Fact Sheet: Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation 50th Anniversary

Fact Sheet: Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation 50th Anniversary


The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)'s Commandos are experts in specialised operations such as raids, reconnaissance and enemy interdiction via the air, land and sea. Armed with an arsenal of tactical skills in weaponry, demolition, communication and medical aid, the Commandos are trained to operate deep within enemy territories. Over the past 50 years, the Commando Formation has grown from just a battalion strong to become an advanced fighting force and one of the SAF's elite today.

Milestones of the Commando Formation




The late Dr Goh Keng Swee, then-Minister for the Interior and Defence (now known as the Ministry of Defence) spearheaded the establishment of an elite unit specialising in unconventional warfare. Formed on 1 December 1969 and housed in SAFTI, the SAF Regular Battalion comprised 10 officers and 20 other servicemen of various ranks.


The SAF Regular Battalion was renamed SAF Commando Unit. The Red Beret, a universal symbol of an elite airborne trooper, was also selected as the headdress for the SAF Commandos to reflect their identity.


The SAF Commandos Unit was renamed 1st Commando Battalion.


The first batch of Full-time National Servicemen was enlisted into 1st Commando Battalion.


In recognition of the Commandos' operational readiness and efficiency, the Commando Formation was awarded the Formation Colours and a Streamer by then-President, Mr. Wee Kim Wee.


Hendon Camp, the home of the Commandos, was officially inaugurated. The camp was named after the road where the old Commando camp was located, Hendon Road.


With the evolving threats around the world, the Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) was announced on 30 Jun 2009 by then-Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Mr Teo Chee Hean. It comprised personnel from the three Services to provide an integrated, modular and robust response to the threats that Singapore face.


Key Operations Undertaken by the Commando Formation




Laju Ferry Hijacking. On 31 January 1974, armed gunmen attacked the Shell refinery on Pulau Bukom and escaped on the Laju Ferry. A 13-man group, including a team of Commandos, was formed to trade places with the hostages and guarantee a safe passageway for the four hijackers out of Singapore. The group was headed by then-Director, Security and Intelligence Division, Mr. S R Nathan.


Operation Thunderstorm. 2nd Company, 1st Commando Battalion comprising the first batch of Full-Time National Servicemen Commandos, was mobilised to maintain law and order on board refugee boats that had sailed into Singapore to seek political and social asylum.


Operation Thunderbolt. On 27 March 1991, Commandos stormed Singapore Airlines flight SQ117 and successfully rescued all 127 passengers and killed the 4 Pakistani terrorist hijackers. For their outstanding contributions, the Commandos involved were presented with the Presidential Commendation Certificates. The Medal of Valour was also awarded to the Commando Unit.


UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia. Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Super Puma helicopters and SAF personnel, including a group of Commandos, were dispatched to assist the United Nations (UN) Transitional Authority in Cambodia.

2000 and beyond

Operation Blue Heron. From May 2001 to November 2002, the SAF joined a UN-endorsed coalition force to help with peacekeeping activities in East Timor. Commandos were deployed as part of the UN Peacekeeping contingent, providing security for the villagers to ensure that militia groups were unable to infiltrate. This was the first time SAF deployed combat peacekeepers bearing arms.

Operation Blue Orchid. The SAF was deployed from 2003 to 2008 to assist in multinational reconstruction efforts in post-war Iraq. A team of Commandos were sent to provide protection for an RSAF aircraft and crew, which ferried supplies and humanitarian aid to the Middle East.

Operation Flying Eagle. On 26 December 2004, following the earthquake off the west coast of Northern Sumatra, which in turn triggered a tsunami that devastated many coastal areas, the SAF was activated to provide medical relief in Aceh. A group of Commandos were part of the protection force for the RSAF's C-130, Chinooks, and Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s Landing Ships Tank involved in the operation.

Operation Blue Ridge. SAF personnel were deployed to Afghanistan from 2007 to 2013 to aid in the international community's reconstruction efforts to restore stability in the country. Commandos were sent to provide protection and support the SAF operations there.

Operation Blue Sapphire. From 2009 to 2014, as part of the SAF's contribution to multinational counter-piracy efforts, Commandos were sent on board the RSN's vessels deployed to the Gulf of Aden. When called upon, they boarded hostile vessels and supported interdiction of identified rogue vessels.

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