A FOCUS IN LARGEST
In its finale drill, the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus exercise sees a multinational Counter-Terrorism force take out the headquarters of terrorists.
STEP UP MILITARY
Dr Ng speaks at the 5th Moscow Conference on International Security on the importance of stronger military cooperation and collaboration in dealing with transnational security challenges like cyber-security.
FUN FOR ALL
AT NEW SAFRA
Opened from 24 Apr, the new clubhouse houses a gym, a bowling centre, a yoga studio and a three-storey indoor water playground spanning 23,000 sq ft.
Against the rising threat of terrorism, the ASEAN countries agreed on the 10th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Joint Declaration on 25 May, which affirmed the group's commitment to tackle this international security threat together; and across nations.
The declaration was signed by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and the defence ministers from ASEAN member countries who had gathered in Vientiane, Laos, for the annual ADMM. Besides discussing terrorism and violent extremism, the defence ministers also applauded the good development in practical cooperation under the ADMM and ADMM-Plus groupings.
Speaking after the meeting, Dr Ng said the defence ministers recognised that terrorism can potentially disrupt the region if we allow either the ideology of terror groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or if the networks are formed and training camps are embedded within our region. Said Dr Ng: ASEAN could do more in terms of information sharing, intelligence, and resources, as well as conducting joint operations where we can.
Dr Ng added in a Facebook post later in the day: If the ideology of terrorist groups like ISIS is allowed to take root among our people or worse still, if training camps proliferate in any one of the ASEAN countries, then the whole region will be thrown into turmoil for decades. Our economies, our peaceful way of life will be seriously threatened.
Besides terrorism, the countries also signalled their intent to abide by international protocols like the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), which will help in peacefully resolving matters and building mutual trust among ASEAN countries at sea. In addition, Dr Ng noted that the countries reiterated the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security as well as upholding freedom of navigation in, and over-flight above, the South China Sea as provided for by universally recognized principles of international law.
Established in 2006, the ADMM is a critical platform in the regional security architecture which allows open and constructive dialogue, and practical cooperation among ASEAN armed forces. Among other initiatives, it is establishing a direct communications link among the countries for rapid response in times of emergencies, and strengthened areas like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).
Dr Ng said: There was some satisfaction (from the 10th ADMM) that it had become an influential meeting and platform, and that there was good progress in dealing with the security challenges, considering we are only 10 years old… Not only had we consolidated as an ASEAN grouping, but also extended to our Plus partners -- the eight partners… we had also gone beyond just having dialogues, we had been involved in multilateral exercises on a large scale.
As an active member of the ADMM which supports its measures to enhance the regional security architecture, Singapore co-organised the inaugural ASEAN Militaries' HADR Exercise with Indonesia in July 2011, and the second one in June 2013. Singapore also participated strongly in the ADMM-Plus HADR / Military Medicine Exercise in June 2013, and the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise in May this year.
While in Vientiane, Dr Ng and the other ASEAN defence ministers met the Chinese Minister of National Defence General Chang Wanquan. On the informal meeting, Dr Ng noted: A stable ASEAN-China relationship is vital for stability in this region as we face security challenges that threaten our collective well-being.
On diffusing tensions in the South China Sea, Dr Ng touched on the importance of coming up with protocols and norms to deescalate tensions and lower the risks of miscalculation within the region, such as through the extension of CUES to non-military vessels, coming up with a code of conduct for submarine safety, and a protocol for unplanned air encounters between military aircraft.
The ASEAN defence ministers also jointly called on Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and commemorated the 10th anniversary of the ADMM grouping with a tree-planting ceremony and the opening of the ADMM Photo Gallery which showcases the highlights of ADMM in the past 10 years.
On the sidelines of the ADMM meeting, Dr Ng also had bilateral meetings with Malaysian Minister for Defence Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Philippine Secretary of National Defence Voltaire Gazmin.
They look and sound alike. But Lieutenant (LTA) Rasmus Chow and LTA Rastus Chow are charting their own courses in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
Some faces launch a thousand ships. But with identical twins LTA Rasmus and LTA Rastus, their faces stop even their closest family members and friends in their tracks.
Rasmus? Rastus? Shucks, I cannot remember who is who! several passing colleagues exclaimed throughout the interview.
