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, 19 Jan 2015 to 08:00am on Mon, 26 Jan 2015.
The threat of religious extremism in Asia stemming from the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the need to monitor the dynamics among US, China and Japan.
These were some of the key security concerns raised by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen in his keynote address at the third International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Fullerton Forum: The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting, at the Fullerton Hotel on 26 Jan.
Dr Ng was addressing about 60 delegates from 22 countries. Held from 25 to 27 Jan, the Sherpa meeting strengthens the Shangri-La Dialogue by providing an inter-sessional platform for delegates to engage in frank discussions on current defence and security issues.
Besides the two concerns, Dr Ng also spoke of several other themes which should be raised at the upcoming Shangri-La Dialogue: Political stability for countries in Asia, like Thailand and Myanmar, and the impact on security; and how countries can better coordinate and work together in light of transnational challenges arising from disasters and cybersecurity.
Dr Ng suggested three points. The first was to optimise current platforms to improve multilateralism and enhance regional security. He cited the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Military Medicine Exercise in held in Brunei 2013, which featured over 3,000 personnel from 18 ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus countries, as one such example.
Such practical cooperation builds confidence and mutual understanding which helps to prevent incidents on the ground from spiralling out of control because of misunderstandings or miscalculations.
He added that, in order for these platforms to stay relevant, it was important for them to take it up to the next level of cooperation.
Countries should use these multilateral platforms to proactively identify new initiatives, and enhance those proposed by others to tackle challenges in the changing geo-political landscape.
Dr Ng's two other suggestions were for countries to focus on practical measures to tackle security challenges and deliver concrete outcomes; and to enhance collective efforts to build real capacity to respond to challenges quickly and effectively.
On his final point, he elaborated that this was the reason Singapore established the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre (RHCC).
He said: Our hope is that the RHCC can contribute to more effective multinational military responses to disasters, by enhancing operational coordination among military responders while minimising duplication and gaps in assistance.
In closing, Dr Ng emphasised that, in today's interdependent world, countries must be on the same page to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is crucial for us to recognise that regional peace and stability depends on the collective will, and indeed the collective efforts, of nations to address the security challenges facing the region.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is turning 50, and it's pulling out all the stops to make this the most memorable birthday celebration.
And what better place to unveil the SAF50 celebration plans than at Dempsey Hill, former home of the Central Manpower Base?
During a media event held on 22 Jan at Unplugged The Live Music Room, Colonel (COL) Roland Ng, Director, Nexus and SAF50 co-secretariat, unveiled the SAF50 tagline - Our SAF : Giving Strength to Our Nation.
The tagline was created after extensive consultation with Ministry of Defence and SAF personnel, pioneers, National Servicemen and Full-time National Servicemen and their families, as well as the larger Singaporean public.
One consistent theme that came up (during the consultation) was 'strength' - the SAF derives strength from the support of our people. And at the same time, the SAF also gives strength to the nation to provide for its security and stability, said COL Ng.
An activity-packed year
Kicking off the year-long festivities is SAF50@Vivo, a large-scale event held at VivoCity from 12 to 15 Feb. There, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen will officially launch the SAF50 celebrations on 12 Feb.
Describing the event as a combined open house, Military Expert (ME) 7 Andy Tay, Commander Naval Logistics Command and Co-Chairman of SAF50@Vivo, said: This time around, we are having a tri-service event. The Navy, together with the Army and Air Force, will be bringing our military assets and capabilities to VivoCity.
Visitors can look forward to getting up close to military hardware such as the Super Puma helicopter, the Heron unmanned aerial vehicle, the Protector unmanned surface vessel and the SPYDER air defence system. They can also try their hand at some of the simulators, such as learning to fly an F-16 aircraft or shooting targets with naval gunnery.
And of course, there is the perennial favourite - the Navy ship visit. This year, Landing Ship Tank (LST) RSS Endurance, one of the Navy's largest ships, will be docked at the VivoCity Promenade. About 25,000 tickets will be available for public balloting, and ship visitors will also have the chance to ride on a Fast Craft Utility launched from the well-dock of the LST.
