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The best strategy to defending Singapore Island

Discussion in 'Strategy & Tactics' started by Twister, Dec 31, 2008.

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  1. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Post 3 of 4: Deterrence Explained
    6. Deterrence “is the use of a threat (explicit or not) by one party in an attempt to convince another party not to upset status quo” (Quackenbush, 2010: 60). More specifically, deterrence is the persuasion of an aggressor that the cost and/or risk of a given course of action he might take outweighs its benefits (George & Smoke, 1974: 11). Consequently, deterrence is a mutual relationship that involves communication and signaling and assumes that states in competition or conflict make decisions in accordance with rational cost-benefit calculations that can be manipulated (Mazarr & Goodby, 2011). Just because an aggressor acquires the capability to fire cruise or ballistic missiles does not mean the SAF is deterred — because Singapore practices Total Defence. Total Defence encompasses six key pillars – military, civil, economic, social, psychological and digital defence – and focuses on the need for each Singaporean or Singapore volunteer (i.e. locals without NS obligations or foreign nationals volunteering to serve an abbreviated version of NS) play his or her part to keep the country strong. Total Defence Day is marked annually on February 15 to commemorate the anniversary of the surrender of the British to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.

    7. On the flip side, Singapore aims to deter an aggressor using two main methods: denying benefits or imposing costs.

    One, deterrence by denial involves convincing the aggressor that it will not reach its objective— which was successful from 1967 to 1990.

    Two, deterrence by imposing costs and that the cost of a counter-attack significant — which has been successful since 1991 (see page 9 prior Post 3 of 5: Defusing tensions while standing our ground and working with partners). Further, it was reported that Mahathir said Singapore “may be small”, but it was more powerful than Malaysia. He said that he did not see war as “a means to settle conflicts”. He said that he’d rather sit down to negotiate, even though there may be no result, than go to war. In this specific case, Malaysia made no progress, gave up on its intrusive approach and sought rapprochement at a May 2019 Leader’s Retreat.


    Only if deterrence and diplomacy, fail, does the SAF have to secure a swift and decisive victory. And there is no doubt that the Singapore military can do what it says, and it is a factor in an aggressor’s calculations.

    8. Edit: Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament on 7 Oct 2019 to a supplementary question by MP de Souza, who had asked if Singapore has the assets to counter attacks by military-grade unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Dr Ng said that most militaries, including the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), are "more confident" when it comes to dealing with "sophisticated" drones. "(For) the Saudi attack, the alleged components that were used or platforms (that) were used, we are quite confident that we would have detected it, as well as been able to neutralise it."
    9. Not sure why you want to talk like a fanboy and call us ''partners in crime'' of the USA — given Singapore’s advanced military capabilities, ‘non-aligned’ posture and strong defence relations with numerous parties that do not see eye to eye. With regard to 4 of the P5 UNSC members, Singapore has strong relations with:

    • the Americans (the 1990 MOU will be renewed and extended in Sep 2019);
    • the English (read up on the Sep 2018 Defence Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding and on the FPDA and it’s role);
    • the French (2019 is the 20th anniversary of the Singapore’s advanced jet training in Cazaux, France); and
    • the Chinese (with Singapore also upgrading of its defence ties with China in Oct 2019).

    10. No you do not. You misunderstand Singapore’s military options for escalation in a conventional war scenario — a ballistic missile attack on Singapore gives us Casus belli — right to war. Any aggressor state’s military options must take into consideration the likelihood of retaliation. Any attack on Singapore, if it successfully occurs, only invites a response from the SAF, until Singapore is satisfied. With a defence budget of S$15.5 billion for FY2019 (up from S$14.8 billion for FY2018), Singapore is the most densely defended country in Southeast Asia. See also: Spotter’s Guide: NDP 2019 Mobile Column and A Perspective on Singapore - Proliferated Drones as a backgrounder on options and capability.

    11. How Singapore fights an aggressor is going to be dictated by:

    • Our perceived threat matrix.
    • The type of force structure Singapore has built to address the said threat matrix (details provided in prior posts).
    • Where the fight may occur and its terrain or geographic features.
    • What Singapore is trying to accomplish (mission/goal).
    • Other concerns (foreign policy, etc.)
    Which means, the SAF is not preparing to fight a hostile nuclear power or Indonesia, alone. IMO, hostilities between Indonesia and Singapore is unlikely, as the TNI and the SAF train together and have a record of working together. From 17 to 26 Sep 2019, the two neighbours successfully conducted the 31st edition of Exercise Safkar Indopura, that involved 470 personnel, comprising troops from Headquarters 3rd SIB and 5th Battalion, SIR from the Singapore Army, as well as troops from the 16th Mechanised Infantry Brigade and the 512th, 516th and 521st Mechanised Infantry Battalions from the TNI-AD.

    Other examples include the SAF’s UAV command’s deployment of the Scout RPV to provide intelligence to the TNI to resolve the Mapenduma hostage crisis in 1996. Further, Singapore provides a submarine rescue service for the Indonesian Navy. It also provides the Indonesian Navy with the Surpic II information sharing portal, a sea surveillance system, set up since 2005, to provide maritime awareness of the Singapore Strait. Under a Defence Cooperation Agreement, Singapore provides training assistance to the TNI, including G-Tolerance trainer and Super Puma simulator trainer, and professional courses like the Combined Fighter Weapons Instructor Course. To date, hundreds of TNI-AU pilots have undergone simulator training in Singapore, and 10 TNI-AU instructors have graduated from the Combined Fighter Weapons Instructor Course. Marking five decades of bilateral defence relations, the RSAF and TNI-AU executed a combined 20 F-16 flypast on 7 Sep 2017, over Singapore.

