Updates on the Singapore Army 2023 onwards


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1. Depending on threat scenario, Singapore’s force of choice is either:
(a) the 7 SIB*, which comprises 1st Guards, 3rd Guards & the Army Deployment Force (ADF). With only the ADF as fully professional & the other 2 battalions comprised of conscripts. The ADF, will be required to fire & move in urban counter terror ops; or​
(b) a Hunter AFV & Leopard 2SG equipped SAB*, along with its recovery, bridge-layer and engineer support variants to provide armoured infantry support for a thunder run with Leopard 2SGs from 48th SAR*.​

2. To support manoeuvre from its sea base (comprising of Endurance class LPDs), 7 SIB has a 155mm/39 calibre Pegasus heli-portable artillery battalion in direct support.
(a) Capable of inserted by Chinooks, with the prime movers inserted in a later amphibious wave, their role is to provide responsive call for joint-fires by the heli-mobile ADF, 1st Guards or 3rd Guards.​
(b) Singapore’s approach to forward defence works when the trust of the TNI is earned — with the initial planning conference for #SuperGarudaShield over, the TNI is prepared to operate in a multi-domain coalition with the Americans, Australians, Japanese, Singaporeans & others.​
(c) Learning from “USAF Doctrine Publication 3-60, Targeting”, the division level CONOPS of both the TNI & the SAF, towards joint fires needs to be further modernised for multi-domain operations. The TNI’s brigades in a high intensity conflict needs a division strike centre (DSC) for joint fires prioritisation, with a targeting board to approve strikes to reduce collateral damage for each identified precision strike.​

3. To support its “Thunder Run”, a SAB has a 155mm/39 calibre Primus Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery battalion in direct support. Capable of shoot & scoot, with the Bronco anmmo resupply vehicle, their role is to provide responsive call for joint-fires by a SAR.

4. As many in DefenceTalk may know, there is not much news about developments in the Singapore Army, after the 3G concept died down and the excitement from the Hunter AFV’s 2022 IOC with 42nd SAR*, has subsided.

5. The Singapore Army is planning on the medium term to replace the 155mm FH-2000 with a wheeled, next Gen. self propelled howitzer. Concurrently, trade studies are being done on 155mm requirements, in view of the implications of the high intensity war in Ukraine. The Singapore Army has also been planning multiple, incremental changes that includes:
(a) a change from Bronco to Bronco 3. I suspect, Oy Sisu Auto Ab has stopped developing its own Nasu series of tracked articulated carriers and developed its relationship with ST Engineering — Land Systems with the Bronco 3. Glad to see that the Bronco family has continued to evolve after Bronco 2’s use in Afghanistan as part of UOR of the British;​
(b) a change of the Section Automatic Weapon (SAW) from the 5.56mm Ultimax 100 to the Colt IAR. This SAW change will need a new training method — from emphasis on vol. of fire to accuracy. With a M4A1 lower receiver for select fire or auto, the Colt IAR can meet ADF’s ROEs — especially useful for the ADF in their counter terrorism support mission; and​
(c) MOUT in support of the Singapore police is one of the most difficult form of warfare, due to restrictions on the use of weapons — even when shot at. ROE restrictions ensure that the Ultimax 100 is unusable by the ADF, whereas the Colt IAR provides calibrated return fire.​
6. On the one hand, the Ultimax 100 Mk. 8 has reached an evolutionary dead-end. On the other, the Colt IAR feature a heavy profile, 16.1-inch barrel for increased sustained fire & a heat sink at the front. This makes the IAR easier to handle when hot for motorised troops.

7. Singapore does not harbour any illusions about our place in the world. History is full of examples of failed small states. Singaporeans have to take the world as it is, & not as we wish it to be. One significant Singaporean vulnerability is air field denial — a systems approach to solving this problem is not just about building a great IADS — not just a number of alternate runways, improved hardened shelters, or dispersals — this is not even about F-35Bs but some and all the above.

8. The amount spent on defence is around 3.1% to 3.5% of Singapore’s GDP — in FY2023, it is S$17.98 billion (US$13.4 billion). Unlike his unserious counterparts, like the Minister of National Defense in Taipei or Minister of Defence in KL, Singapore’s Minister of Defence does not engage in silly debates about:
(a) the duration of (i) National Service (set at 22 months) and (ii) mandated service in a reserve unit (at 10 years or up to the age of 40 years old);​
(b) the percentage of GDP to spend on defence; or​
(c) whether to move forward with the Malaysian SGPV procurement project — while 61% of the fleet is obsolete.​

The focus instead is on providing specific, real, land, naval, air & cyber capabilities that will be needed. This incremental approach on what needs to be improved under the SAF’s modernisation plans has limits but it is real and designed to address our threat matrix (with our country’s low birth rate as a given).


1️⃣SAR means Singapore Armoured Regiment (& the troops in these battalions wear Black berets)

2️⃣ SAB means Singapore Armoured Brigade (that comprises of Leopard 2SG crews from 48th SAR & armoured infantry battalions from 41st SAR & 42nd SAR)

3️⃣ SIR means Singapore Infantry Regiment (& troops in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th & 9th wear Green berets).

4️⃣ SIB means Singapore Infantry Brigade (comprising of troops from the SIRs & Guards battalions).
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9. For example, in 2019, Maritime Security Command decided that the 2nd Flotilla’s 8 Littoral Mission Vessels was inadequate, plans was introduced to ensure the Maritime Security Command has 12 vessels to meet daily tasking — with 4 Sentinel-class Maritime Security and Response Vessels brought back into service until 4 new OPVs could be built. In other words, spend the amount we need to spend to ensure Singapore’s security.

10. To learn from others, Singapore’s Chief Defence Scientist Mr Tan Peng Yam called on Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu in the US on 3 May 2023. Over the medium term, defence science and technology collaboration with the US will improve the SAF’s capability.

11. From 9 to 16 May 2023, TNI’s 23rd Battalion Special Forces Command (KOPASSUS) & soldiers from SAF’s 1st Commandos successfully concluded Exercise Chandrapura (XCP) 2023. Held in Bandung, Indonesia, this edition of the annual bilateral exercise involved both forces training in combat skills such as vehicular assault & CQB.

12. Soldiers exchanged knowledge in special forces’ tactics & techniques. In addition, they have executed an urban ops exercise & a bilateral static line parachute jump. These activities helped forged stronger friendship & confidence.
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