More than 100 Singapore servicemen have been recognised for their efforts in combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as the scourge of piracy along a key maritime trade route.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Overseas Service Medal was yesterday presented to 116 servicemen - those who were part of a multinational coalition against ISIS, as well as those who were part of a multinational counter-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden.
Navy regular Long Lin Jun, 40, the first female communications specialist in the SAF command team for counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, was one of the recipients. She volunteered for the three- month deployment despite being one of the caregivers of her father, 86, who was diagnosed with Stage Three colorectal cancer in January.
"This deployment was something that I really wanted to do for the past three to four years...they had always been sending men, so I wanted to try for it," said Military Expert 3 Long. "My family was very supportive; my mother and two brothers helped to take care of my father while I was away," she added.
The SAF has deployed six task groups, four command teams and around 1,400 sailors, soldiers and airmen under the multinational Combined Task Force 151 since 2009 to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, a main maritime trade route between Europe and Asia. The Republic of Singapore Navy assumed command of the task force for the fourth time in March this year, and there have not been any successful piracy attacks this year.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who presented the medals at a ceremony at the Ministry of Defence, reiterated the need to maintain racial and religious harmony in the face of terrorism.
"We recognise that the war is ultimately an ideological one for the hearts and minds. We need to unite against misguided teachings, strengthen community cohesion, and establish robust networks of trust among the different races and religions.
"I am glad to say that we have invaluable community groups helping us in this cause, such as Muis, Pergas and other Inter-Agency Aftercare Groups. But as individuals, we need to play a part, which is why the SGSecure Movement launched in September is so important, to prepare us individually and as a people, to respond effectively," he said of the national movement to prepare Singaporeans to prevent terror incidents and respond to them.