3,000 soldiers take part in Exercise Wallaby

Corporal Markus Yuen Wei Chen (left) and Staff Sergeant Keith Ho Kee Hou doing an inspection of the supplies to be airdropped from a C-130 Hercules aircraft. The second frame of the exercise at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area runs from Oct 15 to nex
The second frame of the exercise at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area runs from Oct 15 to next Sunday and includes training with Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicles and armour troops doing tactical drills. The training area, which is located north of Rockhampton in the Australian state of Queensland, is about four times the size of Singapore.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Corporal Markus Yuen Wei Chen (left) and Staff Sergeant Keith Ho Kee Hou doing an inspection of the supplies to be airdropped from a C-130 Hercules aircraft. The second frame of the exercise at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area runs from Oct 15 to nex
Corporal Markus Yuen Wei Chen (left) and Staff Sergeant Keith Ho Kee Hou doing an inspection of the supplies to be airdropped from a C-130 Hercules aircraft. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SAF's largest overseas drill also includes 300 vehicles, aircraft

More than 5,500km away from home, about 3,000 Singapore soldiers are being put through their paces during Exercise Wallaby, from armour troops doing tactical drills to a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft airdropping supplies.

They are training at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area - which is about four times the size of Singapore - north of Rockhampton in the Australian state of Queensland.

The Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) largest overseas drill, which has been held yearly since 1990, kicked off on Sept 24 and will continue till next Thursday, said a Ministry of Defence statement.

Other than the troops, about 300 vehicles and aircraft from the Singapore Army and the Republic of Singapore Air Force are involved.

Colonel Cai Dexian, commander of the 8th Singapore Armoured Brigade who is also in charge of the second frame of the exercise, said that the vast expanse of Shoalwater Bay allows troops to train over vast distances, something that is not possible in Singapore.

"In addition, the complexity and the challenge of the terrain also allow us to hone our operational competencies, not just at the unit level, but they also allow us to integrate with our counterparts from the air force," he said.

He added that the build-up training for the latest exercise began in Singapore, where troops did their simulator and heat acclimatisation training.

The second frame of the exercise - from Oct 15 to next Sunday - includes training with Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicles and C-130 airdrop operations. The only other frame, held from Sept 27 to Oct 14, involved the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards doing their Army Training Evaluation Centre evaluation, supported by air force assets.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding on Military Training and Training Area Development signed in 2016 by the defence ministers of both countries, 14,000 SAF troops will be able to train in Australia for 18 weeks a year.

Up to 6,600 Singapore troops train in Australia each year for up to six weeks currently. Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman, who visited the exercise on Oct 5, reaffirmed the strong bilateral defence ties with Australia.

"We appreciate the support given by the Australian government, the Australian Defence Force and the local communities here in Rockhampton and Livingstone Shire...

"We treasure and cherish the relationship and friendship that we have with the local community," he was quoted as saying in a separate Defence Ministry statement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2019, with the headline '3,000 soldiers take part in Exercise Wallaby'. Print Edition | Subscribe