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?
The mood was sombre.
A total of 1,055 specialist cadets (SCTs) were graduating from their 22-week course, but the atmosphere was far from celebratory.
There was no doubt that the passing of Singapore's founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew had an effect on everyone who was at the parade. The solemnness of the event was amplified by the minute of silence observed by the parade participants and attendees.
The graduation parade was held at Pasir Laba Camp on 27 Mar. In his speech, Chief of Staff-General Staff Brigadier-General (BG) Lim Hock Yu paid tribute to Mr Lee, and said that the Singapore Armed Forces' achievements today were only possible through Mr Lee's vision and inspiring leadership.
He said: The late Mr Lee firmly believed that a strong defence is the cornerstone of Singapore's success… We pay tribute to him by making sure that every one of our commanders and soldiers continues to be committed to the defence of Singapore.
BG Lim added that the strength of the SAF lay not in its advanced military hardware, but in the continued commitment, competence and fighting spirit of its people, and urged the graduands to help their men understand and internalise the importance of National Service (NS).
Lead by example and with conviction, empathise with your fellow soldiers, and engage them sincerely. Be their guide and their mentor. In turn, they will look to you for guidance and support.
His message was not lost on SCT Audrey Ng. The 24-year-old became a regular with the Military Police (MP) Command as she wanted to do her part by contributing to the defence of Singapore, and keeping it safe.
Inspired by her two elder brothers who signed on as regulars, she had asked them the reason for signing on and this was what her elder brother told her: If you can't even protect your country, what makes you think that you can protect your family?
And that was why I decided to sign on as well, simply because they've both inspired me. It's not easy, but I have always felt that if my brothers can go through it, I, as their sister, can do it too. There's nothing to stop me, said SGT Ng.
Having brothers who were already in the force also helped shape her decision to join the MP Command.
Seeing that she liked the law and MP Command was a more disciplined vocation, SCT Ng's brothers advised her to go into it as she would really enjoy (the job) and one where she would stay for long.
When asked what kind of leader she would want to be to her men, SCT Ng said: I want to be someone who walks side by side with them because I want to let them know that even though I have a (higher) rank and am in charge of them, we are ultimately the same once we step out of the military.
Without their help, there is no way I can finish my task. Giving orders is easy, but teamwork is ultimately most important.
For SCT Rohan Matthew Thomas, a ruptured appendix forced him to drop out of his Combat Diving Course (CDC) last August, just three weeks short of his graduation. However, this did not stop the 20-year-old from doing a recourse three months later.
I was devastated and very angry. But I had the support of my family. They told me to snap out of it and stop feeling sorry for myself, and start all over again, said SCT Rohan.
So I went back. I was so close to the end and I did not feel that there was any reason to give up.
The golden bayonet recipient also shared that despite his going out of course, his batch mates made it a point to visit him in hospital and at home each time they booked out. Their heartwarming gestures made SCT Rohan feel like he was still part of their batch.
Going through the CDC again may have been tough, but all these just proved that he could really accomplish anything if he put his mind to it. SCT Rohan revealed that he would be going for an Officer Cadet School interview two weeks later.
Going through it (the CDC) again just makes me know that I'm tougher than I think I am, and nothing can beat me down.
For SCT Jason Lam, being posted to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) was somewhat of a dream come true. He had always wanted to be a pilot, but a failed test dashed that ambition. Nevertheless, the 21-year-old was glad that he still made it as a Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) specialist.
The golden bayonet recipient shared that during his days in GBAD, he and his fellow trainees had to perform a daily 15-minute drill of checking their uniform and bearing, and accounting for strength in the parade square before starting the day.
All these helped build up our discipline and our drills, he said.
When asked about his thoughts on the passing of Mr Lee, SCT Lam said that while his death was a sad incident, he felt that he should continue to do his best and perform his duties as a full-time National Serviceman well.
He added: As an air defender, I think my role is very important, and if anyone wants to attack us, my focus should be on playing my part well.
