The highlight of Exercise Forging Sabre 2015 was an integrated strike mission on multiple mobile targets in a single pass – a first in SAF history. It also marked the debut of the Heron-1 UAV at the exercise.
Singapore and the US agreed to boost cooperation between their militaries across a broad range of areas, including new ones like cyber defence, biosecurity and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Fifteen agencies were put through their paces in a large-scale maritime security exercise, where they swiftly responded to an attack involving a hijacked merchant vessel and a terrorist speedboat.
The newly-appointed members of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs (GPC-DFA) and its Resource Panel marked the start of their term with a visit to the Multi-Mission Range Complex (MMRC).
Hosted by Senior Minister of State for Defence, Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, and Commander 9th Singapore Division and Chief Infantry Officer, Colonel (COL) Ng Ying Thong, this was also the GPC-DFA's very first visit to a Singapore Armed Force (SAF) training facility with the new members appointed in November 2015.
Leading the new GPC-DFA and Resource Panel members was Mr Vikram Nair, Chairman for GPA-DFA and Member of Parliament for Sembawang Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
On his hopes for the new committee, Mr Nair said, This committee has many experienced members from the previous committee. My hope is to continue to keep an eye on the defence policies and initiatives and to see that we are headed in the right direction. The SAF still needs to remain a strong and respected force in the region while at the same time dealing with our challenges, which include shortages of manpower and land constraints.
As part of the visit, members were introduced to the history and capabilities of the MMRC, which houses seven ranges within three stories. They also viewed the Multi-Tiered Range and walked through one of the training chambers at the Urban Operations Range. The chambers are soundproof rooms built to simulate the tight spaces found in an urban environment, and members were provided an understanding of how servicemen train for urban warfare.
Later, the GPC-DFA members visited the MMRC Range Ops Wing, where they had the opportunity to fire the Singapore Assault Rifle 21 (SAR-21) at the 50-metre Video Targetry System (VTS) Range. At the VTS Range, combat scenarios are projected on the screen and the shots fired are recorded on actual target boards located behind the screen.
After viewing the different types of training available at the MMRC, Mr Nair noted that the SAF had made vast improvements in training efficiency: Back when I was doing National Service, this (the MMRC) wasn't around, and going to the range meant taking a whole day and a half out, spending time waiting to shoot and so on. But with this, the shooting takes place much more quickly (and) there are many more scenarios that can be played out.
And in the space of what used to be only one range, we now have seven ranges. This is a wonderful way to work with land constraints but at the same time come up with something that is much better and provides more realistic training as well.
Mr Nair added that it was important to provide a wide range of scenarios in training: The reality is that if we are in a combat situation, it's not going to be clean-cut (or) predictable. So we've got to deal with different scenarios.
GPC-DFA Deputy Chairman and Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC Amrin Amin agreed: The best part about it was that it was realistic. It registers the point that nowadays, the battle is not just in the jungles - the battle is everywhere around us. It’s important for us to be ready and have that mindset.
Having scenarios that included both civilians and assailants also added realism to the training: It (Training) should, as far as possible, mirror what's happening in real life and prepare our servicemen to train under safe conditions where they can improve their competency and at the same time not harm other people in the course of training, said Mr Amrin.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) welcomed Brigadier General (BG) Ong Tze-Ch'in as its new Director Military Intelligence (DMI)/Chief Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) at a Change of Command Parade held in Pasir Laba Camp on 1 Feb.
Witnessed by the Chief of Defence Force Major-General (MG) Perry Lim, the parade saw BG Ong receiving the Chief C4I Symbol of Command from outgoing DMI/Chief C4I BG Mervyn Tan Wei Ming.
BG Tan was appointed as DMI/Chief C4I in February 2014. Prior to this appointment, he held several key appointments such as Commanding Officer, 121 Squadron; Head Air Plans, Headquarters Republic of Singapore Air Force; and Commander, Air Defence and Operations Command.
During his tenure as DMI/Chief C4I, BG Tan played a pivotal role in the deployment of Imagery Analysis Teams to the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters, as part of the SAF's effort to support the multinational coalition against the extremist threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS for short.
