Rachel Wong, 10, has a go at driving the Leopard tank and firing its gun in simulators.
My experience at my father's army camp (Sungei Gedong Camp) was not only fun, but also very interesting. My father is Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Wong Pui Pin and he is an Armour officer.
My younger sister, Reanne, and I got to try out the Leopard tank driving simulator and the Leopard gun simulator. As we neared the room where all the facilitators were waiting, I felt a tinge of excitement and nervousness. We were given a warm welcome when we stepped into the room.
Driving the tank!
Reanne and I were then introduced to 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Elwin Ang, or Uncle Elwin, and a few other soldiers. They were tank commanders, just like my father. I learnt from them that there were all sorts of uniforms. The one my father was wearing was a No. 4 camouflage uniform while the one Uncle Elwin was wearing was called a tank coverall. Soldiers use the tank coverall when they are in a tank.
Uncle Elwin helped me climb into the Leopard tank driving simulator. My sister and I had created a nickname for it, muffin, as it looked like a muffin rising in the oven when in motion. I had two chances to try the muffin: Once, with the motion simulation turned on, and the other, off. The ride with the motion on was super bumpy.
There was an animated screen in front of me in the simulator, so I could see where I was going. It was mostly green, with trees, roads, slopes and an occasional house. When I first stepped on the accelerator, I drove the tank very fast as I liked to go at top speed. Despite driving very fast, I did not enjoy the Leopard tank simulator very much. I do not like roller coaster rides in general and experiencing the bumpy motion of the simulator felt like I was riding in one.
My best shot
Next, we went to the gun simulator. While Reanne was trying it, I asked one of the commanders about the computers and machinery. I learnt from him that the arrow on the computer must be at 12 to shoot accurately.
The arrow represents the commander's point of view and the 12 represents the position of the gun controlled by the gunner. When both the arrow and the 12 are in line, that means the gunner will hit the target that the commander wants. It didn't sound easy at all.
I also learnt how he moves objects and how he communicates with the soldier through a helmet.
During my sister's turn as the commander, she learnt to aim, press the lever, flick the switch at the same time and press the shoot button. She shot and destroyed many of the tank targets.
When it was my turn, I hit my first four targets. It was really fun. I could move the gunner control handle up, down, left and right.
I also had to shout the words on the way before shooting. This was to warn my crew mates in the tank that I was about to shoot as there would be a jerking back motion. It felt very weird shouting those words as I was not used to it.
Firing the Leopard gun was not as easy as I thought it would be, as I might also get shot at by other tanks in a battle. Other than firing at other enemy tanks and helicopters, I also had to protect my tank to prevent it from being shot at.
I enjoyed this more than the driving simulator because I learnt more things and I felt more satisfied shooting at things. I shot two helicopters and eight tanks in total!
After this experience, I realised that my father's work is quite hard. Previously, I did not know what his job was about. I only knew that he worked in the Army.
I think my father is very brave. Commanding a tank is difficult. I'm very proud of him. I had lots of fun at my father's camp. My sister and I will never forget this experience. We hope to be able to go again, but with our youngest brother Kieran!
David Goh, 6, spent a day at Sembawang Air Base where his father, Major (MAJ) Jerome Goh showed him around his workplace at 206 Squadron (SQN).
My papa is MAJ Jerome Goh and he is an Air Warfare Officer (C3) at 206 SQN. That is the Control Squadron in Sembawang Air Base. I visited his office and it was really cool!
Thara Aslam, 10, sits down with her grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (Ret) Sardar Ali, for a chat about his past in the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC), the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), and everything in between.
I grew up hearing my mom, Military Expert 3 Priscilla Lecthimi, who is Squadron Chief Supply of the Republic of Singapore Navy's 188 Squadron, tell me so many stories about the Navy that I couldn't wait to visit the naval base.
Stepping into the simulator, I was amazed at how realistic and huge it was.
Keeping a lookout
First, I got to try being the lookout. Major (MAJ) Daniel Chong taught me to watch for ships within my field of view and report back to the Officer of the Watch (OOW). Though warships have systems which can detect other ships, it is still important to have lookouts.
He then explained that the Navy uses different terms such as port for left and starboard for right. I was asked to make a report to the OOW. Red 2-0, OOW, I called out, telling the OOW that I had spotted a ship on the port side at 20 degrees.
Steering and navigating
After that, I got to try steering the ship - my personal favourite! It was fun to see the ship turn!
The last thing that I got to try was plotting the ship's path, using navigational charts. MAJ Chong told me that although we have Global Positioning Satellites and other navigation technologies today, knowing how to use the charts was still important.
As my day at the FMSS drew to a close, I was sad because I was having so much fun and didn't want it to end.
I was amazed by the amount of teamwork and focus required to sail a ship in Singapore's crowded waters.
It's no easy task, but seeing the training that our sailors go through, I'm confident that our seas are in safe hands!
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has always had a strong culture of learning and innovation. The first run of the Learning Masterclass (LMC) 2015/16 and SAF Learning Innovation Award (SLIA) presentation on 5 Oct continued this momentum of the SAF's learning transformation, as well as recognising staff and trainers for their innovative efforts and contributions towards better teaching and learning practices.
Held at the SAFTI Military Institute (SAFTI MI), the LMC is a continuation of the highly successful SAF Learning Symposium, conducted between 2012 and 2014, as the platform for the SAF to deepen knowledge and share best-practices in the learning domain.
Targeted at the training institutes and training schools, this year's LMC provides a platform to equip participants with the tools and ideas in learning, and enable the training institutes and schools to enhance their curriculum, content development, and instruction delivery.
To do so, LMC 2015/16 had three components - SLIA presentation, masterclasses, and a dialogue session. The masterclasses covered topics on instructional design for, and facilitation skills, in blended learning - a combination of face-to-face and online learning.
These classes were conducted by Dr Gwendoline Quek and Dr Wang Qiyun, both Associate Professors from the Learning Sciences and Technologies Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University.
Delivering his opening remarks at LMC 2015/16, Commandant SAFTI MI Rear-Admiral (RADM) Giam Hock Koon highlighted the importance of SAF trainers, saying: You are at the frontline of the SAF's learning transformation journey. The quality of instruction and whether we achieve the vision of a learning SAF…depend on your interaction and your ability to inspire and…get people to learn.
It (LMC 2015/16) is a great platform for the training community to learn more about the various teaching platforms, said Mr Goh Kar Seng, who is in charge of the Curriculum and Quality Section in the SAF Ammunition Command (SAFAC). They can also share with each other their own teaching methods and hence, better their own teaching capabilities.
Mr Goh was also part of the SAFAC team that clinched the Gold award for SLIA for their project titled, Ammo Stax Game. A total of six awards were awarded - one Gold, two Silver, and three Bronze.
The Ammo Stax Game is an innovative UNO-inspired card game that engages and motivates learners at the School of Ammunition. It replaced previous styles of teaching that were more technical in nature, and difficult to translate into application.
Before we came up with this project, our teaching methods consisted much more of classroom lectures, along with e-learning, said Mr Goh, as he explained the inspiration behind the game. We then noticed that a lot of our trainees liked to go to the library to play board and card games; so we decided to incorporate gaming into the learning process.
He said the card game engaged the trainees, and pushed them to do critical thinking, thus helping to shorten their learning curve through an interactive and fun element. Receiving this award is a great affirmation (of our efforts), he added.
Singapore's largest offshore island, Pulau Tekong, is where many recruits are introduced to military life. However, there is more to the island than meets the eye.
Pulau Tekong first appeared in the Franklin and Jackson's 1828 map as Po. Tukang. Tukang means merchant - the island used to serve as a trading station for Pulau Ubin and the state of Johor. Tekong means an obstacle, and this could have been because the island blocks the mouth of Johor River.
Found off Singapore's northeastern coast, Pulau Tekong is actually nearer to Johor, Malaysia than to the Singapore main island.
The Pulau Tekong we know today originally comprised two islands. The 24.4 sq km Pulau Tekong, known as Pulau Tekong Besar in Malay, meaning Big Tekong Island, and the 0.89 sq km Pulau Tekong Kechil, Malay for Small Tekong Island. The two were merged in the mid-1990s.
In the 1940s, the 17th Dogra Regiment and the Sphinx Battery were stationed on Pulau Tekong as part of the Changi Fire Command, a series of gun defences covering a possible Japanese approach from the east during World War II. Their legacy lives on with the Dogra and Sphinx bridges on the island.
