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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; Just to gain experience and mind sharing. As all of us know, Singapore nowadays can being consider the most modern ...


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Old December 31st, 2008   #1
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The best strategy to defending Singapore Island

Just to gain experience and mind sharing.

As all of us know, Singapore nowadays can being consider the most modern army in South East Asia. With a stable economy and politics, add with good relation with most of NATO nation especially US, British & Israel.

However, with land area only about 800km2, urban terrain and population about 4 million, it's seem hard to defending this island from all direction.

The WW II has show the result when Japanese Empire Army success occupied the island and drive-out the strongest British Empire who defending the island.
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Old December 31st, 2008   #2
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Singapore needs to focus on striking a strategic blow against any antagonists first. The largely urban environment means its very east for a well-equipped foe to damage critical economic assets early in the game. Singapore can’t afford to fight a decisive battle in its own backyard.

Also circumstances have changed since WWII, Britain was fighting a global conflict and made a conscious decision to focus on Germany, not Japan and subsequently starved the islands defence of fighters (500 hurricanes diverted to Stalin) and armour. Today Singapore has a well-equipped army dedicated to the defence of Singapore, however it can’t afford to fight costly street battles, the place would be devastated and civilian casualties would be unacceptable. If we are looking at a conflict with Malaysia then offence will be the best form of defence, take the battle to Jahor and strike hard towards KL using the existing MSR's.
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Old December 31st, 2008   #3
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In my view, there is no 'best' strategy to defend Singapore, there are just too many factors and variables that need to be taken into account. There are a whole host of different strategies and tactics which can be employed to defend Singapore, which are very much dependent on the circumstances behind the conflict.

One thing which does not change for Singapore is the restriction on available land. Being a compact city-state, Singapore has no strategic depth and therefore cannot fight a fullscale engagement on Singaporean territory without suffering significant damage to infrastructure.

Therefore I have some questions about the attack to be defended against.
1. What is the make/Orbat of the attacking force (i.e. air, naval, ground...)
2. What are the circumstances? Is this the opening of a campaign? Part of a larger regional or world conflict?

3. How well is the attacking nation able to maintain the force for a campaign of a month, 3 months, a year, etc.

I specifically did not get into which nations would be attacking, as IMO that is of less importance than the question of what sort of equipment the attacking force would need. Also, by mentioning specific countries, some members could get distracted from a dispassionate discussion on technical capabilities.

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Old January 1st, 2009   #4
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I have to agree with your second asessment.. Invading Singapore will only make sense if there's a scenario on using Singapore for controlling the rest of SEA...
Thus no matter the bravado between Singapore with Malaysia or Indonesia...those two countries need Singapore as much Singapore need those two neigbours...

In Sense in my opinion any Scenario in Invading Singapore...will Involve the two neighbours as conjacent targets..as much the area of strategic defense will be much more than just one Singapore Island.
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Old January 1st, 2009   #5
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To invade it without local bases to support it, one would need a very formidable Navy. We can number off potential invaders on the fingers of one hand.
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Old January 1st, 2009   #6
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Therefore I have some questions about the attack to be defended against.
1. What is the make/Orbat of the attacking force (i.e. air, naval, ground...)
2. What are the circumstances? Is this the opening of a campaign? Part of a larger regional or world conflict?
1. Let says attack done thru east part of island, thru sea with at least on par with Singaporean Navy orbat but better compat support ship such as Oiler, supply and replenish ship.
2. Just put as world conflict between western oriented nation (led by NATO) against anti-western nation.


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3. How well is the attacking nation able to maintain the force for a campaign of a month, 3 months, a year, etc.
3. Just put the campaign taken about a month, which can be justified as a time before major Singaporean alied reinforcement arrived.

4. The attack only involving Singapore alone, with Malaysian & Indonesian in neutural stand.
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Old January 1st, 2009   #7
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Originally Posted by Twister View Post
1. Let says attack done thru east part of island, thru sea with at least on par with Singaporean Navy orbat but better compat support ship such as Oiler, supply and replenish ship.
2. Just put as world conflict between western oriented nation (led by NATO) against anti-western nation.

3. Just put the campaign taken about a month, which can be justified as a time before major Singaporean alied reinforcement arrived.

4. The attack only involving Singapore alone, with Malaysian & Indonesian in neutural stand.
Here are my thoughts with regards to the additional information, some of which was unclear or did not address what I was trying to find out. I will seek to clarify areas that need additional information and imput.

1. It seems as if the attacking force is going to be largely a sea/naval force. As such, once Singapore knew it was a/the target, it would come under attack from the Singaporean (sp?) Armed Forces. Given the strength available in the Air Force, even dispersed as it usually is around the world, and in the Navy, in order for an attack to be successful IMO the attacking naval force needs to be significantly more powerful. Something on the order of a USN CBG escorting a MAU. The only way around this large a force requirement IMV would be to somehow significantly reduce or eliminate the defenders, prior to their becoming aware of an impending attack.

2. Secondly, what I was trying to find out was what else was going on in the world... As a rule, the UN and member nations would not stand idly by as a major power launched an attack upon Singapore. There would be an international reaction partially just for reasons of sovereignty, economics, and partially due to Singapore having a strategic location. Also, Singapore is a member of the FPDA and as such, the UK, Australia and NZ could become involved if someone launched an attack upon Singapore. Therefore, unless the campaign against Singapore was one event in a larger conflict, a number of different powers could become involved against whoever the attacker was. With each additional power involved, the attacker faces increasing issues and difficulties in carrying out a successful attack.

3. The reason behind asking about the duration of the campaign is that can dictate both the intensity and level of forces required for the force. The faster the event needs to happen, the more overwhelming the attacking force needs to be...

At present, outside of a very detailed & successful intel & SOF op to learn of and reduce Singapore's defences prior to launching a conventional attack, there are few nations with sufficient power to successfully invade Singapore now. OTOH if the objective is just to damage infrastructure, etc then that is quite a bit easier.

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Old January 1st, 2009   #8
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The question, which comes to my mind is why would you want to invade Singapore in the first place, is the risk worth the reward? No natural resources, tiny landmass with little opportunity for expansion. If a shooting war was inevitable between Singapore and a third party then it would make more sense to me to hit the economy and force the Singaporeans to mediate.

The economy is heavily dependent upon its port and attracting foreign investment (bio and high-tech). I would attempt to cause havoc by mining the approaches to the harbour using submarines, the mere threat alone would cause shipping companies to divert their cargo to nearby Malaysia for off-loading. After all both Malaysia and Singapore are both ISPS certified and openly compete for trade with the US / Europe as regional shipping hubs. I would also look at launching missile strikes against industrial areas and infrastructure to drive out foreign companies and investment. Even unsophisticated missiles cause problems, just look at the problem the Israeli's have with low-tech systems being fired into populated areas from neighbouring Gaza. This latter argument makes the assumption that the antagonist has access to Johor, which is unlikely unless Malaysia is the aggressor.

Another factor is since the US closed down it's bases in the Philippines it's moved a considerable number of Naval assets to Singapore, so a wide ranging attack would eventually incur the wrath of the US, particularly if its own civilians started suffering due to collateral damage.

So the best strategy for defending Singapore is to do what they are doing right now, keep tight with US, maintain a strong offensive strike capability, maintain a good domestic / foreign intelligence service and finally maintain strong diplomatic relationships with the regional powers (India and China) and close neighbours (Indonesia and Malaysia).
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Old January 2nd, 2009   #9
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I think Ricksavage is right on spot.

A few questions, how far (km) is sumatera to Singapore? and secondly if Singapore is attacked, wouldnt that mean that Malaysia is forced to help Singapore ( not like they need any help) since they are both members of FPDA?

