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, 02 Mar 2015 to 08:00am on Mon, 09 Mar 2015.
As the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) celebrates its 50th birthday, here is a look at some of the things it has done over the past year in defending the nation.
In a reply to a Parliamentary Question last November on Singapore joining the multinational coalition to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said: Singapore must resolutely oppose the spread of terrorism in order to safeguard our security here. ISIS exports terrorism to our region, whether by sending foreign terrorists to carry out terrorist operations or by radicalising regional elements who engage in violence in Iraq, Syria and subsequently their home countries.
If this terrorism threat is allowed to grow and spread, innocent civilians here and elsewhere could be endangered and killed. By contributing to the international effort to tackle the threat at source, we are contributing directly to our own security.
Following the announcement, the SAF has sent a liaison officer and a Needs Assessment and Survey Team to the United States (US) Central Command Headquarters to facilitate planning and coordination for the SAF. Planners will be further deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Centre. There are also preparations being made for the deployment of a KC-135R tanker aircraft to support air-to-air refuelling for coalition forces.
Today's ever-evolving security threats often transcend boundaries, and a small country like Singapore will always be at risk to attacks. Fifty golden years of peace is no small feat but after patting ourselves on the back for having done things right, we must look forward.
On 26 Jan, at the third International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Forum: The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting, Dr Ng emphasised that we lived in an interdependent world and it was crucial to recognise that regional peace and stability depended on the collective will and efforts of nations to address security challenges facing the region.
Beyond building good defence relations, Singapore has also made significant headway internally in reaching out to our soldiers. Here's a look at how it has done both.
Soldiers are doing better and are more motivated to ace their annual physical fitness test.
Results from the three-month pilot implementation of the new three-station Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) format showed improvements across the board: 88 percent of participants improved or maintained their standards for sit-ups, and 73 percent, for the 2.4km run.
For the new push-up station, 74 percent of participants achieved average and above average performance, compared to current international standards.
The pilot, which ended in December last year, saw some 5,000 servicemen and women taking the new IPPT format.
The results validated our belief that the new IPPT generates greater ownership and motivates our people to do well, said Colonel (COL) Ng Ying Thong, Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Training) at a media brief on 27 Feb.
For the 27 percent who did not do better in the 2.4km run, the majority were servicemen or women who had already achieved Gold or Silver, according to COL Ng.
COL Ng also updated on other changes to the IPPT system, including tweaks to the performance standards. Soldiers will have new standards to meet when the three-station IPPT officially rolls out on 1 Apr.
Soldiers must now score 85 points for Gold and 75 points for Silver. This is a four-point increase from the standards announced for the three-month IPPT trial.
The Gold mark for elite soldiers - Commandos, Guardsmen and Divers - has also moved up by five points to 90.
The scoring tables have also been improved to encourage soldiers to do better by making the allocation of points more consistent with the number of repetitions performed for the sit-up and push-up stations, and the 2.4km run times.
This move is to enable fitter servicemen to continue to find challenge in meeting the higher IPPT award standards, said COL Ng.
We were very careful when refining these standards; to make sure that we not only encourage our fitter servicemen and elite forces to do well, but also not de-motivate the bulk (of our soldiers) from trying to do well, added COL Ng.
For example, an average 35-year-old NSman will have to do 39 sit-ups, 39 push-ups and run 2.4km in 10 minutes 40 seconds to attain the Gold award.
Operationally Ready National Servicemen will have a year to transit to the three-station IPPT format. This means that they can choose to do either the older five-station IPPT or the new format up to 31 Mar 2016. Active service personnel will move to the new format on 1 Apr 2015.
For 29-year-old NSman, Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) Christopher Ng, the new IPPT standards will push him to train and do better. The new IPPT system is better and the new standards are more challenging, but I think they are do-able, said LTA (NS) Ng.
I can now train for the IPPT even at home, without equipment like pull-up bars, added LTA (NS) Ng, who serves in an Infantry unit. He took part in the IPPT pilot, scoring a Silver award.
For full-time National Servicemen such as Corporal (CPL) Napolean s/o Parthiban, the scoring system motivated him to do well for the IPPT.
The more reps (repetitions) you do and faster you run, the more points you get. That makes me work to try to max out in all three stations, said the 23-year-old NSF from 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
A new Preparatory Training Phase (PTP) exemption criteria for NS will also come into effect from 1 Mar. Combat-fit pre-enlistees will have to attain 61 points or more when they take the National Physical Fitness Award or NAPFA test with push-ups, to be exempted from the PTP.
Getting settled into a new role on board a warship, training to be an aircraft controller, going overseas on exercises, moving house and getting married (sorry, guys) - all in a year.
No wonder the question of what she likes to do on weekends draws a blank expression. Last year was quite a big change for me so I haven't had time for much else, said the fresh-faced 25-year-old who tied the knot last September.
Trained as a Naval officer, she has a master's degree in War and Psychiatry. As the Assistant Operations Officer on board frigate RSS Intrepid, part of her job is to act as the bridge between the warship and the Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters.
When the pilots are 40 to 50 miles away from the ship, we need to tell them what to do and then they will relay the information which the ship needs, explained CPT Sim.
She has managed to bring her other love - playing the guzheng - into her job in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). At last year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, she played the classical Chinese stringed zither during a reception on board the frigate. RIMPAC 2014 involved 22 countries and about 25,000 personnel.
Going back to the question about her weekends, CPT Sim quipped: Maybe if you ask me one year later, when I'm more settled, I'll have an answer!
Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen can now choose between Adidas and Zoot for their running shoes. Journalist Koh Eng Beng tests out the new foot gear.