SCT Ng agreed. I really think that what Mr Lee Kuan Yew has left for us is important. There are people who think that NS is a waste of time, but all our defence skills were actually picked up from NS.
As Mr Lee said, if we do not want to defend Singapore, who will?
Of the graduands, 1,002 were from the Army, 17 from the Republic of Singapore Navy and 36, from the Air Force. Present at the parade were also senior SAF officers, as well as families and friends of the graduands.
They heard the call. They stepped forward.
And now, the first batch of Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) Volunteers (SVs) will finally begin their training.
On 24 Mar, 68 non-National Service (NS)-liable Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) reported at Maju Camp for their enlistment into the SAFVC. After taking their oath of allegiance, like their NS counterparts, they waved goodbye to their accompanying families and loved ones before embarking on a two-week journey to learn to become soldiers.
The SAFVC was established as one of the accepted recommendations by the Committee to Strengthen NS, with the purpose of allowing more Singaporeans and PRs to contribute to national defence, show support for NS, and deepen their understanding and ownership of national defence.
Since it was officially launched in October last year, the SAFVC has received about 900 applications, from which 150 were eventually selected to form the 2015 cohort. The second and third batches will enlist on 11 Apr and 15 Jun respectively.
Interview and selection process
The five-month-long selection process included face-to-face interviews between the applicants and a panel of three to five members from the selection board. The board comprised SAFVC commanders, senior commanders from the sponsoring Headquarters (HQs) whose units the volunteers will be deployed to, and senior NS officers with the ranks of Senior Lieutenant-Colonel and above.
The first part of the interview is trying to ascertain if the person has the right motivations and aptitude, explained SAFVC Commander Colonel (COL) Mike Tan. Eventually we will ask the sponsoring HQs whether they find the person eligible for his particular role. We then spend a long time deliberating to make sure our assessments are accurate enough.
COL Tan also highlighted the importance of including senior NS officers in the panel: These volunteers will be expected to work with NSmen (Operationally-ready National Servicemen). The NS commander has a very important input for me (because) it's the set of eyes making sure that the person before us is able to work with the NSmen.
Board member COL (NS) Leonard Yeow, who is Chief of Staff of Division Hub 2, HQ 2nd People's Defence Force (2 PDF), agreed: We were primarily looking at motivation, as COL Tan said. For us who have been in NS for a long time, we listen and decide if it (the motivation for signing up) sounds right. Subsequently we look for the technical capabilities. (Nonetheless), the atmosphere is always positive and friendly.
COL (NS) Yeow, who has been in NS for 34 years, added that the process of interviewing applicants had been heartening: While NSmen have enough reasons to be motivated, it's very nice to hear the people they have been defending come forward and say they want to volunteer.
The first batch of SVs will undergo the Basic Training Course (Continuous) from 24 Mar to 4 Apr. Under instructors from the Basic Military Training Centre and other SAF training schools, they will learn basic military skills like individual field craft, live firing and the technical handling of the SAR 21, as well as undergo the Battle Inoculation Course (BIC). The course will culminate in a two-day field camp on Pulau Tekong.
When asked how the training would cater to such a diverse group of SVs, COL Tan explained: (Indeed, we have) two genders (with ages ranging from) 18 to 45 years old, different cultural backgrounds. We spent a long time with our trainers discussing how to do the training. In the course of preparing my trainers, I can't help but hark back to those days when we had the Hokkien platoons when we (the SAF) first started. We have a long history of training people, so I am confident.
Although tough, many of the SVs are already looking forward to training and learning about the military way of life.
I'm most looking forward to the BIC, Kimberley Winona Jeremiah, a 19-year-old Mass Communication student at Republic Polytechnic, said excitedly. I've liked military stuff since I was young and I wanted to sign up because I like the training involved, such as the Standard Obstacle Course, and learning to shoot the rifle. Even though I'm scared of the physical aspect, joining a sport in poly has prepared me.
