Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen presented defence scholarships to 43 recipients at a ceremony held at the Istana on 29 Jul. These were: the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Scholarship, presented to 10 recipients; SAF Merit Scholarship, presented to 20 recipients; and Defence Merit Scholarship, presented to 13 recipients.
In his speech, Dr Ng spoke of the challenging careers that the scholars would have ahead of them, saying: This is not a routine desk-job career that you have signed up for. An SAF career will stretch you and test you.
But if they overcame the challenges, the scholars would have a meaningful career and make a large impact on society. He said: I do not think this wide impact of SAF scholars on society at large is a matter of coincidence, because the military is inherently an ideal ground to test and groom leaders.
Dr Ng urged the scholars to win the respect of the men and women you lead, before they will charge for you. Effete or uncaring leadership is quickly shown up.
He added: Those who have gone on this path before you have blazed a trail and set high standards that you must now aspire to…If each generation shows the same unwavering determination to take up the duty of defending Singapore, I am confident that we will be able to confront uncertainties with courage and resilience, and emerge stronger as a nation.
Introduced in 1971, the prestigious SAF Scholarship, formerly known as SAF Overseas Scholarship, is second only to the President's Scholarship.
Recipient of the SAF Scholarship, Army Officer Cadet (OCT) Jeremiah Choo Yih Shin, is excited about the opportunities that the scholarship will offer him. He said: I feel that taking up a leadership position in the SAF comes with a lot of responsibility, but it will really empower me to make a difference to the lives of people, especially National Servicemen.
OCT Goh Si Ying, SAF Merit Scholarship (Women) recipient who is training to be a Ground Based Air Defence officer in the Republic of Air Force, also looks forward to effecting change. I would be able to inspire the men I lead, she said. I really wish the day will come when someone walks up to me and tells me, 'I've made it so far because of you.'…Making a difference in the lives of my men is something that I aspire to do.
Fellow SAF Merit Scholarship (Combat) recipient Second Lieutenant (2LT) Surya Padmanabha Bhat, a Naval Officer, feels that taking up the scholarship will allow him to grow and mature as an individual and as a leader. He said the scholarship offered him a chance and the means to further his growth as a young adult: Firstly, by allowing me to gain exposure in an overseas university, where the experience and demands will temper me, and secondly, by allowing me to take up greater responsibilities and affect more meaningful improvements for my charges.
For Defence Merit Scholar Tay Jing Yi, she found that the core values of the SAF were aligned with hers, hence taking up the scholarship was a natural choice. She said: I believe that, if I were to take up a scholarship, there has to be meaning in it, and I must agree with what the organisation is doing; (which) I completely do when it comes to the Defence Merit Scholarship.
Starting out at the lowest level in the military, Ignatius Wang, 25, rose to become Director of Music of the SAF Ceremonial Band, and is one of the youngest band directors in the history of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
For someone who was dealt a poor hand - he grew up in a single-parent family with no means to give him an education in music - he has done extremely well.
In 2012, Military Expert 4 (ME4) Wang, a tourism diploma holder, received an SAF scholarship to study music at the famed Royal Marines School of Music in the United Kingdom.
His course mates were accomplished musicians and degree holders in their late 30s. But he held his own, and became the first foreigner to obtain a music degree from the institute, graduating with First Class Honours in Bachelor of Music in Professional Music Studies.
It was a big eye-opener, and a fantastic opportunity to study. But at the same time, it was stressful because I was not just representing the SAF, but the country as well, recalled ME4 Wang, who now leads about 30 musicians in the Band.
ME4 Wang was among the 125 SAF personnel - 15 from the Army, 24 from the Navy, 72 from the Air Force, and 14 from Joint - who were appointed as Senior Military Experts in a ceremony at SAFTI Military Institute on 28 Jul.
This was the largest graduating cohort since the first appointment ceremony in 2011.
The ceremony marked the completion of the Military Domain Experts Course (MDEC) which trains military experts in areas such as engineering, nursing, intelligence and military music.
ME4 Wang has performed in several high-profile events this year, such as the opening of the SEA Games, and the SAF Day Parade. He will also be performing in the upcoming National Day Parade.