Historically, Pulau Tekong was occupied by mainly Malays and a few Teochews and Hakkas, with the population peaking at nearly 8,000 in the 1980s. Most were farmers, fishermen, and shop owners selling sundry goods.
Today, Pulau Tekong is used exclusively as a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training base, and is home to the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC). BMTC consists of two camps - Ladang and Rocky Hill - and 28 companies to train newly conscripted recruits.
Though Pulau Tekong is no longer inhabited by civilians, the memory of kampong life lives on as training areas such as Permatang, Selabin, and Sanyongkong were named after the villages that used to be on the island.
On 29 May 1990, national servicemen spotted three Asian elephants which had apparently swum 1.5km across the Straits of Johor to the island. A joint effort by the Singapore Zoo and Malaysian Wildlife Department eventually recaptured the elephants and they were relocated back to the forests of Johor by 10 Jun.
On 18 Mar 2004, Pulau Tekong was the hiding place for one Malaysian and two Indonesian armed robbers who fled there from Johor on a motorised boat. After an intensive three-day manhunt by the SAF and Singapore Police Force, all three were caught and charged with illegal entry and possession of firearms.
Pulau Tekong is home to one of Singapore's two hot springs. Located in the northern area known as Unum, it features warm water and a boardwalk with a Pulau Tekong Hot Spring sign.
Innovation has always been at the heart of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Here's a look at some of this year's winning PRIDE (PRoductivity and Innovation in Daily Efforts) projects.
In a small country like Singapore where natural resources are lacking, most would agree that people are her greatest asset. Similarly, for a small defence force like the SAF, people are also its top resource.
To promote a culture of organisational excellence, innovation and productivity across MINDEF and the SAF, the MINDEF PRIDE movement was introduced in 1981. Since then, countless innovative ideas have been dreamt up and put into practice, improving efficiency, reducing the effort required and creating greater operational capacity.
Elaborating on MINDEF/SAF's PRIDE vision at the MINDEF PRIDE Day 2015 on 2 Sep, then-2nd Minister for Defence Lui Tuck Yew said: Our vision of Smart Defence is to apply new technologies so that we as an organisation work smarter, and our people's work lives are improved. At the individual level, work life in MINDEF and the SAF can be made more seamless through smart technologies. All these are in line with the national vision of Singapore as a Smart Nation.
Themed Smart Nation, Smart Defence, this year's MINDEF PRIDE Day was held at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, where 187 awards were presented to individuals, groups and units in recognition of their innovative ideas. Collectively, these innovations helped save the organisation $141.8 million.
Here's a look at some of the award-winning projects.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen reaffirmed Singapore's close and longstanding ties with Indonesia during his visit to Jakarta on 28 and 29 Sep.
During his trip, Dr Ng met Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs General (GEN) (Rtd) Luhut Pandjaitan and Indonesian Defence Minister GEN (Rtd) Ryamizard Ryacudu. Dr Ng said that the meetings went well, and elaborated that mutual respect and regard for each other's sovereignty and well-being were the fundamentals of the two countries' long-term relationship.
From Singapore's point of view, or the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) point of view...we did not disregard Indonesia's sovereignty at any instance, whether it was with respect to the Flight Information Region (FIR) or with respect to the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) training, or with respect to the haze, said Dr Ng to reporters after his meetings with the Indonesian ministers.
With reference to recent reports on the management of the FIR above the Riau Islands, Dr Ng said he clarified with the Indonesian ministers that Singapore's control of the FIR was not an issue of sovereignty, but one of efficiency and safety. An FIR is a specific airspace in which flight information and alert services are provided by the country in control of it.
Regarding the RSAF's training in the South China Sea, Dr Ng said that the training was compliant with international agreements, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea.
The haze situation was also raised during the meetings and Dr Ng expressed his appreciation towards Indonesian President Joko Widodo and GEN (Rtd) Luhut for taking a personal interest in dealing with the problem.
I was assured by the motivation (of the Indonesian authorities) of trying to deal with the haze… they are determined to deal with the situation of the haze because the health of Indonesians is being affected, he said.
Dr Ng added that the Indonesian government was now looking at prevention measures, a move which he agreed with. He also lauded GEN (Rtd) Luhut's willingness to consider working with Non-Governmental Organisations as it was a signal that Indonesia was willing to receive assistance from external agencies. Dr Ng believed that Indonesia would be in a better solution to develop quicker solutions for the haze issue with the assistance of other countries, as the haze affected the region.
As for the SAF's offer of assistance to fight the forest fires in Indonesia, Dr Ng said that it was still on the table, and that the SAF is always open to considering offering more help.
Since the 1970s, Singapore and Indonesia have shared a strong and longstanding defence relationship and both defence ministers frequently interact at bilateral and multilateral events, such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM).
MAJ Jeremy Koh, 32
Super Puma pilot, 126 SQN
It is easy to stereotype Major (MAJ) Jeremy Koh as someone who has it all - the dashing pilot with a beautiful family.
But the 32-year-old has his share of challenges too. I usually get home late from work, so I try to be efficient - to focus and prioritise my tasks so that I can have that family time.
A typical day starts early in the morning with operation briefs and pre-flight checks, followed by flying (sometimes up to four hours, depending on the mission), then back on the ground to do some paperwork and answer e-mail, said MAJ Koh.
In the chase to be efficient, he brought his boxing hobby into the home. I got the equipment so that it's easy to exercise while I'm home, said the father of one. He counts five in his family - him and his wife Tracie, one-year-old daughter Katelyn and two dogs.
His other love - soccer - has been abandoned. As we get older, it gets harder to get everyone out for a game. For me, hobbies are secondary - there are always standby duties (for work) and family to think of first.
Weekends are spent at his grandparents' house with his wife and daughter. If we're not there then you'll find us at dessert places. Especially (those with) ice cream.
When asked who in the family has a sweet tooth, MAJ Koh said: I think it's me. But my wife got me hooked in the first place!
For over 20 years, the annual Army Charity Drive has been raising funds to help the less fortunate under the care of the Community Chest (ComChest).
In recognition of its long-standing support, ComChest presented the Army with the prestigious Pinnacle Award at a ceremony on 25 Sep.
This is the highest honour given by ComChest, the fund-raising arm of the National Council of Social Services.
Organisations or individuals who received the 20-year Outstanding Awards in the previous year are eligible for the Pinnacle Awards, if they continue their substantial contributions.
The Army did so by raising $200,000for ComChest's beneficiariesduring the 2014 Army Charity Drive.
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Toh Poh Cheng, Head of Military Expert Personnel Centre, received the Pinnacle Award on behalf of the Army from the President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, at the ceremony held at the Capitol Theatre.
The Army also won the Special Events Gold Awardfor raising a significant amount through its Army Charity Drive.
What motivates us is the spirit of giving. Our servicemen and women -- Regulars and Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) - care for the less fortunate, said LTC Toh.
She added that the Army Charity Drive was also a way to inculcate in the younger generations the spirit of giving. NSFs were involved in the planning, and learned about how they could give back to society, and continue to do so after they finish NS.
At the ceremony, a total of 418 awards were presented to corporate and individual donors to acknowledge their contributions to ComChest. Of these, 147 were presented to Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) units and departments.
Notably, the SAF Band received the 15-Year Outstanding SHARE Award as well as the Platinum SHARE Award.
The SHARE awards recognise organisations whose employees make monthly donation through the SHARE programme. These awards - Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze - are given, depending on the organisation’s participation rate and contribution.
The Outstanding SHARE Award is given to organisations that have maintained their employees' participation rate at a high level for consecutive years.
A reason for the SAF Band's long-standing support is that its musicians are aware of the less fortunate in society, having performed at various public fund-raising events.
Musicians are compassionate people. We encourage everyone to contribute when they can (because) a little effort by everyone goes a long way, said Military Expert 4 (ME4) Johnson Lee, Director of Music.
Similarly, for Headquarters Paya Lebar Air Base (HQ PLAB), the recipient of the Gold SHARE Award, many of its personnel volunteer at old folks' homes, and understand the plight of the elderly, so they give generously.
Said Commander PLAB, Colonel (COL) Ong Kai Sin: Our people are very forthcoming in helping the community. They not only give donations, but also actively participate in community work. We are proud to have played our part in giving back to society.
For the Naval Diving Unit’s Special Warfare Group which received the Platinum SHARE Award, giving to charity is another way to give back to the nation.
