SAF'S TOP UNITS FOR THE YEAR
Winners of the Best Unit Competition 2015 include the 1st Commandos Battalion, which is winning the Best Combat Unit award for the 29th time, RSS Tenacious and 144 Squadron.
05 Jul 2015, 1140 hours (GMT +8)
A total of 37 contingents consisting of more than 2000 participants will be marching at the National Day Parade (NDP) this year. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, who was at the NDP rehearsal on 4 Jul, met some of these Parade and Ceremony (PC) participants, and commended them all on their dedication. He said: There is real pride and real love for the country, that is motivating them… It is very gratifying and very cheering that we can see this kind of spirit amongst NDP participants. These participants will have committed to 16 weekend rehearsals and for some, an additional nine weekday training sessions, chalking up about 200 hours of practice in total. Featuring 16 civilian contingents - the largest to date - along with four Guard-of-Honour contingents, 10 uniformed group contingents, one Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Colours Party, five SAF and Home Team contingents, and one combined band, the variety of participants in this year's parade is unprecedented. As Colonel (COL) Simon Lee, Chairman PC said: Our participants come from all walks of life - we have participants of different races and ethnic backgrounds. As we celebrate SG50, I think that it is important to celebrate the hard work of our pioneers, added COL Lee. This is why we are very excited that two of our artillery pioneers volunteered to participate in this year's Presidential Gun Salute - they will be firing the first few shots of the Presidential Gun Salute. The two artillery pioneers taking part in the Presidential Gun Salute of this year's PC are Senior Warrant Officer (SWO) (Ret) Kuttalingam Nainar, 63, and SWO (Ret) Lim Seng Wah, 65, both former Artillery Formation Sergeant Majors. I know the gun very well, but the challenge is getting to know the rest of the crew operating it, said SWO (Ret) Nainar. Despite the challenge, SWO (Ret) Nainar still finds the experience of participating in NDP 2015 PC a meaningful one, saying: It's an honour to take part … to be firing the gun, it's truly an honour … as a gunner, to represent the artillery. This sense of motivation and dedication is evident in all of the PC participants. As Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Alvin Tjioe, Parade Commander, said: On parade, everyone is focused, listening to commands, and executing their drills and movements according to the commands that I give. The training for this year's NDP has been specially planned to make it as manageable as possible for the participants. LTC Tjioe explained: The training has been progressive - we started quite some time ago in April, and every weekend we have been coming together to train. During the weekly training sessions, we have been progressively getting the participants to stand on parade for longer periods of time … our SAF personnel are all very cognisant of their requirements and of their physical condition. We slowly build them up over the weeks such that...they are able to participate fully in the parade.
03 Jul 2015, 2015 hours (GMT +8)
There's a new ship on the horizon. And its name is Independence. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) commemorated the launch of its newest ship, the first Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV), Independence. Held at the Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine) yard on 3 Jul, the launching ceremony was officiated by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen. The LMV was launched by Mrs Ivy Ng, wife of Dr Ng. Addressing the guests at the ceremony, Dr Ng reiterated the RSN’s role in protecting Singapore's sea lines of communication, which are vital for the nation's economic well-being. He said: It was dominantly due to the fact that the people of the RSN believed fervently in this mission - they believed that they could protect the waters around us - that we have continually moved 'onwards and upwards, never looking back', and that today, we are able to stand here together, amid peace and security of our surrounding seas. Uniquely Singaporean In his speech, Dr Ng also highlighted that the LMV was uniquely Singaporean, having been planned, conceptualised and built locally to meet our requirements. The launch of Independence marked the first time a Navy ship was completely designed and built in Singapore. A total of eight LMVs, including Independence, would be built by ST Marine locally, based on a design jointly developed by ST Marine and Saab Kockums AB. The RSN worked closely with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) for about three years to determine its engineering, logistical and operational requirements, before contracting ST Engineering Ltd in January 2013for the LMV construction. Smarter, faster and sharper The LMVs are smarter and faster ships, equipped with sharper capabilities. They can be configured with mission modules to suit a wide spectrum of operations. Lethal and non-lethal options also allow them to deliver calibrated responses and defend against different types of threats. With Singapore's decreasing population, manpower considerations were a priority. Thus, the LMVs were designed to maximise the potential of a leaner crew. Explained Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Chew Chun-Chau, Head of the LMV Project Office: Using technology to replace mundane, low-end tasks allows the crew to (concentrate on) the high-end tasks. This will not only tap on the knowledge of the better-educated crew, but also enable us to operate with a much smaller crew size. One of the key design features of the LMV is the Integrated Command Centre (ICC). Where previously the Bridge, Combat Information Centre (CIC) and Machinery Control Room (MCR) were located in different parts of a ship, the three would now be co-located in the ICC. This will integrate and synergise the management of navigation, engineering and combat functions. On top of this, the 360-degree bridge with windows on all sides will provide an unobstructed view of the sea lanes. Another key feature is in designing the support, where maintainability of the ship's equipment is a primary consideration. Previously, the ship's design centred on supporting the design, with emphasis being placed on the ship's capabilities. This meant that the priority was to acquire the best parts and equipment for the ship, while considerations for support and maintenance came after. Crews would have to learn to adapt to the limitations of the equipment. This time around, the RSN and DSTA worked together with subject matter experts from our maintenance bases to look at the capabilities of the systems and also the long-term supportability - how the systems could be designed in a more reliable manner, with more robust redundancies and to be more maintainable, so that it's more effectively and efficiently supported in the long run, explained Military Expert 5 (ME5) Tang Chee Meng, Principal Engineer in the LMV Project Office. We are moving into a new era where we make designs that are