On his role as a military musician, ME4 Wang said: The SAF has seen the importance of garnering support (for) National Service and the Armed Forces. The Band can be an important bridge between the military and the people.
In his speech, Minister of State for Defence Dr Maliki Bin Osman highlighted the importance of the deep expertise of military experts in readying the SAF to tackle security threats.
For instance, to overcome an impending manpower crunch the SAF is facing due to a declining birth rate, the Navy's military experts designed the new Littoral Mission Vessel such that it can be operated by a lean crew of only 23. Similar ships in other navies require twice the number of crew.
Dr Maliki urged the graduands to never stop learning, to continue to innovate and adapt for your missions.
ME4 Pang Kee Hwee, 42, who received the Sword of Honour for topping the cohort, is one such serviceman.
He joined the Air Force as a senior technician in 1993 after obtaining his diploma. Little did he know that his career would lead him to don the ME4 rank - the equivalent of a newly-commissioned officer.
Such a career path did not exist then. Nevertheless he gave his best, and studied part-time to obtain an advanced diploma, and later a degree, juggling his studies with his day job.
When I joined as a senior technician, I (knew) I would never be an officer, he recalled. But after the conversion to the Military Domain Expert Scheme, it actually gave me the opportunity to go (on) to (become) a senior military expert.
Now a Command Chief of 805 Squadron (SQN), he leads about 250 engineers to maintain the F-16 fighter jets, and G-550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
Being a senior military expert comes with greater responsibility, and I am looking forward to the challenges, he said.
ME4 David Mohan S/O Arumugan, 47, took a slightly different path, honing his skills through military and leadership courses in the SAF.
He joined the Navy with N-levels, but his combat abilities were top-notch, allowing him to rise through the ranks and take on higher appointments - from a gunner to a weapon system operator, then from a coxswain of a ship to a coxswain of a squadron today.
Going through a professional military course like the MDEC, he said, had allowed him to gain a better understanding of how his counterparts in the Army and Air Force work.
The knowledge will be useful when he assumes a bigger management role as a senior military expert in the future.
We might not be aware of how the three Services come together. Coming to this type of course, we could share and discuss some of (our own) doctrines at a deeper level, he said.
The newly-appointed Senior Military Experts will move on to assume command or staff appointments in their professional areas in the SAF.
In celebration of Singapore's Golden Jubilee, the Red Lions will be returning to the Padang for this year’s National Day Parade (NDP).
It is during the Prologue of the Integrated Show that the Red Lions will be executing their jump and making their much-anticipated entrance.
Flying in a Super Puma of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 126 Squadron, the six jumpers will exit the helicopter individually at 10,000 feet, and manoeuvre towards each other.
They will then link arms with each other and keep close, freefalling to a height of 5,000 feet, where they will turn outwards and track away, executing a bomb burst of trailing smoke.
At 4,000 feet, they will deploy their parachutes and glide downwards till they are set up for the landing circuit at 1,000 feet above ground, then take their turns to land, one by one, in the middle of the Padang.
The Padang has its own set of issues and challenges that we face, said Red Lions Team Leader Major (MAJ) Arnold Low. The wind condition will always be one of the biggest challenges. It can change in terms of the direction that it comes from, and also the velocity.
Other than that, there are obstacles that we face like the tower structures, the seating galleries, and the trees which we have to watch out for.
To overcome these challenges and put up a good and safe performance for the spectators at NDP 2015, the Red Lions have been undergoing a vigorous training schedule which includes sessions at iFly Singapore as well as using the Parachute Flight Simulator located at Pasir Ris Camp.
Using the vertical wind tunnel at iFly Singapore, the Red Lions practise the freefall segment of their performance by fine-tuning their body positioning as they freefall. Explaining that there are four stages of freefall - exit, freefall, canopy control, and landing - MAJ Low said: The wind tunnel comes into play during the second phase of freefall where we are able to fly our bodies better, and fine-tune our skillset.
It also allows us to gather together as a team and rehearse the manoeuvres that we are going to do during the NDP, and make sure that we know how each other flies his body.
