SINGAPORE - Terrorism and cyber threats are pressing security issues which Singapore has to deal with and the changing role of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) reflects this.
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the SAF has evolved over the years into a fighting force capable of a wide range of operations, such as humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations, peace support operations and maritime security deployments.
With terrorism posing "a real and pressing threat across the region", he said the SAF has also enhanced its joint responses with the Home Team to counter homeland security threats.
Speaking on Sunday (June 17) at the 109/17 Officer Cadet Course commissioning parade held at Safti Military Institute, he said the SAF has contributed to international efforts to combat terror at its source as well.
In supporting multinational coalition efforts against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), SAF sent an Imagery and Analysis Team to Kuwait, and a medical team to Iraq.
The SAF Counter-Terrorism Training Unit is also partnering international forces to train Iraqi security forces in combat tactics and dealing with improvised explosive devices.
Citing the example of the SAF C4 Command - command, control, communications and computers - created last year, along with the cyber scheme to get full-time national serviceman with the requisite talent and expertise involved, DPM Tharman said the SAF has made "significant strides" in addressing cyber threats as well.
"Singapore is highly connected, which makes us more susceptible to cyber threats," he said.
"The peace and stability we enjoy in Singapore can never be taken for granted. It is the very foundation upon which our homes are built, on which jobs are created and upon which opportunities for Singaporeans can grow," said DPM Tharman.
Dealing with the challenges require strong defence ties with other countries, maintained through regular exercises together.
"This year, as the Chairman of ASEAN, Singapore is continuing to strengthen regional defence ties and enhance military cooperation between countries," he added.
DPM Tharman was the reviewing officer at the commissioning parade where a total of 348 officer cadets, including those from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Thai Army graduated after 38 weeks of training.
In congratulating them, DPM Tharman also touched on the leadership role of the Singapore officers.
“What you do and how you conduct yourselves will shape the national service experience of those who look up to you as officers and leaders. Lead them well, train them hard, and keep them safe. This is a serious responsibility, which you must undertake with the utmost of care.”
He reminded them to lead with conviction, courage and compassion.
Second Lieutenant Gordon Tan, who will serve in the Republic of Singapore Air Force, said he is looking forward to the journey ahead.
"With men under me, there will be a heavy responsibility, but I am excited."
The ceremony was especially special for him as his father, Mr Tan Boon Poh, 54, flew in from Hong Kong, where he is working as a businessman in the shipping sector.
"I had completely forgotten that it was Father's Day as well... it is a good present. I am very proud of him," said Mr Tan.