user-centric instead of the traditional technology-centred approach, said Mr Matthew Yong, Programme Director of Naval Systems in DSTA. We filter what we term 'latent requirements' - not (just) what they ask for, but what they need, and bring it out so that we design to meet their requirements. With the maintenance and support processed streamlined, real cost and man hours are also reduced, and turnaround time between missions is also shortened. This will enhance the operational readiness of the ship. It's a mindset shift to place support in its proper standing, said ME5 Tang. Passing on the baton At approximately two-and-a-half times the size of the Fearless-class Patrol Vessels (PVs), the LMVs are set to replace their predecessors in watching over Singapore's waters. LTC Tay Choong Hern, who will be the first Commanding Officer (CO) of Independence, looked forward to working in the new ICC. He was CO of PV RSS Fearless from 2012 to 2014. These (the Bridge, MCR and CIC of the PV) are located separately; and not seeing one another, we rely on communications to make decisions and get situational awareness. With this Integrated Command Centre, we are able to have everybody co-located, using the same Command and Control System and have the awareness that we previously couldn't have. He added: The 360-degree bridge allows us to look out further. For the type of operations and the area we are in, it has very much improved the amount of time taken to make a decision, the awareness that we can have out of the window…so that we can deliver sharper responses. LTC (Ret) Lim Hock Chye, who was the first CO of PV RSS Independence, was impressed by the automation level of the new LMVs: This is the way to go. Automation not only allows you to run the ship efficiently, it is also more effective in terms of speed. He added: I must say that the people operating this ship are far more capable, because this new generation is educated, fast, and very sharp. I believe that the LMV will outperform most of the ships from the previous generation. Independence is expected to be fully operational by 2017, and all eight LMVs, fully operational by 2020.
03 Jul 2015, 0930 hours (GMT +8)
They came from all walks of life to join the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) during its formative years. These SAF pioneers share their stories. Most would know the tale of how Singapore's defence in 1965 started with two infantry battalions of 50 officers and about 1,000 men for the Army, and two ships for the Navy. There was no air force. From there, the Ministry of the Interior and Defence (pre-cursor to the present-day Ministry of Defence) started to build up the SAF. In 1967, National Service was started. The Army had the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR and 2 SIR). These were bolstered by the Singapore Volunteer Corps and Vigilante Corps to protect sites of strategic importance. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), with its roots in the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF), started off with three ships. Of the three, only two were seaworthy. In 1968, the Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC) was formed. It used Cessna 172 aircraft to train its pilots for Singapore's first fighter aircraft - the Hawker Hunters - which were added to the fleet in 1970. Five years later, the SADC became the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). These hodge-podge beginnings carried a generation of men and women who came together and built the defence of Singapore. Here are their personal stories as they recount the early years.
02 Jul 2015, 0700 hours (GMT +8)
As theSAF celebrates its 50th year of defending the nation,Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng reflects on what the milestone means to him.
01 Jul 2015, 2315 hours (GMT +8)
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) commemorated its 50th year of defending the nation with a special parade officiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on SAF Day, 1 Jul. Five F-15SG fighter planes performed a flypast to pay tribute to all regulars and national servicemen - past and present. Also featured was a heli-flypast of the national flag. More than 3000 SAF Regulars, Operationally-ready National Servicemen (NSmen), and Full-time National Servicemen attended the parade at SAFTI Military Institute. Led by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng, they recited the SAF Pledge to reaffirm their loyalty and commitment to the nation. They also observed a one-minute silence to remember those who died in the line of duty. The parade featured a special ceremony known as Trooping of the Colours, where a contingent carried (or 'trooped') theColours (flags) across the parade square, marching to the beat of music performed by the military band. Parade Commander Lieutenant Colonel Mohd Nizam Bin Yahya said the procession was to honour the Colours on the special occasion of the SAF's Golden Jubilee. This parade is different from other SAF Day parades, he said. Honouring pioneers The parade also recognised the contributions of SAF pioneers, and a video montage paid tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding prime minister, who played an instrumental role in building up the SAF. Some 500 SAF pioneers were guests at the parade. Among them was Major (MAJ) (Ret) Leong Kwai Wah, 74, who was part of the first batch of SAF officer cadets in 1966. He was involved in taking over Tengah Air Base from the British when they started withdrawing their troops from Singapore in the late 1960s. He and fellow pioneers had to deal with the threat of Konfrontasi during the early years of independence. We were put on the frontline to look after the country, recalled the former Air Operations and Communications Officer. MAJ (Ret) Leong, who retired in 1988, added that he was confident that the generation today will continue defending Singapore. Best units, NSmen recognised The parade also recognised the best units of the SAF. Mr Lee presented the State Colours to this year's Best Combat Unit, 1st Commando Battalion (1 Cdo Bn), which had won the award for the 12th consecutive time. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen presented the Best Unit and Best National Service Unit awards to 28 SAF units. Sixteen NSmen received the NSman of the Year award from Dr Ng at a reception held after the parade. One of them was Captain (CPT) (NS) Chen Fuwei, 33, a naval diver from the Naval Diving Unit. As the Officer Commanding of the underwater demolition group, he leads a team of about 100 divers. The father of two, aged 3 and 1, has to juggle his work as an assistant director in the Civil Service, family commitments, and NS duties. But strong support from his family and employer allowed him to do his best inhis military work, he said. His family commitments are about to increase. His wife is expecting their third child. Despite this, he has extended his NS cycle. I gained a lot from National Service - very close friends,... fond memories, and useful life skills and values, he said. I see volunteering as a way of giving back... As long as I am fit and capable, I will continue to serve.