At a glance, it's impossible to tell the 25-year-olds apart: both share the same warm smile and assuring tone of voice. But spend some time with them, and you'll notice the difference.
Big brother LTA Rasmus, older by a minute, is contemplative and speaks in a careful, measured tone. Younger brother LTA Rastus, on the other hand, seems like a carefree spirit and is open and chatty.
Nonetheless, the mistaken identity still amuses them and they are happy to play along, admitting that they once swapped schools for a day as a prank when they were posted to different junior colleges.
Moving as one
Like most twins, LTA Rasmus and LTA Rastus grew up leading virtually identical lives. All our lives, we were known as 'The Twins' - if people saw one, they would ask about the other, LTA Rastus explained.
Besides attending the same schools, having the same friends and taking part in the same activities, LTA Rasmus divulged that he once changed schools to be closer to his brother: We were actually posted to different secondary schools, but my dad persuaded me to transfer to my brother's school.
Even the decision to pursue careers in the Navy was a joint one. Armed with diplomas in Banking and Financial Services, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic alumni had originally intended to follow in the footsteps of their father, who is a financial advisor.
But a meeting with RSN recruitment officers during Basic Military Training (BMT) changed that.
Said LTA Rasmus: As Naval Officers, we may eventually be able to command our own ship. We thought that was something to aspire towards. What also attracted us was the chance to experience a different, exciting career.
Boys t(w)o men
Six years on, both brothers are enjoying their roles as Assistant Navigating Officers (ANOs).
But here's where their stories diverge. While LTA Rasmus has opted to hone his warfighting skills on board the Frigate, LTA Rastus' platform of choice is the Landing Ship Tank (LST).
Said LTA Rasmus: I'm interested in warfare, which the Frigates focus on. When we sail, we conduct warfare serials, and that's what I wanted to do - to be at the forefront of our Navy.
Meanwhile, LTA Rastus was drawn to the LST's operations: I'm particularly interested in peace support and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. It's also cool that the LST is a tri-Service platform that works closely with the Army and Air Force. This inter-force collaboration appeals to me.
The pair has Officer Cadet School (OCS) to thank for helping them to find their unique identities. After being in the same section in BMT, they were split into different divisions by their OCS commanders. Both agreed that this was their defining moment.
LTA Rastus recalled: I learnt not to depend on my brother so much, but to depend on myself and my division-mates. I also saw the need to develop myself so that I could develop others.
As for LTA Rasmus, being in OCS gave him the confidence to stand up and lead: At first, I didn't know how to be a leader and handle disagreements. But it was a good opportunity for me to learn how to get people to come together to achieve an objective.
Apart, but together
These days, LTA Rasmus and LTA Rastus are no longer simply known as The Twins. They have also have gone on to pursue different interests under the Singapore Armed Forces Academic Scholarship (Local): LTA Rasmus holds a degree in Business Administration while LTA Rastus read Political Science.
They are now confidently asserting their own individualities, with LTA Rasmus working on board RSS Formidable and LTA Rastus, RSS Endurance. They also insist that they have never pranked their Navy colleagues. Nonetheless, they had one message for all PIONEER readers: Please let people know that there are two of us.
Yes, otherwise (if they meet and mistake one of us for the other,) they might smile at us and wonder why we don't smile back.
PIONEER journalist Benita Teo fights watery demons in the Navy's Damage Control Trainer (DCT).
Trainees call it the Baa Baa Black Ship. And the DCT was certainly a sight to behold.
What secrets could this massive, foreboding structure be hiding behind its windowless, dark metal walls?
Geared up in our suits of armour (Navy long four, hard hat, gloves and safety boots), my nine teammates and I were about to find out.
With over 20 training rooms, the DCT is able to simulate realistic scenarios of a ship in distress. It can roll a maximum of 15 degrees, imitating sea states of up to level four (where waves reach up to 2.5m high).
Suddenly, the sirens and red lights activated, signalling a state of emergency. The Ship began to rock from side to side. We knew the monster had awakened.
A water-breathing dragon
We dashed for the Engine Room, which had been damaged by enemy fire. Because the room was quickly flooding, we had to climb down through a hatch to prevent water from spilling out the doors.
Awaiting us was an angry waterfall bursting through gashes in one of the walls. It was as though a watery dragon had been unleashed.