When news of the new running shoes was out, I was more curious about the Zoot sneakers. Unlike Adidas, the American endurance sports brand is little known in Singapore. I tested out both pairs in 4km runs and 200m short sprints at the scenic Southern Ridges near my office.
The Zoot Energy shoes have an incredible level of cushioning; I could feelthe bounce in every stride that I took.Comfort is premium as the inside of the shoes and its insoles are lined with silky smooth, dri-fit fabric. I could even run comfortably without wearing socks as the lining helps to prevent blisters by reducing friction and wicking away moisture.
If you have flat feet, these are the shoes for you. Designed for runners with low-to-neutral arch,their stiff mid-sole and strong heel counter lock your foot in and keep it from rolling inward excessively.This awkward movement is known as over-pronation.
Your foot arch is a natural shock absorbent system, and without it the impact will be transferred to the rest of the leg.
The Adidas Duramo, on the other hand, does not have that foamy feel of the Zoot Energy. With less cushioning, it is a tad lighter at 288g compared with the Zoot's 314g.
The Adidas shoes provide a good balance of cushion, stability and support for runners with neutral-to-high arched feet. Most runners fall into this category.
My feet felt well-supported whether I was doing sprints or long distances. The little bump in the mid foot area fitted snugly around the arch of my foot. I liked the feeling of having such firm support under my feet.
Runners with high arched feet will love the German brand shoes. They havesofter and more flexible midsoles that do not inhibit the natural rolling of the feet.
As I have neutral arched feet, I can wear both pairs of shoes. I found the AdidasDuramomore form-fitting for my feet, and a better balance of comfort and support. But for long-distance runs like a marathon, I would prefer the Zoot Energy which provides more cushioning.
Honestly, the technical features do not matter to me as much as their looks. Like most Operationally Ready National Servicemen, I am a recreational runner. We might be slow, but we must always look stylo! I like the Zoot Energy's swanky combination of bright blue, silver and yellow. While the minimalist blue and white AdidasDuramomay not be a head-turner, the more you look at its famous three-stripe logo, the more it'll grow on you.
At $39.49 for the Adidas Duramo and $43.96 for the Zoot Energy, these performance sneakers are value for money. If you're using SAF eMart credits to buy, they are as good as free. Grab yours at the eMarts now!
The Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) has submitted 18 proposals to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) to boost support and recognition for National Service (NS).
ACCORD was restructured last August into three councils - the Employers and Business Council, the Family and Community Council and the Educational Institutions Council - to enhance engagement and support for NS and Total Defence.
The proposals reach out to all levels of the community. They include measures to provide needy Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) with financial assistance beyond the two-year NS period; smoothen NSFs' transition into the workforce by jointly organising career fairs with the business community; and raise awareness of NS in foreign-system educational institutions such as international schools.
There are also initiatives targeted at easing manpower arrangements in the business community. For example, employers and business owners will receive early notification when their employees are due for In-Camp Training so that they can better plan their staffing needs.
Families and the wider community can look forward to programmes that will raise awareness of NS and defence. One of the recommendations calls for MINDEF to work with the People's Association to reach out to Permanent Residents and New Citizens to raise awareness and understanding of NS and Total Defence.
The initiatives also call for greater outreach to educational institutions. For example, students can look forward to a Total Defence experience if MINDEF accepts the proposal to partner the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Discovery Centre to produce a cohort experience for all primary six students.
ACCORD is chaired by Second Minster for Defence Chan Chun Sing, and supported by Deputy Chairman Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman.
Commenting on the progress made by the three ACCORD councils in engaging key stakeholders, Mr Chan said: I am heartened by the strong societal support for national defence and NS.
He added: The committee members have done a good job in engaging their respective communities, and the proposals reflect the effort and commitment of the ACCORD members.
For the full list of proposals, visit http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2015/feb/25feb15_nr/25feb15_fs.html
Lead yourself; lead others
3SG NUR HAFIZUDDIN BIN RAHIM, 19
3rd Battalion, Singapore Guards (3 Gds)
Before enlisting, 3SG Hafizuddin was a banquet server at Marina Bay Sands. Despite having over a year of experience, he never took the initiative to guide new staff. Why bother? After all, he was just a part-timer. I let the manager do everything, recalled the 19-year-old who had dropped out of the Institute of Technical Education.
But his attitude changed in National Service (NS). During specialist cadet training, he mentored his bunkmates who were fresh out of Basic Military Training (BMT). He was then the most experienced soldier, having gone through the Guardsmen's advanced infantry training as a rifleman.
I had already learnt about teamwork and understood that, with my experience and knowledge, I could help my section, said 3SG Hafizuddin, who received the Silver Bayonet award when he graduated from the Specialist Cadet School (SCS) last December.
Riflemen usually attain the highest rank of Corporal First Class, and he had never imagined he would don the 3rd Sergeant rank.
It all began when his BMT section commander appointed him the section 2nd-in-command (2IC), which meant greater responsibilities. Whether it was battle assault drills, rappelling, fast marches or coastal swims, he worked hard and eventually emerged as the best in the company. His commanders were impressed not just by his performance as a soldier, but also as a leader and thus recommended him for specialist training at SCS.
His toughest time was during a defence exercise in SCS where, as a platoon sergeant, he had to lead 40 trainees and ensure that all trenches and wire obstacles were completed.
I had to dig my own shellscrape, as well as run around through the night to pass information. It was very tiring but I told myself there must be a reason I was given this appointment, so I never gave up.
The current section commander in 3 Gds added: Nobody is born a leader; everything needs hard work. I did my best to learn from people around me. Before NS, I was not disciplined. But now, I have a disciplined mindset, and have responsibilities to take charge of.