Exercise Agni Warrior (XAW) is an Artillery live-firing exercise conducted in Devlali Field Firing Range from 12 November to 1 December. This exercise involved 175 troops from the 23rd and 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery (23 and 24 SA), as well as 80 troops from the Indian Armed Forces. Hosted by the Indian School of Artillery, XAW was an exercise that involved the use of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)'s 155mm Singapore Light Weight Howitzer (SLWH) Pegasus, the world's first self-propelled heliborne howitzer.
The 155mm SLWH Pegasus is both self-propelled and heli-portable by the CH-47D Chinook helicopter.
Held in India since 2004, XAW is conducted under the ambit of the Army Bilateral Agreement. The bilateral agreement, renewed in November 2018 at the 3rd India-Singapore Defence Ministers' Dialogue, bears testament to the strong and long-standing defence relationship between Singapore and India. Both armies share a long history of military cooperation through exercises, military exchanges, visits, courses and other professional exchanges. These regular interactions between the two armed forces facilitated the sharing of knowledge and the establishment of personal friendships between the SAF and Indian Armed Forces.
One of the key highlight for XAW 18 was the Field Artillery Training Evaluation Programme, a three-day exercise aimed to evaluate the battery's operational readiness. It was also the first time our gunners were exposed to the handling and firing of live 155mm ammunition (each weighing 45kg). The battery was assessed on its speed in the different types of deployment, as well as its competency and precision in executing fire missions on a variety of targets up to 10km away. One of the exercise highlights was the light mode insertion where the battery had to move in by foot, carrying rounds and charges, with the SLWH driven to the firing position in self-propelled mode. With the added stress of having to navigate through tough terrain, this mode was significantly challenging, yet the battery was able to carry out their mission successfully.
The 155mm SLWH Pegasus being deployed by the gunners from the 23 SA.
CFC David Wong Meng Kit, who was responsible for laying the gun to the target, shared that the live-firing during this exercise was most memorable for him. "I thoroughly enjoyed myself during the live-firing of the SLWH Pegasus as it is not every day where you can fire a field howitzer. This live-firing experience has indeed enhanced our capabilities as gunners. Being a gun layer, I had to do multiple checks to ensure the gun was aiming at the correct grid as a slight shift in the gun would result in the round dropping far off target."
Reflecting on the deployment process of the field howitzers, CFC David felt that it was a tiring but fulfilling experience. "It was tiring, but I was heartened to see the whole detachment working together to achieve the timings set out for us."
Gunners from 23 SA making sure that the SLWH Pegasus is aiming accurately at the target.
Both armies also had an opportunity to interact and share about their respective platforms and small arms at a static display held at the Indian School of Artillery. XAW culminated in a joint live-firing involving the SAF's SLWH Pegasus, Field Artillery Meteorological System and the Indian Armed Forces' 155mm Field Howitzer 77B.
Soldiers from SAF and Indian Armed Forces during the professional exchange.
3SG Muhammad Ammar Bin Horlis, Detachment Commander of the ranging gun, spoke on some of the challenges faced over during the exercise. "Being a Detachment Commander during XAW was an experience fraught with challenging yet joyful moments. There were a plethora of duties that I had to fulfil to ensure a smooth and safe deployment while looking out for the well-being of my men. Furthermore, during the live-firing, I was responsible for keeping track of ammunition expenditure and ensuring that the right rounds and charges were being fired. Despite so, this was definitely a fruitful experience that had instilled within me many indelible lessons and qualities."
XAW 18 demonstrated the professionalism and operational-readiness of Our Army's Artillery units. These experiences certainly helped hone our soldiers and commanders' competencies, commitment to our nation's defence, as well as confidence with their platforms and roles. The exercise was also an excellent opportunity to cement and reaffirm the close defence ties between the SAF and the Indian Armed Forces.
Group photo of the troops from SAF and the Indian Armed Forces.
Contributed by: 23 SA
Dry warm wind in summer blew across the faces of some 1300 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Overcoming the harsh weather and unfamiliar terrain, these soldiers came together to participate in Exercise Trident (XTD), a signature bilateral exercise between both militaries which features a heli-insertion operation and ship-to-shore operation at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia. The exercise involved a suite of air and naval assets such as the AS332 Super Puma and CH-47D Chinook helicopters from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, as well as the Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank (LST) RSS Resolution and Fast Craft from the Republic of Singapore Navy.
