The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be sending about 50 to 60 personnel to take part in the multinational coalition efforts to combat the terrorist threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said as he officially opened the new training facility for the republic’s airborne troopers at Pasir Ris camp on Monday (Dec 1).
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said planning and liaison officers have already made their way to the United States Central Command to get “a sense what the mission’s requirements are”. He said coalition partners have welcomed Singapore’s involvement and are looking forward to Singapore’s professional input.
Dr Ng said the SAF will now “synchronise” where its help is most needed.
“I would say that the reaction to our involvement is a positive one. They know that as we did in Afghanistan, we contributed very positively, by our KC-135 refuelling tankers as well as our imagery analysts,” said Dr Ng. “So coalition partners have welcomed our involvement because they expressed the opinion that we have helped previously and they look forward to our professional input.”
Dr Ng, who had a go at one of the stations at the new training facility, said the facility is a worthwhile investment as it will ensure soldiers are trained well, such as in the event of a terrorist threat.
“We take our special forces training with extra care and there are a few reasons for it,” said Dr Ng. “As you know since 911, the threat of terrorism is real and present and with the recent terrorist threat from ISIS in Iraq and Syria, this threat is uppermost in our minds, when we plan and prepare. As you know our neighbours, both Malaysia and Indonesia, have expressed concern that those who have returned from Iraq and Syria can cause harm to the residents in their countries and I would include Singapore in the same threat scenario.”
Earlier this month in Parliament, Dr Ng had said that Singapore’s efforts will include deploying a KC-135R tanker aircraft for air-to-air refuelling and an Imagery Analysis Team. He said there will be no combat troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
The SAF soldiers will operate from surrounding countries together with other coalition forces.