New SAF training complex to offer challenging scenarios

VIDEO: MINDEFVIDEO: MINDEF

Slated to open progressively from 2023, Safti City will help hone skills in urban operations

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) troops will hone their military skills in a new state-of-the-art training facility that features, among other buildings, an integrated transport hub with a bus interchange and an MRT station.

It will be opened progressively from 2023.

Along with buildings resembling a hotel, hospital and shopping centres, and road networks that are configurable, the features in the new Safti City, located near Choa Chu Kang Columbarium, aim to provide varied, realistic and challenging scenarios for the troops.

Expected to be about the size of 100 football fields, Safti City will also feature smart technologies such as targets that can "shoot back" at training troops and simulated battlefield effects like the use of smoke and loud sounds.

To enhance training realism and effectiveness, the real-time actions of training troops will also be collected, and then collated and processed by a data analytics system to provide accurate feedback and aid in improving performance.

Details of these features were revealed by the Ministry of Defence yesterday following a ground-breaking ceremony last Friday attended by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) chief executive Tan Peng Yam, Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong and Chief of Army Goh Si Hou.

"When completed, Safti City promises to be among the most advanced purpose-built military training facilities for urban ops in the world," said Dr Ng.

The construction of the first of two phases of the 88ha, $900 million Safti City - jointly developed by the Singapore Army and DSTA - will begin soon.

When he announced plans for Safti City in 2017, Dr Ng said that the entire training area would be completed in 10 years.

No timeline is available yet for the second phase of the project - located near Poyan Reservoir - as it is still in the planning stage.

For the first phase, the buildings and road networks will be configurable to provide varied training.

It will also have battlefield-effect simulators, such as smoke when a target is hit, as well as semi-autonomous targets on patrol.

The tallest building at the Murai Urban Training Facility, where urban operations training is currently conducted, is four storeys high, while Phase 1 of Safti City will have three 12-storey blocks, among some 70 buildings. This allows soldiers to train in shooting at an angle that is currently not available.

 
 
 

Dr Ng said that since Singapore's independence in 1965, Safti has been the spiritual home of the SAF, as the beginnings of the SAF took shape there.

"Just as the Pioneer and Merdeka generations of SAF soldiers experienced, I believe that Safti City will be the place where future generations of SAF soldiers will train together, bond and form individual memories to build their own collective espirit de corps," he said, referring to those born in 1959 or earlier.

Safti City will also have buildings meant to replicate amenities such as a museum, a school, and an office with a multi-storey carpark. This is in line with the change in the likely battlefield for a new generation of Singaporeans.

Dr Ng said the chances of the SAF fighting in jungle operations have diminished considerably, while the odds that it will be called into operations in built-up areas, whether it is for peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, or other types of operations, have gone up.

Together with the facilities that the SAF is jointly developing with the Australian government in Queensland, this will prepare troops to conduct a wide range of operations, in all types of terrain, said Dr Ng.

He said that even with the best training facilities in the world, nothing can replace the values of resilience, persistence and a passion for excellence. "In order to derive maximum benefit, even from world-class facilities, you need leadership, the right values and sacrifice as the necessary ingredients to make Safti City work," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline 'New SAF training complex to offer challenging scenarios'. Print Edition | Subscribe