01 Jul 2015, 1600 hours (GMT +8)
With our lives! echoed through SAFRA Toa Payoh as 110 Operationally-ready National Servicemen (NSmen) ended their reciting of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Pledge at the East Zone SAF Day 2015 Combined Rededication Ceremony (CRC) on 1 Jul. Officiated by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, the East Zone SAF Day CRC was the first of four CRCs held across the four geological zones in Singapore, the other three being North/North-East, Central Business District (CBD)/South, East, and West. SAF Day CRCs have been organised since 1988, and are undertaken by civilian organisations on a voluntary basis. These organisations invite their business partners and companies that are located in that particular zone to participate in the CRC. Delivering his SAF Day message at the East Zone CRC, Dr Ng emphasised the need for a strong and credible defence, saying: Without a strong defence, Singapore could not have had the opportunity to progress from the Third World to the First. Why were our founding generation and our pioneers so convinced (of the need for a strong SAF)? It was because they had experienced being subjects under British rule, then being prisoners under the Japanese Occupation. After that, they saw saboteurs during the communist threat and Konfrontasi bringing violence and destruction to Singapore. They saw it with their own eyes…They learnt very bitter lessons … that when you're not in charge of your own destiny, others can reap what you sow, others can destroy what you built. One of the NSmen taking part in the ceremony was Captain (CPT) (NS) Low Kok Ping Leonard, General Manager of Feoso Energy Pte Ltd, and Company Second-in-Charge of Maintenance Company, 3rd Forward Combat Service Support Battalion. He agreed with what Dr Ng said. I think National Service is very important, said CPT (NS) Low. I've been privileged to travel to many places and have lived in other countries, so I think that what we have here in Singapore is very precious and is worth defending. CPT (NS) Low also found the CRC to be a meaningful one, saying: It is a very good way of recommitting oneself to the SAF and to the country… a good reminder that we are serving something bigger than ourselves - we are serving our country and our fellow Singaporeans. In total, more than 650 NSmen from 354 companies and their employers gathered to reaffirm their commitment to defence on SAF Day. Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Defence Lui Yuck Yew officiated at the West Zone CRC at the SIT@Dover. Minister, Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing officiated at the CBD/South Zone and Built Environment Partners CRC; and Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin officiated at the North/North-East Zone SAF Day CRC at the Institute for Technical Education College Central.
