S’PORE, VIETNAM IN INAUGURAL JOINT MEDICAL MISSION
24 personnel from SAF Medical Corps conduct the first Joint Medical Mission with Vietnam People's Army in Vinh Phuc province, Vietnam.
24 Apr 2015, 1130 hours (GMT +8)
More than 700 soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Singapore Guards (3 Gds), and the 2nd Battalion, Royal Brunei Land Forces (2 RBLF) took part in Exercise Maju Bersama from 13 to 24 Apr, in Brunei. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the bilateral exercise which started in 1995, and underscores the close and long-standing defence ties between Singapore and Brunei. During the exercise, the troops carried out a series of jungle warfare missions that included assault, ambush, as well as search and destroy. The Guardsmen operated as part of the Bruneian battalion. For the final mission, a platoon from 2 RBLF was attached to the Singapore troops. Such training enabled both armies to enhance their interoperability. Said Captain (CPT) Nadzri Hussan, Officer Commanding of Alpha Company, 3 Gds: We were able to understand from the Bruneians how their company do their ambushes, and how their battalion as a whole give their orders to the companies. Newly-appointed Second Minister for Defence Lui Tuck Yew and Bruneian Deputy Minister of Defence Dato Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat visited the troops participating in Exercise Maju Bersama on 23 Apr.
23 Apr 2015, 1755 hours (GMT +8)
PIONEER looks back at how the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, built up the country’s defence. When Singapore was thrust into independence in 1965, Mr Lee was acutely aware of the vulnerability of our tiny island-state. Among his pressing concerns was the security of the fledgling nation that had just been separated from Malaysia. Then, Singapore faced the danger of attacks due to Indonesia's armed campaign of Konfrontasi. Suddenly, we're on our own. We have to defend ourselves… You have to build an army, navy, air force, control and command systems, early warning…in the sky and so on, Mr Lee recounted during an interview with the International Herald Tribune in 2007. With the impending withdrawal of the British troops by 1975 (which was eventually brought forward to 1971), there was an urgent need to shore up a fragile defence that had only two infantry battalions. Mr Lee asked the late Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Minister for the Interior and Defence, to build up the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). As Prime Minister then, Mr Lee personally sought foreign assistance to kick-start the process. Aware that building a large regular army would strain Singapore's limited manpower and financial resources, he introduced National Service (NS) in 1967. I wanted the defence plan to aim at mobilising as large a part of the population as possible, in order to galvanise the people in their own defence while they had this strong feeling of patriotism as a result of their recent experiences, Mr Lee wrote in his memoirs From Third World to First. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in his eulogy that his father had personally persuaded parents to entrust their sons to the SAF. He succeeded, first because he led by example. His two sons did NS just like every Singaporean son... Secondly, people trusted Mr Lee, and believed in the Singapore cause. Therefore today, we sleep peacefully at night - confident that we are well protected. In 1968, Britain threw Singapore a bombshell when it announced that its troops would be withdrawn four years earlier than planned. Singapore was not ready for self-defence; its first batch of 900 national servicemen was still in training. But Mr Lee's strong ties with members of the British government helped to delay the withdrawal of their troops to late 1971, buying Singapore an extra nine months to beef up its defence with an Air Force and Navy. Over the years, Mr Lee also tapped on his friendships with other world leaders to secure training space for the SAF in Brunei, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. To attract the best talents to the SAF, Mr Lee mooted the SAF Overseas Scholarship scheme in 1971, which Dr Goh refined. He explained in his memoirs: Without a yearly intake of about 10 of our best students, the SAF would have the military hardware but without the brain power to use them to best advantage. The scheme was successful in attracting the best students over the years. Mr Lee cited four SAF scholars who, having risen to senior positions, entered politics and later became cabinet ministers: PM Lee, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, and former Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo. Continued concern Despite decades of peace and security, Mr Lee continued to believe that a strong SAF was critical for Singapore's continued survival. From the day we started, I knew that we needed a strong SAF and I believe that still remains today. Without a strong SAF, there is no economic future, there is no security, Mr Lee told SAF officers at the Temasek Society's 30th anniversary dinner dialogue in 2012. In his twilight years, Mr Lee wrote books so that the new generation of Singaporeans could learn from his experience. My abiding concern for Singapore arises from my belief that the younger generation, especially those below 35, had never seen the harsh economic conditions. They therefore do not know the threats we face from neighbouring countries, he wrote in Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going. He passed away on 23 Mar at the age of 91. We thank Mr Lee for building the nation. Your legacy will be remembered for generations to come.