The Parachute Flight Simulator, which the Red Lions have been using since April, is also essential to their mastering the freefall and ensuring that their performance goes off without a hitch. As MAJ Low explained: It puts us in a simulated and controlled environment that allows us to try various kinds of jumps in various kinds of environments… (and) to assess and react according to various kinds of malfunctions which we can input into the system.
He added: We know that we are a crowd favourite, and we don't want to disappoint the crowd… We are really looking forward to putting up a good show!
Photographer LTA (NS) Mark Teo will go to any length, depth and height to immortalise extreme sporting athletes in picture.
Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) Mark Teo is a bona fide storyteller. Watching him recount his harrowing experiences with animated hand gestures and dramatic sound effects, one can almost relive vicariously those terrifying moments.
He narrated an incident in Sri Lanka where he was attempting an underwater shoot at a surfing competition: I took a jet ski out and jumped into the sea with my camera. One wave crashes down on you, and by the time you come up for air, swoosh! another one is coming. I thought I was going to die!
With such a knack for recreating experiences, it is no wonder that the 32-year-old, who heads Mark Teo Photography, has a passion for telling stories by holding time still through his photos.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)'s Golden Jubilee commemoration reached a rousing highpoint with President Tony Tan Keng Yam joining SAF personnel and their families in the celebration.
At the SAF50@Istana event held on 26 Jul, President Tan interacted with Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs), Operationally-ready National Servicemen (NSmen), regulars, as well as SAF pioneers. He also spoke with the families of servicemen and women and thanked them for their support towards the SAF and National Service (NS).
About 21,000 visitors, including members of the public, attended the event at the Istana. The event featured exhibitions and activities highlighting the SAF's journey and growth over the last 50 years, as well as stories about the men and women who built up the armed forces.
Ms Jessie Lee was excited to bring the generations of soldiers in her family from across the Services together to the event. Her husband, Major (MAJ) (NS) Jeffery Lim, a Weapons System Officer in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), was a former regular while his father, MAJ (Ret) Richard Lim, was an infantry officer. MAJ (NS) Lim's younger brother, Corporal First Class (CFC) (NS) Desmond Lim, served his NS in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
The mother-of-two found the exhibitions beneficial to her children, particularly her four-year-old son.
It's especially important for the younger generation to understand how far we have come in 50 years; it's difficult for them to appreciate it without having gone through the hardships that the older generation went through. This opportunity enables them to appreciate what the older generation went through to build up the nation, said Ms Lee.
She added: My son will be going to NS in about 14 years; it's an early start but it sets the tone for him.
As for Ms Veni Ramasamy, the highlight of the event was not only to visit the Istana, but also to meet the colleagues of her husband, 121 Squadron Command Chief, 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) A. Kumareson.
Said Ms Veni: It's a very good feeling meeting his friends and colleagues. We felt a sense of community with the other families. The kids also feel very proud seeing Dad here.
She added: We support him all the way - the kids are usually at tuition on Sundays, but today we let them skip tuition to support him here.
A welcome sight at SAF50@Istana were the multi-generational military families who were there to celebrate with the members of the public.
Lieutenant (LTA) Julie Lim, a pilot trainee, was reminded of the open houses that her father, Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Lim Kok Kheng, used to take the family to.
Such events are what inspired me in the first place to join the force. When we were young we went to such open houses with our father and that's how we got to know the military culture and what he does in his work. The exhibition also gives the public and families of servicemen a better idea of what they do to defend the country, said the 21-year-old. She credited her father, a Super Puma pilot, for inspiring herself and her sister to follow in his footsteps. Younger sister Jessie Lim, 19, is currently an undergraduate under the Defence Merit Scholarhip.
I'm passing over the baton to them to continue the good work that has been done by our pioneers and even my generation, said SLTC Lim. Hopefully they can take the SAF to a higher level.
Corporal (CPL) (NS) Sadali Mawi was also heartened by the show of support by the public. It shows that our families are 100 percent behind people in the SAF and Singapore in general. The turnout is a good indication of the support that Singaporeans have for what we are doing.
The encouraging sight was especially precious to him, since both his parents and brother-in-law are in the military. Mum 2nd Warrant Officer (2WO) Saloma bte Johari is a Training Admin Supervisor in the SAF Personnel Hub, Dad 2WO (Ret) Mawi bin Mohd is currently an FB manager in Pasir Laba Camp, and brother-in-law Captain (CPT) Rudie Imran is a Staff Officer in 3rd Division.
