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, 20 Oct 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 27 Oct 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, 13 Oct 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 20 Oct 2014.
Nobody likes going into any situation blind. For example, a military force delivering aid in the aftermath of natural disasters must have the latest information on the lay of the land in order to provide assistance safely and swiftly.
That is one of the key reasons the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has the Imagery Support Group (ISG): To help shine a path where there seems to be none.
This capability was highlighted during Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen's visits to the Formation located in Paya Lebar Air Base on 21 Oct.
During the visit, he toured the SAF Mapping Unit - one of the three units under the ISG - where he was briefed on the tedious process of map-making and imagery reports.
The ISG plays a critical role when the SAF prepares itself for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan which struck the Philippines in 2013, the unit was tasked to find access areas for SAF aid missions.
For Military Expert (ME) 5-1 Lilian Ong, that meant pulling an all-nighter confirming things like which runways were down and which roads were damaged. Leading a team of about 10, we collected the images and did the analysis (to point out areas which the SAF could access the disaster zone) over one night. The 35-year-old is Head Operations at the SAF Mapping Unit.
Their work eventually led to the Republic of Singapore Air Force deploying C-130 transport utility aircraft, carrying relief supplies, to the hardest-hit Visayas region. The aircraft also helped to evacuate survivors. The SAF was one of the first responders in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
We have been supporting HADR efforts since 2004. The first was the mission to Meulaboh in Aceh, Indonesia (following the Boxing Day tsunami), said Military Expert (ME) 6-2 See Kim Hong. He heads the SAF Mapping Unit.
The devastating impact of the tsunami meant that many roads were impassable. Other physical infrastructure, such as medical facilities, were also obliterated.
We have provided information for decision makers in the SAF to plan and make informed decisions (as to) what kind of assistance to offer, said ME6-2 See.
The ISG also sent Imagery Analysis Teams (IATs) to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. They provided imagery interpretation and analysis support for the multinational troops operating in Oruzgan, Afghanistan.
One of the IATs helped to discover a cache of weapons hidden by insurgents after surveilling a suspicious compound for five days.
These capabilities fall under the ISG's Imagery Analysis Centre which brings the SAF's imagery analysis capabilities under one roof. It analyses commercial satellite imagery to support the SAF's training, peace support and HADR operations.
Apart from supporting HADR operations, the ISG also provides information to the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre. It also looks out for the safety of SAF men and women overseas through the ISG's Open Source Centre (OSC).
The OSC monitors global news and information related to military and security developments. It also keeps an eye on natural disasters in the region using open source information on print, television and online news.
Last week, the OSC team watched Typhoon Hudhud closely as it unfolded over India, because the SAF has a deployment there. It is a 12-hour cycle at the OSC which sends its reports to the highest SAF leadership twice daily, 24/7.
We look out for things that affect the safety and training of our SAF troops. We track news reports for data such as when the typhoon will hit land, whether it is in the area where SAF troops are, so as to gain a more complete picture, said Private (PTE) Josiah Tan, an Operations Assistant at the OSC.
The 19-year-old Full-Time National Serviceman was born deaf and did not have to serve National Service. However, he successfully appealed and ended up at the OSC after his Basic Military Training.
I felt that I could serve and do as good a job as anyone else, explained PTE Tan.
Since the law requires all young men to serve, though I was technically exempted, I thought I should follow the spirit rather than the letter of the law.
I'm glad I did - it's meaningful because I get to see how the work I do affects the SAF and potentially save lives.
Success and survival for a small country like Singapore are two sides of the same coin. In the same way, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) cannot afford to fail because it is the ultimate guarantor of the nation's independence and sovereignty.
This was the point made by Mr Lim Siong Guan, Group President of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) at this year's SAF Leadership Dining-In. He was Permanent Secretary (Defence) from 1981 to 1994. The GIC is a sovereign wealth fund which manages most of the Government's financial assets.
At the same time, he said, the challenge for the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the SAF was how to communicate the importance of a strong deterrence force to the continued success of Singapore to the youth of today.
Said Mr Lim: Young people in Singapore (must) understand that they have to support the SAF not because it is fun to have the SAF with all its capabilities, but because it is a critical part of being able to decide the kind of future and environment that we can build for our children, and leave for our children.
The speech, lasting almost an hour, was met with a standing ovation from the 243 military men and women gathered for the formal dining event held at Pasir Laba Camp on 17 Oct.
The SAF Leadership Dining-In, which was re-initiated in 2011, is attended by senior officers, warrant officers and military experts. It is a formal social occasion and a military tradition that builds morale and esprit de corps.
During his speech, Mr Lim shared with candour his past experience in MINDEF. Calling it the most meaningful and enjoyable time in his civil service career, he said: At the time, MINDEF was a place of experimentation... how to build the best SAF we could ever build (for Singapore). Mr Lim was one of the pioneers who mooted the Total Defence concept.
Speaking on a broad range of topics, Mr Lim said that young Singaporeans must get to know the country more intimately. They must realise the limitations which a small country faces, he said.
It's either we succeed and mean something in the world with some standing, and some people will listen to you in the world; or you fail and you're nobody and nobody cares.
Success and survival go together for Singapore in a way which does not apply to large countries.
He cited China and India as examples. They can decide to let the coastal cities succeed first and move on, while the rest of the country can take their turn.
Singapore's small physical size meant that the SAF remains an important part of the country's continued success, he said.
People in the world trust Singapore; we are one of the largest wealth managers.
The SAF is such an important part of giving us the ability to exercise that independence and sovereignty, to assure us that we can maintain the kind of system which other people looking at us feel that they have the confidence (to continue trusting) in Singapore, said Mr Lim.
Also speaking at the dining-in was Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng. He said: Since the last dining-in held in August 2013, we have made significant achievements and the SAF continues to be in a position of strength.
LG Ng cited the successful conduct of counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, and other missions such as the search for missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 as examples of the SAF's strong capabilities.
Our people have continued to fly our flag high time and time again, said LG Ng, who also presented the CDF Coin to senior SAF officers in recognition of their achievements and contributions to their respective Services and organisations.
At 18, he was not mature enough to understand the importance of national defence. In fact, when 2ndLieutenant (2 LT) Andre Chong enlisted for National Service (NS), he found it hard to see the positive aspects of it. It was only after living abroad that he began to realise its significance.
After studying over four years in the United Kingdom where there is no conscription, I realised that students there were apathetic toward national security, recalled the 24 year-old who disrupted his NS after the first phase of his Officer Cadet training. He was then reading law under an Overseas Merit Scholarship offered by the Public Service Commission.
There isn't the same sort of commitment (to defence)... that we have in Singapore. I can see that my Singaporean friends, who have done NS, are much more concerned and involved about national security, he said.
2LT Chong now wants to do his part as an officer in 2ndBattalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (2 SIR), to ensure younger citizen soldiers know why they need to serve. I want to help them to understand that they are not just a number but valued individuals, and to see themselves as professional citizen soldiers, he said.
2LT Chong was one of 285 officer cadets who were commissioned as officers in a parade held at SAFTI Military Institute on 18 Oct. The parade marked the completion of 38 weeks of rigorous training at the Officer Cadet School (OCS). For being the top graduand in the Infantry Formation, he received the Sword of Honour from reviewing officer, Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin.
At the parade, Mr Tan, who was a Brigadier-General in the Army before joining politics, shared his personal journey as an officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). He told the graduands that rank did not make one a leader, and that they had to earn the trust of their men, and inspire them.
He said: We command because we have been given that authority and the weight that comes with that. But we lead because others follow. They follow because they trust us. They trust because of who we are, the values we stand for. They trust us when we are able to put others before self.
The message resonated strongly with 2LT Webster Chia, who was an obese recruit and could not do a single pull up when he enlisted for NS. But he worked hard and obtained a Silver in his Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) during Basic Military Training (BMT). He continued to push himself and obtained a Gold in IPPT at OCS because he wanted to lead by example as a future officer.
I wanted to take charge of my own fitness, he recalled. Back in BMT, I would run with my sergeants and company mates four times a week, during our free evenings.
He also understands that leadership goes beyond proving one's fitness.
It is also about communication. I will have to work with NSF and NSman specialists who are older and more experienced than me. So I will get to know them well first and learn from them, said 2LT Chia who will serve in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) as a Receive-Only Station Commander. Working with a specialist, he will collate and relay intelligence information transmitted from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
For 2LT Sanjiven Sondarajan, being commissioned as an officer was a dream come true. He grew up watching war movies like Saving Private Ryan, and wanted to be the heroic soldiers in the films.