23 Apr 2015, 1000 hours (GMT +8)
What do you do when Dad's a Sword-of-Honour (SOH) winner in Officer Cadet School (OCS)? Get one of your own to match his, of course! I don't think you guys can get another Sword of Honour like your dad was a running joke in the Ng household. Mrs Ng issued this soft challenge for the boys to replicate their father Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) (NS) Ng Tian Chong's achievement in 1985. But the joke became a reality when, 28 years later, Lieutenant (LTA) Russell Ng graduated from OCS with top honours on 20 Jul 2014 and received his very own SOH too. All in the genes The eldest of five, LTA Ng certainly has a lot to live up to. Since receiving the SOH from President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who was then the Education Minister, SLTC (NS) Ng has risen through the ranks to become Commander of 26th Singapore Infantry Brigade in the 2nd People's Defence Force. The 50-year-old Managing Director of Hewlett-Packard South East Asia, Taiwan Hong Kong, has always been interested in all things military. He has even gone the extra mile to serve beyond his statutory age ceiling as a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteer. As you grow older and more mature, NS takes on a different meaning. It becomes more significant and meaningful, especially after you begin to have kids, run a business and travel overseas a lot. You begin to appreciate what Singapore has, explained SLTC (NS) Ng of his commitment to NS. An early start SLTC (NS) Ng's passion for national defence has certainly shaped LTA Ng's NS experience, as well as their relationship. LTA Ng revealed that Dad was the reason he joined the National Cadet Corps (NCC) (Land) in secondary school. The funny thing was that I didn't choose to go… He was extremely chubby before he joined NCC! SLTC (NS) Ng chipped in excitedly. Yes, I was extremely chubby, and my dad wanted me to lose weight, LTA Ng conceded. So he thought, what better way than to join NCC, and put my name down. And all of a sudden, I'm in NCC! But the 23-year-old is by no means living in his father's shadow, and is holding his own as a Platoon Commander in the 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment. In OCS, I was one of the few selected to join the motorised infantry batch. It was a new outfit and very unfamiliar to me - my dad and friends were all in infantry. But I maintained a positive outlook and enjoyed my time there, he said earnestly. Witnessing LTA Ng's commissioning was definitely one of the proudest moments for SLTC (NS) Ng, who attended the parade in his No.1 uniform. On donning his uniform, SLTC Ng explained that it's very symbolic and meaningful since I'm still in service. He added happily: Of course I was very proud. To see Russell graduating from OCS and to have encouraged him through the nine months and finally (getting to) pin on the epaulette, it's a very memorable process. What do you do when Dad's a Sword-of-Honour (SOH) winner in Officer Cadet School (OCS)? Get one of your own to match his, of course! My famous father But having a prominent dad can have its inconveniences - just ask the kids of footballer David Beckham, who are reportedly embarrassed about being seen at school with their famous father. It was quite awkward when my dad came to OCS, said LTA Ng. SLTC (NS) Ng is a member of the OCS NS Advisory Board and gives talks to graduating cadets about their NS obligations beyond the two years. I called out to him 'Hey, Dad!' and Colonel Seet (Uei Lim, Commander OCS) turned around and asked: 'Are you supposed to be calling him 'Dad', or 'Sir'?' he recalled with a chuckle. With two younger brothers aged 19 and 13 who will serve NS when the time comes, what advice does he have for them? I would share with them what my dad imparted to me; he always told me that it doesn't matter whether you take on a leadership role or not, the most important thing is to be positive, said LTA Ng. His father added: Any role is fine as long as you're contributing. There's no pressure and I don't expect them to have similar leadership roles. I just want them to participate and play a role in NS.
