It's D-Day. Five fast craft speed away from the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN's) Landing Ship Tank (LST), RSS Resolution, towards Freshwater Bay, Australia. On board are soldiers from 1st Battalion, Singapore Guards (1 Gds) and the ADF.
As the fast craft near the beach, two AH-64D Apache attack helicopters fly overhead. The soldiers feel an adrenaline rush as the battle is about to start.
The first fast craft hits the beach and the soldiers charge out into the knee-high water and quickly take the beachhead. More fast craft arrive, bringing more troops, supplies and vehicles to shore.
The soldiers then march inland to capture a key terrain and urban area.
This was Exercise Trident, the signature bilateral exercise between the armed forces of Singapore and Australia. It was also a component of the larger Exercise Wallaby.
Held from 28 Oct to 4 Nov in Queensland, Australia, Exercise Trident involved more than 2,100 personnel from both militaries. It provided opportunities for both armed forces to hone their combat skills as well as their ability to fight together.
For the SAF, the exercise involved soldiers in an amphibious operation supported by air and and sea assets.
Captain (CPT) Arens Ong, Assistant Ops Officer of the Naval Task Force Group, said the simultaneous beaching of ground troops under air cover was not as simple as it seemed. "There are many requirements, and everybody needs something different," said the 28-year-old.
The soldiers wanted to be deployed as late as possible to avoid spending too much time at sea (which would increase their risk of getting seasick). But conditions in the sea were unpredictable. If the waters turned extremely rough, the fast craft would be shaking and rolling, causing delays during boarding.
Similarly the Apache pilots, wanted to time their arrival with the ground troops' to minimise their exposure and to provide close air support.
"We need to meld all these together, and satisfy as many parties as possible, while still being able to achieve mission success," said CPT Ong.
CPT Desmond Tan, 31, a Super Puma pilot, added that the Army, Navy and Air Force have to be well-versed in each other's plans. "Out in the field, the Army troops may not have communications all the time, likewise for the Navy who are deployed out in the sea…
"Before launching for any mission, we make sure that we are clear about each other's plans, so that we can execute the missions like clockwork without second-guessing."
Coordination with the ADF was obviously an added challenge. And Exercise Trident provided an invaluable opportunity for both forces to work out the kinks.
For the battle planners, communication was key to eliminating unexpected gaps or weaknesses. CPT Tan spoke of his experience coordinating with the ADF planners for the Combat Search and Rescue Mission training to locate and rescue downed air crew.
"The Australians have been very forthcoming. They are interested in how we exercise our mission plans…so that they can weave in their requirements and training, operate in a bilateral environment, (and) integrate the (different) operation styles."