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, 15 Sep 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 22 Sep 2014.
As divers, we work in small teams, so (one of) the values that we inculcate in our divers is that we must take care of one another. (Participating in the) Community Chest is a way in which our guys can manifest the values of looking after one another and the community.
The fact that our little contributions have been recognised on a national level is an honour for us.
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Sng Meng Wah, Commanding Officer of the Dive School, was speaking on behalf of the Naval Diving Unit (NDU) in receiving the gold award for SHARE, a monthly donation programme under the Community Chest (ComChest) which provides a dedicated source of funds for its beneficiaries.
This year, 2nd Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing presented the annual SHARE awards to 131 Ministry of Defence and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) units and departments at the Concorde Hotel on 17 Sep.
The awards are presented based on the participation rate of the employees and staff strength of an organisation. To be eligible for the Gold SHARE Awards, organisations must make a minimum annual contribution of $100,000, and attain a participation rate of between 40 to 94 percent depending on their staff strength.
Above the Gold SHARE Award, there is the Platinum SHARE Award, requiring a minimum annual contribution of $300,000, and a participation rate of between 70 to 100 percent.
Along with NDU, 201 Squadron (SQN) from the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) Participation Command clinched the Gold SHARE Award.
Commanding Officer of 201 SQN, LTC Tony Ong said that the squadron had a strong culture of contributing to the ComChest which was driven by the passion for giving back to society.
We will continue to foster the charitable spirit of sharing among personnel to increase our participation rate to above 95 percent in the coming years. I am touched by the squadron members who have contributed towards attaining this award for the seventh year running.
We hope to sustain this streak and achieve the 10-year Outstanding SHARE Award.
Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) could be adding another option to their plate of fitness programmes aimed at helping them get fitter.
The latest initiative by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is called Self-Administered IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT), and starts on 18 Sep.
The four-month trial will see NSmen from a selected unit using fitness-tracker technology to clock IPT sessions at their own time. They can use either the Health Promotion Board's interactive Diet and Activity Tracker (iDAT) app or wearable Fitbit fitness bands.
The larger intent behind these changes to the physical fitness system is to encourage NSmen to take greater responsibility for their fitness, said Head of the National Service Affairs Department Colonel (COL) Chua Boon Keat.
Those using the fitness bands will have to clock 75 active minutes weekly to clock one IPT session, while those using the iDAT app will have to achieve 75 minutes of running at an average pace of seven minutes per kilometre. For more details, see the first infographic below.
Under the trial, NSmen will continue to do their first and last IPT sessions at one of the Fitness Conditioning Centres (FCCs) where they will take the IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test).
That's our control measure. When the NSmen take the IPPT at the tenth session, we will know if their fitness has really improved, said COL Chua Boon Keat.
The SAF also started a four-month trial of another fitness initiative, IPT-in-the-Park, on 18 Sep. Besides the four FCCs, NSmen can sign up to do their IPT in five designated locations - The Promontory@Marina Bay, MOE Co-Curricular Activities Branch, Jurong Central Park, Bishan Park and Punggol Park.
2nd Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing visited the first session of IPT-in-the-Park held at Bishan Park this evening. IPT-in-the-Park will bring greater convenience to NSmen; they now have nine locations across the island to do their IPT. The session was attended by 20 NSmen.
Explaining the slew of measures, Mr Chan said: We want NSmen to take greater ownership (of their fitness) because we believe this is the best way to motivate them.
We want to do what we can to help them to keep fit while they work and, at the same time, serve their national duties.
One of the NSmen who attended the IPT-in-the-Park session, 2nd Sergeant (2SG) (NS) Joel Chua, said: The intensity is as effective as what we experience in the FCC.
It's more convenient and accessible; I will be able to come more often and do more sessions in a week, added the 24-year-old IT consultant who served in the Signals Formation.
The SAF had announced changes to the IPPT format this July, simplifying the test to a three-station format of push-ups, sit-ups and a 2.4km run.