22 Apr 2015, 1750 hours (GMT +8)
I think it's a great way to give back to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). They've been great to my family, and I also get to impart knowledge and share my experience with the men. This was what made Captain (CPT) (NS) Yusni Bin Hassan extend his service for two years. When asked what he liked most about being in the SAF, he shared that he had a heart for his men who came from less-than-fortunate families and it made him glad that he could dish out advice or channel them to various avenues available in the SAF, in order to guide them back onto the right path. As a flight steward with the Singapore Airlines and a father of three, CPT (NS) Yusni managed to juggle his family commitments, National Service (NS) duties and work flawlessly, and he owed it all to good time management. I'm a morning person so I wake up and run, send my sons to school and wife to work, go to the market and find the time to help the kids with school work when they come back, explained the Senior Assessor at the Defence Psychology Department. Even when I come home from work, I will make it a point to spend time with my sons after some rest, to take them out for a run. I also take this time to share my NS experiences with my sons. CPT (NS) Yusni was among the 168 outgoing Key Appointment Holders, ROVERS and Volunteers whose contributions towards NS were recognised at an appreciation dinner held at the Flower Field Hall at Gardens by the Bay on 21 Apr. ROVERS are Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) who serve beyond their NS training cycle, but are still within their statutory age ceilings (40 years of age for Warrant Officers and Specialists, and 50, for Officers). Volunteers are NSmen who serve beyond their statutory age ceilings. Speaking at the ceremony, Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Perry Lim expressed gratitude towards the recipients who have served the nation above and beyond the call of duty. Noting that Singapore was a country built upon the sacrifices of its pioneers and the continued hard work of successive generations, he said: It is your commitment, dedication and outstanding service to our nation that has helped Singapore to not just survive but thrive all these years. MG Lim also thanked the spouses, families and employers for their patience and support towards the national servicemen and women. For CPT (NS) Andy Foo, it was a sense of duty to ensure proper handover to his understudy that made him extend his service as with the Logistics Staff Officer of 606 Squadron for one year. He also found his NS duties especially meaningful as he saw how policymaking affected the men on the ground. We see the implications and outcomes of decision making and drawer plans, which is why we find purpose in what we do. It's not just paperwork. The business manager of semi-conductor firm Pinpointek Corporation was also grateful to his company and boss in allowing him to join the ROVERS scheme. They (my company) see this as an important part that I play in the nation. When I'm in camp, I don't get interrupted by my civilian roles and this allows me to concentrate on my duties during my In-Camp Training. Extending his service meant sacrifices at home, but the 44-year-old sees it as a good learning platform for his two children, especially for his son. Each time I go for ICT, it's a thrill for him to see daddy take out his field pack and wear his uniform. When asked what advice he would give to his son about NS, CPT (NS) Foo said: The main thing I would tell him is that nobody owes us the defence of our nation, it is up to our own people to safeguard what we find precious here and what we call home. He also had words of advice for those thinking of extending their service. If you find meaning in what you do, it is very natural to want to continue the good work that you started and not see it go to waste. So volunteering beyond your liability gives you the experience and opportunity to do that, and to see through what you have started and finish off well. The ceremony was attended by spouses and families of the national servicemen and women, as well as senior SAF officers.
21 Apr 2015, 2040 hours (GMT +8)
This year's Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP) has broken new ground by boldly going where no wheeled vehicle has gone before. With the aid of 3D printing technology, a group of students designed an eight-legged walking robot. The robot might eventually end up helping soldiers transport heavy weapons and even act as a mobile communications relay to transmit data from remote locations. Explaining the design, NUS High School of Mathematics and Science student Lee Jia Hern, 17, said: Leg mechanisms are more stable than wheeled designs in uneven terrain. He is part of a four-member team which also comprises students from National Junior College and Raffles Institution. The team took about six months to come up with their working model named 3D Printed Biomimetic Model under the Research@YDSP mentorship programme. These are things we don't learn in school and I'm glad for this experience, said team-member Kingston Kuan, 17, also from NUS High School. We were made to think out of the box and, along the way, we met with challenges which we had to think of ways to overcome, said team-member Sharon Tan, 17, from National Junior College. For example, the team had initially designed a two-legged mechanism but soon found that more legs gave more stability and utility. They ended up with an eight-legged design with rounded feet so that objects on the ground would not catch the robot's legs. Speaking at the YDSP Congress held at Orchard Hotel on 21 Apr, Minister of State for Defence Dr Maliki Bin Osman said: Without our defence engineers and scientists working quietly behind the scenes, the SAF would not be what it is today. The work of our defence engineers is never complete. Bigger challenges await, and we have given YDSP participants the opportunity to explore them during the Science and Technology Camps, and research projects. Dr Maliki also presented 30 YDSP Scholarships to outstanding students and another 70 academic awards to students for excellence in Physics and Mathematics. This year's YDSP activities also included three camps that introduced students to 3D printing technology and Space. Students at the week-long 3D printing camp had the chance to assemble their own 3D printers to use in the final challenge of designing an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The judges eventually picked a cylindrically-shaped design that stacked two rotor blades on top of one other as the winner. One of unique features of our design is the use of collective-pitch which changes the angle of the (rotor) blades to manoeuvre the UAV, said Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student Mudit Mishra of his group's simple but effective design. The group of four 16-year-olds Hwa Chong Institution's Peng Yanjia and Richard Xiong, as well as Victoria School's Shah Dhruv Nilesh. Guiding the students in their projects were experienced mentors from Singapore's defence technology ecosystem like Mr Clarence Tan. The 32-year-old, who guided the team working on the walking robot project, said: It's about guiding the students and sharing our insights from working in the defence engineering community. It's fulfilling for me to help the students see how engineering (knowledge) can be used to help the country maintain a strong defence, said the engineer who works for the Defence Science Technology Agency's Land Systems Programme Centre. At the end of the day, we hope to inspire them to want to take up bigger roles in defence engineering.