30 Jun 2015, 1800 hours (GMT +8)
The Singapore Armed Forced (SAF) continues to evolve and transform, to deal with new, complex challenges and emerging threats, many of which are transnational. It has to keep transforming because challenges change; if not in nature, then in the scale of it. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said this during a media interview at the Ministry of Defence on 26 Jun, ahead of SAF Day, 1 Jul. Towards integrated systems Reiterating that the SAF's strategy was never to compete with numbers but with superior skills and knowledge, intelligence, information and technology, Dr Ng said that the SAF was moving towards integrated systems. These systems would allow individual teams to call on the resources of the Army, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), thereby creating a multiplier effect from the shared information and resources. Networked force … means that any individual is able to see a wider area and with more precision than he could otherwise have. When you enter an environment, you enter an environment knowing what (it) is, and that makes a big difference in terms of modern warfare, he said. He added that the SAF would have better equipment that would enable soldiers to sense their environment and respond faster. One example is the upgrading of the RSAF's F-16 fighter jets, which have been in service since 1998. The F-16 will get a new Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar that will extend its detection range and enable it to track and engage multiple targets at greater distances. It will also come with datalink capability and an advanced helmet-mounted display that will provide pilots with superior situational awareness. The upgrade will commence next year in phases, over five to six years. More unmanned systems Dr Ng also announced that the SAF would be moving towards more unmanned systems, and systems that combine both manned and unmanned elements. With unmanned systems already deployed in the air and on sea, such as the RSAF's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the RSN's Protector Unmanned Surface Vessel, more will be expected to be deployed on land as well. The RSAF recently marked the Full Operational Capability status of its Hermes 450 UAV in March this year. Cyber defence for non-traditional threats A new form of warfare is emerging: the hybrid warfare. Dr Ng had explained during the Committee of Supply Debate on 6 Mar that hybrid warfare is an orchestrated campaign to fracture the solidarity of the target nation through undermining its defences in civil, economic, social, psychological and military spheres. He said: This is an important area that the SAF is focused on because small states like Singapore are particularly susceptible to hybrid warfare. More so because we are an open economy, connected to the world, and subject to varying influences. He added that hybrid warfare was now being carefully studied by students of military strategy for its ability to soften the belly of a target nation for many years and finally bring it down to its knees slowly, because people have lost the will through misinformation, or prepositioning (that) would have reduced the ability (of the target nation) to respond. Thus, cyberspace, an essential tool of hybrid warfare, is the new frontier to defend against. It can cripple your systems, it can steal your secrets, (and) give disinformation to your people such that it affects morale, he said. The Cyber Defence Operations Hub was set up in 2013. Dr Ng announced that, to guard against emerging cyber threats, an increase in Regulars and NSmen (Operationally-ready National Servicemen) being deployed to cyber ops could be expected. The Hub would also enable non-combat fit soldiers to play a bigger role in national defence. Said Dr Ng: Now you have a new arena where more and more people can make a fundamental difference, a bigger impact, (and) contribute more. We have the same proportion of non-combat fit soldiers, but (where) previously you can't use them in combat, now you can use them (in cyber defence). Bigger roles for NSmen One of the challenges the SAF is facing is Singapore's shifting demography. On top of falling birth rates, there is also an increasing number of marriages between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans. This will lead to a growing population raised on diverse influences, said Dr Ng. Nonetheless, he was assured that the new generations of Full-time National Servicemen remained committed to defending the nation. He said: We've been able to maintain and integrate, and bring in each year new (Full-time) National Servicemen who identify with the needs, the ethos, the history of Singapore, and why we need a strong SAF. He said that, while there was no current need to extend the length of National Service or conscript women, the modern weapon systems would require NSmen to take on more responsibilities and higher positions of command. He highlighted the RSN's deployment of warships completely run by NSmen. The RSN currently has seven units that are staffed by NSmen, and this makes it one of the few navies in the world to deploy ships run fully by reservist forces. One of these warships that have an entire crew of naval NSmen is missile corvette RSS Vigilance. Dr Ng added that the SAF would continue to explore deploying NSmen in areas such as intelligence and unmanned systems. SAF50 celebrations Dr Ng highlighted some upcoming events in the ongoing celebrations to mark the SAF's Golden Jubilee this year. These include the SAF Day parade and dinner, which will be officiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; and the SAF50@Istana event which will be graced by President Tony Tan Keng Yam. There is also an SAF50 book to commemorate the special occasion. The book, which will be launched by PM Lee on 24 Jul, contains more than 40 personal stories about the SAF, written by individuals from all walks of life. Dr Ng also paid tribute to founding leaders and pioneers who, having lived through Singapore's tumultuous times under the British rule and Japanese Occupation, understood the urgent need for a strong defence force. These bitter and painful lessons that they experienced first-hand etched in them a deep conviction that, when we need to, we must be able to defend ourselves, said Dr Ng. He added: Without the ability to defend ourselves, they learnt that you can only own what you can defend. If you can’t defend it, you don't own it. Others will sow what you reap; others will break down what you build. Thus, he believed that it was important for the SAF to celebrate its 50 years of growth: This SAF50 is to remind us how far we’ve come and because of that, how much further we can go. The aim … is to commemorate and celebrate, to recognise that there has been a long journey, but a very transformational one, a very successful one, he said.