I got to work plugging the holes with wooden pegs. This seemingly easy task quickly became frustrating - the torrent made it difficult to locate the holes and I was knocking blindly, trying to keep the water out of my eyes and the hammer off my fingers.
With some of the gashes plugged, we covered the site with a splinter box to slow down the flooding. Determining that an H Shore (see Types of shores) was required to stem this leak, two of my teammates measured the length needed and set off to saw the beam.
The rest of us took turns holding up the splinter box. Although it weighed only 5kg, the barrage of water seemed to add kilogrammes every minute, and all seven of us were struggling to keep it in place.
By now, my arms were aching and I wanted to give up. But watching my team press on while patiently awaiting the others' return, I couldn't let them down.
Mr Brandon Lim, the instructor for our DCT assessment, reminded us we were lucky that freshwater was used in the simulator. Out at sea, we would be battling murky and even icy saltwater.
It was of small comfort as my teammate sputtered another mouthful of water into the pond I was now standing waist-deep in.
When the guys returned with the shoring wood, we hoisted the beam up against the ceiling. To lock it into position, my partner and I hammered two wedges between the beam and pad piece.
Finally, a horizontal shore was inserted between the beam and splinter box, and tightened with wedges to push the angry waterfall back.
From designing machines to training eagles, companies are coming up with different ways to counter potentially hostile drones.
Imagine an unauthorised drone approaching a key installation. As the unmanned aircraft hovers over the fence, its signal is suddenly jammed. The drone is forced to beat a hasty retreat.
The popularity of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has taken flight in recent years and its vast applications for security, commerce, leisure and even agriculture have attracted many enthusiasts. Other uses of UAVs include aerial surveys, photography and media production.
While drones provide many benefits, they can also pose serious threats to public safety and security. Unauthorised intrusions and aerial delivery of hazardous materials and explosives are examples of dangerous usage, especially in an urban environment like Singapore.
Fighter jets scrambling to the skies to take out an unknown aircraft, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying out underslung operations with a light strike vehicle, and two AH-64D Apache helicopters simulate firing at ground targets.
Sounds exciting? These are some of the aerial displays that the Republic of Air Force (RSAF) has in store for the public at their open house this coming weekend.
Themed Defending Our Skies, the event will be held at Paya Lebar Air Base on 21 and 22 May. Visitors will be treated to an action-packed aerial display and have the chance to get up close and personal with the RSAF's latest aircraft and weapon systems.
Deputy Chairman of the RSAF Open House 2016 (ROH16) Colonel (COL) Randy Ong hoped that visitors would be able to see and understand how the RSAF's operations are being conducted on a deeper level.
We want to showcase our mission, operations and capabilities. More importantly, we want to use this opportunity to show how our airmen and airwomen work tirelessly behind the scenes to defend the skies and keep Singapore safe.
A perennial favourite, this year's aerial display will feature a thrilling scenario involving both air assets and ground-based air defence (GBAD) systems such as the F-15SG and F-16C fighter jets, the AH-64D and CH-47 helicopters, as well as the Surface-to-air PYthon-5 and DERby (SPYDER) and Mechanised IGLA GBAD systems.
First-time aerial display participant Captain (CPT) Ravinpal Singh said that the integrated performance was a showcase of how different parts of the RSAF come together to protect the nation - from the controllers scrambling to activate the fighter pilots to the logistics crew launching the aircraft, and the GBAD systems defending the skies from the ground.
What you see at the aerial display are all operational maneuvers, which is what we do when we get called into action. This whole display of different platforms is a showcase of our capabilities, explained the F-16C pilot from 143 squadron (SQN).
Training for the display started a month ago, and fellow aerial display participant CPT Nah Jin Ping noted the challenge in keeping to the precise timings for the display.
There are a lot of moving pieces… so the difficulty is in the coordination and adherence to the stipulated timings, to be on time (and) on target every single time, said the F-15SG pilot from 149 SQN, who is one of two female fighter pilots participating in the aerial display.
Aircraft enthusiasts will enjoy more than 20 types of aircraft and weapon systems on static display. These include fighter aircraft like Black Knights' aircraft, transport aircraft such as the C-130 and Fokker-50, as well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like the Heron 1 and Hermes 450. Visitors will also get a chance to sit in the cockpit of their favourite aircraft and interact with the RSAF personnel operating these assets.
The open house also features an exhibition which houses the RSAF’s aircraft and weapon systems simulators as well as stories of its transformation and its airmen and women in action.
Younger visitors have not been forgotten: at the Carnival Zone, they can try their hand at drone flying, engage in aviation-related and console games, and even scale new heights at an inflatable rock climbing station.
As parking is not available, there will be shuttle buses to pick-up and drop-off visitors at Eunos Bus Interchange and Kovan Hub. These buses operate with 10-minute intervals, and the first and last departure timings are at 8.30am and 5.30pm respectively.
For more details and the latest updates on ROH16, visit the RSAF Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheRSAF).
Each year, Army Formations and Divisions mark their anniversaries with physical challenges that are unique to their units. PIONEER takes you through three competitions to find out what’s so tough and special about them.
These men and women in their crisp and smart uniform are never far away from the President of Singapore and his guests at national events or state ceremonies. As Honorary Aides-de-Camp (ADCs) to the President, they help the full-time ADCs to organise state events, and receive guests who include senior officials and foreign dignitaries.
To serve in the highest office of the country is a great honour for any military officer. But the amount of hard work these Honorary ADCs have to put in behind the scenes is tremendous.
In 2010, when Major (MAJ) Tan Huang Teng was appointed as an Honorary ADC, he had to accompany the President for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day Parade. To prepare himself, he attended multiple rehearsals.
This was on top of his main job in the SAF as a battery commander of an operational air defence artillery unit that was on 24/7 stand-by. At the same time, he was busy preparing for his wedding, and his weekends were spent rehearsing for the National Day Parade mobile column display.
I had many, many things to juggle during this period, but I had the understanding and support from both my bosses and my wife, recalled the 36-year-old.
Despite the hard work that entails, MAJ Tan was delighted to be given the chance to serve again. He was among 103 officers from Singapore's military, police and civil defence forces who were appointed as Honorary ADCs in a ceremony held at the Istana on 13 May.
Out of these 103 uniformed personnel, 47 officers and Military Experts from the SAF were re-appointed, while 10 were appointed for the first time.
At the ceremony, President Tony Tan Keng Yampaid tribute to Honorary ADCs like MAJ Tan for their hard work in supporting him and the First Lady in the past year. He said: Many of you performed these Honorary ADC duties over and above your primary duties back in your home units... Yet, you remained committed and made personal sacrifices by putting in extra hours to help plan and execute events involving Mary and me.
For MAJ Tan, this will be his fourth year serving as an Honorary ADC. He has served since 2010, except in 2012 and 2013 when he left for overseas studies, and in 2015 when he attended the Command and Staff course.
Describing his role as an Honorary ADC, he said: It's an interesting role where I get to interact with people from all walks of life, including political leaders, foreign dignitaries, as well as ordinary citizens when the Istana is open to the public.
I am very much looking forward to serving alongside other ADCs. It always feels good when you report for duty, you see a bunch of dedicated officers who have the same values, thinking, and commitment as you, added MAJ Tan, currently the Head of Doctrine Development Branch in the Air Defence and Operations Command.
Among those appointed as Honorary ADCs for the first time was Captain (CPT) Charisia Ong, 25,from the Republic of Singapore Navy.
When asked what the appointment meant to her, the Assistant Operations Officer of Patrol Vessel RSS Freedom, said: In my current job, I already have the privilege of serving our nation in the front line… Tobe able to serve the nation through supporting the President is an extra measure of faith that the nation has in me.
It might be tiring, but ultimately if you remember your mission and purpose, you will push on. This is the highest office of the country; we have to uphold the prestige and honour.
ADCs go through stringent interviews to assess their social skills and intelligence. Those selected will undergo training to learn the protocols in interacting with foreign dignitaries.
First-time Honorary ADC CPT Mohamed Sufyan is looking forward to the challenge.
You need to be able to hold a conversation with the public, foreign dignitaries, and ministers. Not easy, but the uncertainties and challenges make it even more exciting, said CPT Sufyan, a Company Trainer in Motorised Infantry Training Institute.
Just like CPT Ong, CPT Sufyan sees his appointment as another way to serve the country.
The role entails long hours, last-minute calls, and helping out at large events... It's an additional duty, but I am looking forward to it, said the 30-year-old.
We are representing the President, who in turn is the representative of the people of Singapore. This is an honour above and on top of what we already signed on to do, which is to serve the country.
