The changing of Istana Guards Ceremony by the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command at the Istana main gate will be held on Sunday, 2 November 2014, at 6:00pm. The new Guards will march along Orchard Road towards the Istana to take over from the old Guards.
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, 27 Oct 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 3 Nov 2014.
At night, it can often be mistaken for an unidentified flying object (UFO) that will thrill sci-fi enthusiasts. But in reality, the 74K Aerostat is an important combat support asset that assists the US Army in maintaining their vigilant guard.
It does not fire missiles, fly at high speeds or drop bombs. Instead, the 74K Aerostat floats casually in the skies - a helium-filled balloon anchored to the ground. Despite its unimposing appearance, the giant contraption (which resembles a plain white airship) plays an integral role in the military.
Unlike the hot air balloon which is often used for recreational joyrides, the 74K Aerostat System is primarily a combat support element that serves as the main core of the United States (US) Army's Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS).
As the term persistent suggests, this aerostat can be operational for more than 20 continuous days, far longer than conventional surveillance aircraft. Aerostats also have the advantage of being less resource intensive to operate.
With an operational radar range of over 160km and operational altitude of 1,500m, the aerostat provides soldiers with knowledge of the ground situation in real time, as well as communications assistance while remaining out of range of most enemy threats.
How it differs from ground-based radars is that an airborne radar's low-level coverage is better because it is not obstructed by obstacles on the ground such as high-rise buildings.
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the 74K Aerostat's low-level coverage, which allows it to detect surface and low-flying targets, also complements the surveillance capability of ground-based radars.
Design and payloads
The high buoyancy of helium (a gas much lighter than air) allows the aerostat to remain afloat. This aerostatic lift is what differentiates it from traditional aircraft which utilise aerodynamic lift - where a part of the aircraft is moving through the surrounding air mass to lift the craft.
To maintain stability, the aerostat is always pointed into the wind. The wings and fins also contribute to the stability of the airship. As its name suggests, the entire hull volume of the 74K Aerostat is 74,000 cubic feet (2,100 cubic metres).
As a combat support facility, the US Army's aerostat consists of multiple payloads that aid in its surveillance capabilities.
One of these payloads is the AN/ZPY-1 STARLite radar. This small tactical synthetic aperture radar designed by Northrop Grumman is able to spot slight movements in the vicinity, as well as detect targets and track their movement.
It is also equipped with an MX-20 payload, a long-range, multi-sensor, multi-spectral tracking system. The system can carry up to seven different types of sensors at a time, allowing the user to select which sensor to use depending on the operational requirements.
Another sensor installed on the aerostat is the Unattended Transient Acoustic Measurement and Signature Intelligence Sensor, which can detect the point of origin and impact of missiles, mortars and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Supporting the warfighter
The 74K Aerostat is anchored to a mooring platform, and through copper wires and fibre-optic cables in the tether, data gathered from the multiple sensor payloads will be transmitted back to the Ground Control Station for sense-making. Information collected will then be disseminated to US Army ground commanders via a network known as the Distributed Common Ground System-Army.
This allows ground commanders to have a real-time perspective of the situation on the ground, facilitating decision-making and allowing peace-time operations such as convoy protection or countering IEDs to be more effective. Aside from transferring data, the tether also supplies power to the various payloads on the airship.
Over the years since 2003, more than 60 PTDS aerostats have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US Army, and the system has evolved into a multi-mission surveillance platform equally adept at protecting convoys in transit as providing information on enemy troop movements.
On the important role which the PTDS plays in the US Army, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Parodi, Product Manager for the US Army's Meteorological and Target Identification Capabilities, said: The PTDS has proven to be a great asset for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines as well as our Coalition partners serving in harm's way.
They have been instrumental in providing mission overwatch, detecting IEDs and assisting in the capture of numerous high-value targets and weapons caches.
With the increasing use of aerostats and similar lighter-than-air systems in the military, perhaps the airship can finally gain recognition as an invaluable combat support asset and shake off its reputation as just another UFO.
It was one of the most diverse groups of graduands at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC) Command and Staff Course (CSC) 2014 graduation ceremony, held at the Istana on 30 Nov.