30 Jun 2015, 1440 hours (GMT +8)
The past year has taken the men and women of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) 144 Squadron (SQN) all around the world. From overseas operations such as Exercise Elang Indopura in Indonesia to Exercise Cope Tiger in Thailand, to local showings such as in Top Ace Challenge 2015, the squadron lived by their motto of Dare to excel, upholding their high standards. This has led them to be crowned the Best Fighter Squadron of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Best Unit Competition (BUC) 2015. Operating the upgraded F-5S/T multi-role supersonic fighter, this is the fourth time that 144 SQN has clinched this award, with previous wins in 1995, 2005, and 2009. Held annually, the BUC recognises units which have excelled in the areas of combat readiness, operational proficiency, and administrative excellence. I attribute the win to the squadron's professionalism, said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Tsai Hong Pin, Commanding Officer of 144 SQN. The people in the squadron made the difference. Everyone in the squadron understands, and performs their role professionally. He said the synergy allowed the squadron to excel and clinch the award. But it was not an easy win. Much hard work was put in to keep up with the high training tempo. Captain (CPT) Muhammad Iskandar, an operational pilot from 144 SQN recalls the tough training: We go through several exercises throughout the year, like Exercise Cope Tiger with the Royal Thai Air Force and the United States Air Force. We also train alongside the Indonesians in Exercise Elang Indopura. Those are two major exercises. On top of that, there are smaller exercises with the Americans, and with Five Power Defence Arrangements forces during Bersama Lima. CPT Iskandar started by first training to fly on his own, before progressing to lead a wingman, and then moving on to be a mission commander in Exercise Cope Tiger, where he was tasked to plan and lead a multi-national force. The experience was valuable in developing a fighter pilot, he said. Just as the men and women of 144 SQN are dedicated to maintaining high standards and operational readiness to defend Singapore's skies, so too, are the Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) of RSS Vigilance ready to do the same. They are winners of the inaugural Best National Service Naval Unit award in the Republic of Singapore Navy. We are certainly very proud and honoured to be able to win this award, said LTC (NS) Kelvin Lim, Commanding Officer of the RSS Vigilance, a missile corvette. He is also chief of the social care division at the Agency for Integrated Care. He said: It is testament to all the efforts that my officers and men have put in over the last few years to (make) the ship an operationally-ready and fine ship. It is a great honour. He added that one of the key reasons for their success was the camaraderie among the ship's crew. Having a warship being manned entirely by a crew of NSmen came with its own set of unique challenges. As Coxswain ME2-2 (NS) Lawrence Lim, a network engineer at ST Engineering, explained: …Everybody has their own lives outside the ship - they have their own careers, their own concerns. LTC (NS) Lim agreed, but that did not affect the professionalism and competency of his crew, and their good working dynamics. He said his Coxswain looked after all the men and took care of all their personal matters - be it getting married or work problems - so that their training and morale would not be affected, and they could function effectively. For the 1st Commando Battalion (1 Cdo Bn), their 12th consecutive victory as the Best Combat Unit is largely due to the individual competency of the soldiers in the battalion which comprises largely Full-Time National Servicemen. I'm very happy to be able to secure (this) award, said LTC Alvin Tjioe, Commanding Officer of 1 Cdo Bn. I'm very proud of my unit and what they have achieved. It speaks volumes of what the soldiers have been through. Specialising in operations such as reconnaissance, airborne, and raids, the Commando's latest victory brings their record to an unprecedented 29 wins since the BUC was first held in 1969. Despite their impressive record, 1 Cdo Bn is not resting on its laurels, said LTC Tjioe: Although this is the 29th time that the Commandos have won this award, every time when we participate in this competition, it is a new batch of soldiers, (not) seasoned soldiers. He added: This competition is very important to us in the sense that it drives us to keep our combat skills sharp. Indeed, the soldiers of 1 Cdo Bn have worked hard to master their soldiering skills. They had previously fought in a wargame against their predecessors - NSmen who were doing their last In-camp Training. The NSmen were tough and experienced 'enemies' who put up a strong challenge for the unit. Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Hafizuddin Bin Mohdar said: Because they (the NSmen) had gone through the same journey, they could tell us what we did wrong and what we did right. A first-time winner this year is RSS Tenacious, which clinched the Best Fleet Unit award. This award comes in the wake of a busy year for the crew of RSS Tenacious, which has seen them taking part in numerous exercises and operations in multilateral and bilateral exercises. Notably, the frigate took part in a 103-day counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden from March to June last year. Its deployment to the Gulf of Aden was an eventful one, as Commanding Officer LTC Ho Jee Kien recalled: Two days before we were supposed to call at the port of Djibouti, a suicide bombing incident took place in a restaurant at the harbour. As a result, we were unable to enter the port. The crew of RSS Tenacious had to continue with the next sail cycle, which saw them spending 29 consecutive days out at sea, compared to the normal 12 to 15 days of sailing before docking to resupply. The tenacious crew overcame the difficulties, and on their watch, there was no successful pirate attack during the 103 days. Spending months away from home was not easy, but the crew was willing to make the sacrifice. Another unit which is no stranger to making sacrifices is the RSAF's 163 SQN. Winners of the Best Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) Unit award for the fourth consecutive year, 163 SQN is on round-the-clock standby, operating the I-Hawk (Improved Homing All the Way Killer) missile system, to provide medium-level air defence for Singapore. For everyone in the unit, and for myself, there is definitely a very deep sense of satisfaction, said LTC Joseph Peh, Commanding Officer of 163 SQN. We do 24/7 operations and our operations tempo is very high. For us to be able to clinch the Best GBAD Unit award for the fourth year in a row is really testament to the hard work and professionalism of the personnel in the squadron. The winning formula isn't anything special … it is the approach that the servicemen and women take, be it in training or in operations, that makes them stand out, and as a result of that, when we go into our assessments for the BUC, their professionalism and attitude really carry us through.
30 Jun 2015, 1200 hours (GMT +8)
More than 170 retailers have come forward this year to show their support for Singapore Armed Forces personnel, with special deals and exclusive promotions for SAF Day. Apart from familiar brand names such as Botak Jones, KFC and Shaw theatres, there are also more niche products and services. There is something for every SAF serviceman and woman. Operationally-Ready and Full-time National Servicemen will also get to enjoy these special offers. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the SAF, it is not surprising that the number 50 features prominently in some of the special deals surrounding SAF Day, which falls on 1 Jul. For example, SAF personnel will get $50 cash credit when they open a savings account with CIMB Bank. Between 1 Jul and 31 Jul, SAF personnel will be entitled to a S$50 cash credit and a 0.8 percent interest per annum - one of the highest savings rates in Singapore - when they open a CIMB StarSaver checking or savings account with a minimum deposit of S$10,000, said Ms Coreen Kwan, head of retail banking. The bank is also offering sure-win lucky dips when soldiers open accounts at specific outlets, as well as attractive lucky draw prizes. While these rewards are in no way equitable to what SAF personnel have contributed to the nation, we hope that it will encourage them to save for their future, said Ms Kwan. Those with a taste for speed will appreciate Dream Drive’s offer of $50 off every supercar joyride in a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, Audi R8 Spyder or a Maserati GranTurismo. We participated last year, and wanted to do so again. It's just our way of telling SAF personnel to keep up their good work, said Ms Marilyn Teo, General Manager at Dream Drive Pte Ltd. The offer is only valid at its Suntec outlet. Hungry after the joyride? Eat at chic eatery Spruce, which is offering 50 percent off the second main course at its Phoenix Park outlet. Our offer is just a simple gesture to thank SAF personnel for contributing to our country, said Mr Danny Pang, Managing Director at Spruce. We know you all work very hard, so thank you! For the full list of SAF Day special deals, visithttp://mindef.sg/SAF50promo
28 Jun 2015, 1820 hours (GMT +8)
Colonel (COL) (Ret) Goh Lye Choon, 74, a pioneer armour officer, took part in the first mobile column at the National Day Parade (NDP) in 1969. Come 9 Aug, he will be leading the mobile column on Singapore's 50th birthday, in the first Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank of the column. It is a privilege to come back, said COL (Ret) Goh. Recalling his experience in NDP 1969, he said: We had only one and a half months to prepare for it, unlike the six months that we have today. Things were much harder for the pioneers back then. COL (Ret) Goh shared on the difficulties that they faced, such as the lack of an area for rehearsals, and the tracks of the tanks damaged the road surface that they drove on. Fast forward to the present day, COL (Ret) Goh finds the situation markedly different, especially with regard to the servicemen and women of the mobile column with whom he is working. I have confidence in our National Servicemen, said COL (Ret) Goh. I believe that this generation is better trained than my generation, and they will do far better than we did….They have been taught the skills, and know how to apply these skills. This year's mobile column is a two-kilometre long convoy, involving more than 900 personnel, more than 170 vehicles and many months of preparation, according to Major (MAJ) Cai Dexian, Chairman Mobile Column. He said: It is a grand, formal, and precise display where we showcase our commitment to, and capabilities in, the defence of our country. That is an enduring theme of all mobile columns that we believe is consistent with this year's edition. Last featured in NDP 2010, the mobile column will display the advanced technological capabilities of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF), and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). It will feature as Chapter 3 -Strength of the NDP 2015 Integrated Show. Comprising four distinct segments - Giving Strength to Our Nation, Strength in Action, Strength for Our Home, and From Strength to Strength - the mobile column will also feature multimedia videos on stories of the men and women who have operated these platforms in Singapore and on overseas missions. MAJ Cai explained: This year's mobile column will tell the story of the growth of Singapore's defence and security forces to become the strong, respected, and capable forces that they are today. The stories of these men and women from the SAF, SPF, and SCDF will be woven into the mobile column to recognise their sacrifices and contributions to our security. Alongside crowd favourites like the Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank and Bionix II Infantry Fighting Vehicles, will be new SAF assets such as the Armoured Engineer Vehicle and Protected Response Vehicle from the Army, and a 40-tonne Specialised Marine Craft from the Republic of Singapore Navy. This is the first time that I've taken part in the parade and it is very exciting for me, said Lieutenant (LTA) Celestia Tan, commander of the Armoured Engineer Vehicle. We have been preparing for the parade since May. To bring the mobile column closer to more Singaporeans, a section of the mobile column will makeits way around the Marina Bay area, beginning with The Float@Marina Bay. It will then drive past the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Convention Centre, and the Marina Bay Financial Centre, before stopping at the Esplanade Bridge for the Pledge Moment at 8:15pm.
28 Jun 2015, 1040 hours (GMT +8)
You hear stories about sisters supporting their brothers through National Service. But what about a brother supporting his sister through military training? When Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) Volunteer (Trainee) [SV(T)] Siti Khairunessa bte Abdul Kadir signed up for the role, her younger brother became her biggest cheerleader. We talked on the phone every night (while I was undergoing the two-week Basic Training) and he would tell me, 'It's OK, you can do it', she said of her Operationally-ready National Serviceman (NSman) brother, who is an infantry officer. He gives me advice because it's something he has gone through. He told me to take the training as it comes, do my best, and enjoy myself, she added. SV(T) Khairunessa, 30, revealed that joining the SAF also gave her a greater appreciation for what her brother had to go through to become an officer. Before this, I did not even know that he was an officer. But now, I know that it's something very significant. He inspires me to do so much more, not just in the military but in everything I pursue too,she said proudly. SV(T) Khairunessa was one of 226 SAFVC Volunteers (SVs) who were presented their service berets by Reviewing Officer, Commander SAFVC Colonel (COL) Mike Tan, at the Beret Presentation Parade on 27 Jun. Held at Maju Camp, the parade marked the conclusion of Basic Training for the SAFVC's inaugural cohort and is an important milestone for the corps, which began its recruitment on 13 Oct 2014. This year, a total of three intakes enlisted. The first and third intakes underwent the continuous two-week course from 24 Mar to 4 Apr, and 15 to 26 Jun respectively, while the second batch underwent the modular course over a series of weekends from 11 Apr to 14 Jun. Speaking after the parade, Guest-of-Honour Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, Minister of State for Defence, said it was very heartening to see the level of enthusiasm (and) the passion that they had, to want to serve and support NS. It was very encouraging to see Singaporeans and PRs from all walks of life coming together. I was very proud to see each and every one of them singing the national anthem, and I think that shows the amount of pride and seriousness that they put into this whole effort of being a volunteer in the SAF, he said of the SVs. Like SV(T) Khairunessa, undergoing the training also gave SV(T) Philip Christian Paul Von Meyenburg newfound respect for SAF soldiers. He said: You may hear certain things (about the military) through movies or hearsay, but when you’re actually in it, you realise that it’s a bit more real: the sun is hotter, the field pack is heavier, and the reverberation of the SAR 21, stronger. I will look differently at the men and women in uniform, as well as NSmen, because they go through a lot of tough stuff (to become soldiers). The 37-year-old Switzerland-born Permanent Resident (PR), who will train to become an Auxiliary Security Trooper, has been living in Singapore for eight years and is married to a Singaporean. He expressed hope that his experience as an SV will deepen his friendships in Singapore. He said: A lot of my friends here are NSmen, and some are Regulars. Being able to talk to them, I also feel a lot closer to them. Support from the community Dr Maliki also thanked the families and employers of the SVs who had attended the parade, saying: Without the support of community members like the families, the volunteers themselves would not be able to perform their function as part of the Volunteer Corps. Everyone has a role to play in defence. SV(T) Khairunessa was one such SV who was especially grateful to have her employer’s support. Ms Elizabeth Cowle, General Manager of International Medical Clinic, was quick to give the registered nurse her blessings when she learnt of her desire to join the SAFVC. She even re-arranged her work schedule so that she could witness SV(T) Khairunessa’s Beret Presentation Parade. It's commendable that somebody wants to support their country and defend it. It's meaningful for her and she was really passionate about wanting to do this, said Ms Cowle, an expatriate from Australia. She added that SV(T) Khairunessa, who will be joining the Army as a Medical Nurse, had the full support of her colleagues and added: I'm very proud of her. I know it was very arduous, but she’s accomplished something really outstanding. Echoing Dr Maliki’s sentiments, SV(T) Chen Chang agreed that family support was essential in his completing the Basic Training. The 45-year-old Principal Member of Technical Staff from DSO National Laboratories, who came to Singapore from China in 1994 and became a citizen in 2001, underwent the modular training, which took up most of his weekends. He expressed his appreciation for his wife and son for standing by him. It affected my time with my family, but my wife and son supported me all the way without a single complaint. They encouraged me, especially my son, who would do PT (physical training) together with me, he said, adding that he hoped to be a role model for his 15-year-old son when he enters NS. As an Auxiliary Security Trooper, he is looking forward to working with NSmen as well. He said: My colleagues have all gone through NS and ICT (in-camp training). They always have interesting stories to share with me. Now I will be able to experience it too. It makes me feel closer to not just my colleagues, but all the Singaporeans that I know. Like SV(T) Chen, SV(T) Ramakrishna Maruvada also hopes to set a good example for his sons when it is their time to serve NS. I have three boys (a six-year-old and twins aged four), and I thought that I should experience what they would be undergoing when they turn 18. Now we will have some shared experiences to talk about, as well as my own challenges (in training), said the 40-year-old from India, who became a Singapore citizen last year. The Director of Daiwa Capital Markets Singapore, who will be joining the Air Force as a Command Control, Communications and Computers (C4) Expert, expressed his admiration for his commanders and trainers. I learnt about leadership by example when I witnessed COL Tan doing the Battle Inoculation Course before us. He would also come into the camp late on a Sunday and at odd hours. The trainers would also eat after all the trainees had eaten, and wake up before we did. The leadership comes right from the top, he explained. He was also grateful to Sergeant Major Senior Warrant Officer Ho Kian Lee for his words of encouragement: He told us we had come (to the SAFVC) on our own volition, but we needed the discipline to get through it. Whenever I found the training quite hard, I would remind myself of that, and find the discipline to get through it. His passion to teach is unrivalled.
