Security cover for Asean Summit a complex operation

A joint patrol involving the RSS Independence, an AH-64D Apache helicopter and a Police Coast Guard boat in the anchorage off Marina Barrage yesterday. The SAF will secure Singapore's airspace and surrounding waters during the Asean Summit.
A joint patrol involving the RSS Independence, an AH-64D Apache helicopter and a Police Coast Guard boat in the anchorage off Marina Barrage yesterday. The SAF will secure Singapore's airspace and surrounding waters during the Asean Summit.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

1,600 military personnel involved in safeguarding event which will be attended by many leaders

The operation to safeguard the upcoming Asean Summit would involve fewer military personnel and resources than the Trump-Kim summit held here in June, but is just as complex to plan for.

Colonel Lim Kok Hong, head of the current operations group for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), said that although next week's summit will involve 1,600 military personnel, compared with 2,000 in June's historic meeting between the American and North Korean leaders, the circumstances are different.

"Every summit location will provide different challenges. The previous one (Trump-Kim summit) was a lot closer to the sea, hence our security posture was different.

"This one is closer inland, there are a lot more heads of state, a lot more hotels, so the challenges are different, but we overcome them with planning," added Col Lim, who spoke to the media yesterday on board the RSS Sovereignty.

The 33rd Asean Summit and related summits will be held at the Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre from Sunday to Thursday, and attended by leaders from 10 South-east Asian countries and their counterparts from Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.

The SAF will be deploying over 40 assets from several task forces to secure Singapore's airspace and surrounding waters during the summit.

"We also work closely with our home-front agency partners like the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force, in order to protect the Asean Summit location," said Col Lim.

Preparation for the summit has been consistent and ongoing as it is a scheduled event, unlike the uncertainty surrounding the Trump-Kim summit, added Col Lim.

US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12 this year. The meeting, as well as its venue, was first announced on May 10, but then cancelled abruptly on May 24.

 
 
 

On June 2, it was announced that the meeting would take place.

For the Asean Summit, the Maritime Security Task Force will have two vessels - a littoral mission vessel and a patrol vessel - patrolling the anchorage around Marina Barrage, where an average of 200 merchant ships like tankers and container vessels are moored daily.

The Air Defence Task Force will also adopt a heightened security stance. There will be additional precautions such as F-15SG and F-16 fighter jets in the air to conduct combat air patrol.

On land, the Island Defence Task Force and Special Operations Task Force will support the SPF in security operations, with chemical, biological, radiological and explosives teams and the Medical Response Force involved as well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline 'Security cover for Asean Summit a complex operation'. Print Edition | Subscribe