For the first time, three Senior Warrant Officers (SWOs) participated in the CSC (Executive) course. And out of the 207 graduands, there were 15 international officers from 11 countries - including the first from Myanmar - as well as an officer from the Singapore Police Force.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, who officiated at the ceremony, commended the college for developing exemplary military leaders who care for the country and the men they lead.
He noted that the presence of the international officers and SWOs adds to the stature of our courses, and participants benefit from hearing their diverse views and experiences.
(The participation of SWOs) in the CSC (Executive) course recognises the capabilities of our SWOs and the larger responsibilities that we have asked them to shoulder, he added.
SWO Tamizh Kannan, one of the three warrant officer graduands, agreed with Dr Ng. He said that his experience in the Singapore Armed Forces - almost 30 years - was invaluable in helping him during the CSC (Executive).
(My years in the army) has taught me resilience and has given me a lot of exposure.
I was able to overcome (the challenges I faced in) this course largely due to all the past learning, training and exposure that the SAF has provided me with all these years.
For Major (MAJ) Chuah Meng Soon, the top Navy graduand for CSC, his family's support was vital in helping him to do well. One of the largest challenges that I faced was time management. I was taking all six master's credits, so (it was hard trying to) balance the course's requirements and spending time with my family. I am really thankful for their support and understanding.
On one of the biggest takeaways he had from the course, MAJ Chuah said: In our careers, we are usually being managed by our seniors, or managing our juniors. This course gave me the setting to hone my peer leadership as we were all of the same rank, yet had different areas of expertise which needed to be maximised.
(I found that) peer leadership was…really about understanding the dynamics of your team - building trust and relationships.
Among the 49 National Servicemen (NSmen) graduands was MAJ (NS) Ryan Tan Jian Yuan, who works as Head of Strategy and Enterprise Risk Management at Singapore Mass Rapid Transport. He noted that the level of commitment required from the NSmen was great, saying: CSC (NS) is a 10-month course, with the residential phase being five and a half weeks. We had many assignments and (often) had to stay late in camp.
It was not easy, for sure. It takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you into a place where you have to learn and pass certain milestones.
However, MAJ (NS) Tan had no regrets in going for the CSC, and said that it was exactly this environment of high standards which pushed them towards excellence. Personally, the hardest part was to understand the broader perspectives of those around me. I am an Armour officer by vocation, but through the course I came to realise how the different vocations, and even how the different Services, worked together.
Also present at the graduation ceremony was Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng, Chief of Air Force Major-General Hoo Cher Mou, Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lai Chung Han, Deputy Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck, and senior commanders of the SAF.
Having lived abroad for more than half of his 20 years, Corporal (CPL) Niall Yang Sohan is an intriguing mash-up of east-meets-west.
Following his diplomat dad around the world, he has lived in Jakarta (Indonesia), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and San Francisco (United States).
He is now doing his National Service (NS) as a military policeman (MP). As an MP, he does anti-riot training, conducts spot-checks and is part of parades for visiting dignitaries. One of the things that NS has taught me is to persevere - you have to put effort into something to see it through, for it to bear fruit.
My dad served NS in the Signals Formation. His stories about NS always made it out to be very tough. If anything, those stories only psyched me up for a challenge.
Not like he shies away from difficulties. He speaks three languages - English, French and German - and is learning a fourth (Russian).
He makes it a point to pore over Russian texts for at least two hours every Sunday and maintain his fluency in French and German. And did we mention that he is also an accomplished classical pianist?
His next challenge is to read Economics at Stanford University in the US. And after that? I'll go to grad school. Beyond that I will take what fate gives me and play it by ear.
Innovation has always been at the heart of the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), and this has enabled them to achieve more with less.
Said DSTA's Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) Hor Gar Yin: The focus on innovation has empowered our staff to push technological boundaries and deliver cutting-edge capabilities to MINDEF (Ministry of Defence) and the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces).
A recent example of DSTA's contributions to defence is the Multi-Mission Range Complex (MMRC).
The first of its kind in the world, the MMRC is a three-storey indoor firing range complex which allows servicemen to conduct different shooting missions and scenarios. Soldiers can thus complete their day and night shoots within a day, as well as carry on with shooting practice during rainy weather. This development also helped to save up to 22 hectares of land by housing seven live-firing indoor ranges in one building.