20 Apr 2015, 0940 hours (GMT +8)
A delegation of 24 men and women from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Medical Corps conducted the first Joint Medical Mission with the Vietnam People's Army (VPA) in Vinh Phuc province, Hanoi, from 15 to 18 Apr. As the first collaboration between the two militaries, the Joint Medical Mission involves doctors, dentists, and other health-care professionals working together to set up a clinic to provide the villagers of Vinh Phuc province with primary health care, dental care, ophthalmology, and optometry services. Chief of Medical Corps Rear-Admiral (RADM) (Dr) Kang Wee Lee co-officiated at the opening ceremony of the SAF-VPA Joint Medical Mission on 15 Apr with the Director General of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence's Military Medicine Department, Major-General (MG) Vu Quoc Binh. Speaking at the ceremony, RADM (Dr) Kang said: As fellow ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) members, Singapore and Vietnam have always shared friendly bilateral relations and seek ways for mutual cooperation. The SAF Medical Corps have always valued opportunities for mutual learning and professional interactions in the domain of military medicine, and we are indeed very pleased to partner the VPA in this Joint Medical Mission. He outlined the three main thrusts of the cooperation between the two militaries as: firstly, professional exchanges in the domain of biodefence and bio-surveillance; secondly, sharing of experience in the area of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and peacekeeping operations; and thirdly, the conduct of a joint medical mission between the two military medical services. During the mission, the combined SAF and VPA medical teams treated about 3,100 Vietnamese from the Vinh Phuc province. One of the challenges faced by the SAF team was language. Said Military Expert 1 (ME1) Nicholas Choy, an optometry medic: Not being able to speak Vietnamese meant that communication was a problem… However, we adapted to the situation – learning a bit of Vietnamese - and we were able to cope with the difficulty. He described the joint mission as an eye-opening experience. Mr Edmund Lim, an optometrist from the SAF Military Medicine Institute Vision Performance Centre, found the joint mission a fulfilling one in spite of the difficulties faced. He said: The difficulties are all easily overcome when we see the smile on the faces of the Vietnamese whom we have helped. It's all worth it. Team Leader, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (Dr) Adrian Tan said the mission went extremely well, adding that the two medical teams had come together and overcome language and cultural barriers to provide the best possible medical care to the local community. He added: I am happy to see that my team, together with their Vietnamese counterparts, has worked extremely well together. The joint medical mission concluded with a handing over and taking over ceremony of the surplus medical supplies on the morning of 19 Apr.
