An open mobilisation alert was broadcasted at 12 noon across Singapore on 9 Dec. Within a few hours, more than 90 per cent of Active and Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) were already at three Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) bases across the island, ready for duty.
They are the air crew and ground crew of five fighter squadrons in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The routine drill is part of 20 to 30 mobilisation exercises conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) each year.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Melvyn Ong observed the mobilisation process at Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB), while similar mobilisations were taking place at the Changi and Tengah air bases concurrently.
After reporting, NSmen attended briefings to get an update on the latest procedures for their roles. They also took part in table-top exercises with active personnel.
Major (MAJ) (NS) Freddie Lim-Ng, 38, was one of the NSmen who reported at PLAB. This was despite the fact he had just completed a half-marathon earlier in the morning.
The F-15SG pilot, who had served in the RSAF as a Regular for 15 years before leaving to work as a flight simulator instructor, had no qualms about answering the nation’s call at short notice.
He understood that a swift and timely response from the NSmen was very critical for Singapore, and would directly translate into the operational readiness of the SAF.
As Singapore is a small country with no strategic depth, it is important that it possesses an effective and ready air force as the first line of deterrence and defence.
"The purpose of this mobilisation exercise was to ensure that the processes for recalling NSmen and active crew are well-oiled, and that we can come back at a moment's notice to serve the country especially in times of need," he said, adding that such mobilisations gave the public confidence that the SAF was well-primed to respond to any situation.
On the key takeaway from the mobilisation, RSAF Regular, MAJ Dhinaa Kumaar, 40, said: "The SAF is ready anytime that it's called upon, 24/7. (Our) people, including our NSmen, will set aside time, even if it's the weekend."
He added: "Responding on time as far as possible…just goes to show the commitment of our servicemen – both active as well as NSmen."
On how the RSAF hones its capabilities, MAJ Dhinaa, an F-15SG Weapon Systems Officer (Fighter) from 142 Squadron (SQN), said that the RSAF trains regularly with top air forces in large-scale overseas exercises in Australia, United States and Thailand, where realistic scenarios are played out.
MAJ (NS) Lim-Ng, who had participated in such overseas exercises during his years of active service, said: "I can safely say that the nation is in good hands when it comes to the defence of our airspace."