SINGAPORE - In what has become a time-honoured tradition, the 1st Commando Battalion has won another annual Best Combat Unit award.
This marks the 19th consecutive win for the elite commando unit, whose members are trained in airborne, reconnaissance and raid missions, as well as striking deep inside enemy territory.
The Ministry of Defence announced this year's winners of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Best Unit Competition on Tuesday (June 28).
Asked how the unit continues to uphold high standards year after year, its commanding officer, Major Tan Rui Lin, told reporters that the unit finds its strength in continuity, but is also constantly looking for ways to improve.
This achievement brings the unit's total number of wins to 36, an unprecedented figure in the competition's history. This year also marks the unit's 50th anniversary since its founding.
A total of 18 active units and 12 national service (NS) units were recognised for their excellence in their respective formations in the annual SAF Best Unit and Best NS Unit competitions.
The competitions recognise units that have excelled in combat readiness, operational proficiency and administrative excellence. The SAF Best Unit Competition was introduced in 1969 and the Best NS Unit Competition in 1993.
Maj Tan, 31, described a battalion mission that his unit carried out as part of the Army Training Evaluation Centre (Atec) evaluation in March as a defining moment in his experience leading the unit.
The Atec evaluation tests a unit's competency in the roles it is meant to fulfil.
Maj Tan said all the elements of the unit were positioned to assault an opposing force target, an impressive feat considering the challenges in coordinating with a battalion's worth of soldiers, and the difficult terrain and unpredictable weather the unit faced.
"Being able to come to that state was a combination of all the hard work and effort put in by the team throughout the year," he added.
Over the past year, the units have been assessed based on a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process.
In recognition of their achievements, President Halimah Yacob and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen will present the awards to the winners during the SAF Day Parade, which will be held at the Safti Military Institute on July 1.
The Best Fighter Squadron Award went to the air force's 143 Squadron for the third time in a row. This is its sixth win in total, and its fourth while operating the F16 multi-role fighter aircraft.
The squadron's commanding officer, Major Joel Ng, 37, said the unit's continued success was due to "creating the correct culture in the squadron, such that everyone is very motivated to do their best and willing to work together".
The squadron conducts a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. Beyond these day-to-day duties, it also participates in a variety of overseas exercises, such as its deployment to Guam for a two-month training detachment last year.
The Best NS Infantry/Guards Unit for 2nd People's Defence Force Command was awarded to the 716th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment for the second consecutive year.
The unit's commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Lee, 45, said: "The strength of the unit lies in the brotherhood and commitment to defence from the NSmen, and the award is testament to our collective desire to give our best for each and every one in the unit."
The Best Fleet Unit award went to the navy's Formidable-class frigate RSS Tenacious.
Its commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Tung Wanling, 35, said: “This win speaks volumes of the crew’s tenacity, readiness and commitment to excellence.“