SINGAPORE - Seventy-five soldiers from the Singapore Armed Forces were awarded medals on Monday (Oct 9) for serving in a multinational coalition fighting to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.
The soldiers, who recently returned from their deployment in Qatar and Kuwait, received Overseas Service Medals from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at a ceremony at the Ministry of Defence.
Lauding them for their service, Dr Ng said: "Through your efforts, through your deployments there, the world we cherish is safer."
The SAF is regarded as a "valued contributor" to the coalition, and won praise from coalition partners such as the US Central Command and Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), he added.
"They were very impressed with your professional bearing in carrying out your duties, and we know that they value our contributions in the niche areas," he said.
The SAF has deployed troops to provide intelligence analysis support to the CJTF.
It also deployed a KC-135R tanker aircraft to support air-to-air refuelling operations for coalition aircraft. The tanker squadron's contributions came during a crucial period leading up to the liberation of Mosul from ISIS in July, Dr Ng said.
He added that these overseas operations have given the SAF an avenue to sharpen its capabilities and gain operational insights.
"We should apply the knowledge to counter-terrorism and peacetime contingency operations back home," he said.
The SAF has been involved in counter-terrorism missions for a decade now, he noted, beginning with a deployment to Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda in 2007 that lasted till 2013.
Over the past four years, the SAF has joined coalition militaries to deal with ISIS.
While ISIS is losing, other similar terror groups could emerge in future, in failed states such as Libya or Yemen, Dr Ng said.
"Communism without God took 50 years to fight. This one, (will be) more troublesome. It has been 10 years. I do not know how long more we will battle it. It may be for a long time."
The SAFwill continue to be part of multinational efforts to tackle such threats, Dr Ng said.
"Unless the source of terrorism is neutralised at its beginnings, more and more Singaporeans and other residents, whether in Malaysia, Indonesia and other Asean countries will be radicalised," he added.