    12. Besides, any surprise attack on Singapore is an attack on the US logistics presence and as ngatimozart noted this hurts the interests of our FPDA partners, like Australia, UK and NZ — which ensures that Singapore will have external support for what we need to do to remove the threat. Our Changi naval base also currently hosts International Liaison Officers from 18 countries — an attack on Singapore is an attack on officers from 18 countries. For geo-political details, read the thread on ‘South China Sea thoughts?’, as a backgrounder.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  2. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Post 4 of 4: Importance of geography and context
    13. This is a real concern and there is some investment in this area.
    14. For giggles, it is also possible to argue that by 2050, Indonesia’s military capability will be close to par, when compared with that of Pakistan (who is so impoverished with a 2018 GDP of USD278 billion), given Indonesia's larger USD 1.1 trillion dollar economy in 2018.
    15. This aspect of your discussion, ignoring geography, can’t be serious. You can’t teleport countries or use a dimensional ‘gate’ to move armies, like that of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, South Korea or Japan, to invade Singapore. In addition, why would you list such a dubious choice and be so silly as to consider Iran as militarily advanced (when compared to Indonesia)? Let me list the reasons why I would not use Iran as an example:

    • One, Iran does not have a modern air force (when compared to TNI AU’s 4 squadrons of modern fighters). Iran’s out dated air force is very much inferior in capability when compared with Singapore’s tertiary air force — that regularly takes part in DACT exercises like ‘Red Flag’. Other than Iran’s HESA Saeqeh (F-5 clone), Mig 29s and Su-24s, the vast majority of Iranian fighter aircraft are of late 70s vintage (i.e. obsolete).
    • Two, after eight years of fighting in the Iran-Iraq war, neither side could really claim victory. Both Iran and Iraq suffered devastating loses of men, materiel, and financial resources in the 1980s. You can even speculate or argue that officer cadre in the TNI are much more tactically competent than Iran’s army officers due to access to international connections that is not available to Iran — with the Americans, Australians and Singaporeans helping the TNI modernise it’s equipment and TTPs, in wide ranging defence cooperation. Not sure why you would list Iran, as a militarily advanced country, given their army’s prior less than competent human wave tactics (and 3rd rate equipment) during the Iran-Iraq war (Sep 1980 to Aug 1988).
    • Three, Iran has compensated for its lack of a modern air force by developing long range strike capabilities. However, the country lacks deployable intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The boosters and other technologies Iran is building for its space launch vehicles, particularly the Simorgh, are similar to those needed for ICBMs, meaning they could be converted to that purpose if desired. In fact, the space launch vehicles were built as an extension of Iran’s ballistic missile program.
    • Four, as an objective observer, Indonesia with its elected government is a G-20 member. It is a richer, larger country, that has a more capable air force, when it is compared to Iran. Indonesia co-founded and leads 9 other ASEAN countries, to create an open and inclusive security architecture — ADMM Plus and the ASEAN Regional Forum are examples of its diplomatic power. Who does Iran lead, as an isolated middle power? Iran is caught between a rock and a hard place (that is not even qualified to be a G-2o member). In time I hope that you will become capable of critical thinking and stop blindly buying into Iranian propaganda.

    16. It is a pity that the basis to support your view is using anime logic (like The Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There). The very capable JSDF do not have the forward air bases, naval logistics (to move more than a brigade) or the will to invade Singapore. More importantly, read more about Article 9 of their constitution. If you like anime, here’s a video on the Singapore Army with an anime soundtrack, as I am a big fan of the export of Japanese culture.

    17. While the military forces of Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan are substantial, they lack the forward air bases, don’t have the naval logistics and lack the will to project power from their home bases to Singapore in the face of determined resistance by a 5 fighter squadron tertiary air force and an advanced navy. While South Korea may have the naval logistics capability to move 2 or more divisions, they lack air bases in South East Asia (to forward deploy 10 to 14 fighter squadrons as a tertiary air force) and have much bigger worries at home (aka North Korea and their immediate NE Asian neighbours).



    18. Agreed. Artillery threats, be they shells, mortars and rockets against Singapore main island has been around before Singapore gained her independence and during WWII, the crown colony was shelled by the Japanese Imperial Army. It is not something new and the SAF’s force structure is designed for forward defence to manage this threat, as the RSAF has the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon integrated with its F-15SGs and F-16Vs. It is very much a key part of SAF`s contingency plans — see my prior ‘Post 1 of 2: Why Ahmad’s 2 prior posts are not logical’. Rocket artillery systems are shoot and scoot. The Malaysians have paired their Astros II with their Arthur counter artillery radar as a system to kill any enemy artillery system within range of any of their Astros II battery. Their system will start the kill cycle within 20 mins of detection, so the Malaysian artillery are quick in their response time. The ASTROS II ARS will fire the SS-60 300mm rocket, which has a minimum range of 20km and a maximum range of 60km, and the SS-80 300mm rocket, which has a range of 20-80km.

    19. SSJArcher Krich does not realise that 122mm, 239mm and 300mm rocket attacks do not work to induce surrender; due to the substantial precision attack (up to 72 km) and counter battery capabilities of the Singapore Army, explained in prior posts. Singapore uses a combination of PRIMUS (155 mm/39 calibre — 30km range), HIMARS (227mm M270 rockets — 72km range), the SAFARI Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) and UAVs to support the army division — which is by design, long ranged with a slightly faster response time as part of the divisional artillery brigade. IMO, he is unable to tell the difference in the effect and range of rockets (below 300mm) versus larger ballistic missiles (i.e. capable of long range attack that Singapore’s Aster and other missiles has some ability to counter). Missile shields can leak, which is why the concept of diplomacy and deterrence is so important.