And also since ASEAN is a NAM territory, how can Singapore allow US to station its asset in Singapore? And what US assets are we talking about?
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Old January 2nd, 2009   #10
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USN logistic presence

nevidimka, riksavage, Todjaeger, Feanor & Ananda good to see you around in DT.

Under US-Singapore MOU signed in Tokyo on 13 November 1990 (the terms of which remain undisclosed), specifically allows the USN to have a 'logistic presence' in Singapore. About 100 US Sailors (officer and enlisted) and 50 USN civilians work in seven activities in Singapore and these commands provide important support for the USN's 7th Fleet.

If you look at the MFA, DSTA and Mindef announcements from Singapore, the Changi Naval Base (CNB) in Singapore was designed with the USN's detailed technical requirements in mind. Specifically, it allows US carriers, nuclear submarines and other US naval assets to dock there.

The level of access and security provided to the US is in-line with access rights granted to FPDA powers like the UK, Australia and NZ. The CNB is technically not a US base.

BTW, despite being a Singaporean, I will not be able to offer an opinion in a discussion on the best strategy to defending Singapore Island. My apologies in advance.
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Old January 3rd, 2009   #11
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Originally Posted by Twister View Post
1. Let says attack done thru east part of island, thru sea with at least on par with Singaporean Navy orbat but better combat support ship such as Oiler, supply and replenish ship.

2. Just put as world conflict between western oriented nation (led by NATO) against anti-western nation.

3. Just put the campaign taken about a month, which can be justified as a time before major Singaporean alied reinforcement arrived.

4. The attack only involving Singapore alone, with Malaysian & Indonesian in neutral stand.
As Todjaeger suggested, we can discuss the capabilities of the naval force needed to invade Singapore Island. To begin this discussion, perhaps we should list out the forces in Singapore, so as to establish the type and capabilities of the navy invasion force.

From this list of the relevant capabilities of the RSAF and the RSN (to repel a naval invasion force) alone, it would become clear why Feanor said you can count the navies who can take on Singapore with one hand. This list below is not accurate and is compiled mainly from Wikipedia and various other sources. However, it would be sufficient to provide us with a basis to discuss.


1. RSAF's Naval Strike Capabilities

(i) Harpoon Capable Combat Aircraft
- 62 F-16C/Ds (with 24 F-15SGs on order)

(ii) Force Multipliers
-4 E-2C Hawkeye AWACs (with 4 G550 on order)
-4 KC-135R Tankers
-5 Fokker 50 MPA (Harpoon armed)
-1 converted C-130 for SIGINT

(iii) Attack Helicopters
- 20 AH-64D Apache Longbows

(iv) Air force Munitions
- AIM-9J/P/P-3/M/S Sidewinder
- AIM-7M Sparrow
- AIM-7P-5 Mk 58 Sparrow
- AGM-65G/A?/D? Maverick
- AGM-114K-3 Hellfire
- Hydra 70 rockets
- Mk-82/84 bombs incl with BSU-49/B retarding fins

(v) Integrated Air Defence Systems
- I-Hawk
- Rapier
- Igla
- Mistral
- Oerlikon Gun
- RBS-70

(vi) 4 Main Air Bases with 11 runways with hardened facilities
- Changi Air Base
- Paya Lebar Air Base
- Sembawang Air Base
- Tengah Air Base


2. RSN's Capabilities

(i) First Flotilla (RSN's strike arm)
-6 Formidable Class Frigates (organic seahawks on order)
-6 Victory Class Corvettes
-12 Fearless Class Patrol Vessels
-4 Sjoormen Submarines (also known as the Challenger class)
-2 Vastergotland Submarines, which are AIP equipped submarines (on order)

(ii) Naval Munitions
- Harpoon AGM-84D
- Black Shark Torpedoes, A244s Torpedoes, Type 617 Torpedoes, Type 43 Torpedoes
- Barak I
- Aster 15/30
- Mistral

