The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will conduct military exercises in Seletar, Marsiling, Jalan Bahar, Neo Tiew, Lim Chu Kang, Jalan Kwok Min, Tuas, Upper Jurong, Hong Kah, Ama Keng, Bedok Jetty, Kranji, Lentor, Simpang, Sembawang, Mandai from 08:00am on Mon, 21 Apr 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 28 Apr 2014.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will conduct military exercises in Seletar, Marsiling, Jalan Bahar, Neo Tiew, Lim Chu Kang, Jalan Kwok Min, Tuas, Upper Jurong, Hong Kah, Ama Keng, Bedok Jetty, Kranji, Lentor, Simpang, Sembawang, Mandai from 08:00am on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 21 Apr 2014.
There is no magic formula to mending relations between Singapore and Indonesia over the warship naming incident, said Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen on the sidelines of a community event in Toa Payoh on 20 Apr.
Strengthening relations and bilateral ties is a process. Like most relationships, it takes time and mutual trust and confidence...(and) mutual regard and mutual respect, said Dr Ng.
He noted: As neighbours we benefit much when relations with each other are good. This is also relevant to the relations between the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the TNI (Indonesian National Armed Forces).
The SAF will work with TNI to improve relations and we will find ways to move beyond this incident and to mend and repair ties which have been affected.
Earlier this year, the Indonesian media reported that the Indonesian Navy would name a new warship after Indonesian marines Usman Bin Haji Muhammad Ali and Harun Bin Said. The two soldiers were convicted of the 1965 bombing of MacDonald House in downtown Singapore and executed for the incident which killed three and injured another 33 people. Singapore leaders then expressed their concerns over the incident and ties between the two countries have been strained since.
In a televised interview aired last week, TNI chief General (GEN) Moeldoko said: Once again, I apologise. We have no ill intent whatsoever to stir emotions. Not at all. Second, relations between the two countries are on the mend.
Following media reports that interpreted his comments as an apology for the naming of the warship, GEN Moeldoko clarified that he had been misquoted and was instead expressing his regret that the name of the warship would remain unchanged.
Responding to GEN Moeldoko's comments, Dr Ng said: I think it's not productive for us to get involved in their domestic politics... We accept his words on camera at face value - that they have acknowledged that they have stirred up emotions.
The way ahead was to find ways to move beyond this incident, said Dr Ng. But he also cautioned that this would not be an easy task. I think how we move forward will depend on our ability to treat each other with mutual respect and regard as sovereign equals.
And if both sides want to build a strong relationship based on those terms, and both sides recognise very fully that we, as neighbours...need each other and we need to work together, I'm confident that we can rebuild confidence that has been built up over many many decades.
Before you can lead others, you have to show that you can exercise personal leadership - to overcome your own setbacks. This was one of the key takeaways 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Muhammad Shahreezal Bin Rasit got from his 38-week officer cadet course which just ended.
Before he enlisted for National Service (NS), 2LT Shahreezal had moved out to stay with his friend, and supported himself through part-time jobs when he pursued a diploma at Singapore Polytechnic. His parents were divorced and he wanted to help with the financial burdens of his father.
Juggling work and family issues affected his studies. He took four and a half year, instead of the usual three, to obtain his diploma in marine engineering. However, it was through this experience that he honed his resilience.
It made me a better soldier in the sense that when you are outfield, when your buddies need help, you need to be the one to be depended on. As long as you are dependable, people will look up to you, said the 22-year-old.
He was one of the 300 officer cadets who were commissioned as officers in a parade held at SAFTI Military Institute on 19 Apr. It marked the completion of 38 weeks of rigorous training at the Officer Cadet School (OCS).
2LT Shahreezal, who will be posted to 3rd Battalion, Singapore Guards (3rd Gds) hoped to use his life experience to inspire soldiers under him to realise their full potential in NS and life, and to work better together.
Reviewing Officer Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, had a similar message for the graduands: to work well with the Military Experts, Warrant Officers and Specialists.