It has always been my dream, so why not make it a career, said the 21-year-old who has signed on as a Guards Officer.
One important lesson he learnt in OCS was overcoming his limiting beliefs. There were occasions when he was struggling to complete an intensive field exercise, and his instructor would spring a surprise by extending the exercise. But he and his platoon mates completed it.
I've learnt that whenever I am tired, it is actually not my limit yet. What I feel is my limit is actually not my limit, and I can do much more than I believe I can.
Sometimes, it takes some encouragement from the people around you to push on. Just ask 2LT Mohamed Arshaq whose journey in OCS was an emotional roller coaster. Just two months before commissioning, he lost his beloved grandfather. He was then taking part in an overseas exercise - the last phase of his OCS training - and wanted to quit.
It was an emotional decision rather than a logical one. But my instructors and platoon mates understood what I was going through. They were the ones who kept me going, he said.
The 22-year-old, who will be posted to OCS as an instructor, hopes to pay it forward. I hope to help my future trainees know why they need to serve, follow the principles and always make the right call.
The newly-commissioned officers will go on to assume command, instructional or staff appointments in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Present at the parade were Members of Parliament, senior SAF officers, Ministry of Defence officials, and families and friends of the graduands.
Soaring across the skies above France is the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master, the newest acquisition of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
The A-4SU Super Skyhawks have long been a staple of training for prospective RSAF fighter pilots at Cazaux Air Base in France. However, after 17 years of service, the Skyhawks are making way for the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master, an advanced trainer aircraft manufactured by Italian company, Alenia Aermacchi.
In 1993, initial development of the M-346 began, and a variant, named Yak/AEM-130, went into production in 1996. After many modifications and improvements, the Yak/AEM-130 evolved into the M-346, which was rolled out on 7 Jun 2003 and flew for the first time on 15 Jul 2004.
In July 2010, the RSAF placed an order for the M-346 to fulfil the role of advanced jet training. The RSAF acquired 12 M-346s and a ground-based training system, with delivery completed in February 2014.
Reducing the training gap
One of the main advantages that the M-346 boasts over the old Skyhawks is that it provides a training experience closer to that of operational frontline fighter jets such as the F-16s and F-15.
On the capabilities that the M-346 aircraft brings to the RSAF, Commanding Officer 150 Squadron (SQN), which flies the M-346, Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin Wan said: The M-346 helps to enhance pilot training by introducing advanced combat skills at an earlier stage of training. Skills such as radar employment, Beyond-Visual-Range missile engagements and precision weapons delivery are all possible now, with the M-346.
Major John Sng, one of the first four RSAF flying instructors to be trained on the M-346, also felt that training on the new platform would provide a smoother transition for trainees onto fighter platforms: Compared to the A-4SUs, the M-346 gives me a better field of vision, which is very critical in phases of flight, such as landings, and when I teach combat manoeuvres.
Ushering in the new jet
Bringing a new jet up to Full Operational Capability (FOC) is no easy feat. The squadron put together a team of experienced personnel to facilitate the crossover from the Skyhawk. Flying instructors were trained to operate the M-346. They also drew up an entirely new set of training programmes and doctrines tailored specifically to maximise the enhanced performance capabilities of the M-346.
With this three-step strategy, 150 SQN successfully completed the challenging task and celebrated the FOC milestone in February. In March, Lieutenant Pan Shang Hua became the first pilot trainee in the world to fly solo on the M-346.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) hones air combat skills in Australia's largest and most complex air war game.
Over 80 war planes from two opposing camps lit up the night skies over the Northern Territories of Australia with their afterburner flames. Among them were the RSAF's F-15SGs acting as sweepers for Australia's F/A-18F Super Hornets that were executing a bomb strike on enemy air bases and runways.
This was not World War III, but a realistic battle scenario in Exercise Pitch Black 2014. Conducted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the multinational war game saw a large number of aircraft being deployed in day and night operations.
