Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen presented the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Overseas Service Medal (OSM) to 99 SAF personnel at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Defence this afternoon – 54 medals were awarded in recognition of the SAF team's successful command of the multinational counter-piracy task force, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, in the Gulf of Aden; and 45 medals were awarded in recognition of contributions support the multinational coalition efforts to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including Republic of Singapore Air Force's KC-135R tanker aircraft deployment.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Dr Ng commended the medal recipients for accomplishing their missions with professionalism and dedication. He cited examples of how the deployed SAF troops were making a difference, and shared that their contributions and outstanding work were appreciated and praised by multinational partners. He said, "The SAF has gained a reputation for being a valued contributor to the peace and security in the Middle East… Our foreign counterparts have always been impressed with how our SAF men and women serve with dedication, competence and high standards."
Dr Ng added that the SAF's deployment to the Middle East to address the threats of terrorism and piracy have helped to keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe and secure, and preserved the peace and security in our region. He said, "Singapore remains committed to support the anti-ISIS coalition as it transits to the next phase to help stabilise the affected countries. At the same time, we have stepped up our vigilance at home in anticipation of the many terrorists who will return to this region." Dr Ng elaborated that the SAF has enhanced its counter-terrorism capabilities to strengthen national resilience, and has also increased information and intelligence sharing with ASEAN and like-minded countries to guard against the threats from returning foreign fighters.
Dr Ng also noted that our sea lines of communication must remain open and secure for Singapore's maritime trade and industry to prosper. On that front, the SAF has contributed to the multinational counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2009, and has witnessed the piracy numbers there drop drastically from its peak of more than 200 attacks in 2011 to zero successful attacks today.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, Chief of Air Force Major-General Mervyn Tan, Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, senior SAF officers as well as family members of the OSM recipients were also present at the ceremony.