Citing her father, Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) (NS) Jeremiah Jonathan Mark, as her inspiration, Ms Jeremiah hopes that becoming an info-media staff would allow her to spread awareness of the SAFVC among young people like herself.
It's like a dream come true for me, said LTC (NS) Jeremiah, Commanding Officer of 806th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment. Last time, when we went to MMRC (Multi-Mission Range Complex), I would come back and tell her about it. But there was no way she would have a chance to see it. In my heart, I was thinking, how I wish I had a chance to bring her there. Now, there's a chance.
LTC (NS) Jeremiah added wistfully: I hope this will open her eyes. It will also inculcate a never-say-die attitude in her.
As for Dr Vidyadhar Padmakar Mali, a Senior Consultant in the National University Hospital, he hopes his participation will in turn inspire his son, who will be serving NS in two years' time.
We've always brought him up to know that he has to serve NS once we became PRs, so there was no two-ways about it. And my going through this process ahead of him gives him a positive outlook. He will see his own father doing NS out of his own volition, even though it's not mandatory for me, explained the 45-year-old, who has since obtained his citizenship. He will be joining the SAFVC as a medical doctor.
Becoming an SV is also a family affair for Mr Jiang Hong, a PR from China who has been living in Singapore since 2006. I can see that I am half Singaporean, because I studied here, I'm working here, and my family is here. I should protect my family and Singapore, he said earnestly. The 27-year-old is a Transactional Logistics Coordinator in Becton Dickinson Holding Pte Ltd, and became a PR in 2012.
Mr Jiang revealed that his wife, also a PR, is equally keen to join the SAFVC. After I told my wife of my interest in participating, she wanted to apply too. But I told her to wait until I had finished my training, so that at least there was someone to watch over the home. She was very understanding. Maybe she will apply in the next batch.
Following their graduation from the Basic Training Course, the SVs will begin their Qualification Training in the latter half of the year, to prepare them for their specific roles in the SAF. They will then have the opportunity to be deployed from this September onwards.
A remote-controlled plane that can take off and land vertically - without first taxiing on a runway - was the big winner at this year's Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition (SAFMC).
Created by a team of students from Singapore Polytechnic, the flying gadget achieves this feat by tilting its wings - along with it its propellers - upward.
They beat 29 other teams to emerge first in the unconventional aircraft category. Their plane also won the 1800-metre flight race, with a timing of 150 seconds, and the freestyle performance competition.
The team are members of the polytechnic's aviation club: Mr Jonas Hii, 21; Mr Bryan Lim, 19; Muhd Hazim, 19; Mr Ho Cheng Wei, 21; and Mr Gavin Lim, 20. They took four weeks to conceptualise and create their flying machine.
Our plane is able to take off on the spot in confined spaces, just like a helicopter, said Mr Bryan Lim. Considering the fact that most commercial and military planes require a runway to take off, what these students achieved was noteworthy.
Their inspiration came from the XC-142, a tilt-wing military aircraft, created by the United States Air Force to test the feasibility for vertical take-off and landing in a military operation. Such capability is valued by the military as it allows an aircraft to take off when a runway is damaged or not available.
There were over 1,100 participants in the competition which was open to primary, secondary, and tertiary students as well as members of the public. They competed against one another in creating flying gadgets in various categories, including paper planes, gliders, and radio-controlled aircraft.
Currently into its 7th year, the competition, which is organised by DSO National Laboratories and Science Centre Singapore, aims to promote interest in science and technology among Singapore youths. It attracted eight international teams from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia this year.
Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing gave out the awards to the winners at the Science Centre Singapore on 21 Mar.
In his address, Mr Chan noted how advancement in aviation technology had made long-haul flight possible, allowing Singapore to become a global aviation hub in the past decades. But the Republic now faced stiff competition from other countries.
He urged the students - the scientists and engineers of tomorrow - to continue their good work, and come up with the next generation of technology.