In his farewell speech, BG Tan noted that the SAF C4I Community was still in its early stages and that it was important for the community to adapt quickly to the new normal of evolving threats and technology. He also highlighted that the community must not be afraid to venture into new territories to build the SAF of the future. He thanked the community for their steadfast, tireless and quiet conviction to the mission of the SAF, 24/7 every day, 365 days a year.
In closing, BG Tan described his successor, BG Ong, as a person who is down-to-earth and who has the right heart for the man and women under his charge. BG Ong joined the SAF in 1994 and has held significant appointments in his career, such as Military Assistant to Commander, United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor; Commanding Officer, 30th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers; Head, Force Transformation Office in the Joint Plans Transformation Department; Commander, Army Combat Engineer Group; Assistant Chief of General Staff (Plans); and Commander, 3rd Singapore Division.
The Change of Command Parade was attended by senior MINDEF officials and SAF officers, as well as the Military Attache Corps. The SAF C4I Community thanked BG Tan for his strong leadership and welcomed BG Ong to the community.
A bomb has just exploded in a train station, leaving many wounded and dead. The perpetrators are nowhere to be seen. What should the Government's immediate response be?
Hunt down the suspects? Attend to the wounded? Conduct a bomb sweep? Lock down the vicinity? Issue a news release to prevent widespread panic?
This is a hypothetical scenario, but these are real decisions that Government agencies have to make in a crisis.
To help senior officers from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and various Government agencies come up with swift and effective inter-agency responses to large-scale crises, the SAF Centre for Leadership Development (CLD), supported by the National Security Coordinating Secretariat and Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre, organised the inaugural Crisis Leadership Programme.
The Programme consisted of a three-day course conducted at SAFTI MI from 26 to 28 Jan and a half day Mass Seminar at the Home Team Academy on 29 Jan. The Programme was facilitated by faculty from the Harvard University's National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI).
40 senior officers from the SAF, Home Team agencies and nine ministries and statutory boards attended the intensive three-day Executive Course while 260 operational and staff officers from the SAF, Home Team, ministries, statutory boards and academics from local universities attended the half-day Seminar.
Participants of the three-day Course learnt, among other things, a highly practical Meta-Leadership framework that helps in their influence and decision making, leading their teams, leading across teams and leading upwards.
The framework was developed by NPLI using research data gleaned from interviews with government leaders who had dealt with large-scale crises.
One of the NPLI faculty, Mr. Richard Serino, former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the United States, led the emergency response for over 60 major emergencies, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. He shared his personal experiences with the captivated audience on how to mobilise not only the emergency services, but also the civilians to work in unison during a crisis.
During the three-day course, the participants got hands-on practice, through a table-top exercise, orchestrating inter-agency responses to various crisis scenarios such as terrorist attacks, cyber attacks and pandemics.
One of the Course participants from the SAF was Colonel (COL) Lee Kien Tian, Director of the National Maritime Operations Group.
The 44-year-old Navy officer is responsible for leading five agencies - the Navy, Police Coast Guards, Immigration and Checkpoint Authority, Singapore Customs, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore - in operations to keep Singapore waters safe.
He said the course and exercise had enabled him to do better planning, taking into consideration the working norms, and conflicting demands of the various agencies.
He explained: In the event of a terrorist attack, how do you strike a balance between tightening security measures and preventing unnecessary disruption to normalcy?
These are potentially conflicting demands. By knowing the considerations of each agency, we are able to put together a better Whole-of-Government response.
COL Daniel Seet, Director of Crisis Preparedness in the Ministry of Home Affairs' Joint Operations Group agreed, saying: We learnt to ask the right questions and this, in turn, helps to shape the appropriate response that covers most, if not all, angles.
He added that learning alongside counterparts from various agencies had enabled him to better understand their operations, and build stronger relationships.
Influence and Leadership
This was, in fact, a key point highlighted by another NPLI faculty, Mr. Eric McNulty, Director of Research and Professional Programs at NPLI, who said it was important to build relationships during peace time.
During a crisis, time is against you. You need influence and leadership to get things moving, he said.
One participant at the half-day Crisis Leadership Seminar was Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Wong Foo Chan, from the Naval Diving Unit, who works closely with the Police in underwater security screening for large-scale events such as the National Day Parade.