Being in a military family has its pros, according to CPL (NS) Sadali. When it was my time to enlist, I was super prepared. I had been following them to the camps since I was a small kid, so I kind of knew what to expect. With that knowledge I was able to help my other NS friends as well.
His parents were also glad that he adapted well to NS. Said 2WO Saloma: He had been 'trained' from the very beginning on what to expect in the army.
2WO Mawi agreed: I knew he would be well taken care of by my colleagues from the whole SAF. They would keep him in check.
So it's not to say that if your parents are in the SAF you will have privileges, sometimes it's worse. There are eyes everywhere, joked CPL (NS) Sadali on the only con of being in a military family.
As for Mr Michael Sim, his two sailor children are living out the dream he had been unable to fulfil. As a child, he had developed a deep love for the army after hearing how an unidentified soldier had risked his life to shield his father during an air raid. Unfortunately, he received a full exemption when it was his turn to enlist.
Undaunted, he encouraged his children to consider a military career and contribute to national defence on his behalf. Today, eldest daughter CPT Marilyn Sim is an Assistant Operations Officer on board RSS Intrepid while her brother, Military Expert 1 Marven Sim is a Weapon Control System Operator on board RSS Supreme.
I was overwhelmed (with emotion) when my children told me they wanted to sign on, because I had been selling the idea to them. When my daughter stepped up, I said, 'Ok, that's my Hua Mulan. I couldn't serve, but you help me serve, he said, referencing the legendary Chinese heroine who took her father's place to fight in the war.
My son followed suit. He wanted to be committed (to defence), so he took up the scheme even before he began polytechnic. His third child is also keen to join the RSN after he completes his studies.
Mr Sim's very personal story of his relationship with the SAF won him second place in the SAF50 Story Contest. Having seen the developments made by the SAF over the years, he was happy to be part of the celebrations at the Istana.
This (50th anniversary) is a very big milestone for the SAF. It's about time we had something big to honour our people from the past and present, and hopefully in doing so, it will encourage the new generation to take on the role of defending the country, said Mr Sim.
With eight celebration sites around the Marina Bay area, more Singaporeans will be able to celebrate the country's 50th birthday together.
Spectators will be able to catch a live screening of the National Day Parade (NDP) at the Padang on giant LED screens that will be mounted at these sites, which include The Float @ Marina Bay; Marina Bay Sands event plaza; Marina Bay Sandssquare; The Promontory; Merlion Park; the Esplanade; the Singapore Flyer; and Marina Barrage.
At the same time, they will be able to soak in the atmosphere and get close to the action. These locations offer a great view of the aerial display, mobile column, presidential gun salute, and fireworks.
The largest site is The Float @ Marina Bay, where apre-parade show will be presented by community groups such as the People's Association (PA). About 700 choir and ukulele performers from the PA will lead the spectators to perform popular community songs.
A segment of the mobile column made up of 28 combat vehicles will also roll past The Float. Localcelebrities like Sheikh Haikel, Jack Neo, and the cast of the Ah Boys to Men movies will also put up a post-parade concert for spectators.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, who took a short ride on a Leopard 2SG tank as part of the mobile column and visited performers at a pre-parade show rehearsal earlier this afternoon at The Float, said: What we are trying to do - because Padang is (of) limited capacity - (is) to spread it out.
We're expecting 150,000 to 200,000 around the area. And I believe that we're on our way to really making everyone feel that this is something that all of us can participate in.
Colonel Frederick Choo, Chairman of Engagement, Celebrations, and Mobile Column, added: We felt that, this being a very special year, we needed to leverage on the collective spirit, and (have more) people come together and celebrate.
When over 200,000 Singaporeans come together in one location, the atmosphere and the spirit will be electrifying.
Around the Bay, street magicians, poi twirlers, drummers and dancers will put up roving performances.
The NDP organisers have developed a free mobile app, called Celebrate SG50!, to provide information about the many celebratory activities in the Marina Bay area.