Following the new IPPT format, the SAF rolled out a new IPT system on 1 Sep. NSmen can choose to take part in five programmes targeted at boosting different aspects of fitness. Other changes to IPT included shorter session times (75mins, down from two hours) and smaller class-sizes of 30 (previously 50).
In 2010, the SAF revised the combat fitness training system with the introduction of Vocation Related Exercises, Vocation Obstacle Course and a redesigned Standard Obstacle Course.
This year, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Central Band received the rock star treatment when it was invited to perform for the very first time at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Edinburgh Castle. The ancient stronghold of Scottish military might, and home to one of the world's biggest stages for military bands - the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (REMT).
Each year, the finest military bands from across the globe are invited to perform at the castle esplanade, an outdoor stage set against the backdrop of this magnificent fortress atop Scotland's Castle Rock.
And making its way this year into this prestigious guest list is the SAF Central Band.
By invite only
The SAF Central Band has been a familiar face in the tattoo circuit for more than a decade, garnering fans in countries like Russia, Korea and Sweden. But its arrival at Edinburgh, the birthplace of military tattoos, happened almost serendipitously.
It was the year 2012. The SAF Central Band was playing at the International Military Music Festival in Moscow, unaware that they had caught the eye of then-REMT producer, Major-General Euan Loudon.
The show (they had put together) was very precise and had a variety of representations (of Singapore culture), explained Brigadier David Allfrey MBE, producer of the 2014 REMT, on why he was drawn to the Band's performance in Moscow.
The Tattoo decided to extend their invitation to the Band because they are one of the great military bands in the world, and they bring an extraordinary quality, not just of precision, but also the flavour and mix of everybody who lives in Singapore.
With that affirmation, the 51 musicians, together with six SAF Music and Drama Company (MDC) dancers and 14 Military Policemen from the SAF Silent Precision Drill Squad (SPDS), were ready to put up the performance of their lives.
Making a grand entrance
The multicultural dimension of the SAF Central Band's shows has endeared audiences worldwide, and the Band has remained steadfast to its trademark. However, to mark its debut at the Tattoo, it decided to shake things up with elements that had never been done before in the Band's history.
One of these was to feature an original composition. Written by Military Expert (ME) 1-1 Dax Wilson Liang Qingxiang, who also arranged the music for the Band's set, Forest Dreams was specially composed for the Chinese folksong segment of the show.
I wanted a folk song that's distinctly Chinese, particularly to the non-Singaporean and non-Chinese ear, explained instructor and horn player ME1-1 Liang of his decision to compose his own piece. He was hoping to find a strong counterpart to the popular Malay and Indian folksongs, which tended to have tunes that were easily identifiable to their respective cultures.
Played on the Chinese flute and drums and accompanied by the flowing costumes of the twirling MDC dancers, the song created a festive atmosphere. To complement the fluidity of the piece, the SPDS devised a new move as well, standing in a line to toss and catch their rifles before kneeling one after the other, creating a wave pattern.
Another first that the Band could boast of was being the first Singaporean band to use the tin whistle in a performance.
A small woodwind instrument resembling the humble recorder, the tin whistle has an echoey ring that is characteristic of traditional Celtic music. And it was the perfect accompaniment to the Band's tribute to their host, an acapella rendition of the popular Scottish folksong,Wild Mountain Thyme.
The local songs we've performed so far have all been in foreign languages. Since this is an English song, we added the tin whistle to give it a Scottish flavour, explained ME2-1 Ang Yi Xiang, Associate Principal Player (Saxophone) and the show's choreographer.
Hopefully, the audience will feel our sincerity and passion, he added.
…til the band sings
The proof was in the piping. ME2-1 Ang's tin whistle solo pierced through the esplanade, and the audience fell silent. The Band started to sing, quietly and carefully at first, a single voice hanging in the air.
But by the time it reached the chorus, the voice was no longer alone: the audience was singing along, many swaying gently to the rhythm. As the Band marched out, the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, warming up the cold Scottish night.
Ms Margaret Baxter, who had travelled from England to see the Tattoo, was captivated. Wild Mountain Thyme was excellent, I joined in as well! she said excitedly.