With the threat of terror attacks at an all-time high in recent years, counter-terrorism will be one of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) key priorities for the new work year.
Gunmen and suicide bombers hit Orchard Road, Raffles Place MRT station, Marina Bay Sands, and other locations across Singapore almost simultaneously. There is chaos and screams of panic can be heard as survivors flee from the scene of carnage.
The indiscriminate shootings and attacks in the heart of the city leave many dead or injured. Major roads are choked with stalled traffic. Emergency hotlines are overwhelmed.
Standby forces from the Home Team and the SAF rush to the various locations. At Raffles Place MRT, crack teams from the SAF Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) storm in to where armed and masked terrorists are holding civilians hostage. After a brief stand-off, they gun down all the terrorists and free all hostages, including dozens who are seriously injured.
Never let down your guard
Senior Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) leaders and SAF commanders watched this mock terror attack video at the MINDEF Workplan Seminar on 28 Mar. The annual MINDEF Workplan Seminar is a platform for senior leadership to discuss security challenges and set the direction for MINDEF and the SAF in the new work year ahead.
At the seminar, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen used the video to highlight one of the SAF's most urgent priorities: protecting Singaporeans from terror attacks.
Terror group Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) has carried out violent attacks across the world. Last year, Dabiq, the English-language newsletter published by ISIS, named Singapore among the enemies of the Islamic State and called on followers to wage jihad in their own lands. It aims to establish a wilayat, a province of its caliphate in this region.
Nearby, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta have been singled out as targets. Many Southeast Asians have joined the cause of ISIS. Last May, authorities arrested two Singaporean youths who were radicalised by ISIS. Separately, four Singaporeans were arrested in March this year for involvement in armed violence overseas.
A Sunday Times poll in March showed that three in four Singaporeans believe that it is only a matter of time before Singapore is hit by a terror attack. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said recently that it is not a question of if but a question of when.
The terror threat is clear and present, and the SAF must be ready to act decisively, said Dr Ng. In the aftermath of a terror attack, Singapore's response could either inspire confidence and unity, or cause Singaporeans to lose heart.
He added that terrorists would examine how the nation reacts on the day after and from there assess if Singapore is a target with a soft underbelly that they can continue to wreak damage on, or a hard target to avoid.
What would happen the day after an attack? We can imagine Singapore to be changed irrevocably… But if the Home Team and the SAF respond decisively, we can limit the extent of the tragedy, he said.
An invisible enemy
Dr Ng noted that the SAF had, over the past fifty years, developed a robust defence against conventional threats, but dealing with extremist threats was a different ball game.
He dwelled at length on the difficulties that the SAF would have to be prepared for in the fight against terror, especially against a well-organised force like ISIS that has significant financial resources and an attractive ideology that resonated with certain disaffected people.
Dr Ng said that the SAF needed to understand that dealing with terrorists would be different from conventional enemy forces.
If your unit is mobilised (to deal with a terror attack), how would you respond? The terrorists won't wear uniforms or insignias; they blend into the crowd.
Noting that the Brussels attacks took place despite heightened alert and security measures, Dr Ng said that the SAF must build the right capabilities in order to face the threats squarely.
More vigilant responsive
Chief of Defence Force Major-General (MG) Perry Lim, who also spoke at the Workplan Seminar, elaborated on the SAF's counter-terrorism efforts.
Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the SAF has been deploying its ground-based air defence units on a 24/7 basis. It also patrols key installations such as Jurong Island, Changi Airport and Sembawang Wharves.
The SAF has also contributed to the international effort to tackle the threat of terrorism at the source. Last year, it deployed Intelligence Fusion Officers, an Imagery Analysis Team (IAT) and a KC-135R air-to-air refuelling tanker to the Middle East to help in the fight against ISIS.
Over the years, the SAF and other key security agencies have been sharpening their response to terror attacks through large-scale exercises such as Exercise Northstar and Exercise Highcrest.
At the heart of the SAF's counter-terrorism capabilities is its High Readiness Core which comprises the SOTF, Island Defence Task Force, Air Defence Task Force, and Maritime Security Task Force.
These task forces conduct counter-terrorism and other contingency operations as well as safeguard homeland security and Singapore's skies and waterways, respectively.
Today, terrorist forces such as ISIS fighters are well-trained and capable of carrying out multiple attacks across different locations all at once.
