SAF medical support team for Iraq to be deployed next year

A member of the SAF medical team administering treatment in Afghanistan in 2009. The team slated for Iraq will treat soldiers and civilians.
A member of the SAF medical team administering treatment in Afghanistan in 2009. The team slated for Iraq will treat soldiers and civilians.PHOTO: MINDEF

A medical support team slated for Iraq which was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday will be deployed next year.

Before the composition and size of the team is determined , the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will send a team to Iraq to find out what the situation calls for, according to a statement yesterday from the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

Mr Lee announced Singapore would step up its contribution in the fight against terror in a joint press conference with United States President Barack Obama. He is on an official visit to the US.

The medical support team will take care of both soldiers and civilians injured in battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and be protected by soldiers from the new Army Deployment Force, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post yesterday.

He said Singapore joined the fight against ISIS because "as long as terrorist groups gain a foothold in any country, they can radicalise others from all around the world, including Singapore".

The medical support team's deployment will be similar to previous SAF deployments made during Operation Blue Ridge in Afghanistan, the Mindef statement added.

 

Under Operation Blue Ridge, the SAF contributed for six years to international efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan.

SAF medical teams of 10 to 20 people were deployed for stints of about three to seven months between November 2008 and October 2011. A surgical team of eight served from March to May in 2010. During their deployment, the medical and surgical teams treated 2,552 patients, and operated on 85 cases in Oruzgan province. Some patients had suffered injuries from improvised explosive devices and rocket attacks.

Mindef said the SAF would do everything necessary to ensure the safety of its personnel.

"The SAF... will ensure that all deployed personnel receive rigorous training to prepare them for any contingencies," it added.

To support the coalition against ISIS, the SAF has deployed liaison officers to the US Central Command Headquarters since December 2014. Since January 2015, intelligence fusion officers have also been deployed to the Middle East.

In addition, since September last year, an imagery analysis team has been sent to the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters in Kuwait.

Since May last year, an air force KC-135R tanker has supported air-to-air refuelling operations in the Middle East.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'SAF medical support team for Iraq to be deployed next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe