SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has announced a raft of changes and improvements to key areas of Singapore's defence at the Committee of Supply debate on Thursday (April 7).
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will redouble its efforts to counter terrorism, including training more units to carry out patrols in crowded areas, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Singapore's military hardware and capabilities will also undergo enhancements.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung, meanwhile, announced new incentives for national servicemen to recognise their contributions.
Here's a look at the key announcements:
Enhance NS recognition schemes
· New celebratory gifts scheme to award $100 worth of vouchers to NSmen when they get married or have a child.
· More NSmen who do well during in-camp training and national service courses will be rewarded. Currently, the Family Recognition Voucher recognises the top 10 per cent who do well. It will be renamed the NS Excellence Award, which will recognise the top 30 per cent. The top 10 per cent will receive $200 worth of vouchers, while the next 20 per cent will receive $100.
· Government to enhance basic life and personal accident insurance coverage for NSmen from the SAF, Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force. Each serviceman will be covered for $150,000 in group term life and in group personal accident insurance. This will cover all incidents during full-time NS and operationally ready NS activities.
· NS Mark, a new national accreditation scheme, will be launched this year to recognise employers who adopt human resource practices that support NSmen.
· More will be done to consider the skills and abilities of NSmen during deployment
· Collaborate with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency to match relevant military skills acquired during NS to the respective industrial domains under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications framework.
· New Safra Punggol club to be completed this month, which will serve the 82,000 NSmen and their families living in the north-east.
Redoubling efforts to counter terrorism
· More SAF units will be trained to conduct deterrence patrols in crowded areas. This is so that they are better equipped to deal with orchestrated attacks where airports, MRT stations, shopping malls and town centres are targeted simultaneously.
Currently, soldiers patrol only key installations such as Jurong Island and Changi Airport.
· Equip troops in SAF's Special Operations Task Force with better tactical sensors like micro unmanned aerial vehicles, which are small enough to fit in the palm and are well suited for urban terrains.
· Build a "high density" urban training facility in Lim Chu Kang, complete with high-rise buildings and road networks, to conduct highly realistic counter-terrorism training.
· Work with Home Team closely to share intelligence and develop joint operational command systems, as well as conduct more joint exercises.
· Extend the efforts of SAF's Imagery Analysis Team, which was deployed last year to assist the anti-ISIS coalition.
Improving SAF's hardware and capabilities
· Army to launch a new Protected Combat Support Vehicle, equipped with improved firepower and protection, to augment support troops.
· Invest more in cyber defence, doubling the headcount of the Cyber Defence Operations Hub by 2020.
· New Engineering Scholarship to be introduced this year to attract bright minds to join the SAF as military engineers.
· Navy acquiring eight versatile Littoral Mission Vessels to replace long-serving Patrol Vessels.
· Airforce's ageing Super Pumas and some of its older CH-47 Chinook helicopters will be replaced with new machines.
· Upgrading F-16 fighter jets with more advanced radars and air-to-ground weapons.