In the Paris attacks last November, gunmen and suicide bombers hit a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars almost simultaneously. Security agencies in Singapore have studied the multi-shooter attacks closely.
To prepare for multiple terror strikes, the Home Team is working with the SAF to create a joint coordination centre helmed by personnel from both agencies, said MG Lim.
And to enable security forces to get into areas of operations fast, the SAF will improve its mobility in urban areas. It will also have more tactical and ground sensors to gather intelligence.
Besides the immediate focus on terrorism, MG Lim laid out long-term challenges that the SAF will face in 2030. The security environment, he noted, is likely to be fraught with uncertainties arising from terrorism, nationalism, and the balance of power between the United States and China.
Against this backdrop, the SAF has to continue its 3rd Generation transformation, build up capabilities with better cyber and information defence, precision weapons, data networks, and greater integration among different platforms, he said. MG Lim also reminded commanders to build character, cohesion and commitment in their people.
Dr Ng noted that the SAF had demonstrated its abilities last year through multiple exercises and operations, and won the approval and trust of Singaporeans.
In a 2015 survey on the Government's performance, Singaporeans gave a high approval rating of 97 percent for deterrence and national security.
Last year, the SAF was mobilised to carry out several humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations such as the Nepal earthquake relief effort and aerial fire-fighting operations in Indonesia.
The SAF also excelled under pressure when it organised national events such as the Golden Jubilee celebrations, and the State Funeral of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
These hard-won successes, Dr Ng said, gave the public a glimpse of what the SAF is capable of, short of fighting in a real war.
But the bottom line is: when called upon, the SAF must give the assurance that it is ready to protect Singaporeans from terror attacks, he concluded.
If the SAF has a 'hard shield', and 'decisive sword', it will deter would-be terrorists. We have a lot of work ahead of us to deal with this new challenge, even as we remain vigilant against traditional security challenges.
But I am confident that if each and every SAF community pulls together, we will succeed.
Maritime security is crucial to Singapore, an island nation, and one of the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN's) roles in this is to work closely with its Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) counterparts and defence partners to fight piracy and sea robbery.
In a matter of minutes, the finale to the largest-ever ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus exercise was over, with a multinational team of Special Forces troopers clearing out the headquarters of the terrorists on 9 May swiftly and seamlessly.
Comprising troops from 15 countries, including the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) Special Operations Task Force (SOTF), the multinational Counter-Terrorism (CT) force executed a simultaneous assault from land and air.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, who witnessed the finale drill of the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security (MS) and CT exercise, said the amount of resources and manpower that the 18 countries was an affirmative show of commitment: It's a very strong signal that, in this part of the world, we take maritime security and the threat of terrorism seriously, and there is a multinational effort to maintain peace and stability in this region.
He highlighted how China and the concerned ASEAN countries were able to put aside their territorial disputes and participate in the exercise because of larger common goals of regional peace, security and stability.
You work together because you know that (these problems are) larger than the disputes. If your sea lines of communication are disrupted, or if terrorists embed themselves here in ASEAN, it will cause a loss of confidence, it will affect economic vitality, businesses (and the) safety of citizens of ASEAN countries.
Dr Ng noted that the large-scale exercise had great significance for Singapore as problems like terrorism and maritime security are trans-boundary in nature, and investors are looking at how the region fights against terror and piracy. He added that the exercise was part of the SAF's process of building up its capabilities in the fight against terrorism.
The ADMM-Plus MS and CT exercise, jointly hosted by the SAF and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), took place in both Brunei and Singapore.
It began with the MS phase where naval elements of participating countries trained together in Brunei and en route to Singapore. This segment was co-organised by Brunei and New Zealand. The CT phase was co-conducted by Singapore and Australia in Singapore.
In the earlier MS portion, the Republic of Singapore Navy's frigate RSS Formidable was one of 15 vessels which took part in a search and locate exercise for a suspicious merchant vessel in the South China Sea.
Information on the suspicious vessel was picked up by the Information Fusion Centre at Changi Naval Base and fed to the Maritime Security Task Force at the Multinational Coordination Centre in Muara Naval Base, Brunei. The information was subsequently given to the vessels at sea for them to search and locate the vessel of interest (VOI).
