The best strategy to defending Singapore Island

If you look at Singapores IFVs there is a political and foreign policy dimension at play. Say it decided to acquire 300 German IFVs plus ancillary equipment all sourced from Germany. Normally no problems because Singapore and Germany have a good relationship. However one day the PRC does something to really annoy Singapore so Singapore decides to invade the PRC in order to give it a good thrashing and teach it a lesson in manners. Germany chokes on its beer, is very put out by Singapores actions, and slaps an arms embargo on Singapore, meaning no ongoing support of any kind for its 300 German built and maintained IFVs. Hence these expensive examples of high quality German engineering are parked up, about as useful as electric coat hangers and Singaporean Army is short 300 IFVs. Most of the scenario is fantasy apart from the fact that Germany does slap arms embargoes on nations that it believes are in the wrong, such as committing aggressive war, abusing human rights etc. Saudi Arabia is its favourite target at the moment. So by building it's own IFVs etc., it negates most of those problems. That's just one example.
A fair amount of time spent in the rum store required if I'm to get my head around this scenario.

Lone Ranger

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@OPSSG, if major programs like Future Combat System, Ground Combat Vehicle and Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle can be canned, so can MPF (Mobile Protected Firepower) and I won't be surprised. I just find that they are still kinda lost on how they want to fight their next war, at least on paper. Their vision and tech space just don't seem to meet.

Urban warfare will be heavily weighted in the next phase of the SAF development and I shared your view. It will likely be a system approach whereby the focus will be placed on integrated-network-precision strike. System like FIRE WEAVER (not sure if there will be a SAF version) and autonomous vehicles (both land and air) will likely be some of the enablers. Precision strike ammunition (SPIKE LR2, XM395 & ST PM120) with limited collateral damage will be weapons of choice as they will allow more freedom of action.

Now I am curious, how will the Next Gen Infantry Battalion look like and how it will effects other formation like Armour.


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A fair amount of time spent in the rum store required if I'm to get my head around this scenario.
@SouthernSky and @ngatimozart, no need to drink or think hard on the near impossible scenario. Lol.

1. Singapore is not going to fight China. By geography, there is only 1 country where the SAF can conduct its forward defence — only if they miscalculate and cross any of the 3 red lines that make war inevitable.

2. There are too many of the SAF’s German made trucks (in the thousands) in service, including:
(i) the Rheinmetall MAN HX45M wheeled recovery vehicles; and​
(ii) the 500 strong fleet of MAN Light Transporters under Project Ethan (derivatives of the civilian MAN TGM 18.280 twin-axle, 4x4 cargo truck), are of German origin. A key difference from the SAF’s older MAN 5-tonners is the noticeably longer wheelbase. This allows the MAN Light Transporters - known as Ethans by army personnel - to carry a 20 foot container with ISO twist-locks on its cargo bed.​

An arms embargo by the Germans would in the medium term cripple our army’s logistics arm, until an alternative is stood up. More important than the 180 Leopard 2 tanks acquired thus far (that were locally upgraded), is the life-time support required for the 4 new Invincible-class (Type 218SG) submarines that Singapore is in the process of acquiring. Any hint of a German arms embargo will see the Singapore Navy crawling back to Sweden.

3. For a vehicle fleet, there are 3 considerations to manage. One, short term embargo risk, to be mitigated by spare parts stocking and having local repair facilities. Two, medium to long term sustainment risk. Lastly, obsolescence risk. Some of the short term embargo risk is managed by stocking enough spares.

4. Diversification of suppliers is another form of risk management, for the medium to long term.

(i) As part of this diversification efforts, in Sept 2018, South Africa's Paramount Group and Singapore's ST Engineering Land Systems arm announced a commitment to joint marketing of the 20 ton weight class Belrex (4x4) family of wheeled Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected (MRAP) vehicles.​
(ii) Each vehicle of this MRAP family is powered by a Cummins ISBe4-300 Diesel engine and the family comprises 10 variants (namely, security, engineer, reconnaissance, logistics, fuel, medical, mortar, signal, maintenance and mortar ammunition carrier) and is based on the Paramount Marauder (4x4) MRAP.​
(iii) The 10 Belrex variants leverage ST Engineering experience in the design, development and production of armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) mobility platforms as the Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle (PCSV), which was officially commissioned into the Singapore Army in November 2016. Paramount delivered twelve vehicles to Singapore between 2013 and 2014 for trials and system integration by ST Kinetics.​

5. Beyond embargo risk management, vehicle fleet life-cycle management is also about keeping obsolescence risk at bay. This means Singapore needs to have unrestricted rights to resell old vehicles into the international market. For example, the Singapore Army's fleet of IVECO 90-17 WM 3 tonners have been retired, repainted blue and resold for commercial use.

6. Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) is prepared to move forward with product development and weapon system projects should Western embargoes limit those efforts, the CEO told Defense News. “We have signed more than 25 agreements with foreign partners, so we have multiple opportunities to acquire alternative technologies from other partners where there are no limitations. There is no risk that any limitation of a single country or government can block Saudi Arabia from getting a full localized portfolio of products,” Andreas Schwer said during the Dubai Airshow in Nov 2019. To that end, in Jun 2019 SAMI signed a MoU with ST Engineering that will entail introducing the 8x8 Terrex 2 platform to the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF), developing a next-generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) for RSLF, and exploring partnership in MRO capability for commercial and military customers. In addition, it will include building ships and naval crafts, examining scope for participation in C-130 upgrade and development of a new transport aircraft, and helping modernize the Saudi electronics manufacturing industry.
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Thank you to everyone who posted in reply to my questions. My apologies for any brusqueness or offense caused, @OPSSG. I find it difficult sometimes to tell tone on internet forums.

I hadn't heard about the Next Gen Infantry Battalion and second @Lone Ranger 's question. And may I ask what are the three red lines which must not be crossed? I think I can guess two of them (water and independence) but I can't think of a 3rd off the top of my head.


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Thank you to everyone who posted in reply to my questions. My apologies for any brusqueness or offense caused, @OPSSG. I find it difficult sometimes to tell tone on internet forums.

I hadn't heard about the Next Gen Infantry Battalion and second @Lone Ranger 's question. And may I ask what are the three red lines which must not be crossed? I think I can guess two of them (water and independence) but I can't think of a 3rd off the top of my head.
You are correct that cutting off water supply from Johor is 1 of the 3. More importantly, directly cutting off water supply from Johor gives Singapore Casus belli — a right to war. The Malaysians do try to test the redline below the threshold for war and regarding the supply of water, they have done a variation of this, by allowing pollution levels to rise to the extent that PUB stopped the import of raw water. See: PUB's Johor River Waterworks temporarily shut down in 7 pollution incidents since 2017: Masagos

Before I stop going further off-topic, let me share 4 additional points for context, to assist your understanding.

One, if you don’t mind, I don’t want to express all 3 redlines in an open source matter — just in case a radical/terror group in Malaysia wants to be deliberate in crossing it to force war — by Aug 1991, the Malaysian Government under Dr M understood roughly where these 3 redlines were and did not dare to cross any of them (based on their own understanding).

Two, independence is the 2nd core foreign policy principle, rather than a redline (but you are close) — DIPLOMACY OF LITTLE RED DOT: PAST AND PRESENT

Three, as you are well aware, on 23 May 2008, the ICJ ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia and South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located. There are developments after the ICJ ruling that you may not have noticed.
(i) I note that Malaysia filed two applications after the ruling - one on 2 Feb 2017, and a second on 30 Jun 2017, where Malaysia sought an interpretation of the same ICJ judgment (that they have since discontinued). It requested that the ICJ declare the waters surrounding Pedra Branca to be Malaysia’s and in turn, the sovereignty of South Ledge belongs to Malaysia – a move that Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as “puzzling”, “unnecessary and without merit”.​
(ii) It is the second application that concerns me — where Malaysia is engaging in lawfare. Lawfare is not something in which persons engage in the pursuit of justice; rather it is a negative undertaking and is a counter-productive perversion of the law. The essence of the issue with lawfare arguments is the misuse of the legal system and its principles in an attempt to damage or delegitimise them, by tying up their time or trying to win a public relations victory.​

Four, to prevent further Malaysian attempts at lawfare over Singapore’s port waters off-Tuas, the Singapore Government filed a declaration under Article 298(1)(a) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on 12 Dec 2018. This declaration means that other States Parties to UNCLOS cannot unilaterally commence third party arbitration or adjudication against Singapore in respect of maritime boundary disputes. Singapore likewise cannot unilaterally commence third-party arbitration or adjudication against other UNCLOS States Parties for such disputes.
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Part 1 of 3: Learning lessons from mistakes of others

Nations do not have permanent friends or enemies, only interests,” which was a phrase most often attributed to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger but was originally uttered by Henry John Temple, twice British Prime Minister in the mid-1800s.

