The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) celebrated her 45th SAF Day yesterday, and this year’s edition has seen a great social and Internet movement, on what seems to be a new lease of life to the commitment to defence. And on top of that, this workyear has numerous announcements and exciting purchases by the Air, Land and Sea services, which will again make the SAF a relevant, and updated fighting force.
A round up, the Ministry has announced the purchase of six Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) to replace the current 50-year-old KC-135R. The F-15SG has attained Full Operational Capability, and the F-16s are set to be upgraded to new ASEA radars. Ground based air defence systems are almost on the verge of a complete change-out of systems, with SPYDER-SR in service and the Aster -30 missile on its way to 163 SQN.
The Army has successfully set up the Multi Mission Range Complex, which provides realistic training and allows more soldiers to utilise the range regardless of the elements. The Terrex and her Motorised Infantry has gained traction, and we are looking forward to more land purchases that is soon to come.
Most interesting and exciting news thus far came from the sea. The Navy will be acquiring new German made Type 218SG submarines, to replace the Challenger class SSKs. And for the second time this year, Minister of Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, has hinted on a ‘’larger ship” which he termed as Joint Multi Mission Ship (JMMS). The JMMS will be capable of carrying numerous helicopters for humanitarian missions, and has full C2 capabilities. Hopefully more will be revealed soon.
You might like to see my view on the “LPI” here.
More importantly, on the heart-ware, Mindef and its social media team has struck a chord with the tech savy Singaporeans. More than 13,000 Facebook participants changed their profile pictures and cover photos to their uniform portraits, attaching a SAF Day Picbadge icon alongside. Men also turn up to work in their NS fatigue. Along with this campaign, over 120 retailers participated in the SAF Day promotions, a testament of the public to give back more to the armed forces, and that with their families are proud of their uniform and their SAF.
The RSAF at Singapore Airshow and RSN’s Navy at Vivo have also engaged thousands this year, the SAF has showcased their real operations, such as the recent foiling of pirate attack in South China Sea, Rescue 10 scrambles and the Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team’s handling of numerous war relics.
Incidents like the naming of the Indonesian ship, KRI Usman Harun, although tarnished Singapore-Indonesian military ties, has brought Singaporeans and the SAF closer. The public are finally aware of the untold stories of the Konforntation and the SAF’s engagements in these conflicts. Similarly, cyberbullying of NSmen on social media and citizen journalism websites also made the public rally against selected “uniform bullying”.
The Mindef has set up the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) and has identified numerous recommendations, of which many has be approved and implemented. For example, now one does not have to notify their overseas movements for trip not more than two weeks. Steps like that proved that the SAF is willing to keep up with times, relevant, realistic and be more open to recommendations. Minister also commented that defence budget is unlikely to change, a sign that the government is dedicated to keep up the robustness of the armed forces and the numerous initiatives.
The SAF will only be stronger than ever, not only because of the cutting edge hardware, but the new blood of support for our guys in uniform. The SAF will not be robust without the public’s and families’ support and tolerance. I am confident that this movement and commitment to defence will only grow along the years and make the SAF an integrate part of our lives. Next year we will celebrate SG 50, the 50th anniversary to our independence, and lets come together to support the SAF that has kept Singapore safe and secure since.
Support them from behind, for they will fight for you from the front.