    20. As part of defence diplomacy, Singapore hosts the annual Shangri-La dialogue — as a small country capable of supporting peace efforts and advocating its own interests, effectively, at the international stage (see paragraph 5 (ii) earlier) at the defence minister, chief of defence and head of services level. Further, Singapore’s defence minister is often an invited speaker at security forums like the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, Reagan National Defense Forum, or Munich Security Conference. To promote broader military to military institutional ties, Singapore has multiple agreements on the conduct of exchanges among military academies and think-tanks. To that end, Singapore’s Officer Cadet School is also organising the SAFTI International Cadets' Conference (SICC) from 11 to 16 December 2019 at the SAFTI Military Institute. The SICC brings together 75 officer cadets and instructors from 18 countries — The participating countries are Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, the UK, the US, and Vietnam.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
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  3. Preceptor

    Preceptor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    A reminder to all (for some this is gentle, for others no so much) keep post content On Topic for the thread a member is posting in. SSJArcher Kirch has been banned for a minimum of six months, for making a series of 11 posts today in this thread that had large segments of content which had no relevance to Singapore. Instead the Off Topic content was most often about claimed defence capabilities of another nation which is not even in the same part of the world as Singapore. Given the large volume of Off Topic material which would have to be edited out, the entire string of posts has instead removed for now while options are being discussed.
    -Preceptor

    EDIT: Following a review of the removed posts and discussion between Moderators, the posts have been purged and SSJArcher Kirch has now been Permanently Banned.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
  4. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Post 1 of 2: Ignorance corrected
    A few factual errors or lack of logic in your 11 deleted posts, one of which is quoted above. IMO you should not just disagree, for no relevant reason. It’s not worth the time to reply to all your misguided points but I can quickly reply to a select few below:

    1. Dr Ng was commissioned as an army medical officer in his younger days and it is traditional that the Minster of Defence serves in that role as a civilian. I don’t see your point. Why would you to bring up Chan Chun Sing (the former Chief of Army, who retired as a Major General)?

    • There are numerous generals and rear admirals who have served in the cabinet, including Prime Minister Lee. Singapore’s elected political leaders are typically rotated to other positions/ministries to develop a broad view, after retiring from the SAF to enter politics (as a civilian).
    • Chan Chun Sing, who has a 1st class degree in economics from Cambridge, is also trilingual making him effective in engaging with leaders in Indonesia, China, UK and the US. I note that Chan Chun Sing excelled as a student at the US Army Command and General Staff College in 1998, and was the first foreign student to be conferred the "Distinguished Master Strategist Award".
    • IMO, he is being groomed to be the next Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security. If Chan Chun Sing performs in his current role, he will eventually replace Teo Chee Hean (who retired as Rear Admiral from the Navy), as part of leadership renewal.
    Again, I don’t see your point.

    2. The general trend is about 45 deaths in Singapore from military training each 10 year period (or about 4.5 a year). There are some years where the rate is zero. The risk is managed (i.e. lower than the risk of being struck by lightning on a golf course in Singapore), given that Singapore trains locally and abroad in 10 different countries. Below is a video of Singapore troops conducting live-fire during urban warfare training.

    • Minimising this rate through better safety measures, as the Defence Minister explained in parliament is ‘care for men’? The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war mindset. "Not only does [Singapore] have high-end equipment, they know how to operate it in a very high level of capability. It's integrated, as opposed to all the other countries in Southeast Asia," said Brian Harding, the deputy director the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Southeast Asia Program. "They focus on making sure their systems work together, and that they have interoperability between the services. They are a highly professional military," Harding said.
    • Are you trying to say that the more people die (in human wave attacks, like Iran), the better an army is? In contrast to Iran, since independence, Singapore has strived to invest in her most valuable resource—the people—and this strategy will remain apposite for the nation. After all, the technological capabilities that the SAF will induct and processes used can only be as good as the soldiers who will be operating them.
    Therefore, I see no correlation between training deaths (or deliberately sending men to their deaths in human wave attacks by Iran) and a country’s ability to retain a military capability.
    3. What you post is intentionally misleading. Let me share some minor corrections on capability in relation to your TNI and SAF comparisons:

    • For clarity, I note that Singapore has AESA equipped fighters and navy ships; and its longer ranged missiles are the Aster and harpoon missiles, which are European and American made. They are not Israeli made.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
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  5. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Post 2 of 2: Shooting down retired aces and determining the correct level of self sufficiency
    4. How are old Iranian aces from history going to help an obsolete Iranian Air Force, today? Iranian loss ratios may be horrendous against any capable tertiary air force — this underscores the value of electronic warfare, the benefits of using early warning aircraft (like the G550 AEW), access to modern BVR missiles (i.e. the ability of Singapore to buy weapons globally from the Americans, the Europeans, or Israelis, instead of being forced to invent our own) and careful air warfare planning to Suppress Enemy Air Defences by attack or destruction of SAM sites (SEAD mission).

    In addition, the SEAD mission is complex discipline that capable air forces need to master, if they want to be relevant to land or naval battles. Much of the success of recent SEAD operations is due to the ability (and willingness) of modern tertiary air forces to address IADS in a somewhat flexible and holistic manner. Further, how is the competence or incompetence of the Iranian Air Force or Iranian Army relevant to the defence of Singapore? Off topic much.

    5. Choosing our level of self sufficiency is great — as MINDEF can focus on developing only key capabilities in a strategic manner. For infantry fighting vehicles (eg. Terrex, Hunter, Bionix, Trailblazer, and Bronco) and 155mm artillery, Singapore is entirely self sufficient and Singapore even owns some foreign companies that make some of these parts.