Whether Singapore can continue to entrench our position as a global node will depend on your effort, of what you can come up with, what you can invent, what you can innovate… he said.
For teachers and parents
A new competition category was introduced this year to encourage parents and teachers to learn alongside their children and students. Twenty-three teachers and parents took up the challenge to create paper planes that could fly the longest, furthest or most accurately.
In his address at the award ceremony, Professor Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive of Science Centre Singapore, commended the parents who joined the new competition as a way to encourage their children to take part in SAFMC 2015.
He said: We salute you because you instil the kind of passion, together with your children, that would go a long way.
To celebrate Singapore's golden jubilee, photographers have captured the multiple facets of Singapore life across the eight themes of Celebrate, Culture, Diversity, Heritage, Home, Makan, Progress, and Hopes Dreams, in the 12th SAFRA Photographer of the Year award competition.
Organised by the SAFRA Photographic Club, the biennial competition attracted a record participation of 80 National Servicemen photographers. They contributed a total of 300 photographs - each featuring Singapore's unique identity and aspirations.
Minister of State for Defence and Deputy President of SAFRA Dr Maliki Osman unveiled the winning photographs and presented prizes to the winners, at SAFRA Toa Payoh on 20 Mar.
Organising Chairman Ken Lim said: We are very heartened that this year's focus on SG50 has garnered so much support from the photography community. Every photograph is a tribute to the things that make us Singaporean. They remind us of our roots and what makes this our home.
Merit award winner Leow Ek Teck, said: The idea was to capture moments and slices of Singapore that would otherwise have been lost. His winning photograph was of the Singapore Armed Forces paratrooper, Red Lion 3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng, which he submitted under the theme of Hopes Dreams.
Explaining his prize shot, Mr Leow said: There was this sense of joy that she finally made it and achieved her dreams when she participated in the National Day Parade.
Walking beside 3WO Ng in the picture is a young Red Lion. Said Mr Leow: The young Red Lions, I presume, would someday want to become freefallers as well, so that is a dream they aspire to.
Members of the public can view the winning photographs which will be on display at SAFRA Toa Payoh till 29 Mar. The exhibition will also feature the best works of more than 40 pioneer and associate members of the SAFRA Photographic Club.
For some years now, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers have learnt off-road driving skills in a purpose-built facility. PIONEER recently had a go at it.
In a small city-state criss-crossed with some of the best paved roads this corner of the globe, soldiers looking for some serious off-road driving training can find themselves in a bit of a fix. After all, crossing rough terrain is in every soldier's job description.
So what is an army to do? It builds a facility filled with the kind of obstacles and track conditions that a military driver might encounter, right in its own backyard.
The SAF Cross Country Driving Circuit (CCDC) was built so that we can have the space to train capable transport operators in a realistic setting and to give them the confidence to deal with the cross-country road conditions that they have to negotiate during operations, said Chief Warrant Officer Devendran S K B, Commanding Officer SAF Supply and Transport Centre.
Completed in 2009, the CCDC is tucked away in the quiet Mandai area where many military camps sit. It is a 36-hectare facility built to train soldiers on the finer points of off-road driving.
The CCDC holds 26 stations ringed by a 5km track, and is filled with the kind of obstacles that seasoned rally race car drivers would be more accustomed to.
With inclines so steep that all you see is the sky to descents so hairy that they strain the braking foot, the CCDC is not a place to visit on a full stomach.
The stations are plainly named - Muddy Track, Plank Bridge and Trunk Logs - so that operators know exactly what they are getting themselves into.
Once on the course, trainees realise immediately what it is like to go off-road. And even the tiniest increase in speed seems to cause the vehicle to pitch and roll, making the stations more exciting than their monikers.
Trainees are also taught the right way of engaging different settings on the SAF vehicles, which allow them to negotiate roads that would faze less hardy vehicles. For example, the Ops Utility Vehicles (OUVs) have a low-range setting to give the vehicle more torque to climb steep inclines.
