Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Defending Our Lion City

Update 8 Jul 2015: Singapore: Small state, big weapons buyer

Singapore's determination to remain independent has fuelled military expansionism - but in a fast-changing global security environment, the militarised city-state may be forced to take sides.
"Our immediate part of the world is changing dramatically," said the Singaporean defence minister, Dr Ng Eng Hen, during a recent unveiling of Singapore's defence plans.
In his opening remarks, the defence minister of this city-state of five million people alluded to the difficult balancing act Singapore has had to master since its independence.

Singapore’s Biggest Military Challenge
US and Singapore ships during the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercises in 2011. Image Credit: US Navy Photo

On July 1, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) commemorated SAF Day at a parade officiated by the country’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. Ahead of the parade, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen discussed Singapore’s ongoing efforts to address its defense challenges in a media interview.
The biggest challenge Singapore faces, Ng said, is demography. That is not surprising given current and future trends (See: “Can Singapore Overcome its Future Challenges?”). In a speech in May, Ng had revealed that the number of full-time National Servicemen would shrink by about 30 percent from now till 2030.
However, he also stressed that the SAF was handling these constraints better than some other militaries, in part because Singapore’s economic growth ensures that its military is sufficiently resourced to make up for reduced manpower with modern systems.


Survival of Singapore still dependent on NS
As the country looks to the next 50 years, Singaporeans must not allow popular or short-term benefits to undermine the fabric of the NS system. NS must prevail and remain credible. Photo: Tristan Loh

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has started to commemorate “SAF50” — in conjunction with SG50, the Republic’s golden jubilee on Aug 9 — with a major SAF Day Parade, to be held today. While this is a time to rejoice, it is also timely to reflect on the role of National Service (NS). This is especially so, given the calls by some Singaporeans on social media and Internet forums for NS to be shortened or done away with, so that the SAF becomes an all-regular force. Others argue that enlistees ought to be given a choice on what they want to do while serving NS.

I wonder if 50 years of peace have lured some Singaporeans into complacency. Have we forgotten the constant threats that we face? Years back, it was the possibility that our water supply could be cut off. Today, it is the aim of militant groups to create an Islamic Caliphate in the entire South-east Asian archipelago.

I hope my three grandsons, now aged between three and 13, will serve NS in its current form, and that NS will at least continue for the next 50 years. Why?

New armoured vehicle to keep S'pore safe
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen yesterday declared the Protected Response Vehicle, dubbed Peacekeeper, operational

A new armoured vehicle will keep Singapore's soldiers better-protected as they guard key installations around the island.

The Protected Response Vehicle, dubbed Peacekeeper, was declared operational by Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen at the Golden Jubilee parade of the 2nd People's Defence Force (2 PDF) yesterday.

Dr Ng, who first mentioned the Peacekeeper in Parliament during the Budget Debate in March, mounted the licence plate on one of the vehicles before taking it for a spin around the parade square.


Singapore retires two submarines, launches training centre
RSN submariners undergoing helmsman training in one of the training facilities housed in the new Submarine Training Centre. (Singapore Ministry of Defence)

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has retired two Challenger (ex-Sjöormen)-class submarines, the country's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) announced on 11 March.

The vessels, RSS Centurion and RSS Challenger , were originally in service with the Royal Swedish Navy (RSwN) as HMS Sjöormen and HMS Sjöbjörnen and re-launched in May 1999 and September 1997 respectively. Singapore acquired four Type A 12 Sjöormen-class submarines in the mid-1990s to give the RSN its first experience of submarine operations.


The 51 m vessels, which can reach a top speed of 20 kt while submerged, are equipped with four 533 mm and two 400 mm torpedo tubes, according to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships .

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RSAF has robust air defence system to protect airspace: Ng Eng Hen
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has a robust air defence system to monitor the skies and protect the sovereignty of the country's airspace.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said this in a written Parliamentary reply to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Gerald Giam.
Dr Ng said RSAF works closely with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to detect and identify aircraft through its suite of radars before they enter Singapore's airspace. If an aircraft veers off its flight path, a series of preventive measures will be triggered.

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Militaries should step up to face new security challenges: Ng Eng Hen

Militaries will increasingly face non-traditional security challenges and should step up to meet this changing role, said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen who was in Kuala Lumpur on Monday to attend the 14th Defence Services Asia and 3rd Putrajaya Forum, where he also met with Malaysian leaders.