1. We should keep the above phrase in mind when looking at the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that Singapore can learn from.
(i) Three years ago, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt conducted an economic boycott of Qatar that had tremendous repercussions on the economy of Qatar.​
(ii) Both Saudi Arabia and Qartar were members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) before the Saudi decision to cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha.​
(iii) Tensions with Qatar have revolved around its support for political Islamic movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as complaints about the Al Jazeera Media Network, which is based in Doha. These tensions were exacerbated by the Arab Spring in 2011 when Saudi Arabia and Qatar were seen as backing different sides.​

2. The trigger for the economic boycott occurred on 23 May 2017. Hackers posted false statements attributed to Qatar's emir on the Qatari state news agency's website — which is an effective use of cyber warfare by Qatar’s adversaries to provide the smoking gun to Doha’s double dealing. The fake remarks, praising Iran and criticising US foreign policy, were picked up and aired on several UAE and Saudi-owned television networks.
(i) On 5 June 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt issued statements announcing the severing of diplomatic relations with Qatar. Saudi Arabia then shut its land border with Qatar, and together with three other countries imposed a land, sea and air boycott on its neighbour.​
(ii) The four neighboring countries point to Qatar’s non-compliance with the Riyadh agreements (a series of deals between the six Persian Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain that were signed in 2013 and 2014). In those handwritten agreements, the countries pledged to support stability in Egypt, cease support for terrorist groups and not support “antagonistic media,” a reference to Al Jazeera, the state-funded news station based in Qatar.​
(iii) Qatar likes to call this economic boycott, a blockade, as part of its lawfare strategy — with the economic boycott having sea, land and air dimensions. Qatar asked the ICJ to allow the United Nations’ ICAO to “address the merits of these time-sensitive disputes” — in Qatar’s challenge to an airspace ‘blockade’ imposed by its neighbours who not only canceled all flights between their countries and Qatar, but also forbade Qatari planes from flying over their airspace. This aerial blockade forced Qatar Airways to take circuitous routes that not only added to flight times, boosted fuel costs, and enabled Oman and Iran to charge Qatar extra for flying over their airspace.​

How a less prepared small country like Qatar survives under an economic boycott of its neighbours is instructive for Singapore as additional lessons to re-learn on its Economic Defence strategy.

3. By way of background, on 2359 hours of 17 Mar 2020, Malaysia closed the causeway to the prevent the free movement of its own people with a day’s notice (on a 14 day movement control order) due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Food deliveries from Malaysia to Singapore have continued and Singaporeans are still allowed to leave Johor (but cannot re-enter until 31 Mar 2020). Malaysia’s decision to impose a Movement Control Order to combat the spread of COVID-19 is not surprising, as many other countries have already imposed similar lockdowns. This poorly thought through Movement Control Order lacked a FAQ, to help the general public of both countries understand the extent of the curbs by Malaysia. This resulted in Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore having to clarify to the public that the movement of food supplies from Malaysia to Singapore was not affected. As Lee Hsien Loong noted on 17 Mar 2020, on Facebook:
“... Meanwhile, I am happy to see that in the supermarkets, while the queues are longer than usual, people are taking it in their stride and only buying what they need. We need not worry, as we have prepared for such an eventuality, and have plans in place to cope.”​

4. As John Lam has noted on Facebook, a few hours prior to the Prime Minister’s clarification (on the Malaysian stance after calling his counterpart):
“... First of all Singapore has at least 3 months worth of food supplies in government warehouses. Even if there is not a single morsel of food entering Singapore for the next 2 weeks due to Malaysia’s lock down, Singapore will not starve. (For those who are mathematically challenged, 3 months is about 6 times longer than 2 weeks).​
Secondly, Malaysia is just one of the sources of food produce. There are 11 other countries who are not on lock down where food can be sourced from.​
Thirdly, Singapore has domestic production capabilities in a number of food items such as eggs (27%), vegetables (13%), fish (10%), canned goods, infant powder and many more. We may not be fully self sufficient but we are not entirely dependent on imports either.​
Fourthly, Malaysian food exporters will probably be hurt more than consumers in Singapore if they cannot export their food produce. Even if Malaysia’s lockdown applies to food exports, this cannot go on indefinitely without affecting their own local industries. Eventually trade will find a way.​
Finally, Singapore has topped the Global Food Security Index for 2 years in a row over the past 2 years. This means that according to the experts at the Economist Intelligence Unit, you are more likely to run out of food anywhere else in the world than in Singapore.”​

5. This is not the first time Singapore has faced a short term disruption of the free movement of goods (or people, in this case) through the causeway with Malaysia.
Singapore has planned for food supply disruptions for years, putting in place a comprehensive strategy after the food crisis of 2007 and 2008, which saw the global prices of food shoot up dramatically due to rising oil prices and food stocks diverted to produce biofuels. As the Prime Minister noted, it pays to be prepared for supply disruptions. While food and other essential items have successfully made it across the Causeway into Singapore on 18 Mar 2020 (Wed), some companies delivering non-food materials told TODAY that their cargos were not allowed over the border on the first day of Malaysia's lockdown. Ms Stella Moh, assistant business development manager at trading company Glorreich, said that two lorries containing her company’s goods were being turned away at Malaysia’s checkpoint. Her company brings in packaging materials, such as carton boxes and pallets, for third-party logistics providers to pack their own goods before shipping them out.

6. As I shared previously, Singapore’s Total Defence strategy comprises of 6 pillars: Military, Civil, Economic, Social, Digital and Psychological Defence. Psychological Defence. John Lam’s post and Chan Chun Sing’s posts are good examples of Psychological Defence in action.
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Part 2 of 3: Demonstrating Singaporean capability at Total Defence

7. Economic Defence at work with the quick activation of drawer plans — Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, shared a Facebook post on 19 Mar 2020, at Changi airport (for the supply by air of eggs from Thailand), just 2 days after Malaysia (by being unclear of their new Movement Control Order policy’s effect on food supply to Singapore), created uncertainty in supply of Malaysian supplies of food to Singapore:

“Was at Changi Airport this afternoon to receive a very special cargo - more than 300,000 eggs meant for domestic consumption.​

About a quarter of the eggs we consume are produced locally and a significant number come from Malaysia. However, we also have many other source countries which we have identified over the years and are able to activate them quickly when the need calls for it. This applies not just to eggs but other food products and essential items.​

We managed to activate this option in a matter of two days and I would like to express my appreciation to Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Singapore Airlines and SATS for helping us to bring the eggs in so quickly.​

These efforts to secure and diversify our food supply have been developed and strengthened through the years. Even though we have a robust plan in place, we do not take it for granted and reassess it regularly to test its robustness against different scenarios...​


8. As part of the collective response to combat COVID-19, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand and Singapore released a joint ministerial statement that they are committed to maintaining connected supply chains and work closely to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities.

9. Having the correct processes and systems in place to respond to actionable intelligence, Singapore is able to respond to multiple threat vectors at the same time. No medium sized city in the world, is as well led and prepared as Singapore in relation to crisis contingency plans — the health system is preparing for a spike in coronavirus infections, before the end of March, as more and more Singaporeans return from abroad. Singapore’s inter-ministerial coronavirus task force led by Minister Lawrence Wong (supported by Gan Kim Yong, the Minister of Health) has started transferring the less seriously ill coronavirus patients to select private hospital wards (so that the better equipped government hospitals can host the more critically ill returning Singaporeans).

10. Regarding the military front of Total Defence, on 17 Mar 2020, co-operation between Singapore and Indonesian navies ensured the pirates would be caught regardless of which waters they were in. At 0511 hours the Singapore received a report from a bulk carrier, Sam Jaguar, that pirates had boarded the ship in the waters east of Pulau Karimun Kecil, Indonesia. The Singapore Navy immediately began close monitoring of the shipping vessel and dispatched RSS Independence and Police Coast Guard craft towards the location. The incident was resolved when criminals were locked up in the engine room by the crew and subsequently handed over to the Indonesians for prosecution.

11. Regarding the civil defence front of Total Defence, on 18 Mar 2020, 180 SCDF firefighters deployed in 45 emergency vehicles were able to put out blaze with the aid of 12 foam jets, and 2 Unmanned Firefighting Machines (UFMs). An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was also deployed to conduct aerial monitoring of the fire at Tuas Avenue 18. The fire, the size of about one and half football fields, had engulfed two warehouse about five storeys in height. It largely involved drums of flammable substances such as diesel and cleaning agents.
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Part 3 of 3: Seeking opportunities for Malaysian and Singaporean cooperation

12. A war — a real war, not a proxy war in some distant sandbox — would result in the SAF being used as an instrument of controlled fury. To force the cool headed Singapore Government into war — a war that a Singaporean conscript army wants to avoid — by testing and crossing any of the 3 red-lines would be a mistake.Three main efforts guide the SAF’s modernisation plans from 2020 onwards are as follows:

One, a multi-domain ground maneuver capability, where units would be able to operate on the ground, underground, with organic UAVs in the air, and supported in the cyber domain.​
Two, upgrading the SAF’s capability for high volume and time sensitive precision strikes.​
Three, supporting the Next Gen Infantry Battalion maneuver efforts are improvements to force multipliers that ensure intelligence superiority, and continuous functionality under fire.​

Doing this Next Gen transformation too slowly will enable the aggressor to close the qualitative gap—a development the SAF cannot afford. In the past, keyboard warriors in this thread and across the causeway have accused the Singaporean conscript (be it serving the the armed forces, civil defence or the police) as being too soft, too short-sighted, too un-warlike, and so on for war. But when shit hit the fan in a crisis and unthinkable measures and bravery were needed as the response, Singapore consistently demonstrates its ability to execute as #SGUnited.

13. Since the SAF declassified and declared its actual military capability with the acquisition the first battery of 18 HIMARS launchers (2007) from the Americans and first batch of 66 Leopard 2A4s (2006) from the Germans, for the SAF’s 3 combined arms divisions, Malaysian politicians are not longer able to use the country’s armed forces to threaten conventional war for political gain — which is why Singapore’s response to the 2018 provocations by Dr M led government at that time is so mild (when compared to the 1991 response).

14. The Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee has also agreed that Malaysians with work permits will continue to be able to work on the island during this period, with appropriate accommodation arrangements, with the transport of goods between Malaysia and Singapore facilitated. As Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, Coordinating Minister for National Security, shared on 19 Mar 2020, he remains in communication with Malaysia’s Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on the movement of Malaysians from Malaysia to Singapore during this lockdown period. Teo said:

“We are coordinating the measures between our two countries to facilitate Malaysian workers to continue working in Singapore, and the flow of goods, while safeguarding the health of Singaporeans & Malaysians.”​

15. In addition:
(i) Singapore is deeply appreciative of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry Wisma Putra and their Embassy in Tehran for going beyond the call of duty to ferry 8 Singaporeans from Iran to Kuala Lumpur. They will be back home once they have completed their quarantine in Malaysia. International and bilateral cooperation has never been more vital than at an uncertain time like this. This is a promising sign of what I hope is a different Malaysian approach.​
(ii) Malaysia’s 8th Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and leader of Bersatu was in Singapore to receive medical treatment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in 2019. According to local media, the former member of UMNO (part of the ex-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition) was discharged on 7 Aug 2019 after spending close to a month recuperating from a July 12 surgery, in which a Singapore doctor saved his life by removing a growth on his pancreas.​

I hope Malaysians will take a step back and reflect on the acts of hostility by a government led by Dr M since Oct 2018 and start a new chapter of cooperation with Singapore starting in March 2020.

16. Open source data puts the size of Singapore’s rice stockpile at 6 months’ supply. Singapore’s POL stockpile is also substantial and this adds to the supplies already maintained at key installations such as Changi Airport and government ministries, which have their own diesel generators to provide an uninterrupted power supply for a certain period to guarantee some degree of self-sufficiency. Singapore’s other food stockpile is generally planned on the basis of a local short-term contingency, the authorities have since reviewed the numbers to take into account the potential disruption to supply chains worldwide and also for a longer period. Every item across the entire ‘table of essentials’ is being looked at, and that goes beyond food. Among the things kept in stock are medicines and personal protective equipment. Not only have supplies been replenished, but some orders — such as for multivitamin pills — were also increased more than a month ago in anticipation of possible disruptions.

17. Today, in a global pandemic with no end in sight, Singapore faces a whole new set of challenges: an ageing population, disruptive technologies, more capable regional competitors, narrowing geopolitical space, growing non-traditional security threats, and evolving citizen aspirations. The strength of Singapore lies in its unity in the face of these challenges.

18. Despite the global pandemic, the country is welcoming home 200,000 Singaporeans from abroad, even though 68 of the 111 imported coronavirus cases had a travel history to the UK (the largest group of imported cases) and the heath care system is now preparing to welcome back even more seriously ill Singaporeans to the end of March 2020 — again demonstrating its ability to execute as #SGUnited.
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