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Overseas Operations

Since 1970, the SAF has participated in a number of peace support operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions at both regional and international levels.

Singapore takes our international responsibilities and commitments seriously. We seek to contribute, within our means and in useful ways, towards multinational efforts to maintain international security. Given the common threat posed by transnational security challenges, Singapore's participation in overseas operations also helps to enhance our own security.

As we have limited resources and manpower, Singapore's approach is to focus our contributions in niche areas where the SAF has expertise and which our international partners find operationally useful.

This is reflected in Singapore's participation in the United Nations' (UN) peacekeeping, peace support and other humanitarian missions since 1989. Our strong commitment to UN missions underscores our belief that the UN is an important institution for upholding international peace and order, and providing humanitarian assistance to countries in need.

Singapore has also contributed in niche ways to the multinational reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan since 2007. Our efforts there help to prevent extremists from using Afghanistan to export terrorism to the rest of the world, including our region. Singapore also contributed to the multinational reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

As a maritime nation, we have an interest in preserving freedom of navigation and the safety of international shipping, and in combating threats at sea such as piracy and maritime terrorism. As it is not possible for a country to protect its own shipping in all key sea lanes around the world, we have to depend on international cooperation to secure these sea lanes for everyone's use. In the region, Singapore has contributed to maritime security efforts in the Strait of Malacca through initiatives such as the Malacca Strait Patrols and the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN's) Information Fusion Centre. Internationally, the SAF has deployed task groups under the ambit of the multinational Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 to the Gulf of Aden.

Singapore has also contributed over the years to various regional and international HADR efforts.

Notable SAF deployments over the years:

  • First overseas mission in 1970 when a 47-man team was deployed to provide humanitarian assistance to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) when the country was hit by a deadly cyclone.
  • First partnership with the UN in 1989 when a 14-man team was deployed to Nambia, Southwest Africa to assist the UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) during the country's elections.
  • Participation in the UN Iraq Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) in 1991 to monitor the demilitarised zone along the Iraq-Kuwait border after the first Gulf war. The SAF had deployed a total of nine teams by the time the mission ended in 2003.
  • In 1993, four Super Puma helicopters and 65 SAF personnel were dispatched to Cambodia to assist the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), the UN mission overseeing the electoral process in Cambodia.
  • Between 1999 and 2003, as well as between 2008 and 2012, the SAF, in support of the UN peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste, contributed over 1000 personnel and equipment like Landing Ship Tanks (LST) and UH-1H helicopters in the international effort to restore peace and security to Timor-Leste.
  • Between 2003 and 2008, more than 990 SAF personnel participated in the multinational effort to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.
  • In the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004, more than 1500 SAF personnel were deployed to Indonesia and Thailand to provide HADR assistance in the largest SAF overseas operation conducted so far.  The SAF deployed three LSTs, eight CH-47 Chinook and four Super Puma helicopters, six C-130 transport aircraft and two F-50 utility aircraft for the relief effort.
  • Since 2007, more than 350 SAF personnel have been deployed to Afghanistan to participate in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) peace support operations and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
  • Since 2009, more than 1340 sailors, soldiers and airmen have operated under the ambit of the multinational CTF 151 as part of the counter-piracy effort in the Gulf of Aden (GoA).
  • During the New Zealand earthquake in February 2011, 116 SAF personnel, a C-130 transport aircraft and a KC-135 tanker aircraft were deployed to  Christchurch to provide disaster relief and to support the evacuation of  civilians and emergency workers.
  • In March 2014, the SAF committed a total of three ships, four aircraft and 308 personnel in the conduct of the Search and Locate operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in the South China Sea and Malacca Straits.
  • In late December 2014, the SAF committed five ships, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, four aircraft and over 420 personnel in the conduct of the Search and Locate operations for the missing Air Asia aircraft QZ 8501.
  • MINDEF has also been supporting Singapore's offers of Haze Assistance Packages to Indonesia and Malaysia since 2005. These packages demonstrate Singapore’s commitment to Singaporeans, and our neighbours to resolve the serious issue of transboundary haze. Following Indonesia's acceptance of our offers in 2005 and 2015, the SAF deployed assets and personnel to Sumatra for periods ranging from one to two weeks. There included C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding and logistics ferry operations, and CH-47SD helicopters for aerial fire-fighting operations.
  • From Dec 2014 – Jan 2015, the SAF deployed a taskforce comprising 34 SAF personnel, 4 SCDF DART members and 1 PUB chemist (both tasked under SAF) to Malaysia during the flood crisis. The taskforce was split into two locations at Kuala Krai and Machang. They operated 7 Water Purification Units and a total of 136,400 litres of purified water was generated over 12 days.
  • In April 2015, the SAF deployed 38 personnel comprising a medical team as well as staff from the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre (RHCC) for relief efforts in Nepal following an earthquake. Seven personnel from the Ministry of Health and eight personnel from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces worked together with the SAF medical team. Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 aircraft made a total of eleven flights into Nepal since 26 April 2015 to transport personnel, equipment and relief supplies, as well as to evacuate 71 Singaporeans, along with 24 other nationals, from Nepal.
  • In September 2017, 4 Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 34 RSAF personnel were deployed to Temple, Texas, for Hurricane Harvey relief operations. During their nine-day deployment, the RSAF worked closely with the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) to transport personnel and essential supplies such as food, water and equipment.