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The best strategy to defending Singapore Island

This is a discussion on The best strategy to defending Singapore Island within the Military Strategy and Tactics forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; I don't know if this would be a good comparison but Iceland's invasion by the Soviets in Red Storm Rising ...


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Old January 5th, 2009   #16
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I don't know if this would be a good comparison but Iceland's invasion by the Soviets in Red Storm Rising could be relevant.

A massive suprise air attack destroying air force and command and control facilities with the invasion fleet consisting of a civilian fleet, approaching to the island unnoticed.

To repel or be prepared for such an attack, most of the military of Singapore should be widely dispersed around the island, hiding in James Bond stlye bunkers* so that they could not be located and destroyed in a pre-invasion attack.

A fast, well co-ordinated and a total suprise attack can make the island's invasion possible as the size of the island is rather small. Of course who would want to invade the islands would be another question.

* James Bond Style Bunker - Basically bunkers that are inside of dead volcanoes, mountains, hangars beneath football stadiums, tanks located between car garages anything your imagination captures.
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Old January 5th, 2009   #17
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IMO Indonesia can easily get SRBM's for cheap from CHina and can launch it directly at Singapore from Sumatera mainland.
Yes, but our hypothetical invader in this scenario is not Indonesia nor is it Malaysia. And strategic missiles can cause devastation to the infrastructure but as strategic weapons are inable to give tactical indirect fire support to your groundforces unlike howitzers. Of course, as Singapore is so small, it's questionable if you should pound the city with artillery while your own infantry is already entering it.
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Old January 5th, 2009   #18
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Originally Posted by Lostfleet View Post
I don't know if this would be a good comparison but Iceland's invasion by the Soviets in Red Storm Rising could be relevant.

A massive suprise air attack destroying air force and command and control facilities with the invasion fleet consisting of a civilian fleet, approaching to the island unnoticed.

To repel or be prepared for such an attack, most of the military of Singapore should be widely dispersed around the island, hiding in James Bond stlye bunkers* so that they could not be located and destroyed in a pre-invasion attack.

A fast, well co-ordinated and a total suprise attack can make the island's invasion possible as the size of the island is rather small. Of course who would want to invade the islands would be another question.

* James Bond Style Bunker - Basically bunkers that are inside of dead volcanoes, mountains, hangars beneath football stadiums, tanks located between car garages anything your imagination captures.
I had thought of Red Storm Rising when I was originally composing some of my questions regarding the current scenario. The events in question in the book (the invasion of Iceland by the Soviets) occurred against the larger backdrop of a Soviet/Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. Has this not been the case, additional NATO vessels and/or aircraft would have been available to deal with the initial landing force prior to actually seizing Iceland. IIRC, it was successfully attacked by 1 Harpoon AShM launched from a P-3 Orion, 1 Harpoon which failed to launch due to too many recent alerts for the ground crews, and the ship was then strafed with 20mm cannonfire by F-15 Eagles...

With regards to Singapore, a number of the forces are already dispersed outside of Singapore. IIRC there is an air force unit in France, as well as in Australia for training. Unless some hostile force was willing to get a number of the Great Powers involved, I do not see an attacker being able to dispatch all of Singapore's military in initial attack.

As for setting up firebases on some of the nearby islands... There are two problems I see there, with regards to the current scenario. The first and of lesser significance, is that in doing so, whichever attacking power does so will automatically be widening the scope of the conflict and Malaysia and/or Indonesia will no longer be neutral in the conflict. The second, and IMO more important problem the attacker will face, is being able to land and setup the firebase for use against Singapore, without it indicating that such an event is going to take place.

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Old January 5th, 2009   #19
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I still think it'll hardly be possible to attack Singapore without getting Indonesia and Malaysia involved. The whole area is so geographically crammed that it appears hardly possible to get a major naval attack force into the area without entering home waters of those two nations.
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Old January 6th, 2009   #20
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I still think it'll hardly be possible to attack Singapore without getting Indonesia and Malaysia involved. The whole area is so geographically crammed that it appears hardly possible to get a major naval attack force into the area without entering home waters of those two nations.
Let just says that the same enemy just attack both Malaysia & Indonesia which Indonesia lost their control over the water territorial at the east & south (Riau Island) point of Singapore.

