Joint exercise marks deeper Singapore-Indonesia defence ties

Singapore and Indonesian troops preparing to storm a building during their final troop exercise yesterday.
Singapore and Indonesian troops preparing to storm a building during their final troop exercise yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

4 Leopard main battle tanks take part for first time in flagship exercise involving 474 soldiers

Under heavy enemy fire, more than 400 Singapore and Indonesian troops fought together, storming and capturing a series of buildings and clearing the area for two Leopard tanks to roll in.

The combined field battalion exercise at Murai Urban Training Facility near Lim Chu Kang yesterday was the culmination of the annual flagship exercise between the two infantries.

Four Leopard main battle tanks took part for the first time in this year's Exercise Safkar Indopura, marking a deepening of defence cooperation between both sides.

These tanks added to the complexity of the mission, and allowed the crew from both armies to exchange knowledge. They included two that were operated by combined crews of four men each.

Exercise Safkar Indopura, held annually since 1989, began on Nov 13 this year.

To mark 50 years of bilateral relations this year, a combined jump from 3,000m with two lead jumpers, each carrying his national flag, was planned for the exercise's closing ceremony, but was cancelled as dark clouds formed.

Despite the gloomy weather, the ceremony, officiated by Chief of Army Melvyn Ong and the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) Chief of Staff Mulyono carried on, with the troops forming the number "50" on parade.

Calling the exercise the "cornerstone of the interactions between TNI-AD and the Singapore Army", Major-General Ong said the frequent bilateral interactions over the past 50 years have shown a high level of mutual trust between both countries.

He added: "This is not a relationship of chance. It's only through the willingness and initiative of both nations that we are able to take a long-term approach and work towards achieving our collective goals."

Soldiers from the Singapore Army and Indonesian Army ended Exercise Safkar Indopura with loud cheers yesterday as the training segment of the annual flagship exercise between the infantries of the two nations came to a close at the Murai Urban Traini
Three cheers for camaraderie: Soldiers from the Singapore Army and Indonesian Army ended Exercise Safkar Indopura with loud cheers yesterday as the training segment of the annual flagship exercise between the infantries of the two nations came to a close at the Murai Urban Training Facility near Lim Chu Kang. Singapore's Chief of Army, Major-General Melvyn Ong, said the joint exercise was a cornerstone of the interactions between the two armies. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

MUTUAL TRUST

This is not a relationship of chance. It's only through the willingness and initiative of both nations that we are able to take a long-term approach and work towards achieving our collective goals.

MAJOR-GENERAL MELVYN ONG, on the close ties between the Singapore and Indonesian armies. 

To demonstrate the close defence cooperation between the two armies, the troops fought alongside each other under a combined headquarters helmed by two exercise directors - one from each side.

A total of 474 infantry and armour soldiers were involved in Safkar Indopura this year - 300 personnel from the Singapore Army and 174 from TNI-AD.

Planning exercises, urban operations training and live firing were also conducted.

Maj-Gen Ong noted that it was the first time Singapore had trained with soldiers from a foreign military in a Leopard tank, adding that it was a clear indication of the mutual trust and understanding both sides have developed over the years.

Major Medi Haryo Wibowo, 38, commanding officer of TNI-AD's 312th Infantry Battalion, said: "The exercise was excellent because our troops from both armies can share knowledge, and have mutual respect and understanding."

On his experience training with the Indonesians, section commander Muhammad Abdul Rahman, 19, said: "I was very impressed by their aggressiveness in battle.

"Some of them really shouted and made sure that every one of their men knew what to do. I could hear the shouts from far away."


Combined battalion exercise http://str.sg/safkar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2017, with the headline 'Joint exercise marks deeper S'pore-Indonesia defence ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe