Exercise Wallaby

3 SAF services get to flex military muscles

Dr Maliki (in blue shirt) with soldiers, including ME2 Muhammad Efendi Ismail (extreme left), at Exercise Wallaby in Australia on Wednesday. Behind him is exercise director, BG Chua Boon Keat (wearing beret).
Dr Maliki (in blue shirt) with soldiers, including ME2 Muhammad Efendi Ismail (extreme left), at Exercise Wallaby in Australia on Wednesday. Behind him is exercise director, BG Chua Boon Keat (wearing beret).PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Drill in Australia offers chance to coordinate army, navy, air force operations, says Maliki

A large training exercise in Australia will offer the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) the chance to coordinate army, navy and air force operations as well as to stretch the competencies of its personnel, said Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Mohamad Maliki Osman.

Visiting troops at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Dr Maliki said that with its size - about four times that of Singapore - it creates a "sheer (number of) opportunities... for servicemen... to hone their skills and be integrated."

He told reporters: "In order for the Singapore Armed Forces to be an integrated fighting force... we need to have training areas that allow us to ensure that the different services (army, navy and air force) are able to connect together and test their capabilities."

Exercise Wallaby, the SAF's largest unilateral overseas drill, involves about 4,600 SAF personnel and is taking place until Nov 7.

Brigadier-General Jonathan Tan, 47, air director of Exercise Wallaby 2016, said that a distinctive aspect of the exercise is the presence of the army, adding that the exercise brings together the services to form the big picture.

One way the air force could support the army is to provide firepower through F-15 fighter aircraft when the army is faced with an opposing force and cannot move farther, he said.

Servicemen involved in the exercise said the large land area presents unique training opportunities.

Military Expert 2 Muhammad Efendi Ismail, 36, the overall-in- charge of a vehicle recovery team, said he has had to locate a broken- down vehicle in unfamiliar territory and tow it for more than 50km - generally longer than the towing distances in Singapore.

Captain Karthi Gean Gamesan, 28, the overall-in-charge for signals at this year's exercise, said that being in a land area four times the size of Singapore lets him test more fully the capability of his communication system.

Dr Maliki said bilateral relations, especially in defence, between Singapore and Australia have been very strong and that Singapore is committed to keep strengthening the relationship.

He also said he was heartened to see many national servicemen taking part in the exercise in spite of work and family commitments. About 1,000 NSmen are taking part in the exercise.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2016, with the headline '3 SAF services get to flex military muscles'. Print Edition | Subscribe