Both countries failed to help because need to defend themselves (Kuala Lumpur & Jakarta).

Even the enemy has control the Riau territorial water but fight still goes in the island.
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Old January 6th, 2009   #21
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Realistically a conventional attack against Singapore is unrealistic unless we witness a WWIII scenario and the aim of the antagonist is to cripple support for the US fleet operating in the region. If anything I believe we are more likely to witness a terrorist campaign aimed at destabilizing the economy.

Extreme possible example as follows:

Scenario Background:

Malaysia suffers a breakdown in democracy resulting in a former military 'strongman' taking over following the introduction of martial law. This individual follows President Zia's of Pakistan's example and changes the constitution making the military and security infrastructure a defender of Islam and not a defender of a secular state. Extreme elements of the military and intelligence services (mirroring what happened with elements of the Pakistani ISI and military) begin to take a more radical view and start pushing for the reunification of all of Malaysia under Sharia Law (including Singapore). The new leader of Malaysia backs this argument through 'peaceful' means, however radical elements within his government start training insurgents in remote areas with the primary purpose of destabilizing the Singapore economy and to ferment distrust between the Malay, Indian and Chinese ethnic groups. Several remote armouries in Malaysia are raided with light and medium weapons/ammo being obtained by radical groups. Stand-off weapon technology / deployment methodology provided by rogue elements of the REAL IRA and Hamas.

Flashpoint:

Malay based extremists launch mortar and rocket attacks (based on IRA / Hamas technology / methodology) from JOHOR across the causeway against the Northern edge of the airport and industrial areas around Tuas. The Malaysian Government denies all knowledge of any insider support and condemns the attacks. The terrorist groups claim they are fighting for the freedom of ethnic Malay's and reunification of Malaysia under strict Sharia Law. Massive impact upon Singapore economy, airport shuts, foreign airlines threaten to stop flying in, evacuation of non dependent expat families begins.

Response:

Option A:

Singapore Government issues a strong warning to Malaysia to deal with the insurgents and begins planning for intelligence based covert operations in JOHOR to target suspected launch sites / groups. Uses international diplomacy to put pressure on the Malay Gov. Basically looks at undertaking a similar campaign to that advocated by the British/Irish Governments during the Troubles by identifying and neutralizing support / attacks mounted from Southern Ireland against the North, basically a low key counter insurgency campaign working with their Malay military / intelligence counterparts. Risk of such a low key response - drawn out campaign, which does not guarantee a total end to cross border strikes from week one, lack of trust - possible sympathizers working in the Malay intelligence service.

Option B:

Singapore mobilizes it's armed forces and begins striking back against launch sites using artillery, attack helicopters and CAS. Show of strength option. Risk of high level response - all out conventional war with Malaysia, alienation of Malay community and possible retaliating strikes against urban areas by the Malaysian armed forces.

What option would you go for and why?
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Old January 6th, 2009   #22
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Originally Posted by Lostfleet View Post
I don't know if this would be a good comparison but Iceland's invasion by the Soviets in Red Storm Rising could be relevant.

A massive suprise air attack destroying air force and command and control facilities with the invasion fleet consisting of a civilian fleet, approaching to the island unnoticed.

To repel or be prepared for such an attack, most of the military of Singapore should be widely dispersed around the island, hiding in James Bond stlye bunkers* so that they could not be located and destroyed in a pre-invasion attack.

A fast, well co-ordinated and a total suprise attack can make the island's invasion possible as the size of the island is rather small. Of course who would want to invade the islands would be another question.