Dr Ng called on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Malaysian Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein.

The ministers reaffirmed the strong bilateral defence ties and expressed commitment to deepen the bilateral defence relationship through more interactions at all levels.

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Strong defence critical in ensuring Singapore's progress: President Tony Tan

A strong defence has played a critical role in ensuring Singapore's steady progress since independence, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam.


Noting that a strong and credible armed forces has helped deter potential aggression, he added that it has also given Singapore the confidence to steer a steady course in an uncertain world.


Dr Tan was speaking at a commissioning parade on Saturday evening, where 503 officer cadets were commissioned as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).


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Dr Ng showcases SAF 2030 at budget debate

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 2030 will be a connected force, with all its parts speaking to each other to defend Singapore as a single unit. The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the SAF will also continue its steady-hand policy when it comes to defence spending. It will also not let up on diplomacy efforts to ensure that Singapore has a voice on the international stage.

These were some of the key points brought up by Minster for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen on 6 Mar at the Committee of Supply or Budget debate, during which he updated Parliament on defence-related issues and MINDEF's long-term plans.

Dr Ng noted that we have Singapore's pioneer generation to thank for the strong SAF of today. "We have done well and this transformation of the SAF speaks volumes of past efforts, and of the sterling and defining contributions of our Pioneers. We salute the Pioneers who laid the foundations of the strong SAF today."

Singapore commits to 'steady' defence investment to 2030

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has outlined a commitment to continue the country's "steady" investment in defence as part of its bid to achieve by 2030 a "highly connected" military force.

In February Singapore announced a 2014 defence budget of SGD12.56 billion (USD9.93 billion), a 3.2% increase over spending in 2013. The allocation amounted to 22% of total annual government expenditure and 3.3% of GDP; someway below the government's sanctioned cap of 6%.

Speaking to Singapore's parliament on 6 March, Ng said the appropriation is in line with the country's long-term approach to defence spending.

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SAF ‘Highly Connected’ Force For 2030
The Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen outlined today a commitment to continue the Singapores "steady" investment in its defence to achieve its aim targeted for 2030 of a "highly connected" military force. In this February Singapore announced the 2014 defence budget of approximately SGD12.56 billion (USD9.93 billion), which is a 3.2% increase over the spending done in 2013. The allocation has increased to 22% of the total annual government expenditure and 3.3% of GDP.

Speaking to the Singapore's parliament on today, Ng told that the appropriation is in line with the country's long-term approach to defence spending. He further announced in the Parliament that the army was “under no pressure” to reduce the duration of NS.

The largest impact of employing more regular trainers ... will be on the training of our full-time National Servicemen (NSF), and I think there can be some time savings,” he said. “Because in the present system, some time is required for second-year NSF trainers to adapt themselves to the training environment in their units and training schools. So, having regular trainers will smooth this transition.” He further added, “Let me quell unrealistic expectations. The time savings will be a few weeks at most, if any. I am not making any promises here because the Army has to study many details to ensure that we can continue to generate operationally ready units.”
Mindef outlines vision of SAF in 2030
THE Singapore Armed Forces of the future will be a highly connected unit, with soldiers from the air, sea and land forces able to jointly target threats and orchestrate responses.
This was the vision for the SAF in 2030 shared by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen during yesterday's Committee of Supply debate.
Noting the difficulty in forecasting security threats, and that the major challenges of the last decade - 9/11, Sars and piracy - came as surprises, Dr Ng said the nation must adopt a robust approach in building the armed forces.

Of Men And Machines

A Singapore military transport plane, two warships, a naval helicopter and a submarine support vessel - equipped to search underwater, with divers on board - are involved in the search for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane that went off the radar on Saturday: 
  • aircraft (C-130 )
  • naval helicopter (Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk)
  • submarine support vessel (MV Swift Rescue)
  • frigate (Formidable class)
  • missile corvette (Victory class)

The Vietnamese, using a Soviet AN-26 (produced in the USSR in 1969–1985), were first to spot the oil slick and then two broken objects in the sea off Tho Chu island which could be part of an aircraft disintegrated at mid air. Which revives the age old debate of whether the man or the machine is the deciding factor in determining results.