Members of the public can ballot for the LST visit tickets on the Republic of Singapore Navy Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/singaporenavy) from 16 Jan.
According to ME7 Tay, SAF50@Vivo will feature many firsts for visitors, including a peek at the rarely-seen naval submarines. Visitors will be able to climb on board a scaled replica of the latest Archer-class submarine's conning tower, and take a look at a life-sized model of the heavy-weight torpedo fired by the submarines.
This is the first time that some parts of the Singapore Navy submarine capability will be shown to the public, said ME7 Tay.
Our SAF story
One of the highlights of SAF50@Vivo is the SAF50 exhibition, an interactive and experiential display that will showcase the real-life stories of the men and women who have contributed to Singapore's defence over the last 50 years.
COL Ng expressed his hopes that the stories will touch Singaporeans, both in and out of the uniform: First, we hope that the stories will help (people) understand the SAF better, because these stories provide a perspective of the SAF that has never been presented before.
Second, through SAF50, we (wish to) show our appreciation to the pioneers for laying down the foundation of the SAF. We also hope that the current generation of servicemen feel appreciated and motivated to continue contributing towards building a strong SAF.
Finally, we hope that Singaporeans, through understanding the SAF better, understand that they themselves contribute to building a strong SAF and will continue to provide their support.
Other SAF50 activities include a roving exhibition that will travel to various locations across the island from February to August, as well as a Thank You card movement where the public can write messages to SAF servicemen and women.
For more information on SAF50, visit www.SAF50years.sg.
With the recent terror attacks in France and Australia, it is more important than ever to stay vigilant even in peace time, said 2nd Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing during his visit to 807th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (807 SIR) at Jurong Island on 22 Jan.
We must not let our guard down in Singapore, especially for vital installations like this in Jurong Island.
Commending the readiness and focus of the men on duty, he added: The NSmen (Operationally Ready National Servicemen) are all very mission oriented in what they do, so they take the mission very seriously.
Since the last time I've been here (Jurong Island) to see the soldiers, the commanders and men have constantly made improvements to the way they do things to be more efficient and effective.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) works closely with the Home Team and other agencies to protect key installations, and Mr Chan emphasised that we will continue to make sure that we maintain our vigilance and our readiness as…security challenges become more complex.
Commanding Officer of 807 SIR, Major (MAJ) (NS) Edmund Yeo agreed with Mr Chan, adding: The NSmen get to be deployed and get to play a part in defending the nation. In current circumstances, (operations are) very real, and the men are very committed.
While protecting the island is a heavy responsibility, MAJ (NS) Yeo credited strong family support in helping him juggle his NS, work and family commitments. Having good family encouragement and a good mindset provides me with the support to carry out operations successfully.
Lance-Corporal (LCP) (NS) Abdul Razak, a security trooper from 807 SIR, shared that he found that his deployment meaningful, saying: I am very honoured and proud to be a part of these security operations.
I understand why we are here, and what we are doing this for… I think it is very important for every National Serviceman to know that the security of Singapore is very important and that their contributions (to defence) are important.
Also present at today's visit was Chief of Staff - General Staff, Brigadier-General (BG) Lim Hock Yu; Commander, 2nd People's Defence Force, BG Terry Siow; and other commanders.
1993 South-East Asian (SEA) Games show veteran Colonel (COL) (Ret) Tan Chong Boon is back to help the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) run the region's biggest sports event.
More than 20 years ago, when Singapore last hosted the SEA Games, COL (Ret) Tan, then a young Captain, orchestrated the opening ceremony at the old National Stadium as a cue master. The result was a seamless spectacle of fireworks, mass displays and musical performances in front of a 55,000-strong crowd.
Today, as Singapore prepares to host the 28th SEA Games in June this year, the 54-year-old retired Artillery officer is back as a volunteer advisor. He will be sharing his experience with the Artillery Formation that has once again been tasked to organise the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games.
I am a gunner so when you know your Formation is doing this, and you have the experience, it's natural to just step forward and volunteer, said the former commander of Army Officers' Advanced School who spent 33 years in the SAF.
