Mobile column to roll again at NDP with new assets

The return of the mobile column at this year's National Day Parade at the Padang is historically significant as the first mobile column rolled down the Padang 50 years ago, in 1969.
The return of the mobile column at this year's National Day Parade at the Padang is historically significant as the first mobile column rolled down the Padang 50 years ago, in 1969.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

79 types of equipment will be showcased this year, with pioneer servicemen taking part too

A total of 171 military assets will trundle past the Padang at this year's National Day Parade (NDP), as the mobile column - a military vehicle drive-past to showcase Singapore's strength - makes its return to the Aug 9 spectacular after four years.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Police Force and Civil Defence Force will showcase 79 different types of equipment, including three of the new Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) - Singapore's first fully digital military vehicle - which will make their NDP debut. The surface-to-air Aster-30 Missile System from the Republic of Singapore Air Force will also feature for the first time.

The chairman of the mobile column committee, Lieutenant-Colonel Wu Jianmin, said the mobile column has "a strong historical significance".

"The first mobile column rolled down the Padang in 1969. To be able to do so just four years after independence was no easy feat. It was in large part due to the hard work and effort of the pioneering batches of our servicemen," he said.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the mobile column, there will be a segment paying tribute to Merdeka Generation servicemen who helped anchor national service as a key national institution.

One such serviceman is retired Captain Loh Kwan Boh, 63, who was from one of the first few batches of servicemen at 40 Singapore Armoured Regiment, where he was trained to operate the AMX-13 tank.

It will be his first time participating in the NDP mobile column, and he will be doing so with his son, who is the vehicle commander of one of the three Hunter AFVs.

 
 
 
 

"I exposed him, as a young boy, to the SAF. During every open house, I would take him there, and every air show too," he said. "I'm very proud that he is also a tank officer like me."

Capt Charles Loh, 26, the only son and the youngest of three children, said he and his father often share their experiences.

Asked if he had considered signing on to other SAF formations, he said: "It was always Armour from the beginning, particularly because of my dad's influence... Once I got into (Officer Cadet School), I felt that Armour was the right choice."

Also taking part in the mobile column will be retired Brigadier-General Colin Theseira, 74. The former chief armour officer was among the first national servicemen to enlist in 1966 and took part in the first mobile column in 1969.

"When we first started, at the beginning of the Armour formation, there were no crewmen, just 36 officers," he said. "We were the drivers, gunners and commanders in the tank and we had to do many things by ourselves."

After the NDP, the mobile column will travel to five heartland areas of Singapore on Aug 10 - Bishan, Geylang Serai, Jurong East, Punggol and Woodlands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline 'Mobile column to roll again at NDP with new assets'. Print Edition | Subscribe