Two thousand soldiers, four Task Forces and numerous military assets deployed on land, at sea and in the air. All ready to secure Singapore for one historic meeting.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had proved its mettle by keeping the nation safe as she played host to the meeting between United States (US) President Donald Trump and the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong Un, held at the Capella Hotel on 12 Jun.
Personnel from the Air Defence Task Force (ADTF), Island Defence Task Force (IDTF), Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) and Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) worked round the clock at Capella Hotel and its surroundings to keep an eye out for threats coming from the land, air and sea.
They also readied Paya Lebar Air Base for the arrival of Mr Trump and his delegation on 10 Jun.
On 14 Jun, Chief of Defence Force Major-General (MG) Melvyn Ong visited some of the troops at Tuas Naval Base to thank them for their hard work in the operation. Noting that details were only made available about a week prior to the event, MG Ong commended the troops on working with the Home Team to pull off the operation at short notice.
"Our task was to ensure a safe and secure Singapore for the summit, and I think we did well. A lot of this was due to the professionalism of our soldiers, sailors and airmen," said MG Ong.
He added: "I'm very proud of their commitment but also of the fact that we were able to pull this off and do this operation well reflects well on the SAF. We were able to protect Singapore (and ensure a safe and smooth summit.)"
MG Ong highlighted that while this was not the largest operation the SAF had been deployed for, it was significant for involving all three Services and coordination across the Government. All these factors added to the complexity of the operation.
The ADTF was tasked to detect and respond to threats airborne threats. Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) assets such as F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, and G550 early warning aircraft watched the skies while Ground-based Air Defence units operating systems such as the RBS70, Surface-to-Air PYthon and DERby (SPYDER) and I-Hawk were primed to take down targets.
The MSTF, which is the lead agency for Singapore's maritime defence, worked closely with the Police Coast Guard and other agencies to survey the waters off Capella Hotel.
Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) ships such as Littoral Mission Vessels (LMV), Patrol Vessels and Landing Ships Tank escorted vessels transiting through the area while Accompanying Sea Security Teams (ASSeTs) carried out checks on commercial vessels entering and departing Singapore waters. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and AH-64D Apache Helicopters joined in the mission.
The IDTF supported the Singapore Police Force in homeland security missions. Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosive (CBRE) teams from the SAF carried out bomb sweeps at the meeting venue and the leaders' residences while the Medical Response Force stood by for CBRE incidents. Naval divers also secured the link bridge between Singapore and Sentosa Island.
For many servicemen and women, it was a rare occasion to witness the different components of the SAF coming together for actual operations in Singapore. Said Captain (CPT) Jaime Liew, the 26-year-old Assistant Operations Officer of LMV RSS Independence: "We have been training for these sorts of maritime security scenarios, but this time the tempo was increased."
"Before the operation, we loaded extra ammunition and fine-tuned our gunnery processes," she explained, adding that the crew also increased the number of close escort operations carried out on merchant vessels.
It was also a time to stand up and contribute to the efforts, said Apache helicopter pilot CPT Ingkiriwang Reeve. He and his wife were planning to celebrate their wedding anniversary overseas, but decided to postpone their plans when he heard news of the operation.
"The SAF would definitely need everybody's help and contribution for such an important event. There was no way I was going to leave at this crucial point of time and go on holiday while my friends and unit were serving the country," said the 31-year-old.
Committed national servicemen
MG Ong also thanked the Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and Operationally-ready National Servicemen (NSmen) who were deployed, especially those who volunteered at short notice to serve at the event.
MG Ong said: "I want to affirm especially the NSmen from the CBRE units – many of them knew that the demands on the CBRE team would be very intense for this operation. That speaks very highly of the commitment and of the professionalism of our NSmen. We are very proud of them."
3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) (NS) Terrence Lee was one of about 20 NSmen from the 36th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers (36 SCE) who answered the call to serve.
He was glad to have his colleagues' support for the five-day deployment. "I run my own business so I could arrange (my work schedule) with my colleagues. They were supportive and excited, some of them even asked if I got to see them (Mr Trump and Mr Kim)!" said the 36-year-old, who heads a commercial diving company.
As an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team Commander, he led a team in conducting security sweeps at the meeting venue and the forested areas surrounding the hotel. It was an arduous task made more complex due to the involvement of the US and North Korean security teams.
Working with foreign agencies was an eye-opening experience, as they exchanged pointers with their US counterparts. "We also managed to share our experience on conducting security sweeps." 3WO (NS) Lee said.
As for NSF 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Muhammad Asyraf bin Mohd Razali, it was all worth the effort though he was fasting during Ramadan.
"It's (the chance to) be part of something special and different that most people would not be able to experience, especially as NSFs," said the 22-year-old combat medic, who was part of the Medical Response Force standing by to treat SAF personnel in the event of a CBRE incident.
"It has been an honour to be part of something like this. All that we've trained for, (we put to use) in a real ops support mission," he said.