Conducted from 31 October to 14 November, the exercise kick-started when troops from both armies embarked on professional interactions such as the sharing of different urban operations (UO) drills, tactics and techniques, as well as learning more about each other's weapon systems. During the Army-wide safety timeout, the troops made full use of the opportunity to rehearse various drills with the ADF. CPT Brian Chua, Officer Commanding (OC), led a company comprising of both SAF and ADF troops, and shared that, "the Australians counterparts were very forthcoming and willing to share their experiences. We did rehearsals for helicopter emplaning and deplaning drills in preparation for the heli-insertion exercise. On a planning level, I have gained different perspectives from working together during the joint planning with the ADF counterparts, while on an interpersonal level, we grew closer and our troops even attempted to teach them a bit of our Singlish."
Adding on, MAJ Pat D'Arcy, the OC of the ADF Company, said, "one key takeaway would be understanding the planning and execution process to enhance the interoperability between the SAF and ADF. The integration between the troops has been fantastic. I’ve learnt a lot, especially integrating our Standard Operating Procedures, learning and mutually benefiting from both militaries."
Soldiers from the SAF & ADF learning more about each other's weapons during the professional exchange.
MAJ Pat D'Arcy from the ADF (left), and CPT Brian Chua (right)
Troops practising their helicopter emplaning drill, with thumbs-up by soldiers indicating that they had fastened their seat belts.
The medical team supporting the entire Exercise Wallaby (XWB) also used the safety timeout to review and further enhance their existing medical procedures. ME1 Ibrahim bin Hamzah, senior medic from the team, reflected that, "This safety timeout is important because it gives us time to reflect on our current workflow and improve on it. We conducted additional sessions for the medics to revise the medical protocols and ensured their competencies. I took the time to explain to the medics, once again, of their importance in the safety for our troops, as this goes a long way in motivating my medics to put in their best. These drills also prepared the medical team to be organised and efficient when it comes to treating casualties. It definitely helped us to always be ready to give our patients the best care we can."
Medical team revising their medical protocols during the safety timeout.
During the final segment of the exercise, Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How and Australia's Assistant Minister for Defence Mr David Fawcett visited the troops on-board RSS Resolution and witnessed the action as the advance party prepared for their heli-insertion mission on the ship's flight deck. One can only imagine the downwash as the AS332 Super Puma helicopter took its landing on the ship's flight deck. Soldiers waited eagerly in their standby position and, as soon as the Air Crew Specialist gave the thumbs-up, charged towards the helicopter.
During his joint interview with Mr Fawcett, Mr Heng shared, "XTD is a demonstration of the closeness of our defence relations and is something that has gone decades back. It will grow even stronger in the future, so I am very thankful that the Australian government has been such a close partner to us." Echoing his sentiments, Mr Fawcett shared, "The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that we have and is developing, is a good bedrock for bilateral training, and (in this exercise), we bring the two forces together and improve our ability to operate."
Soldiers boarding the Chinook helicopter during the troop insertion mission.
Beyond the action at the frontline is the work of the Forward Support Group (FSG) team, who has been providing a spectrum of combat service and administrative support for the conduct of the entire XWB frame. The 100-man team, consisting of NSmen, NSFs and Regular servicemen, began their preparation for XWB as early as February this year and has been in theatre since September. Having volunteered to come to XWB to support the exercise for close to 3 months, CPL Koh Tongshun, Zacvin, one of the members in the FSG Supply team, shared, "my role and responsibility lies in the management of centralised general equipment such as field rations, thermal wear and other expendables. We also manage the controlled equipment such as weapons. I am very excited to be able to experience what it is like to participate in such an overseas exercise."
CPL Koh inspecting the serviceability of the SAR 21 rifle before the exercise.
Similarly working hard behind-the-scenes is the team from PERSCOM. Being the second time supporting XWB, the formation was tasked as the Manpower (MP) team for the FSG and the Rear Admin in Singapore. The team started its preparations as early as March, working with the Frame Admin Headquarters on the flight nominal roll. Concurrently, travel orders and flight packets were prepared in advance prior to the troops' flights. Additionally, the MP team worked tirelessly to ensure smooth execution of Airport Operations, Airport Land Transfer and the delivery of the Education Tour Package. The team had supported a total of 11 outbound and nine inbound flights across the three frames.
Unloading of kitbags by PERSCOM at the Rockhampton Airport.
XTD is a key component of the SAF's annual XWB, which is conducted from 19 September to 17 November. Marking the 28th year of training at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, XWB 2018 is a testament to the close and long-standing defence relationship between Singapore and Australia. The SAF and the ADF share a long history of military cooperation, with extensive interactions that include bilateral and multilateral exercises, mutual visits, professional exchanges and joint operational deployments in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Written by: CPT Neo Choon Yeong
Photography by: Mr Aloysius Lum
Last Updated on 09 Oct 2018