* James Bond Style Bunker - Basically bunkers that are inside of dead volcanoes, mountains, hangars beneath football stadiums, tanks located between car garages anything your imagination captures.
In page 58, of Tim Huxely's book (Defending the Lion City), he said:
"For example, from the late 1970s MINDEF developed plans for contingencies which might have arisen from the presence of Soviet forces in Vietnam, such as Soviet air attacks in retaliation for any Singaporeans intervention in defence of Thailand, or in the event of a wider conflict between rival super-power-led coalitions."
This was a huge concern when Vietnam invaded Cambodia in December 1978. At that time, Singapore and Thailand were wondering if the Vietnamese would continue further south. Especially since the US had just left Vietnam a few years earlier. With the end of the cold war, this scenario, is not likely. In fact, Vietnam is now a full member of ASEAN.

While I'm not sure about Jame Bond Style Bunkers, DSTA announced that Singapore has underground ammunition facilities and it is commonly known that Singapore air bases are 'hardened' and that certain underground MRT stations do double-up as bomb shelters. And each new HDB flat has bomb shelters (and this requirement is part of our building codes) and other bomb proof facilities provided in each neighbourhood, so in a way, Singapore is very 'fortress like' for a modern city.

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Originally Posted by Sunshin3
4. SIGINT & Electronic Warfare Capabilities

According to Desmond Ball, "some of Singapore's SIGINT capabilities... are amongst the most advanced... [including] HF DF/ocean surveillance information... and the most advanced electronic warfare capability in Southeast Asia."
Just some stray thoughts...

As Sunshin3 noted on Singapore's SIGINT and Electronic Warfare Capabilities, would it be rather difficult to surprise Singapore? Do you have something else in mind?

Thus far, we are not clear on the strategic value of the capture of Singapore to the aggressor.

If the capture of Singapore is to put the aggressor in a position to control SLOCs, wouldn't the capture of any of the Indonesian Riau Islands serve a similar purpose (with the plus that they are not as well defended and there is no chance that USN personnel would be hurt)? Why choose to fight Singapore (with 7 fighter squadrons) and Indonesia at the same time if you can just fight Indonesia (less than 2 operational fighter squadrons) to achieve a similar goal (in the first phase)?

Last edited by OPSSG; January 9th, 2009 at 10:40 PM.
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Old January 6th, 2009   #23
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Thus far, we are not clear on the strategic value of the capture of Singapore to the aggressor.

If the capture of Singapore is to put the aggressor in a position to control SLOCs, wouldn't the capture of any of the Indonesian Riau Islands serve a similar purpose (with the plus that they are not as well defended and there is no chance that USN personnel would be hurt)? Why choose to fight Singapore (with 7 fighter squadrons) and Indonesia at the same time if you can just fight Indonesia (less than 2 operational fighter squadrons) to achieve a similar goal (in the first phase)?
Probably because you couldn't avoid trouble with Singapore anyway. Singapore is highly dependant on free trade through the Straits of Malacca. If some outside nation would decide to block/control this seaway by occupying the Indonesian Riau Islands, Singapore would not just ignore that. So an attacker would have to deal with Singapore at some point of the operation anyway, it would be wise to conduct this toughest task in the beginning rather than engage Indonesia and wait for Singapore to kick in by themselves.

But I agree, control of the Strait of Malacca is basically the only thing that an external power might see as interesting in Singapore.
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Old January 6th, 2009   #24
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Probably because you couldn't avoid trouble with Singapore anyway. Singapore is highly dependant on free trade through the Straits of Malacca. If some outside nation would decide to block/control this seaway by occupying the Indonesian Riau Islands, Singapore would not just ignore that. So an attacker would have to deal with Singapore at some point of the operation anyway, it would be wise to conduct this toughest task in the beginning rather than engage Indonesia and wait for Singapore to kick in by themselves.

But I agree, control of the Strait of Malacca is basically the only thing that an external power might see as interesting in Singapore.
I have to agree with this, though with a slight modification. What I could see happening is a nation wishing to control the Malacca Straits seizing a nearby area/island with deepwater ports, and then launching standoff strikes at Singapore to reduce or eliminate Singapore's ability to contest control of the Straits. I do not think it would be worthwhile for a hostile force to attempt to capture Singapore itself. The land of Singapore itself has strategic value due to location, but there are a number of other nearby islands that have similar value, which would likely be far easier to seize and establish control over.

