SAF to fight terror with rapid response

Mindef 's new unit 'will work with MHA to counter terrorist threats on multiple fronts'

Rapid response - that will be the defining feature of the Singapore Armed Forces' new anti-terrorist unit.

The Army Deployment Force (ADF), which will be officially formed on July 12, will be the size of a battalion and comprise highly trained soldiers with niche capabilities, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. A typical battalion consists of 400 to 500 personnel.

The ADF can also be activated to help in civil emergencies and disaster relief missions overseas.

At a media interview ahead of today's SAF Day, Dr Ng emphasised that the unit will be in a "high readiness state".

"The basic task for the ADF is the rapid response element, because speed is important in counter-terrorism. It's really not quite like conventional missions where you have time... This you have to respond in minutes."

He said regulars will be trained and assigned to the ADF. He added that selected NS units will be trained to assist the new unit.

When asked how the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) would work with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on counter-terrorism with the ADF's introduction, Dr Ng replied that MHA continues to be the primary responder for terrorist threats. However, he added: "There may be situations where the SAF may be called in. And it may not be sequentially, it may be at the same time, because you are able to assess the threat that you have multiple areas of attack.

"Our responsibility is to be ready... And if we need (to do) more, we will do more."

The Defence Science and Technology Agency will also set up the National Security Centre to help better co-ordinate counter-terrorism efforts and responses by the Defence and Home ministries.

Mr Amrin Amin, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and deputy chairman of the Defence and Foreign Affairs GPC, told The Straits Times that having more forces ready to respond to a terrorist attack "is always a good thing".

Referring to the Nov 13 Paris attacks last year, he highlighted how terrorists hit multiple civilian targets almost simultaneously - killing 130 people and leaving hundreds wounded.

He said: "We see in the case of France, for example, (that) there are always multiple attacks, multiples sites, within short spans of time. So it is good that we have that various layers of teams ready to be deployed."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'SAF to fight terror with rapid response'. Print Edition | Subscribe