2017 Yearender: Defence

Looking beyond NS50 to train soldiers of the future

Private Zakir Hasan jumping through a window and crossing a sensor which measures and records his timing digitally at the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance in Selarang Camp during a media preview. The centre was set up this month to maximi
Private Zakir Hasan jumping through a window and crossing a sensor which measures and records his timing digitally at the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance in Selarang Camp during a media preview. The centre was set up this month to maximise each soldier's potential through programmes like customised fitness regimes. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Private Zakir Hasan jumping through a window and crossing a sensor which measures and records his timing digitally at the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance in Selarang Camp during a media preview. The centre was set up this month to maximi
SAF and police force personnel in a joint homeland security demonstration before the opening of the Island Defence Training Institute at Clementi Camp on July 31. ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG, ALPHONSUS CHERN
Private Zakir Hasan jumping through a window and crossing a sensor which measures and records his timing digitally at the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance in Selarang Camp during a media preview. The centre was set up this month to maximi
Above: Soldiers at the Cyber Defence Test and Evaluation Centre on Dec 12.ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG, ALPHONSUS CHERN

Nation marks big NS milestone even as it moves ahead to beef up efforts in areas like cyber defence, anti-terror

Celebrations to mark 50 years of national service this year showed that the institution is one that is not just critical to the country's defence, but also close to the hearts of many.

Tributes poured in as the nation showed its appreciation for the more than a million sons of Singapore who have completed their service since the first conscripts were enlisted in 1967.

But the year was not just about reflecting on past achievements, as the Defence Ministry and armed forces moved decisively towards tackling future threats through efforts in areas such as cyber defence and anti-terror.

Singapore will work with other Asean states to deal with regional security challenges in these two areas, as chairman of the 12th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and 5th ADMM-Plus Meeting next year.

The year in defence had kicked off when nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) armoured vehicles detained in Hong Kong since November last year arrived back in Singapore on Jan 30.

In February, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen launched the NS50 campaign. All servicemen who enlisted before October this year were given $100 worth of vouchers as a token of appreciation.

The NS50 celebrations culminated in the NS50 Week in August, with events such as a family picnic and Pasir Laba camp tours, a training area that held many memories for past servicemen.

The year was not just about reflecting on past achievements, as the Defence Ministry and armed forces moved decisively towards tackling future threats through efforts in areas such as cyber defence and anti-terror.

In October, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the temporary Marina Bay floating platform will be expanded to become the NS Square, with a gallery that will showcase the evolution of NS.

In terms of gearing up to deal with anticipated threats, a training institute was set up to arm soldiers with skills such as search and arrest techniques, to respond to emergencies alongside the Home Team. The Island Defence Training Institute was launched in July, in recognition of the need for the SAF to play a larger role in homeland defence.

Earlier in March, it was announced that a new training area, dubbed Safti City, would be built in 10 years to train soldiers in urban and coastal defence fighting skills.

This month, the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance was set up to maximise each soldier's potential through programmes like customised fitness regimes.

With the growing threat of online attacks, plans to set up a new Defence Cyber Organisation were announced in March. A new vocation of cyber defenders have been trained and deployed to fight on this front since August.

This month, the Ministry of Defence announced the Hack Mindef initiative, in which 300 hackers from here and abroad will be invited to test some of Mindef's Internet-connected systems between Jan 15 and Feb 4.

This was also the year when the Republic of Singapore Navy celebrated its golden jubilee by commissioning its first Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Independence in May. It is the first navy ship to be completely designed and built in Singapore.

Next year, it will be the turn of the Republic of Singapore Air Force to celebrate, as it marks 50 years since it was formed as the Singapore Air Defence Command in 1968.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2017, with the headline 'Looking beyond NS50 to train soldiers of the future'. Print Edition | Subscribe