Addressing the graduands, he said: The Warrant Officers, Specialists and Military Experts, together with the Officers, play a key role in strengthening the SAF's operational structure and training systems… The strength of the SAF rests on the three corps working closely together to achieve mission success.
The message resonated strongly with 2LT Aden Ang who realised the true meaning of leadership during his training at OCS.
He had held various leadership positions back in his school days, such as vice-captain of his secondary school volleyball team, but his understanding of leadership then was all about having authority.
(In OCS,) I learnt that authority does not make you a leader; it (only) gives you the opportunity to be one, said the Air Force Sword of Honour recipient. If you look behind you, and realised that no one is following you, then you would have failed.
To win the hearts of his men, 2LT Ang will make it a point to join his men and colleagues to do all the dirty work.
You must go through thick and thin with them, only then will they regard you as part of the team, said the 20-year-old who will be a Fire Control Officer in 163 Squadron, a Ground-based Air Defence unit.
The parade also saw a pair of twins commissioning together.
2LT Chew Chen Hao and 2LT Chew Zhi Hao, both 19 year-olds, were from the same Company in Basic Military Training and same Wing in OCS.
The healthy sibling rivalry between them has been helping them to push each other to greater heights since their primary school days together, they said.
We both see it as doing our family proud, not so much of me against him but of doing it for our family, said Chen Hao, who was one of the Infantry Sword of Merit recipients.
The duo shared similar values about leadership, such as caring for your men.
Chen Hao, who will be posted to 3rd Gds, planned to do so by getting to know each soldier personally.
Zhi Hao, on the other hand, will face a tougher challenge - he will be leading second-year soldiers in the 4th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
They have been one year in the army, I cannot go in and expect to change things, he said. To win their respect, I'll have to let them know that I care for them, he said.
The parade also saw 2 graduands from foreign armed forces.
One of them was New Zealand's 2LT Lyle Patterson, who volunteered and was subsequently selected to train in Singapore. The other was Thailand’s 2LT Songsin Namdee.
2LT Patterson came to Singapore because he wanted the opportunity to navigate in the close terrains here, something different from the vast expanse of his home country.
Besides picking up soldiering and leadership skills in OCS, 2LT Patterson was happy to have built strong friendships with his Singaporean counterparts.
At the start, no one really knew me but then all the experiences we went through together (bonded us), said the 19-year-old who will return to New Zealand for further training before assuming the role of a Platoon Commander in the 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.
Witnessing his commissioning was the Chief of Army of the New Zealand Defence Force Major-General (MG) Arthur Gawn, who was on a five-day introductory visit to Singapore.
Asked about his thoughts on 2LT Patterson's training in Singapore, MG Gawn said: The training here is very similar to what we run back home for our officer cadets. And the relationship between Singapore and New Zealand, particularly at this level, is very, very close, and it builds on the relationship we had.
The parade was attended by Members of Parliament, senior SAF officers and Ministry of Defence officials, as well as families and friends of the graduands.
The two countries might be more than 10,000km apart, but Singapore and France have been collaborating in defence research and development (RD) under the Supelec, ONERA, NUS, DSO Research Alliance (SONDRA) for 10 years.
The little-known Singapore-French defence research partnership among the four organisations is named after its core members - Supelec, ONERA, National University of Singapore (NUS), DSO National Laboratories. It looks to develop scientific talents and seed ideas in the fields of Electromagnetism and Radar.
Both Supelec - a prestigious post-graduate engineering school - and ONERA - an aerospace laboratory - are French organisations. ONERA is best described as DSO's equivalent in France.
The SONDRA Laboratory is located on the outskirts of Paris, France and it is Singapore's first and only offshore defence RD laboratory.
In a statement, DSO Chief Executive Officer Quek Gim Pew said: Over the past 10 years, SONDRA has built up strong expertise and a strong network of international partners. I've confidence that SONDRA will continue to break new grounds and do exciting research. He co-chairs SONDRA with Mr Hervé Biausser, who is also Director of Supelec.
One of the challenges SONDRA faces is that our work is interdisciplinary - we have to deal with Physics and Signal Processing in the same space, said Prof Marc Lesturgie, Director SONDRA.
That's because radar relies on both disciplines.
Under SONDRA, students and researchers from both sides benefit from exchange programmes to learn from each other and collaborate on cutting-edge research. One of these innovations was a spiral radar antenna that is dramatically smaller than currently available ones.
Said one-half of the development team, NUS Engineering postgraduate student Ray Fang: It packs more functionality into a single antenna and being wideband, more data can come in through the antenna. The antenna technology can also be shaped to fit curved surfaces - a boon for platforms where space is a premium (such as on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
The 32-year-old was attached to the SONDRA laboratory from February 2012 to March 2013, as part of his PhD programme. Speaking of his experience there, he said: I worked with experts in the field and they had a lot of inputs, (and the) discussions which were very fruitful.
It was a very open environment, where we were all in the same domain. We could always seek each other’s opinions.
For French researcher Dr Jean-Philippe Ovarlez, SONDRA presented an opportunity to work on enhancing radar systems. He was attached to DSO in Singapore for a year in 2010. I got to work with many different groups in DSO. It was really good. There was a lot of cooperation.
I learnt a lot from the Singaporean researchers, said Dr Ovarlez, the Principal Scientist at the Signal Processing Unit of ONERA.
Another innovation to emerge from SONDRA was a technique to enable the transmission and reception of signals at the same time. Explaining her research, DSO senior researcher Dr Chong Chin Yuan said: We were able to achieve the same performance using simpler hardware by moving the complexity from the hardware to the processing side of the technology. Dr Chong has a PhD in Signal Processing for Multi-Input Multi-Output Radars.
Theoretically, we can reduce the size of the component by four times (using this technique). One of the possible applications of this technique is in maritime radars.
PIONEER journalist Koh Eng Beng goes on board a Missile Corvette (MCV) to fly the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
When I was told to test out the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, I was gleefully excited because this would probably be my first and only chance to fly a plane in my lifetime.
The plan was for me to launch the ScanEagle UAV on board RSS Vigour, a Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) MCV, during a three-day sail.
But before that, I had to go through training on a UAV ground control simulator. My instructor was Military Expert (ME) 2-2 Eric Oh, a UAV supervisor, who had the unenviable task of trying to squeeze a 10-week syllabus into a three-hour crash course.
Through the session, I learnt that operating the ScanEagle UAV is just like flying a commercial plane: conduct a preflight check, take off, switch to autopilot, and land. The preflight check was mind-boggling, with over a hundred steps to be completed sequentially.
Verify AC Power and Shore Power Connection
Verify Wing Video Transmitter
Initiate Launch Sequence
I struggled to understand the checklist shown on the simulator screen. So ME2-2 Oh did most of the tasks while I observed. He then walked me through the process of plotting the flight path and controlling the camera.
The real deal
Two weeks later, I went on board RSS Vigour with the UAV operators from 188 Squadron (SQN). Since I had fiddled - and struggled - with the preflight checks during the simulator training, I went out to the ship deck to be a ground crew member.
In the RSN, all UAV operators are cross-trained, and they take on the roles of the pilot and ground crew on a rotational basis.
With the ground crew, I opened up the container which stored the components of the ScanEagle UAV, fixed the wings onto its body, and carried the assembled unmanned system to the launcher. It was a challenge balancing the 20kg UAV on my shoulder when the ship was swaying because of the choppy sea conditions. And I could truly feel the full weight of the ScanEagle UAV's six-digit price tag!
After the preflight check was completed, it was show time. As I knelt behind the ScanEagle UAV, now resting on the launcher, I could see its propeller spinning faster and faster, and hear its engine revving louder and louder.
My heart went into overdrive; I was a bundle of nerves. What if I screwed up? After 10 minutes of waiting in agony under the scorching sun, the lead ground crew, ME2-2 Jackie Thang, passed me a green rope.
The moment had come - I gave the rope a hard tug, and in a split second, the launcher catapulted the UAV into the blue sky.
After the successful launch, I went to the UAV Ground Control Station (GCS) located in the Combat Information Centre of the MCV.
There, UAV pilot ME2-2 Eric Fong showed me the live video feed of RSS Vigour – in full colour - captured by the camera on board the ScanEagle UAV. The UAV camera was pointing at our ship - from over 3km away.
I then tried out the joystick which controls the camera, which could pan left and right and zoom in. I also got to plot a new flight path for the UAV. Easy stuff. But only because I got to concentrate on one task at a time. A real UAV pilot not only has to juggle all these tasks simultaneously, but also monitor the multiple on-screen instruments.
After an hour of flight, I was out on the deck again where the ground crew had set up the sky hook recovery system - a snagging line suspended from a 15m boom. It was time to recover the ScanEagle UAV.
I shadowed ME2-2 Ricky Tan, a recovery observer. When the UAV pilot in the GCS gives the go-ahead for the ScanEagle UAV to make its final approach, ME2-2 Tan would press and hold a Clear To Land switch until the UAV is recovered.
If at the last moment, the UAV is wobbling or blown off course by a sudden strong gust of wind, he has to release the switch. The ScanEagle UAV would then make a sharp right turn away from the ship to avoid a crash.
We stood at the edge of the deck to observe the ScanEagle UAV making its final approach, and in just a few seconds, it flew right into the snagging line. A hook in the left wing tip caught onto the line, suspending the UAV in mid-air.
It was a thrilling experience to fly the ScanEagle UAV from out at sea, despite my struggles with the technical aspects. But since I have acquired some experience, perhaps the Navy could send me for formal training. I will gladly serve my remaining In-Camp Training sessions with the UAV section at 188 SQN!
Safety lies in your own hands - literally. With the Army Safety App, commanders can quickly check on important information such as weather conditions, location of nearby medical facilities and route information - all on their Android smartphones.
The aim? To put safety-related information at soldiers' fingertips, said Mr Benjamin Zee, who is with the iForce office, Joint Communications and Information Systems Department (JCISD). His office works with ground units to turn their ideas into workable mobile apps, providing the technical expertise and advice.
The app provides detailed weather information including lightning risk classifications, the Pollutants Standard Index (PSI) and weather forecasts. Emergency information is also listed - hospital locations and telephone numbers can be dialled straight from the app. It also provides routing information to these facilities.
While it (the app) does not replace any existing safety measures, it functions as a convenient and complementary source of information, said Captain (CPT) Muhd Noor Ehsan from the Army Safety Inspectorate (ASI).
And it does not only provide information. Spot a safety hazard? Inform the ASI through the app. Though the app was just launched on 11 Apr, the team behind it is already dreaming up of ways to improve it.
One of the things we are looking into doing is increasing the back-end infrastructure (to support the app). said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Gene Tan from Headquarters Signals (HQ Signals). Once complete, it opens many doors for the app to mature and evolve.
A quick run-through the app revealed a zippy interface with large, easily readable icons. That is clearly a boon for soldiers, who will likely access the information while training outdoors.
The development team of eight, spread across three departments, are looking at an active user base of roughly 4,000. The app is only available to Army commanders.
For example, we can add an analytics engine to help us make better sense of hazard reports, explained LTC Tan. The reporting feature is currently a simple email set-up where users can provide their inputs directly to the ASI.
The safety app, which took just under a year to develop, was a collaboration between three groups in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
iForce provided the technical know-how, ASI provided operational perspectives and HQ Signals looked into the infrastructure needed to support the app. This is the first time these three groups in the SAF have come together to produce an app of this scale, said LTC Tan.
Much of the actual work on the app was done by three iForce Full-time National Servicemen. Said Corporal (CPL) Lee Zheng Xian, Most of the challenge was making sure that the app functioned well across the different Android phones.