PIONEER writer Matthew Neo becomes a 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) who has to help defend Singapore against an enemy invasion in Ops Battleforce 2, the SAF's latest action strategy game.
I'm glad to see you here, 2LT Matthew, said the imposing Brigadier-General from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) as he introduced himself. It is a challenging time for us now as our home has been invaded…but we shall stand steadfast and defend our home with all our might.
As a commander in the game, I was provided with a bird's eye view of the battlefield. Moving the map about was simple - a series of swipes and pinches that should be familiar to anyone accustomed to using a touch-screen mobile phone - and commanding the movement of my troops was as easy as tapping them, and drawing a route to a new rally point.
Sounds simple enough, but I was soon subject to a trial by fire. Enemy reconnaissance troopers had landed on the island, and I was tasked to take them out. I placed my entire force of 10 infantry soldiers on the drop zone on the beach before advancing towards enemy headquarters.
As the timer ticked towards zero, my troops encountered heavy enemy fire. Pressure was mounting, but it seemed my tactics were effective as the enemy headquarters went up in flames with time to spare.
As I got further in the game, more units were unlocked. Many a boring bus ride home transformed into a carefully choreographed battlefield with long-range artillery supporting the might of Leopard 2SG tanks while aircraft streaked overhead and frigates watched from the sea.
Units have three modes or stances - guard, aggressive, and hold - which dictate how they respond to an enemy presence. I was particularly impressed with the amount of control I had over my units: Everything - from the position of an airstrike to the route my tanks and infantry took to an objective - was left up to me.
The campaign became progressively challenging, pushing me to constantly think of new strategies or approaches to succeed.
Hats off to the men and women who serve in the SAF. Commanding my forces from the comfort of an air-conditioned room was tough enough, so one can only imagine the trials that they go through in the field. This game may not boast intricate graphics or complex gameplay, but it has definitely instilled in me a new appreciation for the need for defence.
Download Ops Battleforce 2 from the iTunes Store or Google Play to give it a try now.
Defence ministers from the ASEAN member countries signed a Joint Declaration at the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) on 16 Mar, which underscored their commitment to addressing common security challenges.
At the meeting held in Langkawi, Malaysia, the ministers noted with serious concern the rise of violence and brutality committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and condemned all terrorist acts of destruction and violence carried out by radical groups.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said the unanimous condemnation against ISIS by all ASEAN member states, which were predominantly Muslim states, was a very powerful statement by ASEAN.
He stressed: We must deny ISIS a stronghold in Iraq and Syria or any other country from which to radicalise our people here. We must counter their false ideology with the pure and virtuous tenets of Islam. What ISIS is preaching or doing has nothing to do with Islam.
The ADMM must respond collectively to the threat of religious extremist terrorism as it affects us all, said Dr Ng.
He said Singapore would be hosting a symposium in April for East Asia Summit countries to share best practices on de-radicalisation and religious rehabilitation.
The ASEAN defence ministers pledged to cooperate in accordance with both domestic and international law, including the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism to counter the imminent threat of terrorist organisations through information sharing, increasing surveillance and promoting awareness among the public about the threat of radicalism.
Dr Ng elaborated that information sharing was about intelligence sharing and early warning among member countries.
Other matters discussed at the meeting included the good progress in practical cooperation under the ambit of the ADMM and ADMM-Plus.
Proposals to improve the region's response to non-traditional security challenges like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations were also discussed.
Dr Ng stressed that responses to non-traditional security areas must be based on flexible, voluntary and non-binding participation to provide assurance to and respecting the independence of each ASEAN member state.
While in Langkawi, Dr Ng also had a bilateral meeting with Brunei Minister of Energy Yasmin Umar.
Dr Ng and his ASEAN counterparts will call on Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak on 17 Mar.
He will also be attending the opening ceremony of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition 2015 in Malaysia, where he will meet personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) participating in the exhibition.