The show was very lively and colourful, and I loved the dancers too. I haven't stopped smiling.
And that was a send-off fit for a rock star.
Should a major disaster happen in the region, the affected country will be able to tap on a regional centre based in Singapore to coordinate better the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) efforts of foreign militaries.
Located at the Changi Command and Control (C2) Centre, the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre (RHCC) will be fully operational in 2015 and staffed by up to 50 personnel.
Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing marked the set-up of the RHCC by unveiling the RHCC logo on 12 Sep.
In an impending disaster, the RHCC will piece together a comprehensive situational picture of a potential disaster zone by fusing information from regional disaster early-warning centres, partner agencies, and open sources.
It will include, among other details, the likely path of destruction, possible staging areas, roads leading to the disaster zone, and existing emergency services.
The situational picture will be broadcasted to partner militaries through its OPERA Command and Control Information System (CCIS) web portal. It will be updated constantly when the disaster occurs, in particular, with data on the available aid.
By understanding the needs on the ground, militaries can better prepare their response, and minimise duplication and gaps in the provision of assistance.
If the affected country agrees, planning for a possible multinational HADR will commence at the RHCC. It will tap on a network of international liaison officers, and links with operations centres of partner militaries for tighter coordination.
If necessary, the RHCC can also deploy a mobile coordination unit to support the affected country's military in coordination efforts on the ground.
Mr Chan, who was officiating at the closing of the Regional Conference for Building Civil-Military Capacity for Disaster Relief Operations at Changi C2 Centre, explained the reasons for setting up the RHCC in his closing address.
He noted that militaries were often the first responders in a disaster because of their 24/7 readiness, but there was a need for better coordination, hence Singapore offered to host a coordination centre.
He said: The RHCC seeks to facilitate military-to-military coordination in disaster response, by supporting an Affected State's military in coordinating the foreign military assistance provided, and liaising with disaster response stakeholders.
Speaking to the media, the Singapore Armed Forces' Director of Joint Operations, Brigadier-General (BG) Desmond Tan, added that the RHCC would help to enhance military coordination that was currently done on an ad hoc basis whenever a disaster happened.
He said: What we are trying to do is to set up a permanent structure that will allow the militaries to have a single point of contact, a focal point, so that we can have more preparations before the disaster… When disaster happens, we hope that this will be the centre that can allow militaries to coordinate their efforts so that they can reach the disaster area faster and more effectively.
BG Tan said Singapore was an ideal country to host the RHCC because it was disaster free, and had the necessary infrastructure. For instance, the RHCC is tapping on the Republic of Singapore Navy's Information Fusion Centre (IFC) that is used for regional maritime security information sharing.
Mr Chan noted in his address that the RHCC, which focused on the militaries, would seamlessly complement existing coordination centres working with civilian agencies, such as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Jakarta-based ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA).
Agreeing with this point was Major-General Jet B. Velarmino, who directed the Typhoon Haiyan HADR operations in the Philippines last year.
Sharing his personal views, the Commander of 8th Division, Philippine Army, said: Instead of AHA talking to the different nations' militaries, it can be just talking to one coordinating centre, which is the RHCC, where the military capabilities are integrated.
He added: For coordination and networking, it will be easier.
To raise awareness of what National Service (NS) does for Singapore and Singaporean sons, and change the mindset of parents who may be resistant to their sons serving NS.
These are among the engagement ideas which ACCORD's Family and Community (FC) Council will be looking at to strengthen family and community support for NS, at their inaugural meeting on 12 Sep, held at SAFRA Toa Payoh.
ACCORD refers to the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence and the meeting was co-chaired by Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman and Ms Claire Chiang, Senior Vice-President of Banyan Tree Holdings.
Speaking as a mother whose son is enlisting for NS next year, Ms Joni Ong, a member of the FC Council, revealed that she was taken aback when she found out that some parents were reluctant to let their sons serve NS.
