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, 25 May 2015 to 08:00am on Mon, 1 Jun 2015.
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, 18 May 2015 to 08:00am on Mon, 25 May 2015.
Plenty of people do marathons every year in running-mad Singapore but her story is pretty unique - Military Expert (ME) 2 Cheryl Chen did it a few months after delivering her first child in mid-2008.
I started running and training a month after delivery and did a marathon at the end of the year, she said. I felt that I needed to take care of my kid but I also needed some time for myself.
Since then, she has been doing the Army Half Marathon (AHM) every year. Somewhere in between preparing her son for school and getting to work, ME2 Chen finds time to run daily.
My husband got me hooked on long distance running, said ME2 Chen. Her husband had taken her to her first AHM when she was still going through Basic Military Training.
But it could have all turned out another way. While studying at a polytechnic for her diploma in Law, her sights were set on joining the police force.
My best friend wanted to join the Army so we signed up for both (the SAF and police force). Her best friend ended up in the police force and ME2 Chen in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). We ended up both working in the intelligence units, so that's really a twist of fate!
What can we say; she's destined to be in uniform.
The first and only Singaporean to be signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial artist CFC (NS) Royston Wee packs a serious punch.
Standing at 170cm tall and weighing in at 61kg, Corporal First Class (CFC) (NS) Wee is one of Singapore's most talented mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters. At 29 years old, he has already fought twice for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the largest MMA promotion company in the world.
Boasting a record of 4-1-0 (4 wins, 1 loss, 0 draws), it might come as a surprise that CFC (NS) Wee only started his martial arts career when he was 21 years old, after graduating from polytechnic.
This top Bantamweight (weight class of about 57 to 61kg) contender was not always the powerhouse that he is today - after all, even the great have to start somewhere.
I began learning MMA for a few months before enlisting for National Service (NS), he recalled. During the first few months while I was in Basic Military Training (BMT), it was a bit difficult for me to continue. I tried to train as much as I could in Tekong, and I would head down to the gym on weekends.
The Transport Operator from 6th and 9th Divisional Air Defence Artillery Battalions still has fond memories of his NS days. Going from BMT and then to unit, I've met new people and some of them have become my good friends, he said. More importantly, when you go through NS, you become more independent.
From being assigned tasks or waking up for exercises at 3am, it teaches you one very important thing - responsibility.
These qualities would come in handy for CFC (NS) Wee. After NS, he continued his martial arts journey by becoming an instructor at Impact MMA.
I started competing in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu around that time, said CFC (NS) Wee. My first competition was an inter-house. Even though I was only a white belt then, I won all the fights and got gold for that competition.
It was only in 2011 that CFC (NS) Wee started fighting in MMA, chalking up his first two MMA victories in the Malaysian Fighting Championships in November and December that year.
He then left to further his studies in Australia, but after returning to Singapore, he got his big break in 2013 - being selected for the UFC.
It was a bit overwhelming at first, he reminisced. UFC is (a competition) of the highest standard in the world… Everybody wants to be in the UFC.
His debut UFC fight, held at Marina Bay Sands on 4 Jan 2014, also marked the very first time a UFC fight was held in Singapore. Winning the fight via a unanimous decision after dominating his opponent in all three rounds, CFC (NS) Wee would then go on to win his second fight, this time held in the 15,000-seat Cotai Arena in Macau in August last year.
There is a Chinese proverb that says: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the People's Liberation Army (Navy) (PLA (N)) took that first step in enhancing bilateral ties, with the inaugural Exercise Maritime Cooperation which took place on 20 May, and 23 to 25 May.
The four-day exercise saw RSN frigate RSS Intrepid and missile corvette RSS Valiant, together with Chinese frigate Yulin, conduct gunnery firing and manoeuvring drills.
RSN Commander Task Group Colonel (COL) Ken Cheong said: The exercise is a major step for us; we have moved from very basic manoeuvres to more advanced bilateral training. The two naval forces also conducted air-defence and other war-fighting drills.
He added: It's a stepping stone to more interactions in the future. We have achieved all the training (targets). Besides bilateral training objectives, we also made friends.
The Chinese Task Group Commander, PLA (N)'s Senior Captain Zhang Ming Qiang, voiced similar sentiments: The exercise increased our mutual understanding of how each other operates, and it has enhanced our ability to operate together. It's win-win for both sides.
The RSN was open and sincere with us, and very serious in their work. That left a deep impression on us from this first time (that) we are exercising together.
Said PLA (N) Commander South Sea Fleet Rear Admiral (RADM) Shen Jinlong: Exercise Maritime Cooperation reflects our common goals and beliefs, and is a new achievement in the exchanges and interactions between both our navies.
Apart from the drills at sea, sailors from both sides also planned for the exercise together, and went through simulator training at Changi Naval Base.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exercise on 20 May, RSN Fleet Commander Colonel (COL) Lew Chuen Hong highlighted the growth in professional interactions between the two navies.
He said both navies could learn from each other and deepen professional knowledge to strengthen mutual trust and understanding.