(iii) 2 Main Naval Bases
- Changi Naval Base
- Tuas Naval Base


3. Singapore Army's Capabilities

3 Combined Arms Divisions, a rapid deployment Guards division, plus 1PDF and 2PDF (each PDF is a division sized force for Singapore Island Defence)

(i) Each of Singapore's 3 combined arms divisions is offensively orientated, with their own organic armour, artillery and mobile air defence elements. This includes Leopard 2A4 MBTs, AMX-13SM1 light tanks and amoured infantry (carried in either Bionix IIs or M113 Ultras). The Guards Division is heli-mobile.

(ii) These armoured elements are supported by the Super Rapid 120MM Mortar mounted on a Bronco, the 155mm/39 calibre Primus SPH, artillery hunting radar, Apache helicopters and UAVs. These support elements have the ability to direct precision fire (from artillery and the air force) and also the ability to gather intelligence (via UAVs and other ground based intelligence sensors) to enable integrated strike operations by both aircraft and artillery.
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Main Combat weapons of the Singapore army:

- Leopard 2A4 (~132) (newly acquired)
- AMX-13SM1 Light Tanks (~350)
- AMX-10PAC90 and other variants (~44)
- M113-A2 ULTRA (Upgraded with 25mm Bushmaster or 40/50 OWS) (~700)
- M-728 CET (Combat Engineers' Tractors) (unknown number)
- M-60AVLB, Bionix AVLB (unknown number)
- Bionix II Versions (unknown number) (upgraded)
- Bronco ATTC Armoured Carrier (~600)
- HIMARS MLRS system (on order)
- FH-2000 155mm/52-calibre Howitzer (~54)
- Pegasus 155mm/39-calibre heli-portable Howitzer (unknown number)
- Primus 155mm/39-calibre Automated Self Propelled Howitzer (~54)
- 120mm Super-Rapid Mortar (unknown number)
- ARTHUR, AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder radars (unknown number)

- CIS-50 Heavy Machine Gun
- FN GPMG 7.62mm Machine Gun
- Ultimax 5.56mm Machine Gun
- M-203 40mm Grenade Launcher
- SAR-21 5.56mm Rifle
- CIS (Chartered Industries of Singapore) 40mm Automatic GL
- SPIKE ATGM
- MATADOR LAW
- 84mm Recoiless Guns

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."


5. So guys, how do you want to proceed from here?

Last edited by sunshin3; January 3rd, 2009 at 02:22 PM.
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Old January 3rd, 2009   #12
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Just an additional info:
While Sumatra is too far away even for modern long range artillery to reach Singapore, there are many smaller, Indonesian islands between Sumatra and the peninsula which in fact are close enough. So if an aggressor would be able to get his artillery assets there this might be another theatre of combat.
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Old January 4th, 2009   #13
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Just an additional info:
While Sumatra is too far away even for modern long range artillery to reach Singapore, there are many smaller, Indonesian islands between Sumatra and the peninsula which in fact are close enough. So if an aggressor would be able to get his artillery assets there this might be another theatre of combat.
Is Sumatera too far for an Iskander?
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Old January 4th, 2009   #14
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No, Sumatra is about 100 Km from Singapore at it's closest point. Tactical SSM can of course cover that distance, but I was talking more about "normal" artillery like SPH, howitzers and MLRS. Yes I know that there are experimental rounds that extend the range of even such systems to more than 100 Km, but only few of them are in service and most in-service systems not even scratch the 100 Km mark today. That's why, in my eyes, to bring a notable amount of indirect firepower to hit Singapore, an invader should chose one of the islands like Batam, which are less than 40 Km from Singapore, and I suppose much easier to conquer than Southern Malaysia (if the invader is neither Indonesia nor Malaysia).

Last edited by DavidDCM; January 4th, 2009 at 08:02 AM.
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Old January 5th, 2009   #15
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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.
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