During the finale of the parade, theapp will display flashing red and white lights. All Singaporeans around the Bay will be encouraged to raise their smartphones in the air to light up the skyline with red and white colours.
Meanwhile, the full-dress rehearsals of the NDP - also known as the NDP National Education (NE) Shows - are in full swing.
About 190 members of the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD), Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs (GPC-DFA), employers, educators as well as their family members are attending the third NDP NE Show on 25 Jul.
Before the show, Second Minister for Defence Lui Tuck Yew hosted them to an engagement session at the National Gallery.
For more information on NDP 2015, visit http://www.ndp.org.sg/ or download the Celebrate SG50! app.
Singapore is able to enjoy peace and hold its own as a young nation in the region because of its strong defence force, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
We have enjoyed peace because we have a strong SAF. Because our ability and our resolve to defend ourselves was never in doubt. And therefore, people took us seriously, respected us, and we could be friends and partners with our neighbours.
He was speaking to former and current Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) personnel at the SAF50 Dinner on 24 Jul.
Held at Pasir Laba Camp, the dinner was one of the highlights of the celebrations to mark the SAF's golden jubilee. One thousand SAF and MINDEF leadership, pioneers, in-service personnel and Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) were brought together to commemorate 50 years of the SAF giving strength to the nation.
As we celebrate the 50th year of the SAF, I salute all the past and current leaders of the SAF, the men and the women of Singapore who have contributed through your service and to support our nation. Thank you for being soldiers. Thank you for guarding and keeping Singapore safe, said PM Lee.
He also acknowledged the accomplishments of the pioneers in building up the SAF and reminded current and future generations of soldiers to hold fast to the values which the pioneers subscribed to.
The first generation of pioneers will be long retired, but their spirit must live on in all of us. And their values - the values of courage, of self-sacrifice of service to the nation - must be handed down from generation to generation, he noted.
Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng echoed PM Lee's appreciation of the SAF pioneers. Standing beside the SAF's first CDF, LG (Ret) Winston Choo, LG Ng expressed his gratitude to him and other pioneers for paving the way for the SAF.
(LG [Ret] Choo) has given me good counsel over the years. Foremost, I would like to thank our pioneers…who have laid a strong foundation for the SAF,” said LG Ng.
Their service in the initial years has safeguarded Singapore, and without their contributions, I don't think the SAF would be where we are today. And I say with all sincerity and gratitude that we stand on their shoulders in building the 3rd Generation SAF.
LG (Ret) Choo said that he as well as his fellow veterans were all very proud of what the SAF had become, 50 years on. The SAF has grown in leaps and bounds. Even at the time when I retired in 1992… we were very much recognized as a credible armed force. But I think what the SAF is today is beyond (just) recognition. We are second to none in the region.
Remembering our roots
Among the SAF pioneers at the dinner was Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (Ret) Clarence Contard Tan Kim Peng. While the SAF has grown much in the last five decades, he firmly believes that it is important for young soldiers to be aware of their roots.
If you want to move forward, you must know where you came from, said the 74-year-old, who played a key role in establishing the Commando unit in 1969 and training the first batch of Commandos. He was recently invited to give a talk to newly-graduated Commando officers.
The best (way) is to get this old hand to give them a talk. I talk to them about the beginning and how we started the unit... how hard it was to recruit people; (and) why they were willing to undergo such training.
And while soldiers now are more highly educated and therefore could take to training better and contribute more ideas, what has remained unchanged are the values and culture set by the pioneers, noted LTC (Ret) Tan.
(The Commandos today) are still able to maintain the Best Combat Unit (accolade) after so many years. The standards for training and discipline have been laid down and they are improving on it.
I'm proud of what it has become, because they have followed the tradition of the Commandos, which is the can-do attitude and determination.
Strength from the community
PM Lee also thanked the wider Singaporean community for supporting the SAF and National Service (NS) system.
Colonel (NS) Abu Bakar was one serviceman who was grateful to his family for standing by him.
Whenever you go for NS, you're away from home. But my wife and two daughters understand my passion and commitment, said the Commander of the 27th Singapore Infantry Brigade.
As the Managing Director of Singmarine Private Limited, he was also thankful that his employers' support had enabled him to manage both his work and NS responsibilities.
