaporeans to better understand our obligations towards contributing to Singapore's safety and security. And for new citizens, this exhibition will also open their eyes to better understand the country which they have become part of and how defence is an integral part of us, said Mr Yeong. Part of the FC council's focus involves engaging new citizens and PRs.
Ms Laura Hwang and Ms Joanna Portilla from the FC council also took this opportunity to engage a group of ladies on defence matters. These ladies are either women leaders, wives of Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) or mothers whose sons are going to be enlisted. They were part of the guests who were invited to an exclusive tour of SAF50@Vivo, together with the ACCORD members.
The dialogue session was short but fruitful and Ms Portilla was heartened to find out that many women were positive about National Service (NS) and the SAF. Topics discussed included how women had a bigger role to play in supporting their husbands and sons whenever they were called up to serve and how they could do their part in the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC).
We mooted this idea of engaging the women because it's important to create awareness and show them how they can support their husband or sons whenever they go for In-Camp Training or enlist into NS. At the same time, they also learnt about the SAFVC and how (some of them) can continue their interest in uniformed groups, explained Ms Portilla.
The director of a private school added that such engagements not only promote greater understanding of what the SAF does, but also alleviate mothers' fears of sons enlisting into NS and help them to prepare their sons both physically and mentally.
Ms Susie Wong, who was part of the Women's Group, felt that the dialogue session was a good initiative as many women still think that serving in the SAF is a man's role. The Honourary Secretary of theSingapore Council of Women's Organisations was also glad that her perspective of the Army was changed after visiting the event.
In the past, serving in the Army to me was about going to war. But after speaking to some Army boys, I found out that it was (also) about peacekeeping, defence and protecting the country against terrorism. So it's a different concept of what I always thought about the Army.
Ms Portilla summed up their experience at SAF@Vivo: It's important to know what the men go through. Showing women the capabilities and life in the SAF will make them appreciate and support the men more.
We should be proud of our men.
Because of the collective spirit (and) the collective effort (of our people), we have progressed very much… Today, no one doubts the ability of the SAF to be able to defend Singapore, said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen, highlighting the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) growth into a respected military force.
He was speaking to visitors at the launch of SAF50@Vivo on 12 Feb. Centred around the theme, Our SAF : Giving Strength to our Nation, SAF50@Vivo is a large-scale tri-service event that celebrates the SAF's 50th anniversary.
Held at VivoCity from 12 to 15 Feb, it also marks the start of a year-long celebration that includes public events and activities to showcase the SAF's capabilities and pay tribute to the men and women who have contributed to Singapore's defence over the last 50 years.
Stories of the SAF
At the launch, Dr Ng toured the SAF50 Stories Zone, an interactive exhibition featuring stories from the men and women of the local defence community.
Recognising the contributions from all who form the defence ecosystem, Dr Ng said: The focus of SAF50 (is not) on specific individuals, but…what we have achieved together in this remarkable journey…when we, as one people, one SAF, put our hearts and minds into this indispensable task of defending our homeland.
The exhibitions in the SAF50 Stories Zone are divided into four clusters:
· Strength of a Soldier features the shared experiences of servicemen and servicewomen, from full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) to Operationally-ready National Servicemen (NSmen) and Regulars;
· Strength of our Pioneers pays tribute to SAF pioneers who overcame all odds and were essential in making the SAF what it is today;
· Strength from the Community features personal reflections and well-wishes from the community, which plays a key role in supporting their families and loved ones in the SAF; and
· Strength in Action showcases the wide variety of roles the SAF plays, both in defending our nation and in assisting in international peacekeeping and disaster-relief missions.
Visitors were greeted by SAF50 ambassadors who took them through the various story clusters. Lance Corporal (LCP) Lee Kun Siang, an ambassador at the Strength from the Community cluster, hoped that visitors would understand the role of the SAF… and most importantly, the idea of strength - how the SAF draws strength from the community and provides strength to the community.
The 20-year-old NSF added: (Playing my part as an ambassador in this event,) I have learnt that no role is too small. We all have a part in SAF50, the SAF and national defence.
Appreciating our pioneers
Dr Ng also spent some time speaking to about 110 SAF pioneers who had been invited to the SAF50@Vivo launch.
Among them was 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) (Ret) Edwidge Desker, who participated in the SAF's first overseas deployment to East Pakistan in 1970. He was part of the team sent to provide medical aid to victims of cyclone-hit East Pakistan.
I'm very honoured to be recognised for my work before, and to be able to relate the story to current soldiers and let them know that there are things happening in other countries that you can help in, said the 67-year-old, who enlisted in 1967. His story is featured as part of the SAF50 Stories Zone.
On the changes he has witnessed over the years, 1WO Desker replied candidly: When we first started in the SAF, it wasn't a sought-after job. But today, they (the soldiers) are proud to walk around in their uniform. And that's good.
Fun for all at SAF50@Vivo
Besides checking out the interactive exhibitions in the SAF50 Stories Zone, visitors can view the combined assets and capabilities of the Singapore Army, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) which are on display at the Capabilities Zone. Visitors can take pictures of assets such as the Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) II, and even climb atop a scaled replica of the conning tower of an RSN Archer-class submarine.
They can also try their hand at learning to fire a ship's 0.5'' machine gun or fly a plane on the training simulators in the Experience Zone.
Tickets to tour Landing Ship Tank (LST) RSS Endurance, the RSN's largest ship, are still available. Visitors can try balloting for the tickets at the exhibition. There will also be a boat physical training demonstration by the Naval Diving Unit as well as performances by the SAF Music and Drama Company on the flight deck of RSS Endurance.