The vessels formed two task units and one eventually located the VOI. As the VOI displayed hostile intentions, it was escorted to an area and stormed by Special Forces teams from from Brunei, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand.
Building capabilities and cooperation
Of RSS Formidable's participation in the MS segment of the exercise, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Ng Xun Xi said that this was a good opportunity for the frigate to showcase its capabilities in a different way as frigates are usually used for conventional warfare.
Noting that a frigate's core strength lied in her searching ability, the Commanding Officer of RSS Formidable said: When it comes to VOI tracking, we are pretty good at it. We know the considerations, we know what is important, we are quite used to organising a number of ships to do this and therefore it plays to our strength.
For Captain (CPT) David Kan, taking part in MS was an experience as it gave him an opportunity to practise his searching abilities and at the same time, build a relationship with his counterparts from the other countries.
This (exercise) gave us an opportunity to…become more familiar and practise how to locate a VOI, hail and challenge it and decide if it poses a significant threat to MS in the region, explained the Operations Officer of RSS Formidable.
He added that through working with other countries, this experience also helped to increase understanding between navies and this translated into a stronger interoperability to deal with future transnational threats in the region.
Co-director of the ADMM-Plus MS and CT exercise Brigadier General Desmond Tan, said the exercise showed that the ADMM-Plus grouping was more than just a platform for dialogue: This exercise is also very timely and relevant, in that given the challenges that we face in this region, both in the maritime security domain as well as in terrorism, I think we all recognise that…these are areas of challenges that no one country can tackle by itself.
So the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism exercise does provide a very important platform for us to work together and also to demonstrate our commitment to manage and handle these challenges collectively.
Some dreams are worth waiting for.
Nineteen-year-old Mohammad Nabil bin Abdul Aziz would know. Flying planes has been a long-time dream of his. When he heard about the Singapore Youth Flying Club (SYFC) from his father (himself an aviation aficionado), he could not wait to be a part of it. Unfortunately, then a Primary Six student, he was too young to join the club.
So when he got to Secondary One, he signed up with the SYFC as a co-curricular activity right away and participated in its Aeromodelling Programme.
We learnt the principles and theory of flight, and also built model aeroplanes. That spurred me to go from building planes to actually flying them myself, said the Aviation Management and Services student at Temasek Polytechnic (TP).
He also revealed another dream of his: Since I was a child, I always looked forward to the aerial and aerobatic displays at the National Day Parade (NDP).My ultimate goal is to be a fighter pilot and hopefully someday be a part of the Black Knights and perform for Singapore at the NDP.
Today, Nabil got one step closer to his dream when he was awarded his Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) Wings. He had also successfully filed his application to join the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) as a fighter pilot.
He was also awarded second place for the STAe (Singapore Technology Aerospace Engineering) Excellence Award for Best in Flying.
At the SYFC PPL Wings and Aviation Awards Presentation Ceremony, held at the SYFC on 7 May, Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman presented Nabil and his fellow graduands with their Wings. This year, 46 junior college and polytechnic students were awarded the PPL.
The Wings are awarded to pilot trainees who have completed three phases of flight training on the DA40 Diamond Star Aircraft.
In his speech, Dr Maliki reminded the graduands of the importance of a strong air defence: A nation's aerospace is and will always be vital to its sovereignty and security. The peace and stability that we have enjoyed over the last 50 years was only possible because many of our pioneers were willing to serve a cause greater than themselves.
Developing new generations of RSAF pilots
Dr Maliki noted that, in the SYFC's 45-year history, it has played a vital role in nurturing pilots for the RSAF. About a quarter of the RSAF's pilots are SYFC alumni.
One SYFC alumni, Captain (CPT) Gabriel Yam, felt that his experience put him in good stead for his career in the RSAF. The 31-year-old had joined the SYFC as a junior college student and obtained his Wings in 2003. An F-16 pilot by training, he is currently a Staff Officer in the Joint Plans and Transformation Department.
It's a very natural stepping stone, he explained. In the SYFC, you learn skills that are applicable in the RSAF, such as piloting skills and airmanship, so you are more familiar with that aspect of flying. You also have the opportunity to learn more about the RSAF because the instructors were formerly from there.
Thus, Dr Maliki exhorted this year's SYFC graduands to carry on the legacy of our pioneers in keeping our skies safe: As we look beyond SG50, Singapore will need our youth to continue to answer this higher calling to protect our security and our skies. Every generation will confront new threats, and you will have to find new ways to keep Singapore safe and strong.