It's about defending what you believe in and your way of life, said COL (NS) Bakar on his reason for remaining committed to national defence. At the end of the day, it's about the values that you are protecting.
Launch of SAF50 book
During the dinner, PM Lee also launched the SAF50 Commemorative Book, Giving Strength to Our Nation: The SAF and Its People. The book comprises a collection of more than 60 personal stories that traces the humble beginnings of the SAF to the formidable force it is today. Written by people from all walks of life, the book pays tribute to the SAF and the men and women who step forward to serve.
From 25 Jul to 6 Aug, members of the public can register for their personal copy of the SAF50 book at the SAF50 website (www.saf50years.sg).
For many, watching the National Day Parade (NDP) live can be a special occasion. But what made the night even more memorable for a family of four was the kindness shown to them after the parade.
Mr Len Chua and his family had just finished watching the NDP rehearsals at the Padang on 11 Jul and were making their way out when he found that they were stranded near Swissotel the Stamford. His car was parked at Raffles Place and the route there was closed off to members of public.
As there was a mass of people leaving the parade then, spectators were encouraged to move towards City Hall MRT for smoother flow of traffic. Personnel from the NDP Show Management Committee were on the ground to manage the crowd flow.
Among them was Captain (CPT) See Haojie, Officer Commanding of Lion Company from 42nd Battalion, Singapore Armour Regiment (42 SAR). When he realised that Mr Chua's wife had difficulties walking, he made an exception by allowing them to access St Andrew's road. The road was originally off limits to the public.
Explained CPT See: It was at the East sector of the Padang where I discovered Mr Chua and his family asking for help from my soldiers. I approached them only to realise that they were asking for directions to their car, which was parked at Raffles Place.
He provided them an alternative route, but soon found that due to certain road blocks, it would make the Chua family walk even further to get there. CPT See decided to take things into his own hands by escorting them down St Andrew's Road, which led them directly to Raffles Place.
Seeing that the Chua family had two young children - a three-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl - he helped to carry them so that Mr Chua could better attend to his wife.
Lieutenant (LTA) Elijah Lim, a Platoon Commander from 42 SAR who was with CPT See, went ahead to clear the way and scout for a safe and convenient route to get to the Fullerton.
From across the Padang, CPT Raymond Ang saw the situation and came to help the family as well. The Logistics Officer from 42 SAR then carried Mr Chua's son while CPT See carried the daughter.
Because of their assistance, Mr Chua was able to focus his attention on helping his wife during the long walk back to their car.
That very night, Mr Chua conveyed his gratitude towards CPT See, CPT Ang and LTA Lim for their compassion and service through a Facebook post.
He wrote: As they led us, they even conversed with our kids, asking them what they thought of the show, and entertained them by getting them to high-five the ushers along the way.
I really salute them for going beyond the call of duty, and for their compassion and service. What a great example of the Singapore Spirit!
Within hours, the post went viral and received positive comments from the public. One commenter, Brandon Crouch, wrote: With all the negativity going on in social media, this story warms my heart. Its small random acts of kindness, such as this, that continues to restore my faith in humanity... Hats off to them!
When cyberpioneer spoke to CPT Ang, he said that Mr Chua's son was quite tired after the show and he was talking to keep the boy's spirits up.
Through his conversation with the family, CPT Ang also discovered a fun fact: Mr Chua had participated in NDP as a band conductor many years ago and understood the enormous amount of work needed to put up a good show for the spectators.
Said CPT Ang: I really appreciate the kind words on Facebook. I'm sure many of our guys did something similar in our many weeks at the Padang in preparation for NDP.
We were just doing what many other Singaporeans would have done and are really humbled by all the great comments.
Earlier today, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and United States Navy (USN) successfully conducted a torpedo firing exercise and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations as part of the 21st edition of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise.
Held from 13 to 24 Jul, this year's Exercise CARAT marked the first time that both navies have employed UAVs to conduct maritime surveillance. The RSN flew its ScanEagle UAV from Victory-class missile corvettes RSS Vigour and RSS Valour, while the USN deployed its Firescout UAV from Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth.