    • Singapore is moving towards the more profitable model of international naval arms supply by developing the capability to build ships locally but in collaboration with foreign suppliers for access to key technology. Collaboration ensures that Al-Ofouq class and Independence class vessels built by ST Marine are able to make use the latest technological innovations. IMO not having to make/invent our AESA equipped fighter aircraft (F-16Vs, F-15SGs and F-35s on order), helicopters (Chinooks, Apaches, Seahawk’s and H225Ms on order), or submarines (Type 218SGs on order), saves money.
    • The SAF has taken a long- term view about its operational capabilities. In fact, it has gained the reputation as a ‘reference buyer’ for many other foreign militaries in this regard. For instance, the acquisition of the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) F-15SG took seven years of careful evaluation, going through many rounds of deliberation. Prudence is essential to ensure that the SAF optimises its limited resources. This approach has allowed steady innovation, with a keen eye on the strategic environment and operational requirements. Buying from established suppliers and integrating them as solutions ensures that Singapore does not have to reinvent the wheel and is able to source equipment globally, that best suits the SAF’s concept of operations.
    Again, I see no simple correlation on total self-sufficiency and effective combat capability.

    6. Is this your poor attempt at making your point? Singapore before separation from Malaya (with the 1st and 2nd Singapore Infantry Regiments who were fighting outside of Singapore) during the Konfrontasi, suffered from 37 bombs that went off in Singapore. A significant number of people being subject to these Indonesian bomb attacks were either new immigrants or foreigners at that time — there was fear and anger but no mass exodus from Singapore. IMO, there will be concern over attacks (and some foreigners will go home, as expected) but there are also bomb shelters in numerous locations, and a proper civil defence warning system that is tested and can be heard in every housing estate. A further example is Saudi Arabia, who is under missile and drone attacks (over 250 attacks) recently, and there is no exodus of their foreign contractors. It is not so easy to attack Singapore, as the country is protected by a capable anti-missile shield that includes Aster missiles (see video below on Aster firings by the navy). As usual making your claims without context, supporting logic or reasoning.


    7. But you are the one continuing to make silly ahistorical arguments. Again you give an example that disprove your point. For example, due to terrain and it’s tactics, Vietnam successfully fought France and the US to unify the North and South. Between 13 March and 7 May 1954, General Võ Nguyên Giáp inflicted a serious defeat for the French at Dien Bien Phu and this was a decisive battle of the 1st Indochina war. While the Americans (and their numerous allies who fought there) may have won many battles during the 2nd Indochina war in South Vietnam, they also lost the war. Don’t underestimate Vietnamese military capability — as they share a land border with China.

    8. What is the basis for your opinion on armies in ASEAN? For that matter, have you trained with troops in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand? There are regular bilateral and multilateral military training exercises in each ASEAN country and under ADMM Plus, which gives external observers and analysts some confidence in military cooperation and capability, for a range of contingencies, to address security concerns in the region. Below is a video of Indonesian (521 motorised infantry battalion) and Singaporean (5 SIR) motorised infantry battalions training together. In every post, you are confident but confidently wrong, especially about ASEAN military capabilities — motorisation of troops supported by Leopard 2s and self propelled artillery is a huge doctrinal advance for the TNI and likewise the SAF is evolving from simple motorisation to protected mobility tactics, with new equipment and tactics.


    9. Most Europeans are not planning to fight Iran. Even if the Australians and others join the American led coalition (aka a coalition of the unwilling comprising of the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Kingdom and Australia), it is an effort to protect vessels in the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the narrow Strait of Hormuz. These six countries are joining to send naval task groups to police waters near the Persian Gulf to address Iran’s export of terror and limit its range of actions. There is no plan to invade Iran because:

    (i) it is not an existential threat or a strategic competitor to the US; and

    (ii) the lessons learnt from the 2003 invasion of Iraq makes America more circumscribe in its use of power. While US retain capability to invade Iran, they lack the desire to spend significant sums of money or waste lives on another messy occupation, with no end in sight.

    It is nonsensical to talk about Iranian deterrence, when Iran is the aggressor with its attacks against commercial shipping — Iran is trying to change the status quo. I suspect you cannot even say that Iran’s existing capabilities serve as deterrence (to the entire list of countries, as a coalition, as mentioned by you). In particular, Arab countries will not want to be a coalition with Israel (but are willing to look the other way on their air strikes in Syria). It looks like you do not even understand Iran’s actual circumstance or regional security dynamics.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
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  6. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Highlights of the interview with Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN):

    Singapore – A Maritime Nation

    Singapore is a maritime nation. We are reliant on the sea for our survival and prosperity. Without the sea, our way of life will be disrupted. The sea plays a part in our day-to-day life, every day – from the strength of our economy to the food we consume.
    • The maritime industry contributes about 7% to Singapore's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employs more than 170,000 personnel, and there are more than 5,000 maritime establishments in Singapore. Worldwide, Singapore also has the highest trade to GDP ratios, at more than 300%. Singapore is also one of the world's busiest trans-shipment hubs, with an average of 140,000 vessels calling into Singapore annually.
    • The sea is the most cost-effective means to move large quantities of goods and raw materials around the world. The cargo capacity of a container ship is equivalent to the capacity of 800 Boeing 747 planes. Today, more than 90% of the world's trade is transported via the sea.
    • Singapore imports over 90% of the food consumed in the country. In 2018, Singapore imported about 5.6 million tonnes of food from more than 180 countries worldwide. The top three countries that Singapore imported food from via sea-freight were Australia, Thailand and China. 99% of rice imports and 84% of fish imports were via sea-freight.
    The Sea – A Global Commons

    One of the elements for global trade to thrive is free and open access to the sea. However, consensus on a set of rules that everyone abides by is essential to keep the seas open. Mare Liberum, or "freedom of the seas" is underpinned by the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Continued stability and prosperity depends on working with like-minded nations to preserve this shared space through agreed rules such as UNCLOS. Without rules and norms, shared spaces such as the maritime space will break down.