26 Jun 2015, 2145 hours (GMT +8)
Come July, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will have its first female one-star general. Colonel (COL) Gan Siow Huang, the current Head of Joint Manpower, will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General. She is among the 413 officers, 74 military experts and 34 warrant officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force to be promoted to the next higher rank this year. The Air Force officer received her certificate of promotion from Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen in a ceremony held at the Ministry of Defence on 26 Jun. All promotions will take effect from 1 Jul. The mother of three girls, aged 3, 8, and 12, felt that her promotion showed that women could have a successful military career. Hard work, as well as good performance, also allows women to be promoted up the ranks, just like our male counterparts, said the 40-year-old who was among the first four women to receive the SAF Merit Scholarship in 1993. I hope that my promotion will encourage more women in Singapore to join the SAF. And hopefully, in the time to come, we will see more female leaders in the SAF, she added. One of her toughest challenges in her career came during her tenure as Commanding Officer (CO) of 203 Squadron, when she was expecting her second child. The unit was a 24/7 outfit, responsible for the surveillance of Singapore skies. I was a little worried. As a CO, I was in charge of the whole mission for the squadron, she recalled. But with some planning and arrangements made before hand, certain obstacles could be overcome. It is quite a tough journey, but I am fortunate to have a very supportive family,…supportive colleagues, bosses, and peers, she added. Her parents-in-law, who are retirees and cancer survivors, help to take care of her children during the day. It also helps that her husband, an ex-Navy regular, understands the nature of her work. While family and peer support is important, COL Gan said servicewomen have to prove their capabilities. On normal working days, I would have to pull my weight, show that I am competent, I have the ability to lead, she explained. When asked if she feels the pressure of carrying the weight of the aspirations of all SAF servicewomen, she said: Somewhat,…but I try not to let that affect me. I think the most important thing is put in my best, and live up to the tasks that are given to me. The SAF promotion exercise is part of an ongoing effort to recognise and groom officers, military experts and warrant officers who perform well and demonstrate potential to contribute further to the SAF. For Military Expert 7 (ME7) Francis Cheong, his promotion to ME8 - the pinnacle rank in the Military Domain Experts Scheme (MDES) - is a recognition of the contributions of military experts in the SAF. The MDES is a relatively new career scheme introduced only in 2010, to groom experts in areas such as engineering, nursing, and intelligence. Even though ME7 Cheong was an engineer by training, he was entrusted to command an air base, an appointment normally held by combat officers. I was the first engineer to take on such an appointment, and the exposure that I had was very enriching and fulfilling, said the 45-year-old Head of Air Engineering and Logistics. The operational experience that I gained certainly helped me to prepare for my current appointment. Major (MAJ) Mohamed Feroz Bin Mohamed Akber, 34, too, has a varied career with the SAF, including an 18-month stint as an officer cadet instructor in New Zealand. It was an eye-opener, being alone overseas to train foreign cadets, said the 34-year-old infantry officer who also attended the Command and Staff course in the United States. But his most meaningful moment in the SAF thus far was helping to plan the state funeral of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding prime minister. A career soldier at heart, he plans to stay with the SAF till the retirement age of 50, and even continue to serve as a volunteer thereafter. The primary reason I signed on with the SAF was really to be involved with the defence of Singapore, said MAJ Feroz, who will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Overseas ops Among the promotees are servicemen who have taken part in overseas operations. One of them is Navy Fleet Commander COL Lew Chuen Hong who was deployed to the North Arabian Gulf to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq. Our role in the early years was largely maritime security, but over time, we have stretched our legs, we have gone round the world, said the 39-year-old, who will be promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral (One-Star). This was, in fact, what he signed up for when he joined the Navy more than 20 years ago. If anything, it's even more exciting now, he said, adding that when he first joined the Navy, he trained on coastal patrol craft, but the Navy of today has modern assets like frigates, submarines and even helicopters. For Senior Warrant Officer (SWO) Choong Keng On, he was deployed to Afghanistan for over nine months from 2010 to 2011. A detachment Sergeant-Major, he operated the weapon-locating radar to provide early warning of rocket attacks. I got to experience what it feels like in a real operation, said the 51-year-old who will be promoted to the pinnacle rank of Chief Warrant Officer. He appreciates the opportunities given to him by the SAF, and wants to pay it forward by grooming the next generation of warrant officers and specialists. I will now focus on the people under me in my formation, to develop their core skills and competency, said the Commanding Officer of Artillery Vocation Training School. NSmen promoted Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) also received their certificates of promotion. One of them was Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) (NS) Ng Tian Chong, Commander of 26th Singapore Infantry Brigade, who will be promoted to the rank of Colonel. Despite having to juggle heavy family and work commitments, the father of five sees national defence as a priority. This stems from his experience working in Indonesia in 1998, where he witnessed riots and political upheaval when the then-President Suharto was forced to step down. Said the 50-year-old managing director with Hewlett Packard: It strengthened my belief that we don't take things for granted, and we really have to protect what we have here in Singapore.