Wise to have an SAF that is ready and well equipped

It is very heartening for Singaporeans and those who live here to note that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is increasing its readiness to combat terror ("Soldiers to step up patrols, training to combat terror"; last Friday).

The involvement of the military will reinforce the operational capability of the police and other security forces to deter potential attacks by extremists and militant groups.

Besides sharing intelligence information and jointly coming up with operational command systems within Singapore, close cooperation with the security forces of our neighbouring countries is highly desirable and beneficial, as terror groups are known to have a wide reach.

For the SAF to meet potential threats, it is necessary to have specialised training.

It is also important for units to be equipped with the latest weapon systems and equipment.

Although these can be expensive, they are a must, as our adversaries may also be similarly equipped.

For the SAF to meet potential threats, it is necessary to have specialised training. It is also important for units to be equipped with the latest weapon systems and equipment. Although these can be expensive, they are a must, as our adversaries may also be similarly equipped.

It is, therefore, wise for Singapore to have a defence budget that can cater for current and future needs, rather than to spend less now, then regret it when it is too late.

The importance of our full-time and operationally ready national servicemen has been recently highlighted, with new moves to recognise their contributions ("New moves to recognise NSmen's contributions"; last Friday).

Inasmuch as we should cater to and accommodate their needs, we also have to be realistic in what we can do for everyone.

A case in point is Muslim servicemen serving on our naval ships, where there is no separate halal kitchen ("Halal ship kitchens difficult but SAF offers food options"; last Friday).

It is common practice in most navies to cater to the majority.

Those of us who were mobilised as naval volunteer reservists and served on board Royal Malaysian Navy warships in the early 1960s had to eat halal food.

The standing instruction was that no pork or "haram", or forbidden, food must be taken on board.

Malaysia is a Muslim nation and we had to respect and follow the naval instructions then.

Singapore is a secular nation. We have to respect religious sensitivities and, more importantly, consider the confined spaces of our naval ships and their operational priorities.

Adrian Villanueva

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Wise to have an SAF that is ready and well equipped'. Print Edition | Subscribe