For him, the seminar was a reminder of the importance of good leadership. In times of crisis, leadership - not management - takes centre stage. The demand for leadership is ramped up when we need to work with people from various places, he said.
The Course and Seminar were organised to enable different government agencies to develop a common language, said COL Fred Tan, Head of CLD, who noted that a Whole-of-Government approach was needed to tackle increasingly complex security challenges of the new operating environment.
Noting that feedback from the participants had been positive, COL Tan said the SAF would look into conducting more crisis leadership courses.
There have been more crises and disasters in the region recently. I believe there is a demand for leadership skills in managing crises from a Whole-of-Government approach, he said.
The Future of Us exhibition provides a glimpse into what the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be like in the future with more unmanned systems.
It is the year 2030. The enemy has taken over a building in Singapore. The SAF is activated to take them down. Unmanned aerial and ground vehicles are sent to survey the area and provide live video footage back to the base.
Through augmented reality glasses, the commander sees what the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) see and, with enemy information collated from various sources, he develops a plan and proceeds to take out the enemy. Elsewhere, an earthquake has struck. The SAF is helping in search-and-rescue efforts. Multiple drones are deployed to survey a wide area simultaneously. Somewhere in a remote corner, one spots a victim trapped among the debris. The exact location of the victim is piped back to the command centre and rescuers are sent to get her out.
These are the kind of scenarios and technologies that the SAF will be grappling with in the future.
Vision for the future
Unmanned systems equipped with guidance, navigation and control algorithms, the idea of man and machine working closely together - all this is showcased at The Future of Us exhibition.
As part of the SG50 celebrations, the exhibition offers people a glimpse of what living in Singapore will be like in the near future, and how the defence force will be part of it.
Explained Colonel (COL) (Ret) Richard Chua: As we embrace advanced technologies and autonomous robots, soldiers of the future will have very clear information on where their adversaries are located, especially in a battlefield. With this information, we can fulfill our missions more effectively - more precisely - while minimising danger.
COL (Ret) Chua, 57, who heads the Concept and Experimentation Office of the Future Systems and Technology Directorate (FSTD), said there would be many close interactions between soldiers and autonomous robots.
Not only does this enhance their situational awareness of where enemies are located, every soldier will also know his or her respective area of coverage, which will in turn translate into a greater fighting capability.
This vision is brought to life in a video at the exhibition, showing how a team takes down a group of terrorists in an urban building with the help of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles.
It is the brainchild of representatives from five organisations - FSTD, DSO National Laboratories, Defence Industry and Systems Office, Defence Science and Technology Agency, and Strategic Planning Office.
This girl is one smart cookie. After graduating as a Silver Bayonet recipient from the Specialist Cadet School last year, Military Expert
(ME) 4 (T) Esther Yeo was offered sponsorship to pursue a degree at Nanyang Technological University.
Currently in Officer Cadet School, she is on her way to becoming an Army Engineer. When I was younger, I thought the military uniform was cool. And now, I wear it with pride. It's good to serve the community by protecting our country and loved ones.
Even though she's only been in the military for slightly over a year, she participated in one of the biggest SG50 events - the National Day Parade (NDP). I was in SAF Ammunition Command's fireworks committee, seeing to the safety of the fireworks. We were on the roof of Pan Pacific Hotel and got a bird's eye view. It felt great, seeing fireworks exploding. I felt the adrenaline rush!
And like a soft-centred cookie, ME4 (T) Yeo has a heart of gold. In June 2014, before signing on with the Army, she took part in Hair for Hope and shaved off her shoulder-length hair to raise funds for children with cancer. Her mother is a cancer survivor.
It's a good experience because we are encouraging people with cancer. I did it together with my father, brothers and cousins. My mom was there to see me shave my head. I didn't tell her that I did it for her though.
She definitely knows now, ME4 (T) Yeo.
In recognition of their contributions in the multinational coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), 76 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen were awarded the Overseas Service Medal (OSM).They received the medals from Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen in a ceremony held at the Ministry of Defence on 25 Jan.
In his address, Dr Ng thanked the servicemen, noting that their efforts represented small but niche capabilities that had been useful for the coalition.
Over the past year, the SAF deployed Intelligence Fusion Officers, and an Imagery Analysis Team to the Middle East to provide intelligence analysis support.
