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.
Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) may soon be able to use the National Service Recognition Award (NSRA) for their medical needs.
The Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) is currently looking into ways to enhance the existing monetary award, which can currently only be used for further education or housing, said Minister of State Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman after hosting a CSNS Facebook chat with netizens on 22 Apr.
The NSRA is a monetary award of between $9,000 and $10,500 that is credited to each NSman's Central Provident Fund (CPF) account by the time he completes his Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) training cycle.
We acknowledged that healthcare is one key hot button issue to Singaporeans of all ages, and we want to show recognition to NSmen, said Dr Maliki. One possibility, of course, to explore (is) giving them possible Medisave contributions but we are still exploring the details.
About 120 netizens took part in the Facebook chat which focused on two key discussion topics: engaging employers and schools, and improving the fitness of NSmen and pre-enlistees.
Dr Maliki was joined by two other hosts: Mr Nicholas Fang, a nominated member of parliament and member of the Support for NS Working Group, and Mr Derek Tan, a member of the Recognition and Benefits Working Group. Both Working Groups support the CSNS Steering Committee.
During the 90-minute chat, most netizens agreed that fitness was important but asked for greater flexibility in training such as having more varied and convenient venues for the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).
Said netizen Ethan Chua: Conduct your IPPT nearer in town, in a nice place. (It's) convenient and (we) sure got motivation to run faster :)
Dr Maliki said that the committee would consider the suggestions, and that it is currently exploring ways to further enhance the existing IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) system.
It's heartening to know that they (netizens) take fitness seriously, (that) they are not taking it lightly, and they want to stay fit and want to discuss with us how best we can create a system that is sensitive to their current challenges - being employees, being professionals, and at the same time wanting to keep fit.
Some netizens suggested that the SAF could engage employers early to help them better understand the NS system, how Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) train, and what NSmen do during In-camp Training.
In particular, netizen Ng Yong Toh felt that there should be a focus on speaking with non-Singaporean employers: It would be helpful if the government can have talks with non-Singaporean start-ups about the NS obligation Singaporean men have to go through. This will help to manage expectations.
Another idea raised during the discussion was that the SAF could enhance the current SAF-School Partnership Programme (SSPP) to engage young school children. For instance, the SAF could invite veterans to share their first-hand experience of defending Singapore during the early years of pre-independence.
Netizen M Farhan Rais felt that the SSPP could extend its reach beyond schools: Perhaps it can be open to employers as well as a form of education.
On engaging employers and schools, Dr Maliki highlighted that the Ministry of Defence is currently restructuring the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) into various outreach groups to better engage employers, schools, families and members of the broader community.
Some netizens also asked about suggestions that the CSNS had found unfeasible, such as giving priority for HDB flats to NSmen.
The hosts explained that such a priority scheme is less impactful because the majority of the HDB flats buyers are NSmen.
Because there are many NSmen out there, giving priority to NSmen is literally giving priority to every person going through the system, Dr Maliki explained.
On the usefulness of using the Facebook platform to gather ideas from digitally savvy Singaporeans, Dr Maliki said: Our sense is that we did capture a younger audience, younger people who otherwise may not have attended some of our focus group discussions. So it was a good platform to engage young netizens.
Since last May, the CSNS has consulted some 40,000 Singaporeans for ideas to strengthen NS. It will put up a final report of recommendations to strengthen NS within the next few months.
The Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Defence and Foreign Affairs (DFA) and its Resource Panel, together with the GPC for Home Affairs and Law, visited the Singapore Maritime Crisis Centre (SMCC) on 22 Apr.
Located at the Changi Command and Control Centre in Changi Naval Base, the SMCC is an inter-agency setup that supports the National Maritime Security System (NMSS) in policing, detecting and neutralising any maritime threats found in Singapore's waters. The SMCC is made up of personnel from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), Singapore Customs (SC) and Singapore Police Force (SPF).
Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, who hosted the visit, explained the purpose of establishing the SMCC: It's very important that we put systems in place to ensure that every ship that comes through our straits comes for the right purpose. And if there is any possibility of terror plans from sources that have ill intentions, we (have to be) able to detect them very early, even before they come near us.
During the visit, the members were briefed on the operations of the National Maritime Sense-Making Group (NMSG) and National Maritime Operations Group (NMOG), which are part of the NMSS set-up. They were also introduced to the MPA's Port Operations and Control Centre Changi, the Maritime Security Task Force Operations Hub and the Information Fusion Centre (IFC).
Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Nicholas Lim, Head IFC, briefed the visitors about the IFC's contributions to the international search-and-locate efforts for the missing Malaysian airliner MH370, which included collating and sharing information of naval ships and aircraft deployed to search the South China Sea and Malacca Straits.
The visit provided Ms Ellen Lee, GPC-DFA Deputy Chairman and Minister of Parliament (MP) for Sembawang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), with a better understanding of the SMCC's role in upholding Singapore's maritime security.
Now I know why Singapore is safe, especially when we are just a tiny island with a busy port (and) busy sea links; yet we are still able to maintain a very high level of safety and maintain our international reputation as the busiest and also the safest port so far, she said.
Dr Janil Puthucheary, GPC for Home Affairs and Law member and MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, was especially impressed by the brains working behind the scenes to analyse all the data collected by the SMCC.
There was a lot of technology that integrates the data and information that's coming in. But all this works (because of) the people (behind the technology)... They gave a very clear sense that they were trying to anticipate the unknown, trying to look at the information and see how they can be best prepared to serve Singapore.
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.
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!