SAF, police boost teamwork to tackle high-threat situations

The police’s emergency response team confronting a gunman who had earlier taken a hostage and was wearing an improvised explosive device. This training scenario was staged for the media on Oct 31 at the former Parry Primary School, one of the place
The police’s emergency response team confronting a gunman who had earlier taken a hostage and was wearing an improvised explosive device. This training scenario was staged for the media on Oct 31 at the former Parry Primary School, one of the places where the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Armed Forces conduct their joint training.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
In this training scenario, a police officer and an SAF soldier on a routine patrol arrest a suspect after they were alerted to a knife attack at a cafe.
In this training scenario, a police officer and an SAF soldier on a routine patrol arrest a suspect after they were alerted to a knife attack at a cafe.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Joint training sessions equip them with skills for rapid deployment

A patrol team made up of a police officer and two Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers spots a gunman causing panic among civilians and holding a hostage.

After assessing the situation, the police officer in command calls for reinforcements and the team directs the civilians to safety and prevents the man from escaping.

The police's emergency response team arrives soon after and forces the gunman to surrender.

This is just one of the scenarios used in joint training sessions for the SAF and Singapore Police Force (SPF) conducted since January.

These aim to equip the security forces with the skills to jointly perform homeland security operations and to enhance interoperability between the two security forces.

To date, seven sessions have been held. The agencies are looking to conduct such training monthly.

The scenarios the security personnel train for are: Handling a rowdy crowd, a knife attack, and an active shooter with an improvised explosive device or with a hostage.

SPEAKING SAME LANGUAGE

Usually, when we train with our own police officers, it is all police jargon and codewords. So when we train with SAF soldiers, we need to adapt, understand one another and speak the same language.

ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT MUHAMMAD HAFIZ ROSLEE, from Jurong Police Division.

Last Wednesday, the media was invited to observe one such training session, involving a gunman with a hostage, at the former Parry Primary School, near Hougang.

Such joint deployments will be mobilised when there is a heightened threat situation, said Superintendent Kenny Yeo, 44, commanding officer of the SPF's Frontline Policing Training Centre.

"When there's a (security) incident, the SPF officer steps up to take the lead. And with the two SAF soldiers with him, they will be the first responders to the incident," he said.

"With the two soldiers (as) his only resources at that point in time, the police officer has to work with them to bring the situation under control, while waiting for back-up."

SAF personnel augment the patrolling force such that police officers could be on standby to respond to potential incidents elsewhere in Singapore, added Supt Yeo.

All front-line police officers are trained for patrolling duties, while 22,000 soldiers have been trained for deployment with police officers so far.

 
 
 

As for the need to train together, the commanding officer of the SAF's Homeland Security Training Centre, Lieutenant-Colonel Goh Boon Ping, 39, said: "The key (thing) is that we need to be ready when the situation arises."

The centre at Clementi Camp trains active and national service units to execute homeland security operations.

A joint Mindef-SPF statement said the joint training sessions are part of a series of routine joint exercises between the two security agencies. It added that training together allows SAF servicemen to be deployed quickly with police officers during major events such as the upcoming Asean Summit, which starts on Sunday.

In another scenario observed by the media, the three-man joint patrol contained a situation where a man stabbed another using a knife and held another man hostage.

The perpetrator was shot non-fatally and arrested, and first aid was later given to him and the injured civilian.

Assistant Superintendent Muha-mmad Hafiz Roslee, 29, who is with Jurong Police Division and taking part in his first joint training, said: "Usually, when we train with our own police officers, it is all police jargon and codewords.

"So when we train with SAF soldiers, we need to adapt, understand one another and speak the same language."

For instance, the police and the SAF use different words to ask for cover and this is one thing that was ironed out in the training, he added.

Corporal First Class Andrew Fung, 25, an operationally ready national serviceman (NSman) from HQ 9 Division, said: "As NSmen, it is important for us to be ready to be called upon. This kind of training gives us the capability to respond to these scenarios."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2018, with the headline 'SAF, police boost teamwork to tackle high-threat situations'. Print Edition | Subscribe