The support was vital for monitoring ISIS activities and targeting their strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
A KC-135R air-to-air refuelling tanker was also deployed to perform refuelling operations for coalition aircraft, enabling them to stay longer in the air for missions.
ISIS has carried out over 60 attacks in 20 countries worldwide. Even neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, with majority Muslims populations, have been targeted.
Earlier this month, Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, was rocked by a terrorist attack, for which the ISIS had claimed responsibility. Eight people were dead, and at least 20 were wounded.
On why the SAF's contribution was important to the security of Singapore, Dr Ng said: We join this fight because if we do not triumph over extremist terrorism, the danger and risks to our citizens here will only grow.
To stop the radicalising influence of terror groups, the SAF has been involved in multinational counter terrorism operations since 2007. For six years, the SAF was deployed in Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda.
Dr Ng said ISIS posed an even greater threat to the region, having inducted as many sympathisers in the region in the last three years as Al-Qaeda did in 10 years.
As Jakarta and the rest of Malaysia show, if the danger is brought to our doorstep, I expect all SAF units to be alert and to see this as part of your core mission to protect citizens here. This is our duty, and this is our mission, he said.
At the ceremony, Dr Ng also presented the OSM to 33 servicemen - from the Army and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) - who helped to fight the haze last October.
During their two-week deployment in Sumatra, Indonesia, they worked with a six-man Disaster Assistance and Relief Team from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, in aerial fire-fighting operations.
The RSAF Chinook helicopter, attached with a 5,000-litre heli-bucket, discharged more than 400,000 litres of water and extinguished over 50 hot spots. Two C-130 aircraft were also deployed to transport the personnel and their equipment.
With the air quality index soaring as high as 1,200, the team had to brave the thick haze and poor visibility.
One of the SAF personnel who took part in the fire-fighting effort was 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Tan Jian Hui, the only Full-time National Serviceman (NSF) in the team.
The 24-year-old had volunteered for the operation. He was inspired by a senior NSF who took part in the search-and-locate operation for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 early last year.
As the Aviation Material Specialist, 3SG Tan had to ensure that there were sufficient spare parts required for the maintenance of the Chinook helicopter.
On what the OSM meant to him, he said: This OSM is a bonus, because my main objective was to experience… a real operation, and contribute toward the operation.
Dr Ng noted that the professional performance and operational readiness of the servicemen in both operations had raised the standing of the SAF as a credible defence force.
He said: Many went beyond the call of duty and volunteered for these missions. This included an NSF who stepped forward to contribute to our fire-fighting efforts. I believe that both personally and as a unit, you have learnt many valuable operational lessons from these deployments that you should share with others.
As the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) grows more coordinated in its efforts, so must countries in their fight against it. No country can do this alone.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen made this point when speaking to the media at the fourth International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Fullerton Forum: The Shangri-la Dialogue Sherpa Meeting on 25 Jan.
Held at the Fullerton Hotel from 24 to 26 Jan, the annual forum discusses the stabilisation of major power relations in the Asia-Pacific, emerging security threats and prospects for conflict management in the Asia-Pacific region. One of the topics discussed at the forum was the growing influence of ISIS and its attacks in the region.
Said Dr Ng: No country will be able to minimise this risk alone. The more we cooperate, the stronger we become. This is a fight that may last many decades and we need many partners in this.
To bring home this point to the delegates at the dialogue, Dr Ng had invited Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, General (GEN) (Ret) Luhut Pandjaitan to deliver the keynote address, as he felt that it would be good for regional leaders to share their perspectives on the ISIS situation. This was also the first time that the Fullerton Forum had a foreign keynote speaker.
Dr Ng said that GEN (Ret) Luhut was a suitable choice to provide important and valuable insights into the security challenges in the region as the latter is on top of the (ISIS) situation and has full understanding of what we can or cannot do alone or together.
With Indonesia having the largest Muslim population globally (230 million), the country plays a crucial leading role in eradicating these extremists. Citing the recent Jakarta attacks, GEN (Ret) Luhut said that Indonesia was going in the right direction by taking a very strict stand to eliminate any terrorists and not leave room for any negotiations.
GEN (Ret) Luhut said: They (ISIS) want to see Taliban in this region, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand… Do not underestimate them.
