Parliament: More soldiers to patrol public areas; SAF redoubles counter-terrorism efforts

Military Security officer on patrol at Changi Airport Terminal 2, on March 23, 2016.
Military Security officer on patrol at Changi Airport Terminal 2, on March 23, 2016.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Soldiers will be far more visible in public areas as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) steps up Singapore's fight against the terrorist threat.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that the SAF will train more units to carry out deterrence patrols in crowded areas.

Currently, soldiers patrol only key installations such as Jurong Island and Changi Airport.

 

This is to ensure that the military can deal with orchestrated attacks, such as those in Paris and Brussels, in hot spots such as the airport, MRT stations, shopping malls and town centres, said Dr Ng in Parliament on Thursday (April 7).

The new move is part of the SAF's redoubled efforts to counter terrorism, said Dr Ng, who unveiled to the House the battleplan to "respond decisively" to the threat.

 

The SAF will build a "high density" mock city, complete with high-rise buildings and road networks, to conduct "highly realistic" counter-terrorism training, said Dr Ng.

It will also boost the firepower of its special forces troops, the first responders in counter-terrorism and other contingency operations.

Dr Ng said that the SAF will equip troops in the Special Operations Task Force with better tactical sensors like micro unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are "small enough to fit in your palm and well suited for urban terrains".

To bring to bear the "full strength" of Singapore's security capabilities, Dr Ng said the SAF will also work closely with the Home Team to share intelligence and develop joint operational command systems.

During the debate of his ministry's budget, Dr Ng said Singapore must gear up for "troubled peace", adding that it has to maintain steady defence spending.

Among the new war machines that will be added to its arsenal, the army will launch a new Protected Combat Support Vehicle to ferry and better protect its support troops.

To better thwart cyber threats, the SAF will also beef up its cyber defence by doubling the number of troops in the Cyber Defence Operations Hub by 2020.

As part of efforts to make up for its shrinking manpower and sharpen its technological edge, the SAF will be launching a new scholarship to attract the top engineering minds and grow its pool of military engineers.