For their innovation management capabilities, DSTA was awarded the Innovation Excellence Award (I-Award) at the Raffles City Convention Centre on 30 Oct. This award is part of the Business Excellence Awards 2014 given by the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) Governing Council.
Introduced in 1994, the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) is the pinnacle award for business excellence in Singapore. DSTA was among seven organisations which bagged the top awards this year. Other winners included Nestlé Singapore (Pte) Ltd - Jurong Factory, UOB Group Channels and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
Noting that DSTA worked innovation into our work processes by design, Mr Hor elaborated that their iLEAP (imagination, Leadership, Environment, Appreciation and Process) Innovation Framework provided a robust and systematic approach for staff to be innovative and come up with new ways to streamline processes and increase productivity.
For its strong innovation culture and solutions, DSTA has several awards under its belt. On 29 Oct, it clinched the Most Innovative Project (Silver) Award at the Public Service 21 Excellence through Continuous Enterprise and Learning Convention.
DSTA also helped to develop Decisive Combat, a serious game designed to develop critical thinking skills in junior military leaders. The game was named the Best Game in the Government category at the Serious Games Global Showcase Challenge held in the United States from 2 to 5 December 2013.
The I-Award marked a key milestone in DSTA's journey towards excellence, said Mr Hor. Moving forward, DSTA will continue to harness the power of imagination in our staff…and we hope to motivate our defence engineers to seek new breakthroughs and innovative solutions to meet the defence needs of MINDEF and the SAF.
Haze levels hit a record high last year, and Singaporeans rallied to help one another pull through the crisis. Information management and coordination were key in tackling the haze situation, and this was what inspired a team of Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) to create an award-winning mobile app for commanders to better communicate with parents.
Team leader Corporal First Class (CFC) John Tan remembers how, when he was a recruit, all his Basic Military Training instructors were kept occupied by endless phone calls from concerned parents.
I thought, why not create an app since everyone carries a smartphone nowadays, said CFC Tan, an Ops clerk in 10th Battalion, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence (10C4I).
By pushing newsfeed updates like cancellation of training (because of the haze) to parents, our commanders can be freed up to attend to pressing matters.
In August this year, CFC Tan teamed up with five NSFs from Headquarters Commando for the inaugural Mobile App Challenge, and their eEngagement app emerged the winner.
It allows commanders to update parents on their sons' training activities, cancellation of training, changes in book-out timing as well as other information. Parents can also submit questions which commanders can reply directly through the app.
Jointly organised by the Ministry of Defence's (MINDEF's) Information Systems Division, and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), the competition was open to all MINDEF and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel.
CFC Tan and and co-team leader Lance Corporal (LCP) Tan Wei Yang received the award from Major-General (MG) (NS) Ng Chee Khern, Permanent Secretary (Defence Development), on 29 Oct at the 12th MINDEF Chief Information Officer (CIO) Seminar held at The Chevrons.
In his address, MG (NS) Ng said the competition provided a platform for crowd sourcing of mobile app ideas and developing working prototypes quickly.
A total of 125 entries were received. The top 10 teams were then each paired with a commercial developer to create a prototype of the app within a month.
Among the apps are those which aim to improve operations within the SAF. For instance, a team from the 1st SAF Transport Battalion (1 SAF TPT BN) developed the Steering Force app to help transport operators familiarise themselves with their driving routes.
Before setting off, these drivers can use the app to view approved routes to and from all SAF camps for each type of vehicle. They have to stick to these routes because heavy SAF vehicles such as the 5-ton trucks can only travel on certain roads.
The app is useful because it is not possible for the transport operators, especially the newer guys who just completed their training, to be familiar with all the routes, explained team leader Captain Derek Liew, an Officer Commanding in 1 SAF TPT BN.
Transport operators can also take snapshots of the odometer reading using their smartphones to submit their mileage record electronically. This will help to improve accuracy and cut down paper work.