GEN (Ret) Luhut also called for closer cooperation and information sharing between countries and shared three strategies that Indonesia was implementing against ISIS - soft approach, hard approach and intelligence cooperation.
The soft approach included counter-radicalisation and de-radicalisation campaigns through education and materials. Intelligence cooperation involves the sharing of any ISIS-related information among countries through a tight network. The hard approach referred to attacking ISIS bases.
GEN (Ret) Luhut also shared that Indonesia had been aggressively distributing growth gains across provinces and districts more evenly. This was done through funds being transferred to the various regions. He highlighted that by this year, 770 trillion rupiah would be transferred to the regions. This amounted to more than one-third of the overall national budget.
This means that every village would get USD100,000, so that poverty is minimised in the rural area. Because the source of terrorists comes from the rural areas. Without the improvement of economy, we will have more and more terrorists in the near future, which I think is very dangerous for Indonesia, he explained.
While Dr Ng agreed with GEN (Ret) Luhut that the ISIS financing network needed to be curbed, he noted that both Singapore and Indonesia are stepping up the sharing of intelligence with each other. He added that from time to time, both countries would exchange information through phone calls and at staff levels, and that there was a need to watch each other's backs.
Dr Ng said: These networks that we talk among ourselves are not new. We already have a counter-terrorism group in the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting. The threat is now certainly more coordinated, the danger is real and present. That means that we, too, must step up cooperation…thankfully, we have platforms and the political will to do so.
The animation clips from this year's N.E.mation! competition are finally ready for public viewing and voting. Working off the theme Together We Keep Singapore Strong, the student-teams have laboured for months, through the year-end break, to produce their entries.
From an imaginary land inhabited by light bulbs and showing how acts of kindness spread happiness, to a soccer match battling an imaginary opponent named Crisis to cartoons that show societal love and support for Singapore’s soldiers, this year’s clips have interpreted the theme in an abstract way.
The top 10 clips were showed at the N.E.mation! Downtown Picnic held on 24 Jan at the National Library, marking the start of public voting for the competition. The top prize is a fully sponsored educational trip to a renowned animation studio located overseas.
In their minute-long clip named Light Bulb Moments, the team from Hua Yi Secondary School portrayed a single little light bulb spreading happiness with acts of kindness, gradually bathing a dull and unlit landscape in light.
Explaining their idea, Foong Chen Fu, 15, said: You don't have to be a big or strong person to help others. Even a child can impact someone.
The team is the only one with three members instead of the usual four. That meant that each person had to do more things, said Ko Rui Wei, 15, adding that they pulled many late nights to animate the clip.
In a way, it also showed that it was possible for a smaller team to make a clip that is just as good as the rest, said fellow team member Philemon Tei. He quipped: I think our chances of winning are just as good as the rest!
For the team from Guang Yang Secondary School, it was about showing how everyone could play their part to beat any crises that might occur. Through a soccer match played by Singaporeans (ranging from students to soldiers and doctors) against team Crisis, the clip shows how Singapore is stronger when everyone works together.
In the clip simply titled The Soccer Match, the image of a soldier appears prominently. We chose to include soldiers because they are the ultimate protectors of Singapore. The others, like the doctor, help to heal people and keep the country safe in their own way, said Syed Lufti Bin Syed Abdul Rahman, 15.
When asked what were some of the challenges presented by the competition, team member Khansa Zilfa Shofia Ghazali said: We learnt a lot about teamwork and how to cooperate to make something that met not only our standards, but those of our mentors too.
The teams are coached by mentors from Animagine. The local company specialises in animation training for youth.
In another clip that features soldiers, made by a team from Cedar Girls' School, the family of an Operationally Ready National Serviceman (NSman) show their quiet love and support as he goes through training. As the NSman goes about his day in uniform, cartoons appear each time someone shows love and support for him.
The SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) plays a very important role in the defence of Singapore, and we wanted to show that ordinary Singaporeans, in supporting our soldiers, are also contributing (and strengthening the country), said Wendalyna Lye, 15.
Among those who turned up to cheer on the 10 finalist teams were Ms Karen Ng, 34, and Mr Raphael Ou-yang, 30.
The students have really put in their best, more than one can imagine, said Ms Ng, a researcher. I like the creativity and the teams have really thought about story angles and even writing their own songs for the clips.
For Mr Ou-yang, it was the educational value that shone through. The competition helps to boost awareness on Total Defence. These kids must have done so much research and learnt so much! said the banker.
Visit nemation.sg to watch the clips and cast your votes. Voting ends 14 Feb.
Forget get-rich-quick schemes. Investment coaches Major (MAJ) (NS) Sean Seah and Captain (CPT) (NS) Alvin Chow explain why patience pays.
They thought they could emulate top traders and make big money through the stock market. But their dreams turned into nightmares - MAJ (NS) Seah and CPT (NS) Chow ended up losing $100,000 each.
This happened in the middle of the last decade when stock trading courses were popular in Singapore. The duo, who did not know each other then, were lured by the promise that one could make money fast in a matter of days or even minutes.
When I was younger, I was very impatient, always wanting to make money fast, recalled CPT (NS) Chow, 32, a former Republic of Singapore Air Force Regular.
The big trading losses kept them grounded, and stopped them from seeking shortcuts.
Starting from scratch
Going back to the drawing board, they studied how world-famous investors like Warren Buffett and Walter Schloss grew their wealth by buying and holding stocks over the long term. They put together their own investment strategies, and today are successful full-time investors.
MAJ (NS) Seah, 34, a former Army Regular, spent seven years building up a stock portfolio that generates an average of $11,000 of passive income each month.
CPT (NS) Chow started his portfolio in August 2013, and has gained 24 percent returns by October 2015. In contrast, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) was down by three percent over the same time period. The STI tracks the performance of the 30 biggest companies in the Singapore stock exchange and is considered a barometer of the country's economy.
The duo also runs courses to impart their investment strategies and personal finance knowledge to retail investors.
Different strokes for different folks
Their investment philosophy is similar: invest in a basket of undervalued stocks across different sectors.
But their strategies differ.
MAJ (NS) Seah described himself as a business collector who invests in three different types of stocks: dividend stocks, high-growth stocks, and asset-rich stocks.
A dividend stock provides a consistent stream of passive income paid out from the company’s profit. Growth stocks, on the other hand, have the potential to appreciate multiple-fold. For example, Apple shares have risen from US$5 a decade ago to US$120 today.
In contrast, CPT (NS) Chow only invests in asset-rich companies that possess valuable assets such as properties and cash. These provide firm backing to the company's shares. Such stocks usually belong to small, unknown companies.
CPT (NS) Chow described his strategy as boring and robotic, using only financial figures for his analysis.
Most retail investors do not have the business acumen to know whether a business is good or bad. For example, I may not invest in Google stocks simply because I favour Apple iPhones over Android smartphones.
There are cognitive biases that may cause people to make the wrong investment decision. That’s why we need to have a process that is more objective.
MAJ (NS) Seah noted it was a matter of finding a style that suited your personality, adding that his strategy appealed to people who have a passion for investing.
Try out all the methods to find out which one suits you the best. At the end of the day, investing takes time. If you are uncomfortable (with a certain method), you will give up.
Both men come from families where military service is a tradition. CPT Chow's twin cousins are Navy officers, while MAJ Seah’s father is a retired combat engineer officer.
MAJ (NS) Seah, now battalion 2nd-in-command of 736th Battalion, Singapore Guards (736 Gds), was inspired to sign on during Full-time National Service.
I saw my officers practising what they preached. They didn't just recite the SAF core values. They talked to the soldiers and did things together. I wanted to be like them, to be a leader with values, he recalled.
CPT (NS) Chow, an Air Warfare Officer (Ground-based Air Defence), also lives by the same values. What he enjoys most about his time in the Air Force are the strong friendships and bonds he had with his buddies.
Because we went through tough training together, the kind of understanding that you have with each other is special.
What do you do after solving a problem? Do you note down what was done and archive the steps for future reference, or chuck the memory aside after resolving it?
This was what Military Expert (ME) 5 Hung Hao touched on in his presentation about the Hazard Log Framework, where personnel could log aircraft incidents, archive what had been done to mitigate them, and share the notes with those who may need it in the future.