In the next few months, COL (Ret) Tan will meet with the committee once every two to four weeks to help fine-tune their plans. His role is very much like a devil's advocate.
My job is to understand their plans, walk the ground with them and provide my observations. It could be blind spots that the show committee may not have paid attention to, said the current general manager of The Chevrons, a clubhouse for SAF Warrant Officers and Specialist Corps.
Sometimes when you are too engrossed in your own plan, you cannot see the gaps... We (will) need to do modelling and role-playing to see if there are any gaps.
This is especially so when the region's biggest sporting event is taking place in the new Sports Hub which is still a work-in-progress. COL (Ret) Tan recalled that during the 1993 SEA Games, the senior officers had to exercise flexibility, and kept fine-tuning their plan even at a late juncture.
Initially I was not involved, but as time passed, the senior officers realised the shows were much too complex, and a cue master at the performance stage was needed, he recalled.
There was lots of coordination needed as we 'toggled' between the stage and field. I would be cueing the emcees to make the announcement to start the mass display, and when the focus was on the field, we would black-out the stage, get the chairs and equipment out for the next performance.
This year, in his advisory role, COL (Ret) Tan will primarily be coaching the 21-man operations sub-committee in charge of security, crowd and traffic control.
He will draw from his experience in running the operations hub of the 2006 International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank Annual Meeting. It was then the biggest international event ever hosted by Singapore, with over 20,000 delegates, including finance ministers and central bank governors from 184 countries.
In the 2010 Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore, COL (Ret) Tan also played a similar role as the deputy chairman of the executive committee. Then, he oversaw the operations of the opening and closing ceremonies attended by delegates from 205 countries.
COL (Ret) Tan is looking forward to the SEA Games as it will coincide with the Republic's 50th birthday celebration. The new Sports Hub presents a great opportunity for us to stage memorable opening and closing ceremonies. This will be a show that will be part of Singapore's 50th (birthday) celebrations and I believe the SAF will deliver as always.
On a personal note, the avid sports fan hopes that the Singapore soccer team will deliver too. He recalled the organiser of the 1993 SEA Games had counted on Singapore reaching the soccer finals, and scheduled for the closing ceremony to take place after it. But Singapore had unexpectedly crashed out in the semi-final.
So far, our best is second placing. It will be nice to see the Lions win the soccer Gold in the new Sports Hub for Singapore, he said.
As for the 200-plus Regulars who are involved in the preparations for the SEA Games, COL (Ret) Tan urges them to give it their best. Singapore hosts the SEA Games only once every 20 years, so this is a very rare opportunity. One generation of officers would probably get to do it only once.
MV Swift Rescue returned to Changi Naval Base on 18 Jan after a 20-day search in the Java Sea for AirAsia plane QZ8501. During its deployment, the ship found the main fuselage of the ill-fated flight.
The main fuselage was found on 14 Jan. Said Major (MAJ) Wee Hong Tat, Deputy Officer Commanding of MV Swift Rescue: Our sonars picked up a large contact which was nothing like what we had seen in the past two weeks of searching.
From the sonar returns, there were five large objects on the bottom which were most probably metallic, said MAJ Wee. Through the cameras of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), a submersible vehicle, they obtained visual confirmation that it was the main fuselage of QZ8501.
It was the last Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) ship to return and that marked the end of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) deployment in the Indonesia-led multinational search operations.
The deployment began on 28 Dec 2014 and involved more than 400 personnel, two C-130 aircraft, two Super Puma helicopters, five RSN ships and a 6-man Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team.
Speaking to the media after receiving MV Swift Rescue, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen commended the men and women who were deployed for the search operations.
I am very satisfied with the way our SAF performed; they were very professional. They went out, did their jobs, put in their full effort for every task assigned.
He added: They've helped the families of the victims find closure as well as find answers to what caused the accident.
Commander Task Group Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Chow Khim Chong recounted the weather conditions during the search. There was constant rain and rough seas but everyone pushed on.