I'm quite shocked that this sentiment exists, and these same parents are the ones whose kids (will be) resistant to NS because (of) their parents, explained the President of I Love Children Organisation.
I want to go out there to educate on what NS does for our country and for our sons. And to raise public awareness that what parents say to their children will have an impact on their children's views towards NS as well.
Ms Ong belongs to one of the four working groups - strengthening and recognising family and community support for NS - which the FC Council has already formed. The other three groups will be focusing on driving and recognising community support for NS, enhancing outreach to women through women's organisations, and reaching out to New Citizens and Permanent Residents to support defence and NS.
Following the FC Council meeting in the morning, the Educational Institutions (EI) Council held their first meeting at the same place in the afternoon.
Co-chaired by Dr Maliki and Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah, the EI Council has formed five working groups to address issues such as enhancing mental and physical preparedness of pre-enlistees for NS, increasing outreach to government, private and international schools, and encouraging participation in the SAF Volunteers Corps.
EI Council member Professor Cheong Hee Kiat noted the importance of easing Full-time National Servicemen's transition back to school after their two years of NS.
He said: We will want to help them ease back in, perhaps providing some courses for them during NS, or maybe helping them adjust through the first semester in school.
The President of UniSim added that even as they go on to universities, engaging these NSmen on defence matters should not cease, as this would help them understand their roles as NSmen from a deeper perspective.
Similarly, the idea of continued education on the importance of NS was brought up when the EI Council discussed increasing outreach to primary and secondary schools.
Mrs Lucy Toh, Principal of St Andrews' Secondary School, explained that National Education was something teachers and schools took seriously, and there were always opportunities to refresh students' knowledge of NS and defence matters.
We should not assume that students will automatically understand the necessity of having to serve the country. Each generation should hear the stories of their own fathers and (male) teachers - what they went through when served their NS - and why defence continues to be important, said Mrs Toh.
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations can often be chaotic and slow due to a lack of coordination among the military forces and civilian aid agencies involved. But the first 48 hours are critical for saving lives. This is the reason HADR practitioners from the military and civilian sectors of 16 countries have gathered for a two-day conference in Singapore to foster cooperation in future HADR operations.
The Regional Conference for Building Civil-Military Capacity for Disaster Relief Operations is jointly organised by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the United States Centre for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.
Chief of Defence Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng opened the conference with a keynote address on 11 Sep. Speaking to more than 100 participants, he noted that no country could handle a major disaster alone, and that militaries were increasingly relied on to lead HADR operations because of their 24/7 readiness.
But he pointed out that a lack of coordination among the different militaries and civilian agencies could hamper relief effort. For instance, international aid supplies may arrive fast in the disaster-hit country, but there may be delays in delivering them to where they are most needed due to a lack of prior coordination.
If we do not foster dialogue and deeper understanding, the differences in the operating procedures and terminology of civilian agencies and militaries can be a gross impediment to relief efforts, said LG Ng.
He said: This conference hopes to do so, through promoting dialogue and discussion on key topics in disaster response, from the perspective of both the military and civilian realms.
Speakers from the militaries and civilian agencies will take turns to share their experiences from previous HADR operations. The second day of the conference will include speakers from Google and DHL. They will share insights into how technology can be tapped to boost the effectiveness of HADR operations, for instance, sharing information in real time.
The first speaker, Major General (MG) Jet B. Velarmino, Commander of 8th Division, Philippine Army, was involved in the Typhoon Haiyan HADR operation in 2013.
He recalled that the relevant local agencies were themselves hit by the typhoon, and communication links were cut off. He thus recommended that liaison officers from the various militaries, civilian agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) be stationed at the HADR operations headquarters to facilitate coordination.
This is one of the best practices that could be adopted regionally, he said.
For participant Terry Sherwood, he hoped to gain deeper insights into how the military works in HADR operations. A regional security adviser of Plan, an NGO, he was involved in delivering temporary shelters to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
He said: I am here to learn how the top-level military people work together to get those connections going, so that we can close the gaps earlier on, and work together more effectively in disaster operations.