Using an example of how the brakes from an F-15SGaircraft caught fire due to hydraulic fluid leakage, ME5 Hung explained that the entire hazard tracking process - from reviewing the United States Air Force's baseline system safety analysis to local incident investigation and carrying out risk mitigation actions, informing operators about the residual risk and tracking future design improvements - was all part of ensuring system safety throughout an asset's life cycle.
Personnel can use this framework as a point of reference (to learn) what was done…and they can also make improvements to these solutions, added the 38-year-old Head Aerodynamics Branch from the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Air Engineering and Logistics Department.
ME5 Hung was one of six presenters at the 7th Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) System Safety Seminar. Held at Temasek Club on 18 Jan, the annual seminar serves as a platform for personnel to share their knowledge on system safety.
Said ME6 Lim Chee Leong, Chairman of the Organising Committee: We understand that military equipment cannot be operated without risk. System safety is a methodology to manage equipment risk, and since we cannot eliminate all risk, the effort is focusing on reducing the residual risk to as low as possible.
The Head System Safety Branch from Naval Logistics Department, who was also one of the presenters, shared that the Navy had developed a through-life framework that was implemented in the recently acquired Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs).
For example, the Republic of Singapore Navy incorporated safety and operation requirements into the design and construction of the LMVs that comply with and can be certified by third-party ship classification societies. These societies, which establish and maintain technical standards for the construction and maintenance of ships, will help the Navy to keep up these standards throughout the LMVs' lifespan.
ME6 Lim, 42, said: One of the key design considerations (when using commercial technologies) was to enable a lean crew to operate the LMVs. Getting someone else to do it (checking and certifying)…frees our engineers to do more value-adding jobs or to cross over to newer and growing domains like unmanned systems so that they can (learn and) contribute.
For ME5 Jason Kwek, his presentation focused on how past experiences could be used as a platform for learning when acquiring new assets to ensure that the system will be safe for operators.
Using the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) as a case study, the Head Armoured Wheeled Systems Section from Headquarters Maintenance and Engineering Support Formation explained that a lack of confidence when driving the vehicle had previously led to a few incidents. This was mainly because the operators were young Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and it was their first time operating a huge vehicle
We took immediate action to resolve these incidents and...along the way, we try to influence the design (of new assets) so that we can make it safer for soldiers to use, said the 45-year-old.
For example, the camera systems in the Terrex ICVs were improved to allow drivers to see their surroundings better. Extra safety features, such as monitoring the pitch (climbing up or down slope) and roll (tilting to the left or right) of the vehicle to prevent it from possibly overturning, were also added.
ME5 Kwek explained: These NSFs come in for two years and try to equip themselves to learn as much about the system as they can - this is already a challenge.
Furthermore, the equipment coming into the SAF are becoming more complicated. As engineers, we want to ensure that (there are) safety features to help them and prevent things from going wrong.
For the past 15 years, she has been Pulau Tekong's resident barber. Look closely - she might have cut your hair when you were a recruit!
She can cut your hair in any style, just as long as it is a crew cut. With a few quick flicks of her hair clipper, a shaved head emerges in less than 45 seconds.
It takes me and my barbers about an hour and a half to go through one company of about 240 recruits, said Madam Rose Sadiah, 56.
Some recruits ask her for curious hairstyles. Every so often, they will say cheeky things like, 'Aunty, can do fashion or not?' said the petite woman with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
She recalled a time when a recruit from Mohawk Company requested a Mohawk-style haircut. That was funny but I couldn't do it lah. Army wants standard for everyone.
She also does haircuts at other military bases in Sembawang and even at Paya Lebar Air Base, but spends most of her time at the sole barbershop on Pulau Tekong. The shop is open from Monday to Friday, from 11am to 5pm.
Madam Rose had her first barbershop in the 1990s. Starting out at Circuit Road in the MacPherson area, she moved to Hougang, where she had three shops, and then to Bedok. I would go around to look for shop locations where I could make some money, she said. Her two children, a son and a daughter, would each help out at one shop.
She has especially fond memories of her shop near Bedok Interchange. It was very good business there; even people coming home from work at 11pm would come for a haircut.
In the first month there, the shop took in $14,000 after deducting the $4,000 rent.