Over at the Engagement Zone, visitors will have the chance to meet and greet the RSAF Black Knights and drop an encouraging word or two to servicemen and women on the message board. Kids will also have fun at the special tri-service photo booth, where they can try on different uniforms from the Army, Navy or Air Force and have their pictures taken.
The RSN is also holding a Name our Ships contest, to invite the public to name its new Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs). Members of the public can contribute their ideas at the LMV naming booth at the Engagement Zone or at www.navy.sg/nameourships. The contest is open to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents and will run until 15 Mar.
To commemorate Total Defence Day on 15 Feb, an SAF Weapons Presentation Ceremony will be held on RSS Endurance. This is the first time that the ceremony will be held on board a ship. The awards ceremony of N.E.mation! 9, a digital animation competition organised by Nexus for youths to express their thoughts on Total Defence, will also be held on that day at VivoCity.
With the newly opened SAF Cardiac Fitness Centre (SCFC), NSmen and pre-enlistees can look forward to more convenient cardiac screening with minimal downtime and waiting time.
Every year, thousands of pre-enlistees and Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) undergo mandatory cardiac screening before they are enlisted or deployed for physically strenuous work.
On 16 Jan, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) unveiled the new SCFC, which provides centralised and dedicated specialist cardiac care for all SAF personnel and pre-enlistees. It is located at the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS). SAF cardiologist Major (MAJ) (Dr) Muhammad Idu described the new facility as a one-stop centre where all specialised cardiac investigations and consultations can be provided for pre-enlistees and SAF servicemen. Cardiac screening can be done in a convenient and timely manner, allowing the SAF to determine the medical classification and fitness of its soldiers faster.
Comprehensive screening system
As part of their cardiac screening process, all national servicemen and pre-enlistees first undergo Tier 1 cardiac risk factor screening at an SAF Medical Centre or Medical Classification Centre respectively.
The screening comprises an electrocardiogram (ECG), which traces the heart's electrical impulses and rhythm; blood tests for the detection of risk factors like Diabetes Mellitus and High Cholesterol; and a physical examination of the cardiovascular system by an SAF Medical Officer (MO).
If an individual is identified with abnormalities, the SAF MO will refer him for selected Tier 2 specialised cardiac screening tests. With the SCFC in place, these personnel no longer need to visit multiple healthcare institutions for specialised tests and treatments.
Waiting times for specialised cardiac tests and consultations are also reduced, which enhances the SAF's operational readiness by minimising deployment downtime and pre-enlistment waiting time. This facilitates timely enlistment and also gives servicemen more time to train and undergo the annual Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).
A complementary pair
Operated in collaboration with NHCS, the SCFC taps the expertise of both organisations, ensuring a high standard of cardiac screening.
With all cardiac screening services now centralised in the SCFC, the SAF can better collate and study the cardiovascular health profile of pre-enlistees and servicemen to explore new cardiac screening tests for the SAF. This is part of the SAF's continuous efforts to ensure its cardiac screening protocols remain robust and aligned with best medical practices and guidelines.
The 316 sq m SCFC provides four Tier 2 cardiac screening tests - exercise ECG, routine echocardiography, stress echocardiogram and MIBI (Myocardial Perfusion) scan, and a CT (Computed Tomography) Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CACS).
Sharing his experience undergoing the medical screening at the new SCFC, 1st Warrant Officer M Balakrishnan said: In the past, I had to report to the medical centre for blood tests and the ECG, then travel to the Military Medical Institute for the exercise treadmill test. If further tests were required, I was referred to another public hospital to see the doctor there, who will order the test for me to be done on another day. The whole process took a long time.
The Head of Pers Node (Amoy Quee), SAF Personnel Hub (East) added: However, now I just have to report to the medical centre and they will refer me directly to the SCFC for the test. The test report gets sent directly back to the SAF MO, who can decide in a shorter time whether I am fit to do IPPT.
I do not need to make so many visits for my check-ups now, and the shorter waiting time means I have more time to train for my IPPT. I'm glad that the SAF does all the screening for us so that we can take better care of our health.
In another case, Lance Corporal (LCP) Aaron Tan Shih Yan from the Human Resource Shared Service Centre was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a congenital condition of the heart which predisposes an individual to having episodes of abnormal heart rhythms, after an ECG at SCFC.
I was completely unaware of my condition prior to my pre-enlistee medical screening, where I had an abnormal ECG. I had heart palpitations in the past, but I didn't think much of it, especially since I was very active, said LCP Tan, who was graded PES C9L9.
I think that the cardiac screening is very useful, especially for people like me who had no idea of their condition before going for the screening. It is also very good for safety, as there would have been risks involved had I been graded as combat fit.
LCP Tan subsequently underwent a successful procedure at NHCS and can now return to an active lifestyle. His medical classification status will be re-assessed in the future so that he can continue to contribute meaningfully during his NS.
Comprehensive, yet faster
Sometimes pre-enlistees come down (to the SCFC) with their parents, added MAJ (Dr) Idu. And following investigations, if we find out that there are no underlying problems, we spend time to explain the results to the pre-enlistees and their parents. Some of the parents have thanked us as they feel reassured to know that their sons undergo comprehensive medical screening in the SAF.
Ultimately, the facility is designed and operated with servicemen in mind. As MAJ (Dr) Idu summed it up: It (the SCFC) gives our servicemen greater confidence over their own health.