18 Apr 2015, 2315 hours (GMT +8)
Second chances do not come by easily. But 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Muhammad Firdhaus bin Rezwan knows that, through sheer determination, one can indeed find second chances in life. The 23-year-old was part of the obese company when he started Basic Military Training (BMT) in August 2013. Through motivation and discipline, he eventually lost the weight and even made it to Officer Cadet School (OCS). Unfortunately, two months into training, he sustained a knee injury and had to be taken out of course in early 2014. Undeterred, he underwent physiotherapy and trained religiously for five months before being re-admitted into OCS in July last year. I was really disheartened when I dropped out (of course) the first time around. But my will to become an officer was strong because I wanted to sign on and serve the nation. So I told myself, 'alright, let's go for it again', said the Infantry Officer. Currently awaiting his confirmation as a Regular, 2LT Firdhaus did not find returning to OCS a burden, but in fact beneficial: It was actually good for me: I got to improve on my soldier fundamentals. 2LT Firdhaus was one of 301 officer cadets to be commissioned as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) on 18 Apr. Held at the SAFTI Military Institute, the Officer Cadet Course Commissioning Parade saw 240 Army and 61 Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) cadets receive their 2LT ranks in the presence of their families and friends. Mr S Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, 2nd Minister for Home Affairs and 2nd Minister for Trade and Industry, was the parade's reviewing officer. In his speech, he emphasised the importance of good leadership to the graduating cohort. He said: As their leader, you must lead by example, train them well and mould them into a cohesive fighting force …You must imbue your soldiers with a sense of mission, give your soldiers a higher purpose for serving, and inspire them to commit to the nation's defence. Show them that they have something precious worth defending and lead your soldiers with courage, conviction and a genuine heart. Only then will you be able to earn the respect of your soldiers. He added that generations of SAF officers had served the country with pride, honour and integrity, and urged the new officers to live up to this tradition of excellence and dedication. Second chances were also key to 2LT Timothy Kan's entry into OCS. The 24-year-old had completed Specialist Cadet School and was serving in the RSAF as an Air Defence Systems Specialist. An opportunity to work with senior commanders in Exercise Golden Sands 2014 inspired him to push himself further. I saw how the senior commanders exercised their leadership skills and ability to plan for tri-Service exercises. I felt that I wanted to do something in addition to my role as a junior specialist, and contribute more to the organisation, he said of his experience at the large-scale exercise. He was hopeful of the contributions he could make with this new role: With my knowledge and experience at the tactical level, I feel that I can contribute more at the strategic level. The Sword-of-Honour (SOH) recipient was also grateful to his course mates for their words of encouragement, in spite of his seniority. This award is not only for me, but my instructors and peers: without the instructors, this award would never have come to me. As for my peers, they were there for the past nine months to train with me, motivate me and push me along. Fellow SOH recipient 2LT S Kurumbaesun agreed, adding: It's because of the collective help and effort from my instructors, peers and parents along the way. It's a recognition of their efforts in making me who I am today. For the 20-year-old Air Warfare Officer (C3 Radar), the parade was special not only to him, but to his father, Master Warrant (MWO) Sathiamoorthy as well. Having served in the RSAF for about 30 years, MWO Sathiamoorthy, Command Chief of Divisional Air Defence Group, was finally pinning the hard-earned epaulette on his son. Being a soldier and seeing his son receiving the SOH and donning the epaulette, it's a very proud moment for him. He told me that I must always remain humble because I got this award from so many other people's help, said 2LT Kurumbaesun. Like 2LT Firdhaus and 2LT Kan, LTA Kadence Ang also found her second chance in the SAF. The 24-year-old Artillery Officer was always interested in a career in the SAF, but did not feel ready until after she had completed her degree in business marketing. It's my childhood ambition, but I didn't have the courage to sign on when I was younger. After working outside for a while…I decided to sign on because I wanted a career that was purposeful, and I'll be able to contribute to this country, she said. As a former national team soccer player, she even gave up competitive soccer to prevent injuries that could hinder her work. Not only has LTA Ang's family been very supportive, signing on and going to OCS have also helped improve her relationship with her father. She explained: In the past, we didn't have much to talk about. But he's very passionate about the army, so now we have a lot of things to talk about. He wants to hear about all the exciting things that happen in my week. As for 2LT Lucas Spykerman, National Service (NS) provided him with a precious second chance to discover his Singaporean roots. The 20-year-old had been living in England and subsequently New Zealand from the age of two, and only returned two weeks before enlisting into NS. The best word was 'sian' (fed up), he joked at the memory of returning to Singapore for NS. I honestly didn't know what to expect. I was nervous because I wasn't used to the culture or environment here, and I didn't know many people. However, good commanders in BMT turned his life and experience around. My platoon commander and platoon sergeant played a huge role in motivating me, because they saw how unmotivated I was when I first came in. I could do all the running and stuff, but beyond that, I wasn't willing to put myself out there. They helped to tap into whatever potential they saw (and) believed in me, he said. The Infantry Officer also revealed that his platoon commander was the reason he went to OCS. I wasn't interested in becoming an officer at the beginning, he admitted, but my platoon commander sat me down and told me I had a chance to impact people's lives and influence them for the better. This changed my mind. I saw how much he impacted me, and so I wanted to help others who are in my situation (by sharing) my own experience. After spending 38 weeks training closely with his course mates, 2LT Spykerman has gained new knowledge of his Singaporean identity: Before this, I wasn't really connected to Singapore in any way, but now I feel a sense of belonging here, especially now that I've got all my buddies with me.