Speaking on the level of coordination during the search, he said: Indonesia was very forthcoming with daily updates and communications with the other ships in terms of exchanging information on the ground went very well.
During each day of the search operation, the deployed forces from the RSN and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) would comb the search sectors assigned to them by BASARNAS - Indonesia's national search rescue agency.
The RSAF was the first from the SAF to join the search operations and the focus in those early days was on the surface search. RSAF Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Lim Kuang Hiok, said: We flew about nine hours each day across three sorties. This was to make use of the useful hours in each day to maximise the search time so that they could complete the assigned search sectors. This is just one of the things we are trained for.
For men on the ground such as 3rd Sergeant (3SG) (NS) Goh Zhe Wen, it was the thought of the families that kept him going during the three-hour long sorties. I just kept telling myself that I must do this diligently and properly because it's very important for them (the families).
That, too, came with challenges. Compared to the size of the sea, the objects that we were looking for were quite miniscule.
Added 3SG (NS) Goh: I'm just glad that I can help the families draw some closure in my own way. The 20-year-old had volunteered for the search operations.
Those on the ships were spurred on by similar thoughts. Recounting when Landing Ship Tank RSS Persistence found a life raft during a search, Military Expert (ME) 1 Nicholas Wee said: I felt quite sad upon seeing the raft but I'm also proud that we did whatever we could to help.
Said the 27-year-old sailor: We gave some closure to the victims' families. That makes all our work here worthwhile.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng and Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral (RADM) Lai Chun Han were among the senior officers who welcomed MV Swift Rescue back.
Life in the corporate world did not appeal to Officer Cadet (OCT) Tey Weely. So she took the bold step to join the military after her A levels.
Now, the petite 19-year-old is trained to take control and orchestrate air warfare operations. A career in the military appealed to me because it's more meaningful, as compared to chasing profits.
The Air Warfare Officer (AWO) said: I can't picture myself working in a private company. In the SAF, the goal is national defence and there's a sense of mission and purpose.
OCT Tey was commissioned at the first Officer Cadet Course Commissioning Parade this year on 17 Jan. She was also the first female to receive the Sword of Honour award in the AWO course. The award is added responsibility; I must always keep a high standard.
Reviewing the parade was President Tony Tan Keng Yam. Speaking to the 499 new officers, he said: Forge strong partnerships and build deep relationships with those under your command and across the SAF, so that you can become greater than the sum of your parts.
Dr Tan also paid tribute to Singapore's pioneers. Our pioneers worked hard to build up this country, laying a firm foundation so that future generations can live out their hopes and dreams.
The same is true of the SAF and its pioneers. The early generations of SAF leaders built up the SAF into a modern fighting force, so that a small country like Singapore can remain free in an uncertain world.
It is a message that resonates with Midshipman (MID) Tan Zheng Zhi Kenzo Chandra. OCS has imparted many values to me and these are lessons that will carry through.
They taught me how to be a leader and to be mentally bulletproof - to be ready for anything that comes.
He lists taking control of a Landing Ship Tank (the largest naval ship Singapore has at more than 140m long) during his Midshipman Sea Training Deployment as one of his most memorable experiences. It's this type of training that gives us confidence that we can do it when needed.
Added OCT Tan: Not many people ever drive a ship, much less a navy ship! I'm glad I got to do that and learn many other skills.
For OCT Timothy Justin Bala, becoming an officer is just one step towards living his dream of becoming a fighter pilot. His father used to serve in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and had retired two years ago.
I went to my dad for advice on whether I should join the RSAF. He told me I have to be committed and be positive in everything that I do in NS.
Trained as a Logistics Officer, the Sword of Merit recipient appreciates the insights into how the SAF operates. It's not just about soldiers fighting but also how the SAF resupplies its troops.
There is a lot of information to learn and we had to overcome both physical and mental tiredness, said OCT Timothy. He will head to the 1st Army Maintenance Base while his application to join the RSAF is being processed.
Of the 499 commissioned on 17 Jan, 409 were from the Army, 48 from the Navy and 42 from the Air Force.