    RSN – Defending Our Every Day

    The RSN works with national agencies and international partners to ensure that all users can continue to access the sea unimpeded. At home, the eight Independence Class vessels deter and neutralise security threats, including maritime terrorism, together with other national agencies as part of the whole-of-government National Maritime Security System that is able to give Singapore better maritime domain awareness with the introduction of the 5 Maritime Patrol Aircraft in 1993. It was a breakaway from the conventional mindset of using only military-qualified platforms for military applications. The project team, assessed the feasibility of the Fokker 50 airframe to accept structural modification to install the mission systems and carry weapons. This involved the introduction of some major structural frames into the fuselage to carry the concentrated loads. A pair of “stub wings” (a short cambered wing protrusion from the fuselage) was introduced to carry the Harpoon anti-ship missile. Hard points were also introduced into the wing to carry search-and-rescue pods. Further assessments were also made to ensure structural strength adequacy for increased fuel capacity and consequently increased maximum-take-off Weight (MTOW) for longer endurance flights. As a result of increasing the MTOW, an assessment of the engine performance was required to determine the impact on take-off distance and climb gradient to ensure safety.

    For RSN’s maritime surveillance mission from the air, the main sensor of the Fokker-50 MPA was the radar. In order to have a 360-degree radar coverage, the best place to install the radar was in the belly of the aircraft. Ground clearance was a challenge. The radar had to be embedded into the airframe as far as possible. Part of the radar had to penetrate into the pressurised cabin of the fuselage. This required design reinforcements in a sensitive part of the fuselage. A “pressure bucket” was introduced to seal off the penetration. Fatigue assessments had to be carried out to ensure adequacy of the reinforcements to withstand the ground-air-ground pressurisation cycles during operation. Even then, the ground clearance was not enough. The radar antenna needed to be reshaped to reduce its profile so that it would not strike the ground in the event of a heavy landing with burst tyres.

    RSN also contributes to regional and international maritime security efforts through initiatives such as the Malacca Straits Patrol and the Information Fusion Centre, and exercises such as the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise, the ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise and Western Pacific Naval Symposium Multilateral Sea Exercise. In addition, the RSN commits to international security efforts and has deployed its Endurance Class and Formidable Class vessel to distant waters to keep sea lines of communication open, such as through multinational counter-piracy operations under Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 in the Gulf of Aden. It is only when sea lanes remain open across the world that Singapore can continue to thrive as a maritime nation.

     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
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  7. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Very informative, thank you for sharing OPSSG.

    One thing I personally find very surprising is the work of the Singapore defense industry. They have impressive domestic R&D capability especially when you consider how small Singapore is demographically and economically. From small arms to armored vehicles and artillery, it's quite surprising. It shows a persistent political will and commitment of resources, especially in the post-Cold War era when many other nations consistently cut their defense spending.
     
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  8. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for your kind words. Let me share the trade-offs and decisions made by the defence eco-system:

    1. The roots of this R&D and defence industrial base efforts goes back to 1972, when Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Minister for Defence, handpicked three newly graduated engineers to study Electronic Warfare (EW), for a naval platform. The group of 3 called themselves the Electronics Test Centre (ETC) and started the path towards developing defence technologies for Singapore. Beyond cultivating close defence ties with foreign suppliers and giving thanks to Oman, Thailand, UAE and UK for buying Singapore made weapons and ships, the eco-system is also grateful to external institutions like:

    (i) the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California, which was instrumental in training our personnel to help Singapore integrate the E-2Cs into the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s command and control information systems, whose origins can be traced to the mid-1980s. Further, 12 engineers from DSO were attached to the then Grumman Corporation to participate in the design, development, coding and testing of the E-2C’s software — this was a building block for the C2 software development in MINDEF. This significant investment would later pay off in the E-2C upgrade and Frigate C2 development for the RSN and helped kick start DSTA’s system of systems engineering approach; and

    (ii) ONERA Supelec (Ecole Supérieure d'Electricité - France), which joined with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and DSO (Singapore’s national defense R&D organization), to create SONDRA a joint France-Singapore laboratory. At SONDRA, a Singaporean-French team of researchers will focus and conduct defence R&D in the areas of advanced electromagnetics and radar. In the future, research may be expanded to other areas of mutual interest.

    2. These linkages are like seeds that grow into trees for Singapore’s limited but focused efforts on defence procurement, EW and R&D. More importantly, these institutional linkages enable many of our scientists and engineers to get the necessary science and engineering foundation and their continuing education after they start work. As you correctly noted, Singapore is committed to investing and developing its defence industrial base, R&D base, EW capabilities and acquisition expertise; but is not doing it alone. Working in defence science partnerships with the Americans, the French, the Germans, the Swedes, the Israelis and others, enable Singapore to go further than travelling alone. The goal is to collaborate to go far; not just go fast. For example, in conjunction with the launch of RSS Invincible (Type 218SG), DSTA signed a MOU with the manufacturer thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to open up new avenues for technology collaboration. Under the MOU, both organisations will explore the use of additive manufacturing as an innovative and cost-effective method for producing submarine spare parts.

    3. Over the longer term, these investments in DSO and DSTA will enable Singapore to spend less over the life cycle of a platform (be it a ship, aircraft or any other platform) by deciding where innovation is required upfront/at IOC, what features to permanently forgo and what to delay in implantation (while waiting for the technology to mature). For example:

    • The ‘Design for Support’ approach was also incorporated upfront to deliver a Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) that is easy to manage, operate, maintain and train. DSTA implemented a Swedish made composite topside and stacked-mast for the RSN. Inspected by the Försvarets materielverk (Swedish Defence Materiel Administration) before delivery to Singapore, the stacked mast reduces topside weight, maximises sensor coverage while providing an enclosed environment for the equipment, thereby improving equipment and system reliability. The ease of access to the equipment allows maintenance to be carried out more efficiently without the need for erecting external staging, compared to traditional open mast designs. Further, to optimise manpower required to operate the LMV for maritime security operations, DSTA integrated and co-located the three distinct control areas, namely the Bridge, Combat Information Centre and Machinery Control Room into a single location.
    • For cost avoidance, RSN has elected to delay the installation of the NG MICA on the LMV until the French DGA gives its approval for production in the 2026 to 2030 time frame (enabling the RSN to retire the cost effective anti-missile/counter rocket capability provided by the Barak 1 on the upgraded Victory class). More specifically, the NG MICA infrared seeker will use a matrix sensor providing greater sensitivity. Meanwhile the radio frequency seeker will use be AESA, enabling smart detection strategies. The reduced volume of electronic components within MICA NG will allow it to carry a larger quantity of propellant, increasing range. Utilising a new double-pulse rocket motor will also provide additional energy to the missile at the end of its flight to improve its ability to intercept targets at long range. The integration of the NG MICA with the Thales NS100 will be a spiral upgrade for the LMVs that requires French support at their instrumented range.
    • The UAV pilot and payload operator were previously segregated roles which required separate training. To achieve greater flexibility in employing the limited manpower resource, the Singapore team required Israel Aerospace Industries to integrate the two roles through a unified flight and payload training programme. DSTA broke new ground in the development of the Ground Control Station (GCS) software and the datalink system for the Heron 1 UAV. The GCS software specification is key to reducing operating and training costs.
    • The F-15SG acquisition team anticipated that a newer version of the aircraft’s engine would be available soon. As the newer General Electric F110 engine requires one less overhaul cycle during its lifetime, the F-15SG acquisition team recommended to hold the purchase of spare engines and to acquire the most advanced version in the market, at a later date. This achieved a total cost savings of more than US$10 million per life cycle for spare engines.
    4. The Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) Team, comprising members from DSTA, Singapore Army and ST Engineering, clinched the 2019 DTP Team (Engineering) Award for designing and developing the Singapore Army’s first fully digitalised fighting platform that is equipped with the Trophy Active Protection System on the SAMSON Turret. The team adopted a new model-based systems engineering and design to create the first-of-its-kind Integrated Combat Cockpit, which would enable the Hunter AFV’s crew to collaborate effectively with one another and engage targets rapidly. The five Hunter variants - Combat, Command, Bridgelayer, Recovery and Armoured Engineer - have features that make this new class of AFV unique. Sensors on the Hunter give the crew a 360-degree view around the vehicle. At the heart of the digitalised combat platform is the battlefield management system, ARTEMIS that improves the Hunter's situational awareness in all weather and for non-line of sight (NLOS) applications, given that the Hunter has 2 NLOS missiles in the SAMSON Turret supplied by Rafael.


    5. The Hunter AFV’s successful development in Singapore, with its Integrated Combat Cockpit, has triggered Israel to launch the Carmel armored fighting vehicle project under its Weapons Development Administration (known in Hebrew by its acronym Mafat). As part of the program, the Mafat gave Elbit, Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries — the task of testing the feasibility of a closed tank that is operated by only two soldiers, instead of the current four, and encouraged them to integrate as many “automatic and autonomous systems as possible” in order to function as a “third soldier” of sorts, the ministry spokesperson said.

    6. Most importantly, the Singapore defence ecology dares to dream and take some risk, with ST Engineering competing for contracts in the US, Europe and Middle East. They are also paying for and integrating systems without a launch customer for Europe (based on their understanding of the market) — the Bronco 3, paired with the 120 mm Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System Mk II along with IAI’s Green Rock C-RAM, is a good example of this incremental risk taking approach.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  9. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Singapore’s evolving approach to the cyber domain and counter terrorism

    1. Defending Singapore has moved to improving defence of and mitigation measures, should a successful attack occurs, in the cyber domain. Malicious cyberattacks can and do debilitate entire systems, disrupt the economy and daily lives, and even lead to injury and death. The December 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid left 230,000 people without electricity for up to 6 hours, in the middle of a winter night. In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack crippled the operations of about one-third of public hospitals in the UK and caused over 19,000 appointments to be cancelled. What happened in Ukraine and the UK could just as easily happen in Singapore. The very connectivity that Singapore relies on for economic growth and efficient public services, also leaves the country vulnerable to threats from the digital domain. Hybrid operations involving hostile information campaigns and the spread of deliberate online falsehoods are an especially pernicious threat. They can foment distrust between ethnic and religious communities, weaken social cohesion, and trigger violence. Deliberate online falsehoods pose a particularly serious threat to Singapore given our high Internet penetration and multi-ethnic, multi-religious society.

    2. Increasingly any SAF operations conducted, even for peace support missions, will need support in the cyber domain. In Feb 2017, Der Spiegel first reported that German soldiers stationed in Lithuania were target of false rape claims. Emails claiming that German soldiers had raped an underage Lithuanian girl were sent to the president of the Lithuanian parliament and various Lithuanian media outlets on 14 Feb 2017. Lithuanian authorities investigated the charges and found no evidence that any of the claims made in the emails were true. Beyond information campaigns, the SAF has a C4ISR system and databases to protect. Fact Sheet: MINDEF and the SAF's Cyber Defence Training. The role of training MINDEF/SAF's cyber defenders is undertaken by two units –

    (i) the SAF Cyber Defence School (CDS), established in 2018, which conducts cyber courses and workshops to develop MINDEF/SAF's cyber workforce and to strengthen cyber awareness and cyber hygiene across the organisation — The SAF CDS has commenced the Cyber Defence Operator Course and the Cyber Specialist Cadet Course after it received the pioneer cohort of cyber NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) in 2018. The school is currently developing its curriculum to extend training to the Command, Control, Communications and Computers Expert (C4X) vocation and the Defence Cyber Executive (DCX) job specialisation.; and

    (ii) the Cyber Defence Test and Evaluation Centre (CyTEC), stood up in 2015, which provides the cyber range facility for the conduct of advanced cyber defence training and exercises — It is able to simulate malware and attacks on networks and cybersecurity appliances, in a virtual sandbox environment, which is segregated from actual operational networks. CyTEC is also able to simulate cyber-attacks with varying intensity and sophistication to test cyber defenders' skillsets and responses in realistic scenarios. Such training sharpens the proficiencies of cyber defenders operating in the Cyber Security Operations Centres and in the Computer Incident Response Teams.

    3. The Defence Cyber Organisation (DCO) leads and drives cybersecurity across the Defence Sector, comprising six sub-sectors- the SAF, MINDEF, DSTA, DSO, Defence Industry and MINDEF-Related Organisations (MRO). See: Malware Incidents at HMI Institute of Health Sciences Pte Ltd and ST Logistics Pte Ltd. The weak link seems to be at the MRO level — in 2 data incidents:

    • the HMI Institute of Health Sciences said that it discovered a file server to be encrypted by ransomware on 4 Dec 2019. The affected server, which primarily contained backup information, was immediately taken offline and isolated from the Internet and internal network, HMI Institute said in a media advisory. The institute added that its learning management system was not impacted and that daily operations were “unaffected and continued as usual”. Preliminary investigations indicated that the likelihood of a data leak to external parties was low, MINDEF said, adding that the affected system contained personal data of 120,000 individuals. This included the full names and NRIC numbers of about 98,000 MINDEF and SAF personnel who previously attended a cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillation (AED) course.
    • the personal data of 2,400 MINDEF and SAF personnel may be affected by a potential ST Logistics personal data breach. ST Logistics said in a media release on 21 Dec 2019 that the potential breach was a result of a recent series of email phishing activities involving malicious malware sent to its employees’ email accounts.
      The company operates several logistics services, including an eMart retail and equipping servicefor MINDEF and SAF personnel since 1999.
    4. The 26 Nov 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, and the 21 Sep 2013 attack Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya demonstrates the use of bold, complex, terror tactics to target civilians in mass casualty events (see this 2016 RSIS article: Cities under siege). In both cases, the response was slow, piecemeal, and confused. The various agencies involved in responding to the terrorist assault were unable to coordinate with one another. Moreover, the police units that initially responded were simply outgunned due to inadequate training and lack of requisite firearms. Further on 13 Nov 2015, eight IS operatives divided into three teams attacked seven different locations in Paris, murdering at least 130 and wounding at least 352 in less than 60 minutes. The attacks targeting a stadium, multiple restaurants, and a concert hall in Paris demonstrated a great degree of coordination and use of multiple tactics, resulting in higher casualties. The attackers were equipped with assault rifles and explosive-laden suicide belts, and operated in a manner reflecting prior training. They maintained a high degree of operational security. The attack was planned in Belgium, giving the terrorists opportunities to discuss operational details free of surveillance by French intelligence, which despite its failures in thwarting the terrorist operation is large, more proactive. During a terrorist commando assault of the 3 incidents mentioned, there is no intent by the attackers to take hostages or negotiate with law enforcement. The longer the attackers remain operational, the more victims will be killed or injured in the attack. Rapid response by available law enforcement and security forces, even if disorganised as seen in the initial response in both Nairobi and Mumbai, saves lives during the early phase of an active shooter attack. First responders to an attack of this type must consider the possibility of advanced tactics by the terrorists including:

    (i) ambushes targeted on first responders;

    (ii) supporting sniper fire;

    (iii) the possibility of remotely controlled improvised explosive devices emplaced near command posts or staging areas; and

    (iv) diversionary explosions in vehicles or in public places designed to distract and divert security forces.

    5. Learning from these 3 prior terror attacks, the Special Operations Command Centre (SOCC) was commissioned in Dec 2019 to provide the SAF’s Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) with the capability to centrally plan, monitor and manage multiple Counter-Terrorism operations. The SOCC is capable of processing large amounts of data and information from sensors employed and from the cyber domain, to provide a quick assessment of the situation to help commanders decide on the best course of action.

    • The SOCC is able to process information from multiple sources including Whole-of-Government sensors, the SAF's internal sources and last-mile surveillance assets such as drones to collate a synchronised situation picture. The integrated structure allows seamless access and sharing of information between SOTF and other government agencies, strengthening cooperation during joint operations.
    • The SOCC is also linked with homeland security, the Police and other civil defence related agencies, so that the country can act in concert with the rest of the government when called upon. The networked centre leverages technology to support operational planning and coordination, that includes the cyber domain for improving sense-making for better situational awareness.
    The SOCC harnesses technology such as data analytics and artificial intelligence. It provides SOTF planners with an integrated platform to collect, analyse, fuse and make sense of mission essential information. This enables the SOCC to derive richer operational insights by analysing various sources of information and recommending possible courses of action.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
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  10. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The complicated nature of Taiwan and Singapore relations

    1. In 1967, as Lee Kuan Yew recounted in his memoirs, From Third World to First, the Singapore government found itself confronted with a pressing need for the military and a lack of space to build up an air force. The Israelis did not have the space and facilities to meet such an unique Singaporean need.

