New SAF institute to train NSFs, NSmen in responding to security and terrorist threats

Joint homeland security demonstration by SPF and SAF at Clementi Camp.

SINGAPORE - A new institute which will train Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) active and operationally ready national servicemen in dealing with security and terrorist threats was officially launched on Monday (July 31).

The Island Defence Training Institute (IDTI) will equip soldiers to respond to security threats alongside their Home Team counterparts. It will train up to 33,000 soldiers a year at its peak.

Speaking at the launch of the IDTI at Clementi Camp, Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung said that global terrorism incidents have more than tripled from 5,000 cases in 2011 to almost 17,000 in 2014. South-east Asia has not been spared from such threats. There have been eight ISIS-linked incidents in the region since January last year, added the minister.

"Just like the Infantry Training Institute, (IDTI) needs to train and equip all our servicemen with the skills and technology to deal with several counter-terrorist and homeland defence scenarios," said Mr Ong, who is also Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills).

He added that the IDTI "will foster new inter-agency partnerships, strengthen existing ones, and regularly exercise avenues of collaboration".

The SAF and police held a joint homeland security demonstration at the camp witnessed by Chief of Army Major-General Melvyn Ong, deputy commissioner (operations) Lau Peet Meng and senior SAF and Singapore Police Force officers.

The new institute is made up of two centres and two schools. Its Homeland Security Training Centre (HSTC) and the Island Defence Training Centre are located in Clementi Camp. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen had said in June that HSTC will train 18,000 soldiers yearly. The HSTC has trained some 4,000 soldiers since March.

The IDTI's Security and Policing Leadership School and the Security and Policing Vocational School are based in Mowbray Camp and, together with the Island Defence Training Centre, will be responsible for training 15,000 soldiers annually.

The seven-day syllabus at HSTC includes teaching SAF personnel their legal rights, search and arrest techniques, retractable truncheon drills, and protecting critical structures.

Explaining the rationale for HSTC, commander of IDTI Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Soh Chee Yong said: "With the increasing complexity of the threat environment, as well as the numerous stakeholders we have to deal with such as the Singapore Police Force and other security partners, to have a training centre that focuses on homeland security is the right investment to make."

The HSTC syllabus includes 12 video simulation training scenarios, which involve perpetrators in a shopping mall, at a vehicle checkpoint, and at a coastal patrol. The scenarios are designed for trainees to hone their judgement by applying the correct rules of engagement.

The scenarios can be updated based on operational needs.

Full-time national serviceman Second Sergeant Muhammad Zayyani, 26, an artilleryman who received HSTC training, said: "The course was really useful. Before this, we didn't know what to expect if a perpetrator has a detonator. Such things are not taught in artillery school. It made me more confident of handling such situations, if they emerge."