Like Nabil, fellow Wings recipient Muhammad Danish bin Ahmad Basharahil had also sent in his application to the RSAF. Although he had been fascinated with planes since he was young, he admitted that it was the SYFC that piqued his interest in pursuing a career in the RSAF.
SYFC laid a very strong foundation for me and inculcated my passion for flying, said the Year Six student at Raffles Institution, who joined the SYFC in August 2014.
He added, To be given the opportunity to enrol in SYFC and obtain the PPL was more than I could ever ask for, especially at the tender age of 17, when I cannot even drive yet! It's a dream come true for me.
Another potential RSAF fighter pilot is 19-year-old Tessar Goh. As a child, she had been interested in joining the Singapore Armed Forces and serving the nation, but had not given the idea serious thought. A trained ballerina, she had imagined herself as a ballet teacher or businesswoman. But she credits the SYFC for helping her to find her direction in life.
Being in the SYFC sparked my interest in flying. But it didn't just teach me how to fly the aircraft, it actually taught me a lot about myself, said the TP Aviation Management and Services student.
Before this, I wasn't sure of what I wanted to do (as a career) - I had a few ideas, but none I was firm on. But the SYFC made me confident and allowed me to know what I want, and really work towards it.
She recalled a particularly memorable incident that changed her life and gave her the confidence to pursue her passion for flying. During one of her first solo flights, she was unable to land as there was an aircraft with a burst tire stranded on the runway. She had to circle in the air for almost 30 minutes, during which it also began to rain. Eventually, the tire was repaired and the aircraft cleared from the runway.
It was a very good experience because students are usually not allowed to fly in the rain. I was very lucky to be able to experience that and know that I can also perform a landing in the rain.
I found my direction; I know that I want to join the air force and be a pilot and serve my nation.
Before a visit to Naval Logistics Command (NALCOM) on 29 Apr, Ms Joanna Portilla had no clue what the formation does. This is not surprising, given that much of its work is often behind the scenes.
Hosted by Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Ms Portilla and other members of the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) got the opportunity to learn about NALCOM's capabilities.
The Command provides engineering and logistics support to all of the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN's) platforms and systems in its naval bases, as well as supporting training, exercises and operational deployments.
During the visit, the ACCORD members saw features such as the Automated Storage Retrieval System (ASRS) at Changi Naval Warehouse.
Through the automated sorting, storage and retrieval of parts and supplies, the system reduces cost and optimises the use of land and manpower. An integrated workforce of personnel from Singapore Technologies-Synthesis (ST-Synthesis) and NALCOM's Force Support Squadron operate the system to deliver vital stores and spares to the rest of the Navy in an effective and timely manner.
The ACCORD members also toured facilities such as the Shiplift Compound, where ST-Marine and NALCOM's Force Generation Squadron carry out depot-level maintenance for the RSN's ships and submarines.
And at the Ordnance Workshop, they learnt about the capabilities of the RSN's 76mm OTO Melara gun and 25mm Typhoon Guns. Personnel from ST-Kinetics and NALCOM's Force Readiness Squadron work together in the testing and maintenance of these guns.
After the tour, Ms Portilla, a member of ACCORD's Family Community council, was visibly impressed by NALCOM's efficiency and capabilities. From this visit, I have been given a better overview of what NALCOM can do. I am also very impressed by the fact that they are able to come up with innovative solutions such as the ASRS to save costs and reduce manpower while ensuring that safety is observed.
Dr Maliki also commended NALCOM's spirit of innovation, which has earned them the Minister for Defence Award consecutively for the past two years in the Ministry of Defence's Productivity and Innovation in Daily Efforts movement.
It is a culture we (should) continue to develop and enhance (so that) their personnel internalises this mindset… I am very confident that NALCOM provides a high state of logistics readiness for the RSN and SAF (Singapore Armed Forces), he said.
Also among the ACCORD members at the visit was Minister of State for Education, Communications and Information, Dr Janil Puthucheary. Speaking about his key takeaway from the visit, the co-chairman of ACCORD's Educational Institutions Council said: (I would share with others how) some of the things I've seen today are really important to national security and defence, such as the ability to maintain the submarines and fleets by ourselves - it's something we do not want to be dependent on others for.