A World Class Navy
by MAJ Lim Khia Teck
The development of the RSN in the last 30
years has been nothing less than phenomenal. From two Second
World War vintage ships in 1965, the navy has today become
a professional force of multi-dimensional warfare capability.
As the navy sails into the 21st century, we have set our sights
on becoming a world class navy, up there with the best.
To be world class, we want to build an organistion
that meets up to the standards of best practices. We want
to put in place systems and processes which will ensure that
we are recognised as being the best. By realising this vision,
the RSN will not only fulfill our national defence objectives
but also contribute to our wider regional responsibilities.
One of the cornerstones of a world class
navy is its training system; a training system which generates
quality people with operational proficiency of world class
standards. This system must ensure that the components of
the navy, the individuals, warfighting teams and the command
organisation, are ready for their wartime tasks and missions.
Without the "benefi"' of war to
validate our operational readiness, training takes on the
all important role of building up our operational experience
and testing our fighting concepts. Ultimately, our training
system must produce a fighting Navy which delivers victory
CHALLENGES TO TRAINING
In our drive to achieve a truly world class
training system, developments within and outside the RSN pose
a serious challenge to our training planners.
As the navy extends its reach and punch
beyond its present operating space, force structural developments
have become more diverse, complex, and highly specialised.
Therefore, we will need a wide spectrum of individuals and
teams with very specific warfare skills.
Our qualified and experienced operators
are sought for in both training and operational units. Since
it is necessary to arm the teeth rather than the tail, if
training were indeed the tail, training must continue to thrive
with less manpower.
With shorter career contracts, and a high
turnover rate of personnel in the Navy, the time for training
is very short indeed. This is especially true for NS men in
the bid to maximise their deployable time within the enlistment
The implementation of UNCLOS will place
further restrictions to our available training areas, forcing
us to conduct sea training further from Singapore.
As we increasingly turn to technology to
overcome many of these constraints, our current knowledge
and skills will face rapid obsolescence and require constant
updating and renewal.
The training system we envisage must more
than overcome these challenges. We need to transform untrained
individuals into trained professionals and operational warfighting
units. It must also ensure that the RSN has an effective warfighting
organisation in order to successfully conduct the entire naval
campaign. In drawing out our strategy to achieve this, the
training process is guided by six key principles.
Trainees must be given optimal training,
at the right level and sufficient for him to perform his job
competently. Training will be administered effectively and
efficiently by employing technology and well-developed methodology.
We must provide realistic training to allow
trainees to be exposed to conditions resembling the operational
environment and fighting scenarios expected during the conduct
of their tasks and missions.
Our trainers, in schools and in operational
units, must take full ownership for their roles in the training
system and ensure their trainees can meet up to the navy's
We must have a closed-looped training system.
Responsive feedback is crucial to ensure that training remains
relevant and effective. Experiences must be retained, analysed
and assimilated to make the entire organisation better than
Applications of technology must be well
planned to enhance the quality of our training and overcome
our constraints in training space, time and manpower.
Finally, inter-service operability at all
levels must be enhanced in our training in preparation for
operations in an integrated environment.
THE TRAINING CONCEPT
The RSN training process will consist of
two broad phases: Individual Training and Warfighting Training.
In Individual Training, officers and specialists
will undergo formal training in the schools and continual
training in the units. The emphasis for the individual is
to gain professional knowledge and proficiency in operating
procedures before integration into warfighting teams.
Warfighting Training is divided into two
levels. The operational level involves units in the operational
commands, the ships, task units and task groups. The system
level of training will be targetted at the Navy's various
At the operational level, units will firstly
undergo basic shipboard procedural training. They will then
proceed on to intermediate and advanced tactical training.
This process will arm the units with the necessary combat
abilities in the warfare areas appropriate to achieving the
Navy's requirements in an integrated warfare environment.
The various command Head quarters will undergo
system level training with actual deployment of assets at
sea or through link-ups to the tactical shore trainers. This
training will ensure that the Headquarters warfighting organisations
are armed with the necessary skills to achieve effective command
and control of units and inter-operability in an integrated
Training in the RSN has seen many changes
in recent years. With the re-structuring of the training organisation,
Training Command was formed and training functions were re-defined.
Several key initiatives have been identified for both Individual
and Warfighting Training. These initiatives serve to meet
key organisational requirements and concerns of the ground
units. They will be crucial in translating the training concepts
and strategies into a complete Training Masterplan.
In individual training, the new initiatives
aim to tie in training with career planning, as well as provide
continual and quality training.
For the first part, the training Route-of-Advancement
(ROA) of each servicemen must be closely co-ordinated to match
his career ROA. This will ensure that he will undergo training
at the right point in his career before moving to a new appointment.
This can be achieved by integrating the training roadmap with
the career ROA to form a Profession ROA. This profession ROA
will synchronise both the training and advancement roadmaps
and change in accordance with each individual's performance
With our force structural developments into
diverse warfare areas, there will be a need for our people
to become experts in their field of specialisation. In order
to maximise the potential of each trainee, we will assesseach
individual's aptitude and select him for specialisation. This
process will be moderatedby operational demand and is flexible
so that we can deploy these personnel to other fields.
A Personnel Training Management System using
IT tools will ensure the successful implementation of these
initiatives. The system will assist us to select and identify
"raw" personnel for suitable training ROAs. Once
trained, the management system will track his progress in
order to identify him for further training.
Upon completion of formal courses, individuals
will continue training at their place of work. This will shorten
the formal training time and ensure a speedy delivery of trained
personnel to the operational units. The Self-Paced On-Time
On-Need training concept and Distance Learning programmes
will allow our servicemen to upgrade themselves continually.
These two learning concepts can also be
extended to NS-men Training. We can reach out to the NS-men
with training materials without having to physically recall
them. In this way, we can expand NS-men training beyond maintaining
their skills to upgrading them, and do so even off the ICT
To support these self-learning concepts,
a Training Intranet will be developed. A virtual library,
containing reference materials and computer training packages,
will reside in our new Changi Naval Training Base. Distance
learning architecture will be a key design in the development
of this new training base.
In response to the needs for more hands-on
training, we will commit resources in procuring practical
trainers and put in place a systematic On-the-Job Training
(OJT) programme. Personnel will therefore transit more smoothly
from schools to operational units with confidence. At the
same time, units can take ownership of its personnel training.
To instill the sense of pride and mission
in our training institutes, they will be designated as centres
of excellence. These centres will seek to continually improve
the provision of training and help to build a self-learning
culture. By recognising the institutes as specialist authority,
a culture of maintaining high standards will be developed.
This will ensure that quality training is provided and maintained.
Where possible, courses conducted in the
navy will be accredited with the same status as courses run
by commercial or other military schools. This will ensure
high standards for the courses and raise the market value
of training in the RSN. This equips RSN personnel with a recognised
job skill upon completion of service with the Navy, and ties
in well with the RSN's drive to tap into expertise of institutes
of higher learning.
Good trainers are the key to quality training.
Imparting not only their knowledge and operational experience,
they also act as role models to motivate and inculcate in
trainees the navy's values and culture. The ground perception
that "the less capable and motivated" are posted
to training must be radically reversed. The best personnel
should be selected for the training community in order to
maintain high standards. Trainers must be well trained for
their job in terms of professional knowledge and training
techniques. In other words, we must Train the Trainers.
Schools and operational units must work
ever more closely to keep abreast of changes in operational
requirements and expectations of trained individuals. This
is consistent with the key requirement for a closed loop training
While much effort has been committed in
laying a strong foundation for individual training, emphasis
is also required in developing the system for warfighting
training. The output of trained personnel from Training Command
and SAFTI-MI must be integrated into combat ready teams to
man the ships of the fleet and COSCOM.
Our key initiatives in warfighting training
aim to provide a systematic training process, extract maximum
value from our exercises, ensure a closed loop system and
capitalise on technology to enhance realism and integration
of our training. For the operational units, a systematic training
cycle comprising multi-level exercises will be completed within
a fixed time-frame. This will start with basic single ship
exercises, progressing on to multi-unit and task group level
exercises for the intermediate and advanced levels. Warfighting
training for the Command Headquarters will follow a similar
training cycle culminating in an exercise by the various HQs.
To extract maximum value and increase the
robustness of our training, we need realistic and rigorous
two-sided exercises. These will be based on realistic threat
scenarios and 'threat' strategies as defined by a specialist
'Threat' Agency. This agency will draw on experts from the
intelligence community and the Institute of Maritime Warfare.
They will maintain a constant and accurate update of capability
developments of possible enemies. In this way, they will be
able to postulate the strategy of the threat and role-play
as the enemy in place of our traditional controllers for higher
level tactical training.
Wargaming exercises should be focused towards
supporting and evaluating the navy's six capability areas
as detailed in our Operational Concept Formulation. This will
validate the navy's core capabilities in a naval campaign.
To ensure we draw the correct lessons from
our exercises, a credible assessment system must be put in
place. Assessment teams comprising warfare experts with operational
experience will be formed. These teams will provide objective
assessments on the performance of ship teams and the HQs.
These teams will also assist the commanders levels to fine
tune specific warfare skills of their subordinate units between
In order to ensure a closed loop warfighting
system, lessons learnt from exercises must be captured and
infused into our doctrine development process. The Doctrine
Development and Management System will be set up for this
purpose. It will draw upon a central depository in IMW which
houses the RSN's corporate warfighting wisdom, including all
the lessons learnt from past exercises. It will also facilitate
warfare specialists throughout the RSN in giving their inputs
to warfare issues, thus harnessing the corporate thinking
power of the Navy. Together with Fleet and COSCOM, who are
the lead agencies for doctrine development, IMW will put the
resulting new doctrines and tactics through vigorous testing
using Operational Analysis and OT & E. The tested products
will then be quickly disseminated to the operational units
An exciting new development promising unprecedented
realism and integration of warfighting training is the Vision
for SAF Simulators or VSS 2000 masterplan. The RSN's focus
in VSS 2000 is to support our drive to Train Virtual, Fight
Real. VSS 2000 must also provide seamless integration for
HQ RSN vertically within the RSN warfighting command chain
and horizontally across to the other service command posts.
This process has already begun with the Naval Wargaming System
targetted at inter-command post exercises.
Under VSS 2000, the training system shall
ride on the actual operational systems in the form of CIC
embedded trainers. This materialises the concept of Train
As You Fight. Operational systems will be able to support
training requirements by the simple flick of a switch from
the normal operational mode.
Shore tactical trainers should be able to
exercise with ships and aircraft at sea through live training
systems. These systems will also provide realistic engagement
results between aircraft and ships to allow them to evaluate
their engagement effectiveness.
Riding on the virtual battlefield created
by VSS 2000 , operational plan rehearsals can now more accurately
zoom into operational bottlenecks. Potential problems can
be identified in good time and refinements made to existing
What you have just read about were some
highlights of initiatives in the training system as guided
by the 6 key pillars. To measure our progress towards the
desired state of training, a performance framework needs to
be developed. The framework will be based on the three principal
goals of Organisational, Process and Product Excellence.
For Organisational excellence, we assess
the availability of facilities, the quality of materials and
instructors, trainer-to-trainee ratio and the accreditation
of RSN conducted courses.
For Process excellence, we want to measure
our success in capitalising on commercialisation, technology
and customer feedback to improve training quality while reducing
costs in manpower and training time.
For Product excellence, we want to ensure
our trained personnel and ships can perform their tasks and
missions. At the operational level, performance indicators
are mission based and pegged at the ship and task group levels.
At the system level, we will measure the effectiveness of
RSN and other RSN command organisations.
To ensure we keep up with the world's best,
we want to benchmark our organisation and products against
world recognised institutions and best practitioners. Our
centres of training excellence must rank with insitutions
of international repute, such as the US Naval Academy and
the Royal Navy School of Maritime Operations. We will know
we have arrived when top navies around the world want to send
their best people to be trained by us.
Our products must also emerge top when competing
with the best in the world. Our ship teams must match up to
the best in combined exercises with top navies. Our officers
and specialists must continue to produce outstanding results
in prestigious courses that they attend with the best practitioners.
In conclusion, to develop a training system
that is 'world class' for the RSN is not simply emulating
the best practices of others. We do not always have the luxury
of resources some established navies have. We need to recognise
our own unique circumstances and take into account our constraints
of costs, manpower, training time and training areas. Our
training system must therefore be unique, and tailored to
meet our larger corporate objectives.
The strategies and concepts highlighted
above will give the RSN the unique training system it needs
to achieve its vision of world class standards. Some of the
planned framework and organisations are in place, and some
of the supporting technology and infrastructure are in the
pipeline. It is now crucial for our people to operationalise
the initiatives we have put in place and play their part in
building a training system worthy of a world class Navy.
Note: The author wishes to thank
MAJ Harris Chan,, MAJ Tan Kai Cheong and CPT Keith Lim for
MAJ Lim Khia Teck is presently the Commanding
Office of a Patrol Vessel. Awarded the SAF Overseas Merit
Scholarship, MAJ Lim holds a First Class (Hons) degree in
Electrical and Electronics Engineering from King's College,