Said Commanding Officer LTC Kong Eu Yen: Over the years, leaders in the unit have consistently emphasised the importance of giving back to society at the individual level.
Contributing a part of our income for charitable causes that lift our society as a whole is one way that the men and women in the unit give back to the nation.
As protectors of our nation, we want to play our part in building a civic-minded society.
A total of 1155 Specialist Cadets (SCTs) stood on parade in their ceremonial Number 1 uniform at Pasir Laba Camp on 22 Sep, for the 24th Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade.
Reviewed by Chief of Defence Force, Major-General (MG) Perry Lim, the graduation parade marked the completion of the 22-week Specialist Cadet Course (SCC), where SCTs trained under rigorous and realistic conditions to develop leadership and combat skills.
Addressing the new specialists at the parade, MG Lim spoke about the newfound responsibility that they would have to undertake, saying: Soon, you will be entrusted with the lives of your fellow soldiers, sailors, and airmen in your respective units. Do not take this responsibility lightly.
Start by putting your hearts and minds to all that you do, MG Lim said. As a specialist and a leader, you must give nothing short of your best. Your soldiers, sailors, and airmen will look to you to uphold the qualities espoused in the Specialist creed. You will be in a position not only to train them, but also to guide and mentor them.
For SCT Muhamad Zuhaily Bin Hamran, an Armour section commander and Silver Bayonet recipient, he had experienced this first-hand, as he himself was inspired to excel by his sergeants during Basic Military Training. They (my sergeants) are the ones who are closer to us, said SCT Zuhaily. That kind of inspired me to be a specialist because I want to forge closer bonds with my men, and I want to work with them on the ground.
SCT Zuhaily believed that the SCC had equipped him with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to lead and command his men. However, it was not without its fair share of challenges. My seven-day-and-six-night field camp … was the longest time that I had been out in the field, he recalled. It was physically and mentally draining … but throughout the camp, I learnt a very important lesson, and that was teamwork and camaraderie.
Throughout my long field camp I had my section mates and platoon mates to cheer me on and motivate me, and that was the best part about this challenging training.
SCT Amanda Thea Tan Hui Xian from the Infantry formation also faced challenges in the SCC. She said: During the 32km route march as part of the Combat Skills Badge (course), I had some difficulties as I had shin splints and back cramps. It was really painful, but I told myself: if so many people can do it, why can't I?
Added the Silver Bayonet recipient who was inspired by her brother and cousin – both regulars in the Singapore Armed Forces - to sign on: If I (as a female) didn't give up, then I thought the others would be less prone to giving up.
“However, I couldn’t have done it without the motivation of my course mates.”
This inspirational duo scaled Mount Damavand in Iran to raise funds for children with cancer.
After a successful 220km charity trek through a Himalayan mountain range last year, 2nd Sergeant (2SG) (NS) Ashok Kumar and 3SG (NS) Ashik Ashokan now add Asia's highest volcano to their list of conquests.
In June this year, they reached the 5,610m-high summit of Mount Damavand without the help of a guide or porter, raising about $80,000 for the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF).
(We used) climbing a difficult mountain…as a metaphor to represent the daily struggles of children with cancer, explained 3SG (NS) Ashik, a final-year undergraduate.
The climb was extremely tough. Temperatures were harsh, hitting 40 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the mountain and minus 5 degrees Celsius at the summit.
3SG (NS) Ashik suffered three hairline fractures on his right arm from a fall, and his eyes were inflamed from dusty volcanic soil. In the end, my injuries will heal. But what remains from my journey is a sense of fulfilment, a symbol of hope for the children at CCF, he said.
The duo, who were schoolmates in junior college, started planning for the climb right after completing their trek in Nepal's Annapurna Circuit last year.
They chose Mount Damavand because one of the world's greatest mountaineers, Reinhold Messner, failed in his attempt to summit it in 1970. This was the man who had reached the top of Mount Everest without oxygen. The duo couldn’t resist trying to do one better than him.
At about 4,200m into their climb, the pair had a scare. They were expecting to find a running trail of water from melted snow, but didn’t. With only four litres of drinking water left, they were unlikely to last for another two days. To find water, we had to trek to the other side of the mountain, but that would drain (too much) energy, recalled 2SG (NS) Ashok, a business studies graduate.