Another notable app is Snap2Send, which is designed to speed up planning for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
Defence Executive Officer (DXO) Mr J. Srieedar from the SAF Mapping Unit noted that HADR mission planners often had to wait for up to two days for the advance party, also known as the needs assessment survey team, on the ground to fly back to Singapore with critical photos and information such as potential heli-landing zones, routes to reach the disaster zones and suitable sites for medical posts. However, speed is of the essence in such relief operations. With that in mind, he developed a camera app for users to send back photos - tagged with GPS coordinates - in real time. They can also describe the situation as shown in the photo and send the voice recording to the mission planners.
As Wifi and 4G or 3G networks are often down in a disaster zone, the transmission is done via a portable satellite device that is paired with a smartphone or tablet.
The information and photos are sent via satellite and the mission planners can view them in real time, said the 31 year-old mapping specialist.
All top 10 apps will be considered for further development, and use in MINDEF and the SAF.
It is easy to be beaten down by a problem and feel helpless in the midst of difficulties.
But not Military Expert (ME) 2-2 Lim Zhi Cheng, who always looks for the silver lining in a dark cloud.
Every problem I see gives me an opportunity to make improvements and do better, said the PS21 ExCEL (Public Service 21 Excellence through Continuous Enterprise and Learning) Awards Innovation Champion (Gold) winner. He is a Master Technician Trainer in 1st Army Maintenance Base.
For his vision and far-sightedness, ME2-2 Lim received the prestigious award - the highest honour among the PS21 ExCEL awards - from Head of Civil Service and Permanent Secretary (Finance), Mr Peter Ong.
The spark of an idea, together with the hard work of public officers, helps the public service to meet that challenges we face today and the issues that lie tomorrow, Mr Ong told award winners and attendees in his opening speech to the PS21 ExCEL Convention 2014, held at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) on 29 Oct.
PS21, the Singapore Public Service's change movement, encourages public officers to embrace change and work improvements, so as to keep the Public Service at the leading edge of contributing towards Singapore's success. Organised by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), this was the first time that the PS21 ExCEL Convention was held in conjunction with MINDEF's annual Productivity and Innovation in Daily Efforts (PRIDE) Day 2014, which took place the day before in NYP. The Singapore Public Service's change movement, PS21 encourages public officers to embrace change and work improvements.
As team leader, ME2-2 Lim shares his ideas with the rest of his WITS (Work Improvement Teams) members, who work together to bring these ideas to fruition. This includes the invention of a Fuel System Analyser (FSA), a project he worked on with his WITS team, Team STRYKER.
Using a variable resistor controller, the FSA allows technicians to assess the parts of the Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle (BIFV) that are damaged without have to carry out trial-and-error tests. Previously, damage assessment entailed fitting various parts from a working BIFV into the damaged vehicle to determine the source of the damage.
The team's solution cut down the time needed drastically from 600 minutes to just 28 minutes. The project received the Merit award in the International Exposition on Team Excellence, an annual event held by the Singapore Productivity Association.
Working with the experienced innovator, who has won many MINDEF and Singapore Armed Forces WITS awards over the last two years, has provided Team STRYKER with valuable mentorship.
Describing ME2-2 Lim's leadership style as teamwork-centric, Corporal First Class Kwoh Ji Wei, who has been in Team STRYKER since April 2013, said: He emphasises brainstorming as a team. On top of that, he delegates tasks based on our strengths, which makes the team even stronger.
For The Maritime Security Team from Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), who won the Most Innovative Project/Policy (Silver) award for their National Maritime Security System, teamwork was taken to an even larger scale - that among ministries and agencies.
Working closely with the Republic of Singapore Navy and other maritime agencies, the team developed the National Maritime Security System. The system's key feature is its ability to paint a common maritime situation picture by drawing upon and sharing information from the various agencies.
Project Manager Chua Yat Seng explained that each agency has its own systems and databases, so it was a challenge for the team to fuse all the data into a common picture.
In addition, the team developed an automated system that detects anomalies that could be signs of an impending threat. This has allowed security agencies to better monitor shipping, and provided greater lead time to respond swiftly to any potential maritime threats.
All the hard work put into the project was well worth the effort when the system's capabilities were tested and demonstrated at Exercise Highcrest (a national-level counter-terrorism exercise), added his teammate, Head Capability Development (Networked Systems Integration), Mr Oh Khoon Wee.
On DSTA's culture of innovation, Mr Oh noted that we believe in not saying 'no' - we always want to challenge the status quo by doing things better.