This year marks 25 years since Singapore and China established diplomatic ties. Exercise Maritime Cooperation comes on the back of the Four-Point Consensus agreed on by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Chinese Minister of National Defense General Chang Wanquan during Dr Ng's visit to China in November last year.
Founded in Seletar East Camp on 1 Jun 1970, the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 160 Squadron (SQN) is Singapore's first and longest-serving air defence squadron. On 23 May, more than 400 past and present servicemen and women of 160 SQN returned to Seletar East Camp to celebrate the squadron's 45th anniversary.
On the same day, a heritage storyboard commemorating the oldest Royal Air Force (RAF) base in the Far East and the birthplace of 160 SQN was launched. Produced by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, 160 SQN, and the 160 Anti-Aircraft (AA) Alumni, the heritage storyboard traces the history of the old RAF Seletar from its beginnings in 1928 to its handing over to the Singapore Air Defence Command in the 1970s. It also tells about the origins of 160 SQN and its first home at Block 450, which was used by the squadron personnel.
Built in 1930, Block 450 was the barracks occupied by RAF personnel, and subsequently, RSAF personnel from 160 SQN.The building was gazetted for conservation in June last year. Fondly known as alpha, it housed the operational flight of 160 SQN between 1970 and 2002.
Guest-of-Honour, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, launched the storyboard at Block 450, in Seletar East Camp.
Speaking at the celebration, Mr Chan paid tribute to the pioneers of 160 SQN, saying: All this (the safety that Singapore enjoys today) would not have been possible without the gumption and the fighting spirit of our pioneer generation.
This is my tribute to the pioneer anti-aircraft community in Singapore - thank you very much, on behalf of all the Singaporeans, for allowing us to sleep well at night. Without your effort, without your sacrifices, today we would still be worrying.
Major (MAJ) (NS) Jayson Goh Swee Kang, president of the 160AA Alumni, agreed with Mr Chan. In his welcome address, he also paid tribute to the pioneers in the anti-aircraft community, such as Professor Lui Pao Chuen, who made the decision in 1968 to purchase the 35mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun.
MAJ (NS) Goh also spoke about the significance of the conservation of Block 450 and the new storyboard. He said: With the launch ofthe heritage board, Block 450 will become a new focal point. Not only for servicemen to come back and remember the good old days, but more importantly, for a future generation of Singaporeans to come and visit, and learn more about their heritage.
Also present at the celebration was Chief of Air Force, Major-General Hoo Cher Mou.
I reported at SAFTI Military Institute in early March with my vintage Skeletal Battle Order (SBO). There were murmurs as I walked towards a group of officer cadets (OCTs) from Alpha Wing.
This is damn cool, one of them said, referring to my SBO which reflected my status as an Operationally Ready National Serviceman.
I was there for their jungle survival training which prepares them for the Jungle Confidence Course (JCC) overseas. As a specialist, I did not get to attend JCC so I was eager for a sneak preview.
The JCC is a nine-day course in which cadets go through an energy-sapping navigation exercise through the dense jungle. They then have to survive in solitude for three days.
The first day was a show-and-tell session on how to create tools that are needed for survival for a prolonged period of time. These included the A-frame shelter with a fire place, wooden fork and spoon, spear, monitor lizard trap and fishing rod. We also learnt how to forage for food and obtain water through condensation.
There were so many details to remember: The shelter had to be tied to a tree, the roof must be downward sloping, the fireplace had to be layered with soil and leaves… The cadets listened intently, conscientiously taking down notes. They will be tested during the JCC. Every point counts. The JCC is not a sure pass course.
I couldn't catch up, and turned to my team-mates OCT Benjamin Tang and OCT Ho Kang Hua. Hey, you guys know what's going on, right? You have to take care of this old man here, okay?
Sir, no problem, we can manage, OCT Tang said with a grin. (The cadets insisted on addressing me as Sir because civilians out-rank everyone.)
Home in the wilderness
The next morning, we began a two-day, one-night exercise in a forest near Pasir Laba Camp. We started building the A-frame shelter by tying the wooden poles together to form the skeleton. Each lashing had to be wound ultra-tight. After all, you don't want your shelter to give way when you sleep on it!
I tried out each step to get a bite-sized experience. To avoid taking away the cadets' much-needed practice time - they have to construct a shelter individually during the JCC - I worked on the wooden fork and spoon, and did the grunt work like chopping the trees for wood and leaves.
By noon, the hunger pangs hit, and I was dehydrated from the scorching sun. I had arrived earlier in the morning with an empty stomach and brought only two half-filled water canteens. The three of us were supposed to share one day's worth of combat rations and 21 litres of water.
In JCC, cadets are given just about a day's worth of combat rations, and have to obtain drinking water from river streams.
Since I was not a trainee, the instructors allowed me to get water and food from the training shed. But I felt bad seeing my buddies taking small sips of water.
I help you guys get syrup water? I offered. OCT Ho declined, waving his hands frantically: No, no. It's okay. We have to get used to it. JCC will be worse!