Taking part in LIMA 2015 are two Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft, a Republic of Singapore Navy Formidable-class stealth frigate RSS Stalwart, with a Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopter on board, and a patrol vessel RSS Sovereignty in the static display.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little support to change someone's life for the better. Find out more about some of the funds and awards available in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) that help personnel tide over difficult times.
Care for soldiers is one of the eight core values of the SAF. While it usually means giving soldiers adequate rest and training them effectively with a personal touch, caring can mean so much more.
As our soldiers put their lives on the line to protect our country, the SAF has got their backs when it comes to their families.
Getting an education does not come cheap. To provide financial support to families and ensure that their children have opportunities to succeed, the SAF Central Welfare Fund (CWF) Bursary Award was set up to subsidise the education-related expenses of servicemen's children.
Children who have excelled in their studies or co-curricular activities can also look forward to receiving the SAF CWF Merit Bursary, which helps to further subsidise education-related costs. And even if recipients have already received grants from the Ministry of Education or education-related awards from other organisations, they are still eligible for this award.
These bursary awards are some of the welfare initiatives provided by the SAF Welfare Council.
Family support is very important, especially when our servicemen are performing onerous tasks. The organisation offers support in various ways, and for these bursary grants, we hope that they can alleviate the financial burden that some of our servicemen face as a result of educational costs,said Mr Ong Koon Hong, Head of the SAF Personnel Service Centre.
More importantly, we hope to encourage their children to continue doing well in school.
Lending a helping hand in times of need
When death or accidents happen, financial issues naturally become a pressing concern for families.
Set up in 1996, the SAF Benevolent Framework helps to provide financial assistance to Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)/SAF personnel and their immediate family members in the event of the servicemen's death or total incapacitation.
There are five grants under this framework, which assist the short-term, medium-term and longer-term financial needs of the families affected.
In December 2012, Navy serviceman Military Expert 2 Jason Chee lost three of his limbs during a ship accident. There was a great outpouring of public sympathy, and many people were looking for a way to donate money through the SAF to help him. However, no such channel existed.
Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen then announced in January 2013 that MINDEF would set up the SAF Care Fund, which could accept donations from both the public and in-service personnel. Said Dr Ng: The harsh reality is that risks come with every soldier's duties. MINDEF has therefore decided to start an SAF Care Fund for severely disabled servicemen... This SAF Care Fund will be over and above MINDEF's existing compensation and welfare schemes.
Last year, the fund received a donation from the United Kingdom, courtesy of the SAF Central Band. The band had been performing at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the organisers had wanted to pay them. However, the band did not take the payment and, instead, requested that a donation be made in their name to the SAF Care Fund.
Public contributions to the SAF Care Fund are tax-deductible. To donate to the SAF Care Fund, call the hotline at 6373-1045 (during office hours on weekdays) or send an email to
This visit gave me a very good overview of the SAF medical system across the three Services. From a layman perspective, (it provided an) understanding that the medical system is there to support servicemen - should there be any medical emergencies, there is a well-equipped system to handle their needs.
Mr Yeong Gah Hou, a member of the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence's (ACCORD's) Family and Community Council, said this after touring the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Headquarters Medical Corps (HQMC) on 8 Mar.
He was among 65 ACCORD members and grassroots leaders (GRLs) who were hosted by Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman to a visit to HQMC at Nee Soon Camp.
Thanking them for their support of National Service (NS) and the SAF, Dr Maliki said: Your support has always been critical for us to ensure that the institution of NS continues to be supported… Your visit here today on a Sunday morning encourages our people because it shows that you care enough to find out more about what they do. He also encouraged them, as community leaders, to share the experience of their visit with their respective communities.
The visitors were given a presentation by HQMC, which included topics such as the SAF's medical classification system, the Physician Partnership Programme, and an overview of the Emergency Medical Support System.
Dr Maliki and Chief of Medical Corps Rear-Admiral (RADM) (Dr) Kang Wee Lee also opened up the floor to a question-and-answer session, during which they addressed concerns regarding issues such as the process determining the Physical Employment Status of enlistees and the training and qualification of the SAF's medical officers.
