Parliament: SAF to send medical team to Iraq for 3-month deployment in 2017

A member of the Singapore Armed Forces medical team administering treatment in Afghanistan in 2009.
A member of the Singapore Armed Forces medical team administering treatment in Afghanistan in 2009.PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - Singapore will expand its contribution to the multinational coalition combating terror group ISIS by sending a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medical support team to Iraq next year.

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen told Parliament on Monday (Aug 15) that the medical team will be deployed for about three months, and that the composition of the team will be decided after a needs assessment.

"The exact size, composition and capabilities of the medical squad team will be determined after needs assessment," he said. "The deployment is expected to take place in 2017, next year, for around three months."

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) had asked Dr Ng for an update on Singapore's deployment to support the multinational coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in light of recent terrorist incidents across the world, as well as the recent arrest of radicalised Singaporeans under the Internal Security Act.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced that Singapore would step up its contribution in the fight against terror in a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama during an official visit to the United States earlier this month.

Dr Ng said the medical support team will take care of both soldiers and civilians injured in battle against the ISIS, and will be protected by soldiers from the new Army Deployment Force (ADF).

The ADF is a new rapid response unit, the size of a battalion, set up by the SAF last month that will work alongside the Home Team should a terror incident occur here.

"Our deployment in Iraq will augment existing coalition medical resources," said Dr Ng.

"Through this deployment, our personnel will also gain good operational experience."

The SAF's Imagery Analysis Team has been deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters in Kuwait since last September.

Singapore had also sent 492 SAF servicemen to Afghanistan during a six-year deployment to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force that included medical support. It was the SAF's longest overseas deployment and ended in June 2013.