April 13, 2016

Singapore Armed Forces Set to Boost Counter-Terrorism Capabilities

The SAF will take on a greater role in deterring and responding to terrorist attacks against the country, (all images/photos : Sing Mindef)

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will improve its ability to respond to terrorism-related incidents and deter potential attacks with new equipment and training resources, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed during the country's latest parliamentary budget debate on 7 April.

In an official transcript released by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on 8 April, Ng noted that the members of the SAF's Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) - which is staffed by elite troops from the Singapore Army's Commandos and Republic of Singapore Navy's Naval Diving Unit (NDU) and leverages on assets from the three services - are the SAF's first responders against terror attacks and must be equipped with the means necessary to deal effectively with armed terrorists.

Ng said the SAF is partnering with defence science organisations to equip the SOTF with new technologies that will enable it to perform its tasks more effectively. These include palm-sized micro-unmanned aerial vehicles (micro-UAVs) that are capable of operating in complex urban terrain, as well as multi-rotor UAVs for improved situational awareness. The SOTF will also be able to leverage on intelligence gathered by the air force's Heron 1 medium-altitude long-endurance UAVs.

"The clear and present threat upon us is terrorism. As of now, there is no specific intelligence of any imminent plot against Singapore, but the general assessment by our intelligence agencies indicates that almost all cities are likely targets, including Singapore," he said, noting that countries such as Belgium, Indonesia, France, Turkey, and Pakistan have suffered attacks within the past 18 months.

To hone its troops for these missions, the SAF will build a new urban combat training facility that will feature complex road networks, transportation nodes, as well as high-rise structures with integral target training systems for live-firing drills.

While Singaporean troops are already deployed to secure critical infrastructure such as Changi International Airport and the energy and chemicals facilities on the southwestern Jurong Island, Ng said that the SAF will train and equip additional units to conduct deterrence patrols in public areas.

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