Following this, the ACCORD members and community leaders viewed a demonstration by the Medial Response Force on treating casualties of Biological, Radiological and Exposure Threats, as well as the various land and air ambulances used in emergencies. They also visited the Medical Simulation Training Centre (MSTC) and witnessed training carried out with High-Fidelity Human Patient Simulators (HFHPS).
Mr Yeong found the visit to be an eye-opening experience: (It showed) the professionalism and capabilities that have been developed over the years. Of course, what was most eye-opening was the visit to the simulation centre and the smart dummy (HFHPS), which was amazing, (and) how the level of training accorded to the SAF medics has the same level and rigour as that accorded to people trained in the hospitals, for example.
Mr A. Marai Malai Maran (PBM), Vice-Chairman of Yio Chu Kang Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC), agreed: What we have seen today (really showed) what the SAF is capable of... and what we can expect when our sons go for NS. The equipment were really state-of-the-art and high-tech. You can see that they are really very advanced and it gives me a lot of confidence.
On how he planned to share his experience with the rest of his community, he said: For residents who come to meet-the-people sessions with questions about NS, this will help me better explain matters (especially those related to medical issues) to them.
(There are) people who are uncomfortable sending their sons for NS, thinking that they have a certain medical condition. But with today's briefing and what we saw, I think everybody can be assured that there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
When asked about the 18 ACCORD recommendations that were recently accepted by the Ministry of Defence, Mr Yeong was hopeful that the recommendations would go a long way to strengthening support for NS. I definitely support the idea of getting a lot more small businesses to come on board to show support for the NSmen (Operationally Ready National Servicemen). I think that is one way for the wider community to rally and show their support for the NSmen.
The other component is to get the ladies to better understand what NS entails and how, even if they are not directly participating in NS, they can support the men in their families or whom they know.
In the first of a three-part series on SAF pioneers, we talk to Captain (Ret) Shamsudin bin Shadan. The 83-year-old is remembered for being a strict disciplinarian, the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR) and the Parade RSM of the very first National Day Parade in 1966.
What I miss most about the SAF
The regimentation. To me, it's something you must uphold 24 hours a day. You cannot fool round just because you are not in camp. Even when I was outside in civilian attire, whenever I saw a soldier not wearing his uniform properly, I would call him out on it. You should feel proud in your uniform.
What you didn't know
When my men from 1 SIR were Istana guards, I made them remove their pants during their breaks. This was to ensure that they did not crumple their uniforms while sitting down to rest. So, they had to change out of their pants and then put them back on five minutes before their duties started. The pants were so well-starched that they could stand upright on the table!
My advice to my son and grandsons
When my son and grandsons did their National Service (NS), my advice to them was to be disciplined and obey their commanders' orders. NS is very important to Singapore: we cannot afford to have a lot of Regulars, so we need NS to support our armed forces. Even after you've completed your cycle, you'll continue to think that you're part of the SAF and that you can get called back in times of crisis. I had that mindset and continued to maintain my fitness for a while after I retired, but not at this age.
To honour the volunteers and soldiers who defended Singapore during Konfrontasi, as well as to remember those who lost their lives, a memorial has been set up near MacDonald House, along Orchard Road. Konfrontasi was a dark episode in Singapore's history, during which Indonesia embarked on a three-year armed campaign to oppose the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.
This will be a lasting reminder of the victims of Konfrontasi, and those who risked their lives defending our country, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Lawrence Wong who inaugurated the memorial in a solemn service on 10 Mar.
Konfrontasi was the most significant external threat that Singapore faced since World War II. More than 40 acts of sabotage and violence were carried out, killing several civilians and injuring many other innocents. The most grievous was the MacDonald House bombing on this day 50 years ago.
The idea for a memorial came about last year when the Singapore Armed Forces Veterans' League (SAFVL) submitted a petition to MCCY to find ways to remember the victims of Konfrontasi and to educate the younger generations.