17 Apr 2015, 1000 hours (GMT +8)
Man's best friend has recently been given a complete overhaul - meet BigDog and his family. At 110kg, BigDog is roughly triple the weight of a typical military German Shepherd or Belgian Shepherd. In place of fur, it has a hard mechanical exterior. And where dogs have muscles, BigDog has hydraulics. It's not exactly cute and fluffy, but this electronically powered and hydraulically actuated robo-dog may not be all that different from its furry brethren. Google, under its robotics subsidiary Boston Dynamics, has produced a whole family of quadruped robots (which BigDog is a part of) that can run, climb stairs, and even jog next to its owners or operators. Evolution of the robo-dog In 2005, BigDog was unveiled by Boston Dynamics in collaboration with Foster-Miller, the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Harvard University Concord Field Station. Designed as a robotic pack mule to accompany soldiers in terrain too tough for conventional vehicles, BigDog stands at 0.76m tall and 0.91m long. It is powered by a 15-horsepower go-kart engine which operates at over 9,000rpm. The engine powers a hydraulic pump which in turn drives the hydraulic leg actuators. Each of Bigdog's four legs has four actuators - two for the hip joint, and one each for the knee and ankle joints. With this power plant, BigDog is capable of traversing difficult terrain, running at 6.4 kmh, carrying 150kg, and climbing a 35-degree incline. In the place of eyes and ears, BigDog has approximately 50 sensors. These measure a multitude of factors such as the attitude and acceleration of its body; the motion and force of joint actuators; as well as the engine speed, temperature and hydraulic pressure of the internal engine. These sensors feed information to the onboard computer, which performs a variety of functions such as control, data communication, communications, and electric power distribution. To control BigDog, the operator wears a Vest Operator Control Unit (OCU), which comprises a Head Mounted Display and an OCU computer on the vest. The operator can input controls on a steering controller which is then transmitted to BigDog over a 900 MHz radio. The operator also has the option of wearing retro-reflective markers, allowing BigDog to use its light detecting and ranging component to detect the operator and follow autonomously at a distance without needing control inputs. The bigger brother Recently, an even more militarised and rugged version of BigDog known as the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) was put to the test at the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, a military multilateral training event featuring 22 nations and about 25,000 personnel. Compared to BigDog, the LS3 has greater operational tolerances - withstanding greater temperature ranges as well as wetter and dirtier environments - and has the ability to carry up to 180kg of equipment. To allow soldiers to focus more on their mission at hand, the LS3 has been programmed to recognise voice commands from its operator. For example, the command engine on activates LS3, while the command follow tight orders LS3 to follow the same path that its operator takes. At RIMPAC 2014, an LS3 unit had been attached to the United States (US) Marines from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment at the Kahuku Training Area. Affectionately nicknamed Cujo by the company, the LS3 was used by the Marines to conduct resupply missions to various platoons in terrain that is difficult to reach by all-terrain vehicles. I'd say 70 to 80 percent of the terrain we go through, it can go through, said Lance Corporal Brandon Dieckmann, one of Cujo's operators. There are times when it is going to fall over, but most of the time it can self-right and get back up on its own. I thought it was going to be stumbling around and losing its footing, but it's actually proven to be pretty reliable and pretty rugged (although) it has a bit of a problem negotiating obliques and contours of hills, he added. I was surprised how well it works. While these robo-dogs are still in the experimental stage, don't be surprised if mechanised mutts soon become a soldier's best friend.