Being an open source OS, Android phones come in all shapes and sizes each running their own version of the Android OS. Their solution - test the app on the most popular Android phones available on the market and adjust the codes accordingly. It was a tedious process but also necessary to ensure that the app works properly, said CPL Lee.
Said their supervisor Mr Zee: The value of this app is the sum of all its features. It's an everyday app. It's all at your fingertips.
He may play Lobang on the big screen, but off-screen, Private (PTE) (NS) Wang Weiliang is a real Wayang King. And there's only one lucky lady he gladly wayangs for.
Make no mistake, 27-year-old funny man PTE (NS) Wang is fully committed to his Bang Lee Onn character (aka L.O. Bang or Lobang*) in the Ah Boys to Men (ABTM) movies and the upcoming musical, where he will reprise his role as the recruit with all the solutions.
But when it comes to work, the actor is undoubtedly a professional Wayang** King who is ever ready to put on a good show. Despite nursing a headache, he turns up at the photo shoot with firm handshakes for everyone and, within minutes, is posing, jumping and tumbling for the lens, making the camera (and this writer) fall in love with his crazy antics and witty quips.
Spotting a pretty girl in a club, he commentates with accompanying wide-eyed astonishment while turning around for an over-the-shoulder shot.
Wayang with heart
Unlike the stereotypical Wayang King who feigns over-enthusiasm to get into his superior’s good books, PTE (NS) Wang exudes honesty and vulnerability as he describes his rebellious younger days, qualities which perhaps stemmed from his difficulties learning to work the crowd in live getai shows (public stage shows held during the Hungry Ghost Festival).
During your 20-minute act, you have to keep the energy up and elicit a reaction from the audience. You must make them feel your enthusiasm and sincerity. I'm most worried when the audience doesn't respond. I did getai for four years: I sang for two years, but did not make much headway; I then went on to hosting but nobody listened to me, especially since I was new.
So I got the haircut (which I sported in the first ABTM movie), and together with my comedic antics, people began to take notice of me. That haircut gave me my breakthrough.
Acting 101: Character development
For the self-professed reformed bad boy, another breakthrough came in the form of National Service (NS). The Private credits NS for moulding him into a stable and mature person.
I was a storeman in 4 SIR (4th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment). I admit I wasn't a good soldier. When I enlisted, I questioned why I was being made to serve. But as I saw my 'brothers' chiong-ing (Hokkien for charging), I was influenced to join in. I think that the army teaches you to build relationships. I used to think only of myself. But if you do that, you will get the rest of the troops into trouble. This is a lesson I learnt in the army.
After the two years, I came to realise that NS doesn’t turn you into a man overnight; through NS, you gradually start to feel like a man. Serving NS is a really important rite of passage for us guys: It teaches us responsibility.
Of course, no NS experience would be complete without a practical joke, especially from the young comedian-in-the-making.
Once, when a friend was sleeping, we poured prickly heat powder on his face and squirted camo (camouflage) cream in his hands. He was awoken by the powder's burning sensation, and when he tried to wipe it off, he smeared the cream all over his face. He ran crying to the Sergeant. As punishment for bullying our buddy, the seven of us involved were made to wear our Full Battle Order and camo paint for the entire day. We're good friends now; it was through clowning around together that we became close.
Wayang give mother see
Five years and countless performances on, the one person PTE (NS) Wang still looks forward to seeing at his shows - and continues to wayang for - is his mother.
My mother is like my girlfriend, he proclaimed unabashedly. “We are very close. I’m still standing on stage today because of the pride I see on her face. I relish it. I fell wayward for 10 years, and she took care of me all those 10 years. I told myself I would never break her heart again because, no matter what I'd done wrong in the past, my mother would still say, 'you are still my son.'
And there's certainly no wayang in that.
* Lobang is Malay for hole. In Singlish it means tips, openings or contacts.
** Wayang is Malay for a performance or show.