About 100 aircraft and 2,300 personnel participated in the biennial exercise held from 1 to 22 Aug. The RSAF sent about 300 personnel, six F-15SG and eight F-16C/D fighter aircraft, a Gulfstream 550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft, and a KC-135R air-to-air refuelling aircraft. This year's edition saw new players France and United Arab Emirates (UAE) joining Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and New Zealand.
Operating alongside many different aircraft was a challenging but valuable learning experience for the men in the cockpit. They not only had to watch out for threats and make split-second decisions, but also avoid flying into each other, especially at night.
We are fighting against so many more aircraft than I am used to in the Singapore and South China Sea training air space, said Lieutenant Lee Si Wei, an F-15SG Weapon Systems Officer (Fighter) from 149 Squadron (SQN). It took a while for me to get used to it, and build up my situational awareness in the air.
For his pilot Captain (CPT) Adrian Tan, communication was a key concern because there were differences in the way each air force operated. They had to get used to one another's accent, and use the same terminologies. But as the exercise progressed, the aviators were able to better understand each other.
It's critical that you share the 'same language' because in the air you don’t have time to think and decipher what the other guy is saying, said CPT Tan. We need to match each other's capabilities...and come up with the best game plan to achieve our objectives.
The war game took place over an air space about 20 times the size of Singapore. Coupled with the range facilities and clear skies of Darwin, it formed a realistic training environment.
During the exercise, the RSAF's F-16C/D fighters successfully conducted their first live drop of the GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway (EP) II, a dual-mode guided bomb featuring a Global Positioning System-aided Inertial Navigation System as well as a laser guidance system.
Having that opportunity to do such stand-off weapon employment is critical... (it) gives the air crew and the ground crew the confidence in terms of platform capability, said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Linus Tan, RSAF Exercise Director.
Stand-off weapons like the EPII can be launched from a sufficient distance that allows the attacker to evade defensive fire from the target area.
The ground crew also gained valuable experience operating in a foreign flight line. The environment was harsh, with scorching heat, strong winds and sand dust.
To sustain the high-tempo operations through day and night, ground crew like 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Chia Yong Biao had to complete the aircraft checks quickly but without compromising on safety.
The most challenging part of it is having to meet the tight timeline given to conduct turnaround operations (time needed for loading, unloading, and servicing an aircraft), said 3SG Chia. The Full-time National Serviceman is a Dedicated Crew Chief in 143 SQN which operates the F-16C/Ds.
Sharing his thoughts on the exercise, Group Captain Michael Gray, the overall Exercise Director from RAAF, said: It's really pleasing how well we all fit together.
He also noted that the RSAF had been a proven player in the exercise series since 1990, and performed very well in all areas.
They have significant capabilities in their aircraft and in their aircrew from their training. So (we are) always pleased to work with them.
The recent threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) show that security challenges continue to exist, and there is a need to step up cooperation among militaries worldwide. Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Perry Lim said this at the Second Special Forces Commanders' Conference (SFCC) on 15 Oct.
Addressing some 400 Special Forces personnel and academics from 15 countries at the conference organised by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), MG Lim said: We are constantly reminded that security challenges continue to exist and hinder peaceful development.
He spoke about the challenges in dealing with terrorist threats that had become transnational in nature. It is not possible to isolate such threats to a single operational or geographical area. Only through mutual sharing and learning can we have more comprehensive and effective solutions, he said.
As Special Forces often spearhead counter-terrorism operations because of their unconventional capabilities, the participants will be sharing information and their experiences in such operations during the two-day conference themed, Evolving Terrorist Threats: Challenges and Opportunities for Special Forces.
We need multilateral Special Forces cooperation in information sharing, counter-terrorism responses, and shared Special Forces operating procedures in order to stay ahead of the threats we face today, said MG Lim.
He highlighted examples of how the region had taken steps to enhance practical co-operation in counter-terrorism. Last week, Singapore co-chaired the 4thASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus Expert Working Group (EWG) on Counter Terrorism with Australia. And the Group will start planning for a joint exercise in 2016 with the EWG on Maritime Security.
He also noted the significant roles played by Special Forces in the US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, and in the international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin in recent years. For the latter, the SAF had deployed a fifth task group comprising a frigate and a security component of its Special Operations Task Force.
On the sidelines of the conference, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen hosted a lunch for the heads of delegation of participating countries.