14 Apr 2015, 1000 hours (GMT +8)
The upcoming Temasek Club will offer officers and senior military experts a new and improved one-stop venue for recreation and interaction. Back in the good old days, Temasek Club used to be a popular wedding venue. Our officers were proud to hold their weddings at Temasek Club as it was a privilege, recalled Military Expert (ME) 7 Low Yong Joo. Today's wedding dinner is usually a huge celebration; the current club house is too small and old. With a new club house, our hope is that more officers will get married and mark their life's next milestone here, said the chairman of Temasek Club's Redevelopment Committee. Designed to hold cohesion events for SAF units, the club's focal point will be an upsized banquet hall that can accommodate 600 people. It is also suitable for formal functions such as military dining-in and weddings. This is just one of the many new features that Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officers, senior military experts and their families can enjoy at the new Temasek Club at Rifle Range Road. It will replace the current club house at Portsdown Road. Built in 1982, the old facility was designed to serve only 4,000, but the club now counts over 16,000 members. These include full-time national servicemen, as well as operationally ready national servicemen who hold key appointments. A new and bigger club house is clearly needed. Sports will be a top draw at the new Temasek Club. It will house the biggest public bowling centre in Singapore. The 38-lane facility, developed by the Singapore Bowling Federation, will also be the training base for our national keglers. Located near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the club house is a convenient stop for members who wish to cycle, jog or hike at the existing nature trails. Fitness buffs can work out in a lifestyle gym which offers popular group exercises such as spinning and zumba. They can also make use of sports facilities such as the 50-metre pool with water play features for kids, as well as futsal and tennis courts. Other facilities include a pre-school, guest houses, and a range of food and beverage (FB) outlets.
13 Apr 2015, 1615 hours (GMT +8)
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will step up its efforts to foster stronger military-military and civil-military collaboration to respond more effectively to disasters. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said this at the opening ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) Global Forum on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination on 13 Apr. Held at Changi Command and Control Centre, the three-day forum is co-hosted by Singapore and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), and attended by some 100 delegates from more than 25 countries. The WHS Global Forum will see discussions on ways to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of civil-military disaster relief responses and operations at the national, regional and international levels. It will also shape the agenda of the UN World Humanitarian Summit, which will be held in Istanbul in May 2016. In his keynote address, Dr Ng said that in recent years, the SAF had been focusing on evolving a military doctrine for non-traditional security threats, scoping operations and maximising efforts. This was stemmed from the fact that there was no clearly defined military doctrine for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts, and was thus one of the reasons for Singapore hosting the Global Forum. He suggested three broad parameters to shape the forum discussions: One of which was that militaries should not replicate what civilian organisations can do better. A simple example - it makes little financial sense for military aircraft and ships to transport items like blankets and even food from developed countries to areas of need, said Dr Ng. He added that civilian agencies were more equipped to buy necessities and distribute them, as they had greater purchasing power. Dr Ng also noted that militaries should confine themselves to critical windows of need while civilian agencies gear up to take over, and that militaries will need to build up information hubs and network with civilian organisations even before disasters happen. To this effect, the SAF has been increasing its engagement with agencies such as the Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief, both of which have been playing an increasing role in regional disaster relief efforts. At the regional level, Singapore has set up the Information Fusion Centre and the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre (RHCC). The former currently hosts International Liaison Officers from 15 countries to collect maritime information and feed them to all their partners, while the latter works closely with key stakeholders like UN OCHA and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre on Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) to enhance civil-military coordination in disaster regions. The SAF has also participated in its fair share of HADR missions, with 20 deployments within the last decade, said Dr Ng. The largest relief effort was for the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, where the SAF deployed 1,500 personnel, three Landing Ships Tank, 12 helicopters and eight transport and utility aircraft. Recent efforts include flood relief efforts in Kelantan, Malaysia and fire-fighting operations in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In response to the increase in military engagements for HADR missions, Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang noted that militaries have standing forces and unique capabilities and assets that can deploy rapidly in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. These are often used to support the initial response while national authorities and humanitarian agencies identify needs and establish longer-term and more structured operations, said ASG Kang. This was also the reason that having strong civilian-military coordination was important, she added. Moving forward, a series of workshops will be held at the Changi Command and Control Centre. These include the introductory session of the Regional Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific, and the biennial ASEAN Regional Forum Disaster Relief Exercise. Dr Ng concluded his speech by saying that the use of technology must be leveraged to enable better information sharing and build closer networks between civil and military players for a more effective disaster relief response. For instance, the RHCC's OPERA Command and Control Information System can take data from a wide range of sources, fuse it together and disseminate it to partner militaries and civilian organisations like OCHA and AHA to enable more effective relief efforts. Partnerships are key, and these will bring knowledge, capacity and expertise to bear on the enormous challenges at hand, he said.