    2. LKY was keen that Singapore did not end up completely dependent on the Israelis for military training either. Cue the entry of Taiwan. That same year, Taiwan sent a top-level representative to Singapore to meet with LKY and then defence minister Goh Keng Swee. The exchange of trade missions occurred as far back as 1969, while the signing of “Exercise Starlight” — the agreement that allows Singapore to train infantry, artillery, armour and commando units in Taiwan — occurred in 1975. Taiwan’s Colonel Liu Ching Chuan was once Commander RSAF (renamed as Chief of Air Force), while former Taiwanese officer Khoo Eng An once held the post of Commander RSN (retitled as Chief of Navy). As recent as Oct 2019, Taiwan's Defense Minister Yen De-fa said that Exercise Starlight will continue to operate despite the Oct 2019 signing of the enhanced Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation (ADESC) formalises activities between MINDEF and PLA including port calls, bilateral exercises, mutual visits and cross-attendance of courses. The original ADESC was signed in 2008 to formalise ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries.

    3. Over the last 40 plus years, Beijing could have responded robustly about Singapore's unilateral training in Taiwan, but did not do so. This inaction could not have arisen from ignorance, as the annual training exercises and these command appointments were widely known in diplomatic circles. The appointments have also been chronicled in SAF coffeetable books. So China’s reticence was done by choice. As David Boey noted, the following incidents were reported by Singapore media and are open source:

    • In August 1993, two soldiers from 2 Singapore Infantry Regiment who were riding a motorbike skidded and landed in a drain during a night ride. Both were evacuated by a RSAF C-130 aeromedical flight. One of the soldiers later died from severe head injuries.
    • In April 1994, all four persons on board an RSAF 125 Squadron Super Puma on a predawn flight died after the helicopter crashed into a mountain in Taiwan. The crash was so severe that dental records had to be used as a means of identification. Complicating the Mindef news release was the presence of a Taiwanese military officer aboard the helicopter.
    • In June 1995, two full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) from 3 Signals died after their vehicle went off a hill in Taiwan.
    • In May 2007, two NSFs were killed when a twin-seat Taiwanese F-5F jet fighter crashed into a storeroom located within a Taiwanese military base. Two other NSFs warded at the Taipei Tri-Service Hospital were repatriated aboard a RSAF KC-135R configured as a flying hospital. One of the NSFs died 17 days later in Singapore General Hospital.
    • In June 2009, an SAF regular was found motionless in his bunk at a Taiwanese military facility. He was pronounced dead in a hospital in Taiwan. The ammunition technician was in Taiwan to support the SAF’s unilateral training there.
    • In Dec 2019, a NSF sustained a cervical spine injury during unilateral parachute training conducted in Taiwan. He was immediately evacuated to the nearest tertiary hospital, where he underwent surgery on 19 & 21 Dec 2019, without complications and is currently stable.
    Throughout these dark moments, Beijing maintained a dignified silence, which is appreciated in Singapore. In all the years of SAF activities overseas, Beijing’s acquiescence has been reciprocated by the Lion City’s delicate handling of the matter out of respect to the Middle Kingdom. This approach extends to the Nov 2016 Hong Kong Terrex episode, where all Mindef statements on the matter have left out the very pertinent point of the origin of the shipment. The Nov 2016, China seizure of nine Terrex vehicles shipped through Hong Kong on their return from a training exercise on Taiwan marked a low point in Singapore’s relationship with China

    4. In Oct 2017, Ralph Jennings writing for VOA suggested that "Singapore can balance China against Taiwan, an act most countries do not try, because Beijing officials want good relations with [Singapore]." In 1975, when Taiwan helped Singapore, the tiny city state did not have choice for its training locations, unlike today with:

    (i) 4 RSAF training detachments in the US, further training detachments in Australia and in France; and

    (ii) long term access to army training areas in 10 countries, including Australia, NZ, Thailand, India, Germany and the US.
    I think Jenning’s approach of reading Taiwan-Singapore relations is without insight, slightly misleading, and ahistorical (without consideration of past baggage). Taiwan-Singapore relations are low key but not problem free.

    5. OTOH, I see the Beijing- Singapore consideration of sensitivities and past baggage, as mutual, and seeking win-win outcomes to advance the relationship. IMHO, the greatest hinderance to continued good Taipei-Singapore relations lies with its win-lose mentality and it’s illogical local politics. This is why Singapore has been active in reducing its reliance on Taiwan for military training areas.

    6. Diplomacy aside, one important dividend that Beijing has cashed in from discrete Taiwan-Singapore relations comes from inculcating its position to tens of thousands of Singaporeans who have trained in Taiwan. This comes about from security briefings to those bound for Taiwan not to talk about SAF training there. For the average Singaporean, who is usually apathetic about regional affairs, a trip to Taiwan downloads the essence of Beijing’s strategic narrative: That there is only one China. That Taiwan is viewed as part of the motherland. And that foreign nationals are not to dabble in Chinese affairs. The dividend China has reaped from such awareness is impossible to quantify. David Boey has suggested that Chinese officials would probably quietly acknowledge it has been invaluable as Beijing reaps the spin-offs for doing virtually nothing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
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