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Old January 7th, 2009   #25
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Realistically a conventional attack against Singapore is unrealistic unless we witness a WWIII scenario and the aim of the antagonist is to cripple support for the US fleet operating in the region. If anything I believe we are more likely to witness a terrorist campaign aimed at destabilizing the economy.

Extreme possible example as follows:

Scenario Background:

Malaysia suffers a breakdown in democracy resulting in a former military 'strongman' taking over following the introduction of martial law. This individual follows President Zia's of Pakistan's example and changes the constitution making the military and security infrastructure a defender of Islam and not a defender of a secular state. Extreme elements of the military and intelligence services (mirroring what happened with elements of the Pakistani ISI and military) begin to take a more radical view and start pushing for the reunification of all of Malaysia under Sharia Law (including Singapore). The new leader of Malaysia backs this argument through 'peaceful' means, however radical elements within his government start training insurgents in remote areas with the primary purpose of destabilizing the Singapore economy and to ferment distrust between the Malay, Indian and Chinese ethnic groups. Several remote armouries in Malaysia are raided with light and medium weapons/ammo being obtained by radical groups. Stand-off weapon technology / deployment methodology provided by rogue elements of the REAL IRA and Hamas.

Flashpoint:

Malay based extremists launch mortar and rocket attacks (based on IRA / Hamas technology / methodology) from JOHOR across the causeway against the Northern edge of the airport and industrial areas around Tuas. The Malaysian Government denies all knowledge of any insider support and condemns the attacks. The terrorist groups claim they are fighting for the freedom of ethnic Malay's and reunification of Malaysia under strict Sharia Law. Massive impact upon Singapore economy, airport shuts, foreign airlines threaten to stop flying in, evacuation of non dependent expat families begins.

Response:

Option A:

Singapore Government issues a strong warning to Malaysia to deal with the insurgents and begins planning for intelligence based covert operations in JOHOR to target suspected launch sites / groups. Uses international diplomacy to put pressure on the Malay Gov. Basically looks at undertaking a similar campaign to that advocated by the British/Irish Governments during the Troubles by identifying and neutralizing support / attacks mounted from Southern Ireland against the North, basically a low key counter insurgency campaign working with their Malay military / intelligence counterparts. Risk of such a low key response - drawn out campaign, which does not guarantee a total end to cross border strikes from week one, lack of trust - possible sympathizers working in the Malay intelligence service.

Option B:

Singapore mobilizes it's armed forces and begins striking back against launch sites using artillery, attack helicopters and CAS. Show of strength option. Risk of high level response - all out conventional war with Malaysia, alienation of Malay community and possible retaliating strikes against urban areas by the Malaysian armed forces.

What option would you go for and why?
This is beyond absurd. It looks like your aching for a war with anyone. It makes me wonder if you'd be happy if Singapore is in the middle of Arab Mideast, so that you can have all your "action".

If anything I think Singapore should fear indonesia more, as it is becoming more radical by the day and its economy in a bad shape. A bad economy with growing radical Islamization of Indonesia is not a good thing. Suharto did a good job with an Iron fist, but I'm not sure about the current gov. But the current gov has shown to be incapable of arresting the situation during the economic crisis of 1998 with the mobs attack on minority populations.
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Old January 8th, 2009   #26
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......
What option would you go for and why?
Option B without a doubt. Let's leave out the country names since the option would be the same for any small nations heavily reliant on foreign trade/investments. Such nations simply can't afford drawn out conflicts even low level ones.
This is especially true if the small nation has existing superiority in conventional forces. You use this advantage to hit them hard & early, NOT wait years for the conflict to degrade your economy which will inevitably lead to degradation of the advantage in forces by which time you will become a sitting duck.
Too bad if it escalates the situation with the big neighbors, see above, better to fight now when your superiority is still intact than later. Engage them if unavoidable, after all, they allowed attacks to be launched against you from their territories.
This way, the big neighbors will hopefully be severely wounded as well so they can't as easily take advantage of your own weakened state near the end of the conflict.
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Old January 15th, 2009   #27
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I had thought of Red Storm Rising when I was originally composing some of my questions regarding the current scenario. The events in question in the book (the invasion of Iceland by the Soviets) occurred against the larger backdrop of a Soviet/Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. Has this not been the case, additional NATO vessels and/or aircraft would have been available to deal with the initial landing force prior to actually seizing Iceland. IIRC, it was successfully attacked by 1 Harpoon AShM launched from a P-3 Orion, 1 Harpoon which failed to launch due to too many recent alerts for the ground crews, and the ship was then strafed with 20mm cannonfire by F-15 Eagles...