Some of her customers were military men, and they told her of a vacancy at the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) for a barber. That very afternoon, I went to MINDEF (Ministry of Defence) to fill in the forms and submit my application. So it came to be that she started barbering on Pulau Tekong in 2001.
She remembers one particular new enlistee who had very long hair. As soon as I switched on the clippers, he started crying!
Then the Encik (a warrant officer) came over to console him. 'Just cut only, no need to cry'. He was still sobbing when I cut his hair! she said with a laugh.
After spending 15 years on Pulau Tekong, Madam Rose has seen how training has changed over the years.
In the first few years when I was here, the Sergeants and Enciks were very stern to the recruits. They were constantly shouting at them and many of the boys were afraid of them.
These days, the trainers are friendlier and they make an effort to befriend the recruits, said Madam Rose.
She said: I've seen that the way of training them has improved, they are like family now.
Like any other job, there are peak and lull periods.
Her busiest period is when the military school is preparing the recruits for their Graduation Parade. The Sergeants and Enciks will then call me to book my services.
For example, on her busiest day in December last year, she was asked to barber for seven companies. That is more than 1,600 heads!
Compared to her shops on mainland Singapore, Madam Rose says that although she charges less (it has been $2 per haircut for recruits and $4 for staff since she started in 2001), the guaranteed business makes it worthwhile.
I like to cut hair here because it has become familiar to me, said Madam Rose. And the familiarity goes both ways. At the photo shoot, most of the recruits head for her chair though there were two other barbers.
Usually when I have to cut for a company, I'll ask two of my part-time barbers to help me. That is why companies have to book her services a day in advance so that she can arrange for workers to come to Pulau Tekong.
She usually shuttles between her home in western Singapore and Pulau Tekong. It can be quite tiring during the weekdays, so I really need the weekends to rest.
Though the recruits are usually above 18 years old, Madam Rose affectionately calls them children. I like the work here, and I’m happy to be here with all these children.
In late 2015, 823 SIR received their Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) 2 evaluation. Although they did not achieve the top grade, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (NS) Darren Tan is proud of their NS spirit and the strong bonds they share.
To the Officers, Specialists and Men of 823rd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (823 SIR).
Family. That's what we have become.
It has been my tremendous joy and privilege to serve you as your Commanding Officer (CO) in the last seven years, culminating this year in our ATEC 2 evaluation. Though we missed the REDCON (Readiness Condition) 1 grading, I'm very proud to say that we have left a legacy for other battalions to aspire to.
Honestly, I was bitterly disappointed, like many of you. We would not have been disappointed if we did not believe. You believed. The depth of your disappointment demonstrates the depth of your commitment to the cause.
To put this in perspective, the REDCON 1 grading was only awarded in history to three active battalions. To know that we came so close shows the impact you have made in our military history. The REDCON 1 grading, as it stands today, remains perhaps a bridge too far for NS (National Service) Battalions with aging bodies and who come together only once a year for a short two weeks.
823 SIR, we are not at the pinnacle of readiness condition. This I can concede. This is not our day job.
But you have given REDCON 1 a run for its money. You have demonstrated something that even active battalions can only aspire to. You have heart, a REDCON 1 heart.
In my 26 years wearing the uniform, I've not experienced a battalion like 823 SIR. When we first came together seven years ago, we put in place the foundations of what 823 SIR would become.
Our mission statement still stands: one family with unwavering passion to excel in the protection of our home. If we became a family, we would serve because we wanted to, not because we had to. This was the philosophy undergirding my leadership thinking the last seven years.
I have been overwhelmed by the commitment of 823 SIR. We have commanders and men asking for medical upgrades so that they can participate in outfield exercises. We have men with expectant wives or newborns coming in for In-Camp Training (ICT). We have men who were married over the weekend showing up for ICT. We even had someone who had just overcome cancer coming outfield with us. We have men whose employers request deferments but pleaded with me to reject their deferments.
This year's ICT has been the most fulfilling exercise I have ever participated in. Walking around the Company Lines, I encountered ready smiles and greetings. I heard joyful banter and laughter among brothers in arms. I watched you put on your equipment and head out for training. There was no dragging of feet but only cheerful dispositions and determination to do well. Thinking of this right now brings a smile to my face.