Ng Eng Hen's show-and-tell list of what the Singapore Armed Forces has to date includes the advanced (and expensive) G550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft which is also convertible into a luxurious corporate jet. There're also the Heron-1 and Hermes-450 UAV which are probably not too useful in the air and sea search for the missing MAS Boeing 777-200ER. Maybe they should deploy the Archer-class submarines to do some useful work. Toys are pretty pointless when they are put up for show only.


Singapore's three-point agenda over ship naming issue

"Singapore has chalked out a three-point agenda with regard to its protest against Indonesia's recent decision to name its new ship, KRI Usman-Harun" Guspiabri Sumowigeno, the director of Center for Indonesian National Policy Studies (Cinaps), stated in Jakarta on TuesdayHe explained that the first point in the agenda was that Singapore, as a US ally, was keen to garner attention from the superpower with regard to getting more military support by sending a message that it is threatened by the Indonesian military's revival.

Guspi explained that Singapore's second point of the agenda was its intentions to foster nationalism and improve its national identity.

Singapore's third point of the agenda is that the current regime in that country has been in power since the establishment of that country. Recently, voices have been raised regarding the authenticity of democracy in that country, Guspi stated.

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Defence and healthcare spending not mutually exclusive: Ng Eng Hen


Singapore's spending on defence and health care are not mutually exclusive -- this was a point made by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at a monthly forum at the National University of Singapore on Friday.

Dr Ng was responding to a question on whether the proportion of the national defence budget to that of health is "misaligned", and how the government should justify its defence spending.

The government set aside about S$12 billion on national defence last year, in comparison to about S$6 billion spent on healthcare in 2013.

related:
US has important role in Singapore's air defence capabilities progress: Ng Eng Hen
Ng Eng Hen visits SAF troops at military exercise in US

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Singapore to Equip F-16s with AESA Radar
All but 12 F-16s delivered to Singapore are based on the island. The 12 aircraft stationed at Hill AFB, Utah are used for pilot training. Photo: Singapore -MINDEF/Cyberpioneer
All but 12 F-16s delivered to Singapore are based on the island. The 12 aircraft stationed at Hill AFB, Utah are used for pilot training. Photo: Singapore -MINDEF/Cyberpioneer

Singapore is planning to equip 60 of its F-16 Block 52 aircraft with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, as part of a $2.43 billion upgrading program. The provider of the new radar, being the main element in the modernization process, has yet to be selected yet.

Both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are offering AESA radars for F-16s. Raytheon’s radar has recently been selected for a major upgrade in South Korea, to be performed by BAE Systems. Northrop Grumman is providing the radar for a similar upgrade for the US Air Force and for Taiwan, both programs to be delivered by Lockheed Martin.

According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) the upgrade package will also include LN-260 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation systems (GPS/INS), APX-125 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Combined Interrogator Transponders and Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS). Other equipment included in the upgrade comprise Modular Mission Computers, cockpit multifunction displays, radios, secure communications, video recorders and Mission Planning Systems. The package also includes integration of a number of guided weapons, including AIM-9X Block II air/air missiles, TGM-65G Maverick, GBU-50 and 38 JDAMs, GBU-12 and 49 laser guided bombs and CBU-105 sensor fused weapon dispensers.

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Dr Ng Eng Hen: “Defending What We Fought For”
Answering Questions About Singapore’s Defence And Future

Dr Ng Eng Hen, our current Minister for Defence, participated in a discussion last Friday titled “Defending What We Fought For”.

The title itself conjured up images of Singapore being under siege, a gleaming metropolis facing relentless threats, always being tossed against multiple challenges. It exhorts citizens to be constantly vigilant. It perpetuates the rhetoric of vulnerability that we’ve heard so many times from various government ministers.

A quick look at the seminar’s description threw up this notable and rather dramatic line: “These developments have led to the traditional and non-traditional security threats, that, if not promptly and decisively managed have the power to wipe out what we spent years to build: not just structures and institutions, but the heart and soul.”

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Singapore to buy upgrade for its F-16 fighter jets

Singapore is ready to invest $2.43 billion to modernize its F-16 fighter jets in an arms deal with the United States, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The Defense Department informed Congress of the planned sale that would involve new radar, navigation systems, missiles and other advanced equipment for Singapore's aging fleet of F-16s. The deal would provide new systems that project a display onto a pilot's helmet visor, allowing the F-16 pilot to aim sensors and weapons where he or she is looking.