I was impressed by their integrity.
In the next few years, more navies in the region will operate more submarines, including in the increasingly congested South China Sea. While this raises safety concerns, there are also opportunities for cooperation in submarine operational safety.
Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman made this point in his opening address at the 4th International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) on 20 May.
He cited how the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the United States Navy are currently co-hosting the Asia-Pacific Submarine Conference (APSC) over the next few days for submariners to discuss submarine rescue and operational safety.
The IMSC and the APSC are key events of the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX Asia) - the largest maritime defence show in the Asia-Pacific - currently being held at Changi Exhibition Centre.
Speaking to about 350 participants which included Navy and Air Force Chiefs, coast guard senior officials and leading maritime academics from the region and beyond, Dr Maliki highlighted the opportunity to tap on the diverse and extensive expertise of…the international maritime community present today.
We can leverage on this shared wisdom and ask ourselves how we can build stronger linkages in cooperation through multilateral cooperation.
He added that conducting maritime exercises is another way to strengthen cooperation among various countries. The RSN, for example, will be hosting a series of exercises on the side lines of IMDEX.
The war games, codenamed Maritime Information Sharing Exercise (MARISX) and the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Multilateral Sea Exercise (WMSX), are being held both on shore and at sea.
Dr Maliki said that on shore, navies would strengthen information-sharing linkages, while at sea, eight navies would exercise maritime security scenarios to strengthen interoperability.
For the first time, the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) is being used in this series of exercises. The region's first code of conduct for unplanned encounters between navy ships and aircraft, CUES could help prevent maritime tensions from escalating into conflict.
It was endorsed by Asian-Pacific naval chiefs at the 14th Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao, China last year, following a two-year period of rising territorial tensions and air and sea confrontations in the South and East China Seas.
Enhancing regional framework for submarine operational safety
Singapore's Chief of Navy Rear Admiral (RADM) Lai Chung Han was one of eight speakers at the IMSC, which was themed Safe and Secure Seas - Strengthening Maritime Cooperation. They spoke on how different navies can co-operate to address various maritime threats.
In his speech, RADM Lai called for countries to come up with a regional framework for submarine operational safety in order to reduce the risk of underwater accidents in the South China Sea.
With the increasing numbers of submarines operating in that congested and confined water space, it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that it is an accident waiting to happen, he said, citing estimates that the navies of Asia-Pacific could operate over 130 diesel-electric submarines by 2020.
There is an urgent need to establish a broader framework beyond existing bilateral agreements on submarine rescue, RADM Lai added.
One such agreement was the Joint Standard Operating Procedures for a Memorandum of Agreement for mutual submarine rescue support which the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) signed with the United States Navy yesterday.
Singapore also has similar arrangements with Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
To kick-start the creation of the regional framework, RADM Lai suggested that navies could share non-sensitive information - such as the movement of large crude carriers as well as dredging and other underwater activities - to facilitate the planning of submarine operations.
He also suggested the sharing of best practices in submarine rescue, training, as well as coming up with common standards for submarine safety regimes.
Finally, navies can work towards creating a code of conduct to guide submariners on manoeuvring to prevent accidents during an unlikely encounter, he added.
RADM Lai also called for regional navies to extend joint piracy patrols to new hotspots in the South China Seas. Such efforts have been successful in bringing down the number of piracy attacks in the Straits of Malacca in recent years.
About 200 naval engineering professionals from 20 countries also gathered at another conference at IMDEX Asia to discuss new developments on naval technology related to defence and maritime security.
The opening ceremony of the 2nd International Naval Engineering Conference @IMDEX 2015 (INEC@IMDEX Asia 2015) was officiated in the afternoon on 20 May by Permanent Secretary (Defence Development) Major-General (MG) (NS) Ng Chee Khern.
Themed Adapt and Transform - Flexible Capability in an Uncertain Environment, the discussions centred on the areas of multiplying effect, flexible platforms, underwater technology and effective support solutions.
In his opening address, MG (NS) Ng highlighted how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had tapped on technology to overcome various challenges such as limited manpower.
He cited the RSN's latest Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs), which come with features such as equipment automation to optimise manpower use.
To prepare for uncertainty, the SAF also injected flexibility in the design of its hardware so that they could be rapidly reconfigured for different missions, he added.
We do not always know the sort of operational scenarios under which the SAF would be called upon to operate or fight, MG (NS) Ng explained.
For example, the RSN's Endurance-class Landing Ships Tank provide various ways to transport equipment and personnel, such as via cranes, fast craft or helicopter.
Such versatility has proven useful in missions such as the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operation for the Boxing Day tsunami in 2006, he noted.
Building bilateral ties
On the sidelines of IMDEX Asia, opening ceremonies were also conducted for two bilateral exercises that the RSN is participating in separately with the People's Liberation Army (Navy) and the Indian Navy.
The exercises aim to strengthen bilateral ties and enhance mutual understanding and friendship among personnel of these navies.