With regards to Singapore, a number of the forces are already dispersed outside of Singapore. IIRC there is an air force unit in France, as well as in Australia for training. Unless some hostile force was willing to get a number of the Great Powers involved, I do not see an attacker being able to dispatch all of Singapore's military in initial attack.



-Cheers
In the Red Storm Rising, the war has already started so there were armed patrol aircraft around, in Singapore case I think with a smart pre-location of civilian cargo ships around the island ( there are hundreds of them going through there) a suprise landing could be achieved. Of course if the suprise is blown than you will have a lot of sitting ducks to hunt for the Singapore Air Force.
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Old January 15th, 2009   #28
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In the Red Storm Rising, the war has already started so there were armed patrol aircraft around, in Singapore case I think with a smart pre-location of civilian cargo ships around the island ( there are hundreds of them going through there) a suprise landing could be achieved. Of course if the suprise is blown than you will have a lot of sitting ducks to hunt for the Singapore Air Force.
Right! But you forget that the Air Force alone cannot defend all of singapore, it should be more of a maritime thing since Singapore is an island (though this goes without saying). So why not have fleet of battleships waiting for the enemy?
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Old January 16th, 2009   #29
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Right! But you forget that the Air Force alone cannot defend all of singapore, it should be more of a maritime thing since Singapore is an island (though this goes without saying). So why not have fleet of battleships waiting for the enemy?
I hope you enjoy posting at DT. If you don't mind, I'll just share a few thoughts:

(1) Objectively, the RSAF considers itself a 'small but capable air force' (small being a relative concept). However, please keep in mind the RSAF has 7 squadrons of fighters (the majority of which are block 52 or 52+ F-16s) and multiple force multipliers (like harpoon armed MPAs, tankers and CAEWs). Please take a look at Sunshin3's post earlier in this thread and the thread on the RSAF, for the relevant information. Not many navies can defend against an air force training regularly to operate in 50 or more aircraft strike packages. So an invasion fleet needs its own airwing and it would need to overcome the strike packages arriving in waves.

(2) Most battleships are now an 'extinct' or a mothballed species. Many modern blue water navies operate guided missile destroyers (or frigates) and submarines. Even fewer navies operate aircraft carriers. Please note that the RSN operates the 'Formidable' class of frigates (see link for further details) and also the Challenger class submarines. The RSN (please read the Navy League of Australia article) would also operate under air cover provided by the RSAF.

(3) For the scenario painted (without aircraft carriers) any invasion fleet is doomed to fail, unless total surprise is achieved, which is not easy to do.

(4) While you are correct that the RSAF alone does not defend Singapore alone, you need to look at the army and RSN too. So comparing or counting platforms (like the number of frigates and submarines) can be misleading.

You may need to read a bit more on naval tactics and think a bit more about what Todjaeger and others have said in comments in this thread. Not bad for a first try.

Do a little more work on your conceptual understanding, it will make your posts more interesting. I come here to learn from others too. I also ask questions when I don't understand certain technologies or things.

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Old January 26th, 2009   #30
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FYI

did you knows the closest INDONESIAN iland from singapore is BATAM just about 15 KM from them
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