A new institute was officially launched yesterday to train soldiers in dealing with security and terrorist threats, as the need for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to play a larger role in this area increases.
The Island Defence Training Institute (IDTI) will equip soldiers with skills to respond to threats alongside their Home Team counterparts.
Some of the skills taught include search and arrest techniques, how to deal with unarmed suspects in non-lethal ways and protecting critical structures like those on Jurong Island and at Changi Airport.
The soldiers will also be trained to tackle security threats in urban environments such as in the heartland and shopping malls.
IDTI will train up to 33,000 active and operationally ready national servicemen a year at its peak.
The institute's launch comes at a time of heightened security and terrorist threats globally.
Speaking at the launch at Clementi Camp yesterday, Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung emphasised the pressing yet evolving threat environment.
(IDTI) needs to train and equip all our servicemen with the skills and technology to deal with several counter-terrorist and homeland defence scenarios.
SECOND MINISTER FOR DEFENCE ONG YE KUNG
He said global terrorism incidents have more than tripled from 5,000 cases in 2011 to almost 17,000 in 2014, and South-east Asia has not been spared. There have been eight Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-linked incidents in the region since January last year, he added.
IDTI "needs to train and equip all our servicemen with the skills and technology to deal with several counter-terrorist and homeland defence scenarios", said Mr Ong, who is also Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills).
The new institute comprises two centres and two schools.
Its new Homeland Security Training Centre and the Island Defence Training Centre are located in Clementi Camp.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen had said in June that the Homeland Security Training Centre will train 18,000 soldiers yearly. The centre has trained some 4,000 soldiers since March.
The IDTI's Security and Policing Leadership School and Security and Policing Vocational School are based in Mowbray Camp and, together with the Island Defence Training Centre, will train 15,000 soldiers annually.
Defence analyst Ho Shu Huang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said that while the SAF has been playing a role in domestic security for some time, the setting up of IDTI shows recognition of its widening role in this area.
On how IDTI fits in with SAF's move towards tackling terror threats, Colonel Dinesh Vasu Dash, commander of the 2nd People's Defence Force and the Island Defence Task Force, said: "If we were to deploy our soldiers to the heartland, they need to be trained to do duties similar to what the police are doing."
IDTI's Homeland Security Training Centre has a course that includes video simulation training scenarios, which involve perpetrators in a shopping mall, at a vehicle checkpoint and in coastal areas.
The scenarios are designed for trainees to hone their judgment in applying the correct rules of engagement. The scenarios can be updated based on operational needs.
Full-time national serviceman Muhammad Zayyani, 26, an artilleryman, said the centre taught him skills not learnt in artillery school.
"Before this, we didn't know what to expect if a perpetrator has a detonator. (The training) made me more confident about handling such situations, if they emerge."