Mission accomplished at Exercise Wallaby 2021The SAF returns to Queensland, Australia for Exercise Wallaby 2021 after a pause in the exercise series last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
// Story by Koh Eng Beng, from Queensland, Australia
// Photos by Tedd Jong & courtesy of SAF Film Unit & Singapore Army
Exercise Wallaby – the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) largest overseas exercise – was called off last year for the first time since it started in 1990. As countries around the world adapt to the new normal amid the pandemic, the SAF resumed the exercise from 13 Sep to 21 Oct this year.
About 580 personnel as well as platforms from the Singapore Army, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) successfully conducted large-scale missions to hone their capabilities and strengthen their integration.
Here's a look at how the SAF made full use of the sprawling Shoalwater Bay Training Area – nearly four times the size of Singapore – to conduct complex training drills that cannot be carried out back home.
Sharing his thoughts after the exercise, Air Director Colonel (COL) Sherman Ong said the successful conduct of this year's Exercise Wallaby showed that the SAF remains operationally ready amid the COVID-19 pandemic to defend Singapore.
"Despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation, we were able to achieve our exercise objectives, along with our Army and Navy counterparts, and carried out high-quality training in Australia, which is testament to our resolve and our capability."
All exercise participants were fully vaccinated and were quarantined before the exercise. They also took swab tests and followed a controlled itinerary in Australia to minimise interaction with the locals.
As part of the risk mitigation measures, the scale of this year's exercise was smaller – with about 580 participants – compared to over 3,000 personnel in recent years.
While this year's exercise had been scaled down, the training had not been compromised, said COL Ong.
"The complexity and challenges at Shoalwater Bay here allowed the SAF to hone our operational competencies and to conduct essential integrated training across the Army, Navy and the Air Force," he explained.
COL Ong added that it was important that the SAF avoids a prolonged absence from Exercise Wallaby so that servicemen and women would remain familiar with and get to experience training at Shoalwater Bay.
"Having conducted the exercise this year, we are better positioned to maximise our training when the COVID-19 situation improves, and when we are able to train at full capacity," he said.