Explaining the rationale for the memorial, Brigadier-General (BG) (Ret) Winston Toh, President of SAFVL, said: Those turbulent times demonstrated the high price of not having a strong defence, and not being able to protect our nation's sovereignty and security.
The League feels that Singaporeans must never forget the history of Konfrontasi.
In his address, Mr Wong added that unlike in the 1960s, Singapore now enjoys good relationships with all her neighbours, including Indonesia, but stressed that it is important to never take our place in the world for granted.
This is something which resonated strongly with Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Wong Geok Seam, who served in 1963 as part of the Singapore Volunteer Corps.
There is a need for the younger generation to be aware that threats can happen today or at any time, said the 82-year-old who eventually joined 1 SIR as a career soldier in 1966. The memorial will give our young people a chance to know a little of the history of our Armed Forces.
One youth who got to know more about Konfrontasi was Andrew Lawrence, 15, who attended the memorial service.
I now understand what happened in the past, like the MacDonald House bombing and how tragic it was like, especially for the families who lost their kin, said the Secondary 3 student from St Joseph Institution.
The memorial service was attended by surviving veterans, families of the victims, as well as Permanent Secretary for Defence Chan Yeng Kit and Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng.
The new three-station Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) is a step in the right direction, said Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs (GPC-DFA) Sitoh Yih Pin.
The new IPPT is better because you don't need anything to train with, said Mr Sitoh, who is also Member of Parliament (MP) for Potong Pasir. He made these comments during a GPC-DFA visit to the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC), located on Pulau Tekong, on 7 Mar.
GPC-DFA Deputy Chairman Alex Yam agreed. He said that the new IPPT introduced more flexibility for solders to train for their annual physical tests.
With three stations which you can train for anywhere, it takes away one of the barriers to doing better. In the past, some of the stations needed specific equipment to train (for). He is also MP for the Chua Chu Kang Group Representation Constituency.
From 1 Apr, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will move to a three-station IPPT comprising push-ups, sit-ups and a 2.4km run with a maximum possible score of 100 points.
To pass, active soldiers need to score more than 61 points. The bar for Gold is set higher at 85 points. Elite units need to score at least 90 points for Gold.
Recounting a conversation with one of his residents, Mr Yam said: He used to fail the IPPT and he was saying that it was hard to train for and that he had no time to practise for all five stations (under the old IPPT).
But now that the test has changed, he feels more motivated to train because he can do it - he's even on the way to attaining Silver!
During their visit to BMTC, the GPC-DFA toured the recruits' accommodations and viewed a personal equipment display of the kit items issued to all soldiers. They also stopped at the BMTC concept room named Tekong - A BMT Journey, which gave visitors insight into how the SAF trains new entrants.
Commenting on the strengths of the SAF's training methods, Mr Sitoh said: I'm very impressed how BMTC looks after the welfare of soldiers here (and) how much attention it pays to safety.
For Mr Yam, he was impressed by how the SAF has harnessed the power of Information Technology (IT) to train soldiers. The younger Singaporeans are more savvy with IT, so using IT to aid training - such as LEARNet - has made a tremendous difference.
The LEARNet system allows SAF trainees to quickly access learning materials through portable devices such as tablet computers. Content in LEARNet is also specially designed to highlight key lessons quickly to make learning easier and more focused.
Hosted by Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, the group also spoke with Permanent Residents and their families who have sons due for enlistment.
In a candid question-and-answer session lasting almost an hour, Dr Maliki answered their queries. Many of these questions were about when their sons would be called up for enlistment and some of the procedures leading up to enlistment - such as the comprehensive medical examination for all pre-enlistees.
Some asked if the SAF command schools, such as Officer Cadet School (OCS) or Specialist Cadet School, were only for Singaporeans.
In response, Dr Maliki pointed out that the young lieutenant who had addressed them earlier was also a PR. Yes, everyone (who does well) will be considered for OCS (and leadership training), he said.