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Section 1: Introduction to the Professional Reading Programme
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CDF's Foreword to this Professional Reading Programme explains why we need to read. The problem for many of us is where to start, especially when there is so much information that calls for our attention. Hence, this reading programme was drawn up on the recommendation of the SAFTI Military Institute's Board of Governors to cultivate the reading habit in SAF officers, as well as to guide them in the selection of books to meet their professional and recreational reading needs. This programme is also extended to warrant officers as many of them now hold officer appointments commensurate with their rising professional and educational profile.

Basis for Selection

Several guidelines underline the selection of books in this reading programme. The first is that the titles be relevant to the professional concerns of SAF officers and warrant officers. These comprise literature that can help us to build and to internalise the general framework of theory that defines the military profession. The titles also include knowledge that can help to shape our values and characters, to enrich our understanding of war and the applications and implications of military technology and to appreciate the history and security of Singapore and the region. The second guideline is that the titles be graded for complexity of their argument to meet the different requirements of officers and warrant officers at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels. The third guideline is that the books be readable. Hence, the inclusion of books by popular authors such as Edward de Bono and Tom Clancy.

Desired Outcomes

At the basic level, the reading programme would enable us to become acquainted with the history of modern Singapore, especially in regard to its security and defence from 1819. It would give us a regional perspective by familiarising us with Southeast Asian history and politics. Some military campaigns and operations are introduced, as are experiences with the realities of war. The subject of military technology esoteric to most is also introduced, but in a light and interesting way.

At the intermediate level, the reading programme would enable us to have a deeper understanding of military matters. This includes familiarity with significant campaigns, operations, and battles. Readings are included that would enhance our understanding of combined arms operations, and of manoeuvre and joint warfare. At this level, a closer look at Singapore's security and defence is provided within the context of the Malayan Campaign and the Sepoy Mutiny of 1915. Military technology is again recommended reading, this time to enable ourselves to understand its impact on the modern battlefield. The theories of war are also introduced at this level, since a basic understanding is needed of the subject before it can be meaningfully explored at the advanced level.

At the advanced level, the reading programme provides a deeper understanding of the theories of war, and the political, economic, social and technological circumstances from which they evolved. The subject of leadership is emphasised including the pitfalls of high command. We would also be given an understanding of how advances in military technology are transforming tomorrow's wars, and how unconventional warfare has become the dominant form of warfare since 1945. To prepare ourselves for higher appointments, which will require some policy orientation and acumen, we will be introduced to security studies, regional geo-politics and especially regional security issues, and be taught to make practical use of history in day-to-day decision-making and management.

Categories of Books and Book Titles

The categories of books that would meet our reading needs are as follows:

History and Politics (including works on the history and politics of modern Singapore and Southeast Asia)

  • Warfare and Professional Knowledge (including works on the theory and nature of war; air power, sea power and land warfare; strategy and tactics; and campaigns and operations)
  • Military Technology
  • Current Affairs and General Knowledge (including works on security studies and regional security)
  • Personal Development (including works on leadership, management, inspiring achievements and serious fiction)

The books recommended for reading at each level are listed in Section Two. Suitable books that meet our reading needs are numerous, but only a few titles are proposed for each category at each level.

General References

Officers and warrant officers whose interests are wider than this reading programme, or who would like to go into areas not described, can consult the general reference books listed in Section Four that should contain write-ups and guides to further readings in their special areas of interest.


The SAFTI Library subscribes to 220 periodicals for members who would like to find out what is the latest thinking and developments in their special areas of interests. Some of the more important periodicals are listed in Section Five of this reading programme. A number of them are also available on the Internet and where the Library has been able to track it, their web sites are listed in Section Six.

Internet Resources

Today, much of our information comes not only from the reading of books and periodicals printed on paper, but also electronically, on the computer screen. For readers and users of this reading programme a listing of the web sites has been included. We welcome recommendations from SAF officers and warrant officers for relevant web sites that they would like to share with their colleagues in the SAF.


This programme is prepared by the staff of Military History Branch with the assistance of SAFTI Library staff. The officers of the branch look forward to receiving recommendations on how this programme can be improved as they will be issuing a revised edition of this programme in future. Meanwhile, we hope that this programme will help to broaden our outlooks and mental horizons, enrich our knowledge and understanding of war, and help us to maintain contact with the reality of war.

Last updated on 24 Apr 2010
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