The combined torpedo firing exercise involved the RSN's Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme, the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter, and the USN's MH-60R Seahawk naval helicopter.
Witnessing the combined torpedo firing and the deployment of the ScanEagle UAV were Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman and Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs (GPC-DFA) members, who visited RSS Supreme and USS Fort Worth.
Noting that the maritime exercise has expanded in scope and complexity ever since it started in 1995, Dr Maliki said: We see Exercise CARAT, over the years, not just looking at regular features (such as the) combined firing of torpedoes and missiles. Today, in this year's exercise, we added a new dimension to it with the deployment of the UAVs.
This high level of interoperability and trust was not achieved overnight. Speaking at the opening ceremony of Exercise CARAT on 13 Jul, RSN Fleet Commander Rear-Admiral (RADM) Lew Chuen Hong highlighted that the exercise has provided both navies with invaluable training and that the basic belief in the stabilising role of the US continues to form the bedrock and underpin the strategic defence engagement between the two countries.
Sharing the same sentiment was USN Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific RADM Charles Williams, who also officiated at the opening ceremony. The RSN has…made every year's exercise more complex than the last, he said. This marks the 21st year that our armed forces have come together for Exercise CARAT, and our enhanced military partnership today reflects the maturity of this relationship.
This year, a total of 1,400 personnel from both countries are taking part in the exercise, which focuses on sharpening their conventional maritime capabilities in anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, as well as maritime air and base defence operations.
As Singaporeans age and birthrates decline, the country must find new and smarter ways to do more with less manpower. This is especially important in the critical area of national defence.
This was one of the key points made by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen when he spoke at the Defence Science and Technology Agency–DSO National Laboratories (DSTA–DSO) Scholarship award ceremony held on 22 Jul at Orchard Hotel.
Citing examples such as the newly commissioned Peacekeeper Protected Response Vehicles, the recently launched Littoral Mission Vessels and the Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Dr Ng said that it was one matter to buy the assets but another to integrate the platforms into one coherent fighting system.
To do that, you need strong scientific capabilities to bring the platforms together. After all, it’s not like all your systems come from a single supplier.
Speaking of the achievements of the Defence Technology Community (DTC), Dr Ng noted: If anyone had said 50, even 20 years ago, that we would be able to build (and operate) such systems, no one would believe it.
The DTC forms an indispensable partner without which the SAF could not have progressed to what it is today - a modern, credible and professional fighting force.
This year, a total of 101 scholarships were awarded. When asked why he took up the DSTA Undergraduate Scholarship over others, Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) Nicky Lim said: I wanted to serve the country (and) the eventual work that I will do is meaningful as it will contribute directly to the defence and security of Singapore.
The 21-year-old will head to the United States (US) to read Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After graduating, I hope to contribute to the cyber defence of Singapore.
When asked what piqued his interest in defence, he recounted a visit to a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) unit where he took a ride in a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle. He was studying at the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science then.
Experiencing all the tech for myself made me realise how important technology is for our soldiers. Technology augments the soldiers' fighting capabilities thanks to the ingenuity of our defence scientists, said LTA (NS) Lim, who served in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit from 36th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers during his National Service days.
For fellow recipient Ann Chia, it was a matter of following her passion for flight and aeroplanes.
I will enjoy a career in engineering (and) we were taught about Total Defence in school and how everyone can contribute to the country's security, so it was only natural that I joined the defence industry, said the 19-year-old who will read Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore.
With an inclination for the technical, Ms Chia said that she chose the DSTA-DSO scholarship because it guaranteed her a job that would immerse her in engineering work. I wanted something which allows me to start work immediately in a field that appeals to me.
They join others who have already made their contributions to defence such as Ms Eng Huiling, a Project Manager at the Land Systems Programme Centre, DSTA.
She helped in the development of decontamination and treatment vehicles for the SAF and was part of the project team that worked to provide soldiers with equipment that protect them against chemical, biological and radiological threats.
I feel a sense of achievement when I see my projects being put into real use to support national security, said Ms Eng. Like LTA (NS) Lim, she will be heading to the US. She will pursue a Masters in System Design and Management on a DSTA Postgraduate Scholarship.