The deal also would deliver a number of different precision-guided bombs for testing, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales.

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SAF to buy Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system
The Singapore Armed Forces will buy a new Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system, to boost Singapore's air defence shield. -- PHOTO: MBDA
The Singapore Armed Forces will buy a new Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system, to boost Singapore's air defence shield. -- PHOTO: MBDA
The Singapore Armed Forces will buy a new Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system, to boost Singapore's air defence shield. -- PHOTO: MBDA

The Singapore Armed Forces will buy a new Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system, to boost Singapore's air defence shield.

Announcing the acquisition on Monday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said advanced militaries in France and Italy use the new system, which is "many times more potent" than the current I-Hawk ground-based air defence system.

"The Aster will allow us to engage multiple threats simultaneously and from a longer distance," Dr Ng told Parliament, adding that the new system will complement a mobile and shorter-range ground-based air defence system known as Spyder.

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Republic of Spore Air Force (RSAF) to add Aster 30 to integrated air defence system


Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen: Madam Speaker, the member Mr Lim Wee Kiak has asked a highly relevant question as the relocation of Paya Lebar Airbase (PLAB) must never compromise the ability of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to safeguard Singapore's security and sovereignty.

Indeed, this was the over-riding and primary consideration when MINDEF and the SAF studied the possibility of relocating PLAB. We were mindful that the current capabilities of the RSAF were achieved over four decades and remain critical to protect a small country like Singapore which lacks strategic depth.

The RSAF's superior air defence and strike capabilities have been built up through prudent and steady investments of resources and land allocation for our defence needs. And over the years, we have acquired, adapted and developed advanced technologies and state-of-the-art platforms to provide more accurate and timely early warning and situational awareness of potential threats. We will continue to invest in these capabilities.

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RSAF to acquire Aster-30 SAM system costing multiple millions
eurosam

Speaking in Parliament yesterday (16 Sep), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that RSAF will soon acquire a new surface-to-air missile system called the Aster-30.

He said that the Aster-30 capability is many times more potent than the current I-hawk air defence system RSAF is using. “The Aster will allow us to engage multiple threats simultaneously and from a longer distance,” Dr Ng said.

According to Wikipedia, Aster is manufactured by Eurosam. It is designed to intercept and destroy a wide range of air threats including other missiles.

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Singapore’s Steps: Long-Range Aster-30 Defensive Missiles on Land & Sea

Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr. Ng Eng Hen has confirmed that they’ve picked MBDA’s SAMP/T Aster-30 missile system as their upper-tier air defense system on land. Singapore already uses the missiles at sea, aboard its Formidable Class frigates, so the land-based buy will draw on an existing support network. It isn’t entirely clear whether or not a contract has been signed, which isn’t unusual for Singapore.

MBDA’s Aster-30s will replace Raytheon’s MIM-23 I-Hawk missiles as Singapore’s upper tier air defense on land, offering Singapore the ability to intercept short range ballistic missiles as well as aircraft, cruise missiles, etc. It’s the latest step in a series of interlocking improvements. One tier down, SAMP/T will be complemented by new RAFAEL Spyder mobile air defense systems, whose short to medium range coverage will supplement older Rapier missile systems from Britain. In the air, Singapore’s new IAI Gulfstream G550 CAEW jets offer Singapore greater endurance and warning distance than the RSAF’s retired E-2C Hawkeyes, and can coordinate responses from ground systems and RSAF fighters.

Sources: Singapore MINDEF , “Reply by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen to Parliamentary Question on Relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base”.


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Singapore’s Steps: Modernizing the RSAF’s F-16 Fleet

In September 2013, Singapore confirmed its much-anticipated intent to upgrade its F-16C/Ds with improved radars and other changes. The move is part of wider-ranging improvements underway in Singapore. It’s also seen as an early example to many other F-16 operators around the world, who respect Singapore’s as a discerning buyer and may wish to do the same thing.

That decision is expected to launch at least 2 fierce competitions. One will be between Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. The other will be between Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

With respect to the F-16s, Singapore has a number of options. First of all, Lockheed Martin and BAE can be expected to compete hard for the upgrade work. Lockheed Martin is the manufacturer, but Britain has picked up significant F-16 upgrade wins in the USA and around the world.

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Singapore's F-15 fighter jets are operationally ready: RSAF

Singapore's most modern fighter jets are now combat ready, strengthening the Republic's air defence shield. The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) 24 F-15 SG fighter jets went operational on Wednesday. - ST FILE PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK

Singapore's most modern fighter jets are now combat ready, strengthening the Republic's air defence shield. The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) 24 F-15 SG fighter jets went operational on Wednesday.

Singapore received its first F-15 aircraft in 2009. The F-15 jet is considered one of the top fighter planes in the world. It has racked up a combat record of 104 victories and zero losses in 30 years of air battles worldwide.

Men and machines were put through a series of tests and training exercises, among other things, to certify that the F-15s' weapons systems and flight performance fully meet the RSAF's requirements. Attaining "full operational capability" means they can be deployed in any combat missions.

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Singapore Poised To Announce Purchase Of 12 F-35B


Singapore is expected to announce sometime in the next 10 days that it plans to buy its first squadron –12 planes — of some 75 of Lockheed Martin’s F-35Bs, further bolstering what had been the flagging fortunes of the world’s most expensive conventional weapon system.

The fact that American allies in the Pacific are the ones committing to the controversial and over-budget aircraft is telling. If you want to understand the calculus driving these choices, first look at China, which to countries such as Singapore, Japan, Australia, and South Korea is the primary long-term threat.

The Singaporeans are extremely shy about declaring their intentions in public, eager to offer few chances for China and Malaysia to react, but two sources familiar with the program confirmed the likely announcement. Given Singapore’s tiny size, its choice of which of the three F-35 versions to buy is not surprising. A plane that can take off almost vertically and can land vertically is able to operate from a much smaller footprint than, say the F-35A (the Air Force version) or F-16 Block 60s. And, given Singapore’s geography, the F-35B makes great sense for its ability to operate closely with the US Marines — as well as with F-35Cs operating from our aircraft carriers.

related: The F-35 JSF Super Maneuverability

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US to deploy LCS in Singapore in 2013

The United States Navy will deploy its first littoral combat ship (LCS) in Singapore from the second quarter of 2013, Singapore's Ministry of Defense said on Saturday. Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen conveyed the country's in-principle approval for the US request to deploy up to four LCS in a meeting with his US counterpart Leon Panetta, a joint statement said.

The four ships will be deployed in the city state "on a rotational basis," which means there could be up to four LCS in Singapore at any point of time, the Ministry of Defense said. It said the navies of the two countries are still working on details and arrangements of the deployment.

The LCS is a type of relatively small surface vessel intended for operations in the littoral zone where it is less desirable to deploy larger warships. With a flight deck and a hangar, the LCS is envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant.

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United States Navy to move 60% of warships to Asia
Redeployment by 2020 'a clear-cut message on its large footprint in region'

The United States will move the bulk of its warships to this part of the world, as it grapples with China's rising military power and a tightening defence budget.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the US Navy will reposition 60 per cent of its warships in Asia by 2020, as part of its new military strategy that focuses on Asia.

This is up from the current 50 per cent of its fleet that is in this region, including six aircraft carriers, destroyers, combat ships and submarines. The other half of the fleet is based in the Atlantic.

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Singapore army gets new training ground
 
Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat inspects a guard of honour at the Defence Ministry in Singapore yesterday

ACM Sukumpol plans to cut short his participation in the Shangri-La Dialogue, an inter governmental security forum being held in Singapore until tomorrow, and return to Bangkok after protesters converged in Bangkok to oppose the controversial national reconciliation bill. He was speaking after a meeting with his Singaporean counterpart, Ng Eng Hen during his visit to the city state to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, an inter-governmental security forum currently being held in Singapore until tomorrow.

ACM Sukumpol said Singapore, which has leased the training ground at the Sai Yok army camp in Kanchanaburi, needs a larger space as its military might need to use live ammunition during training. Both sides agreed to establish another training ground. A military source said the ministry might set aside an area in Ban Dan Lan Hoy in Sukhothai for the Singapore military, in addition to the existing training ground in Kanchanaburi. "Allowing Singaporean soldiers to conduct more training in our country is to help a friend," he said.
The Defence Ministry has proposed an additional training ground, possibly in Sukhothai, for the Singaporean military, Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat said yesterday.

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Singapore and Australia agree to extend RSAF training in Queensland

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to give more details of the Pentagon's renewed military focus on Asia during a major speech in Singapore on Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue. The Pentagon's Asia tilt comes in response to China's rising military spending. "This entire concept — the buzzword is the pivot to the Pacific — it's a recognition of the regional power dynamics here that do affect us with China expanding and modernizing their military capabilities," said MacKay.

To that end, MacKay said Canada is looking at a cost-effective way of increasing its military footprint in the region. MacKay said a military hub in Singapore would be similar to the arrangements it has reached with Kuwait and Jamaica, to give it military footholds in the Middle East and the Caribbean.

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Singapore, US forces take part in South China Sea exercise

A US Navy ship. REUTERS


The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the United States Navy (USN) are taking part in the 18th Singapore-US Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in the South China Sea from July 17 to 27, 2012.


The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the United States Air Force (USAF), the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the United States Marine Corps will also participate in this year's exercise.

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Employers urged to be more supportive of National Service

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Reservists: A declining pool

With just half the population producing conscripts by 2030, Singapore’s ‘people’s army’ will need to relook at fundamentals

With a bigger 6.9 million population, Singapore’s dilemma over a declining reservist army will be over by 2030, shouldn’t it?

Theoretically, the answer is yes. Surely you can’t have one of the world’s most over-crowded cities that impose military service for all 18-year-old boys running short of soldiers.

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NS and the welfare state: two sides of the same coin in the first world

S’poreans are rightly asking why they should do NS to defend two-timers like new citizen Raj who openly boasted on how his son will avoid NS, while still getting his PR status. (Related post on two-timer Raj)

In return, the govt has been moaning that S’poreans no longer believe in the value of NS. It tries to make NS more “valuable” for us via gimmicks rather than hard cash (“Money talks, BS walks”) and addressing the the issue of defending someone like new citizen Raj and his family.

Apart from addressing the issue of defending people like new citizen Raj and his son, methinks the ministers and ESM should reach for a 6th September article in FT (behind a pay-wall). It is an opinion written by Mark Mazower, professor of history at Columbia University and author of ‘Governing the World”. It is entitled, “The west needs a replacement for the warrior spirit”.

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Loyalty In Uniform


It's the rite of passage for every Singaporean male to spend a couple of years in Temasek green. The experience which is supposed to separate the men from the boys, the committed citizens from the flitting foreigners, can also be deadly - suffocation from smoke grenades, amputation by naval mooring gear, or simply crushed by runaway army vehicles.

Someone should do a tally of the cost of national defence in human terms.

So it comes down to that. Will two years in uniform make one a loyal citizen? The answer depends on whether we are called to defend our loved ones or some bureaucratic machinery who spends millions on a welcoming party for foreigners.

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Allow more flexibility for NSmen, says all-women focus group


Families matter as much as serving the nation - so operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) should get time off from their annual in-camp training to attend important family functions.

This call came from participants of an all-female focus-group discussion on how to strengthen the commitment to national service. The 22 women said men should be given flexibility to arrange their schedules so they can spend more time with loved ones. They want them to be released from training to attend occasions such as births, deaths and weddings.

Currently, NSmen do not get time off for such events unless they get special permission from superiors. Accounts and administrative executive Cecilia Ho, who has a 27-year-old son, said: "While we recognise that they have train to defend the country, they also have to play their family role and it will be good if they are present during important family events."

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When women talk about NS

What do you get when a bunch of women get together to talk about… National Service (NS)? A whole lot of anecdotes about what their husbands, sons and brothers went through during that two-year stint. As for whether they themselves think women should do some form of national service, the answer was sure, but it should be voluntary, in the usual female-like jobs such as nursing.

This was a focus group discussion by the Committee to Strengthen National Service, now into Phase 2, with the aim of finding “solutions” to “challenges”. Frankly, I’m not sure whether any solutions were thrown up because the women were naturally not as well informed as the men would be.

Build more fitness corners so their men can exercise in preparation for physical fitness tests? Already plenty of that, and even gymnasiums.

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Snapshot: This is what NSmen are defending - Lawrence Wong
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On women and CSNS - how we should start talking about sexism


The Straits Times and Breakfast Network (where I write) reported on the all-women Committee to Strengthen National Service dialogue yesterday. The dialogue, a two month old initiative, sought to get feedback from the public about National Service, a key tenet of our defence policy.