11 Apr 2015, 2140 hours (GMT +8)
About 5,000 Singaporeans who are based in Shanghai paid tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Republic's founding Prime Minister, at Singapore Day on 11 Apr. A day-long event held in major cities over the world to connect overseas Singaporeans, this year's edition of Singapore Day in China included a special tribute to Mr Lee, who passed away about three weeks ago. In his address, Guest-of-honour Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: We would not be gathered here today, as Singaporeans, if not for Mr Lee and our pioneers. Even with his passing, Mr Lee brought Singaporeans together, in Singapore and also overseas. Mr Teo led the crowd to observe a minute of silence for Mr Lee. During an interview with the media, Mr Teo added that despite the strong outpouring of emotions, he was glad to see that there was a strong positive mood, to want to move ahead - to live by the values laid down by Mr Lee and the founding fathers. Singaporeans penned tribute messages to Mr Lee in an exhibition tent which featured photo montages of his life and contributions to Singapore. One of Mr Lee's legacies was to introduce National Service (NS) - a cornerstone of Singapore's defence and nation-building efforts. At the Ministry of Defence's (MINDEF's) booth, Singaporeans found out more about pioneers who, like Mr Lee, helped to build up the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The stories of these pioneer servicemen, like the legendary Captain (CPT) (Ret) Tiger Hong Seng Mak, were originally curated for the SAF50 exhibition held in February at VivoCity to mark the SAF's 50th anniversary this year. MINDEF brought part of the exhibits to Shanghai. It brought back fond memories for Lance Corporal (LCP) (Ret) Tan Choo Wah, 65, who enlisted in 1968. I remember 'Tiger' Hong, who owned the parade square. Training was tougher then, but we got through it, said the 65-year-old who was from the SAF's pioneer batch of combat engineers. Singaporeans also found out about the new Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) format through a fitness challenge. It attracted not just men, but also women and children. Each participant had to complete as many push-ups or sit-ups as they could in one minute. CPT (NS) Jason Tay, 39, gave thumbs up for the new IPPT format, as well as the SAF's slew of new facilities like the Multi-Mission Range Complex which allows soldiers to conduct day and night live-firing indoor in all weather conditions. The new IPPT is easier to train for, and the new range (MMRC) is more efficient; these are definitely great steps forward, said the artillery officer who visited the MINDEF booth to update himself on the latest developments in the SAF. Parents also brought their children to the MINDEF booth to find out more about today's NS and Basic Military Training. Ms Sherlyn Lim, 39, described the bunk and military equipment showcase as a good preview. It mentally prepares my son for what to expect in three years' time when he enlists for NS, she said. Earlier in the day, Mr Teo met with Shanghai Party Secretary Han Zheng as part of his six-day visit to China. He also visited sailors, midshipmen and senior military expert trainees on board Landing Ship Tank (LST) RSS Resolution. The ship was docked at Shanghai's Wu Song Naval Base for a port call as part of the midshipmen's training, and to network with their Chinese counterparts. Such port calls strengthen the defence ties of the Republic of Singapore Navy and the host navies.
08 Apr 2015, 1000 hours (GMT +8)
In the second of our three-part series, Republic of Singapore Air Force pioneer Colonel (COL) (Ret) Frank Singam, 64, tells us what it's like to be a Black Knight. He was in Singapore's very first Black Knights team in 1974, and headed the aerobatics team in 1977 and 1978. WHAT I MISS MOST ABOUT THE SAF The camaraderie fostered when we were developing the Air Force. Brigadier-General (Ret) Michael Teo, COL (Ret) Mark Wong and I were the three pioneer F-5 pilots. We had to work very hard to train up the other pilots and ensure that they were operationally capable in time for the planes coming in. A lot of trust was involved; you had to trust your fellow wingmen, leaders, technical people, air traffic controllers and fighter controllers. In retrospect, that was the most fun I had. WHAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW After a show, your hands are tired from grabbing the stick and throttle too hard because of the sheer excitement that people are watching you! Sometimes while flying, you'll hear a voice of one of the other Black Knight pilots (over the comms) and know that someone is a little stressed. We'll then quietly say, Ease it up a little bit, so that he can get back into formation. Humorous conversations? No time for that, dear! It was all work and focus! MY BEST BLACK KNIGHT MEMORY The SAF Day flypast in 1975, which the late Dr Goh Keng Swee, then-Defence Minister, attended. We had to fly in from behind the crowd and be precisely over Dr Goh just as he was sitting down. And we did it. As he sat down, our planes came roaring in right over his head! Everyone talked about the broad smile he had on his face.