DSTA excels in tapping on the expertise of multi-disciplinary teams to realise capabilities for the SAF and my course will allow me to better embrace the challenges and complexities of managing defence tech programmes, explained the 30-year-old who will be studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ms Veronica Koh, on the other hand, is looking forward to learning from the best in her field of sonar systems. She will head to the Pennsylvania State University in the US to pursue a Masters of Science in Acoustics on a DSO Postgraduate Scholarship. The university is recognised as one of the best in the study of acoustics and sensors.
What I'll be studying is relevant to my work and I hope to tap on their expertise to bring back some of the latest techniques to Singapore (to improve our level of technology), said the 27-year-old.
This year, a total of 15 DSO and 20 DSTA Postgraduate Scholarships were awarded. There were also 36 DSTA Undergraduate Scholarships and 30 DSTA Junior College Scholarships awarded.
PIONEER journalist Jing Ting takes on the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Vocation Obstacle Course in a 31kg-bomb suit.
My neck is about to snap.
The helmet is so heavy, I can't lift my head. My body is sprawled on the ground. I try using my hands to hoist my body up, only to fail miserably. I am spent. And I'm only halfway through the Vocation Obstacle Course (VOC)…
While the Standard Obstacle Course measures an individual's baseline combat fitness, the team-based VOC is customised to each vocation's combat skills and load.
EOD personnel are trained to dispose of bombs or explosive devices, and Major (MAJ) Kenny Chen, the VOC Supervising Officer, gave me a run through of my mission: to go through six obstacles and dispose of a simulated Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in 17 minutes - all while wearing a 31kg bomb suit.
As I had no prior training, I went through a modified version of the VOC under no time pressure. And while EOD trainees normally work in pairs, I didn't need a partner as I wasn't trained to use the special equipment to dispose of the IED.
The suit is stuffy and if you're not conditioned to it, it can be quite tough. Once you're done (with the VOC), you're going to be sweating buckets, said MAJ Chen.
I immediately started praying that they had set aside a clean suit for me.
Do the shuffle
My first task was to climb up two storeys (EOD trainees climb up and down four storeys), walk across the building and descend the stairs. Remember to breathe through your nose, because the visor will fog up and blur your vision if you breathe with your mouth, advised MAJ Chen.
Gingerly taking my first step up, I quickly realised what lumbering meant. The helmet narrowed my field of vision at all angles, and the visor fogged up easily.
Once down, I made my way to my next obstacle where I had to climb across a table. My movements were restricted, but I managed to clumsily roll across the table.
Next, I had to step across an obstacle of six tyres. I couldn't quite see where my foot should go and almost sprained my ankle a couple of times. Thankfully, the safety officers held my arm whenever I wobbled.
And then I came to the toughest obstacle of all. I had to leopard crawl under the table, across a mat. To get into the crawling position, I kneeled down and lurched forward.
However, I forgot about the giant 5kg helmet I had on. It was weighing my head down so much that my neck went limp. I called out for help, but the helmet muffled my voice.
Luckily, the safety officers saw my distress. After pulling me up, they opened my visor to let some fresh air in. Are you okay, ma'am?
Yes, I'm okay, I replied as I gasped for air. Although I'd done leopard crawling before, the bulky bomb suit made everything much more difficult. I was afraid of knocking against the table and my overhead vision was blocked by the helmet. The crawl felt like an eternity.
When I was pretty sure that I could see blue skies again, my first instinct was to lift my head. Bad move.
The safety officers had advised me not to tilt my head up as I had not gone through progressive training to get used to the weight of the helmet. I had no more strength and my neck felt like it was about to break.
The next thing I knew, I was being helped up (again!) by the ever-alert safety officers. After reassuring them that I could go on, I proceeded to the last two obstacles: the Dodging Panels and the Balancing Beam. Passing through those stations easily, I finally reached my objective.
At this point, EOD trainees position a water disrupter and aim it at the simulated IED. This device sprays a high-pressure jet of water during real operations to split the IED's detonator and explosive charge.
The trainees then use a tweezers-like CV tool to remove any debris, and the IED components are placed into two ammo boxes.
As I was not trained to use the equipment, all I had to do was carry the water disrupter to the IED and walk back to my starting point. And I was finally done!