 Having women discuss about an institution that has been nearly all-male is rather strange – something that Breakfast Network has discussed in its report. On National Service, women are rather ill-informed – though that lack of information does not disqualify them from making suggestions, having information would certainly have helped them in creating solutions. So it would be no surprise if nothing really effective came out from a group of women at a dialogue about National Service.

I was rather surprised, however, at the fact that misogyny in National Service was not discussed in depth (and has never really been discussed, at least publicly), even in a dialogue consisting of participants who are mostly women. Ah Boys to Men – the satirical comedy that has made millions popularising the National Service experience – was nominated for this year’s AWARE Alamak Awards for its positive depiction of misogyny in Singapore. Though it is a comedic representation of men’s mindsets when they serve, it is also a reflection of the attitudes that men have – attitudes that are reinforced by sexism that masquerades as humour in NS. This representation is something that really reflects badly on the characters of our men - how we objectify women, how we think women who serve are crazy… and something CSNS committee members should be looking at.

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With 6.9M population by 2030, half not required to do NS

The reason? By 2030 only about half of the population will be core Singaporeans, most of the rest being foreigners will not be required to enlist.

National service, which began in 1967, requires young citizens to enlist for two years and thereafter serve in the reservist army – going back for a brief in-camp training every year. (Since then, it has trained more than 300,000 reservists, who will become front-line soldiers in the event of a war.)

For many years now, this concept was badly affected by a falling birthrate and a high number of Singaporeans emigrating overseas.

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The public has expressed strong support for NS, said Defence Minster Ng

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the public has expressed strong support for National Service. He said that was according to the feedback sessions held so far.

His ministry set up a Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) earlier this year to find ways to motivate National Servicemen to give their best to NS duties.

Speaking at the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) Volunteers' Dinner, Dr Ng said some had asked for more opportunities for Singaporeans -- including women -- to participate in Singapore's defence.

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Reply by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen to Parliamentary Question on Relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base

Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen: Madam Speaker, the member Mr Lim Wee Kiak has asked a highly relevant question as the relocation of Paya Lebar Airbase (PLAB) must never compromise the ability of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to safeguard Singapore's security and sovereignty.

Indeed, this was the over-riding and primary consideration when MINDEF and the SAF studied the possibility of relocating PLAB. We were mindful that the current capabilities of the RSAF were achieved over four decades and remain critical to protect a small country like Singapore which lacks strategic depth.

The RSAF's superior air defence and strike capabilities have been built up through prudent and steady investments of resources and land allocation for our defence needs. And over the years, we have acquired, adapted and developed advanced technologies and state-of-the-art platforms to provide more accurate and timely early warning and situational awareness of potential threats. We will continue to invest in these capabilities.

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Allow more flexibility for NSmen, says all-women focus group


This call came from participants of an all-female focus-group discussion on how to strengthen the commitment to national service. The 22 women said men should be given flexibility to arrange their schedules so they can spend more time with loved ones. They want them to be released from training to attend occasions such as births, deaths and weddings.

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Where NS leads to successful high tech start-ups

In S’pore, NS is often seen (esp by those doing it) as a waste of time and a source of cheap labour for public events like National Day, F1 and the Kiddie Games.

In Israel, which is surrounded by hostiles threatening to destroy the nation, NS is seen as impt not only for the defence of nation and the Jewish tradition, but also as a training ground for budding high tech entrepreneurs:

Inside the HQ of the Mamram, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) technical support unit in nearby Ramat Gan, computer training course commander … says new recruits on a six-month intensive programming course study from dawn till night and are taught programming skills, teamwork, project management and – most importantly how to be creative. It’s like a school for start-ups

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Only 30 percent of all sons of PRs do National Service

Yahoo! News Singapore, 6 Feb 2013: People’s Action Party’s deputy party whip Inderjit Singh on Tuesday urged the government to stop the growth in the number of permanent residents and new citizens, and focus on improving the lives of Singaporeans.

He also noted that Singapore already has too many PRs and are enjoying full citizen privileges without the citizen’s responsibilities. In an example of the latter, he said only around 30 per cent of all boys of PRs do national service.

In line with this, he said children of PRs must be made to do national service and that the government should make it an offence for them not to do so. Full story

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2 New 218SG Sub For Singapore
False info online a "threat to Total Defence"
The F-35 JSF Super Maneuverability