Saturday, April 28, 2012

First look at the upgraded Missile Corvette (MCV) from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)

Looking radiant in her new warpaint and with her A-gun cleared for action, the Singapore navy missile corvette RSS Valiant gives the camera a tantalising glimpse of her recent upgrade.(Source: Pioneer magazine, May 2012)  

The Victory-class Missile Corvette (MCV), RSS Valiant, shows off results of a mid-life upgrade in the latest edition of Pioneer magazine, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) monthly magazine.

Though the 62-metre missile boat's profile is almost identical to the pre-upgrade MCV silhouette, small refinements provide telling clues to the RSN warship's improved capabilities in battle management and electronic warfare defensive aids.

Mystery aerials
Two dish aerials are discernible, one on the mainmast facing forward and another aft covering the rear of the MCV. Together, these aerials provide 360-degree coverage. These are believed to be used to control Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of an unknown type which are launched from the missile boat to sharpen the crew's battlespace awareness while at sea or in the surf zone dotted with islands.

NATALEE drones are believed to have been tested from Singapore Navy MCVs, though it remains to be seen if this is the UAV type carried aboard the missile craft.

As is evident from the above image, an eye-in-the-sky which allows RSN warfighters to see even beyond the hulls of  nearby merchant vessels in congested waters allows the warship to have a clearer appreciation of its surface situation picture.

A Giraffe AMB radar replaces the Sea Giraffe. This change was previously reported in Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) literature.

Not visible are refinements that allow upgraded MCVs to share data with other SAF shore-based, aerial and naval assets securely, in real-time, over the horizon, with simultaneous data exchange and updates between SAF platforms that talk to one another. Improved battle management capabilities make MCVs better suited for littoral operations close to shore or in the busy sea lanes surrounding Singapore island.

New EW countermeasures launcher
A EW launcher of unknown type appears to have replaced the Plessey Shield chaff/flare launcher aft of the main mast. The shielding indicates a design aimed at signature reduction.

The upgraded MCVs still carry the attachment points for long range chaff rockets, which are not usually fitted for photo ops like this.

Those familiar with the MCV's original design may also notice the deletion of the Whitehead A244S torpedo tubes. When designed, the MCVs were armed with two triple tubes amidships. Just out of frame (pity!) is the aft end of the warship. It is believed the VDS has also been removed, though questions have been raised on the advisability of stripping MCVs of their anti-submarine sensors and weapons at a time when the RSN's AS capabilities should be enhanced.

The MCVs were the RSN's first warships that could hunt and sink submarines. Their appearance in 1988 made them one of the smallest warships equipped with a VDS.

The MCV mid-life upgrade extends the life of type of these warships as they approach a quarter century of active service. Force modernisation projects like these illustrate the difficulty of measuring an armed force's military potential by a straightforward numbers tally, which is the usual way newspapers do their calculation of the military balance.

MCVs have been on the military balance tables for the past two decades, but the Singapore Navy's missile craft post-upgrade are more survivable and have sensors better tuned for modern naval combat than their predecessors.

"If Hamlet give the first or second hit,
Or quit in answer of the third exchange,
Let all the battlements their ordnance fire" - Hamlet, Act V Scene II

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Facebook post by OC Bravo COY, 4 SIR

A number of you have asked me to post a link to this Facebook post by Choy Yongcong, which was written in response to the now infamous remark made on Wednesday by Zheng Huiting.

So here it is, more for the benefit of the foreign visitors to this blog. To the newcomers from Russia and Thailand, Hello!

Am not going to steal traffic so please read the whole thing on the writer's FB.

In Polite and Vehement Objection to 'Singaporeans Too Weak? LOL' - For all our NSFs/NSmen past, present, future.
By Choy Yongcong

Ever since PTE Lee Rui Feng Dominique Sarron passed away in an unfortunate training incident, there has been a flurry of discussions and comments. I watched first with interest, then frustration, and then finally anger. Anger that we've trivialized the issue. Anger that we are doubting our own in defending our home. And anger that we perhaps do not appreciate the work and sacrifice our citizen soldiers do.
It is my duty to speak out for them.

URL link

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) explains its emergency medical protocol

The Straits Times

http://www.straitstimes.compublished/ on Apr 21, 2012

SAF explains its emergency medical protocol

WE THANK Dr Ng Shin Yi ('NSF's death: Doctor queries medical protocol in field, SAF centres'; Thursday).

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) emergency medical support system (EMSS) is built upon the 'chain of survival' process adopted by the American Heart Association.

The system's chain comprises five key components: Early Access (to medical attention), Buddy Aid (including cardiopulmonary resuscitation), Basic Life Support and Early Defibrillation, Advanced Resuscitation, and Evacuation for Continuing Care.

Every link in this chain is designed to provide the best possible medical care for our soldiers in training and operations.

All SAF medical centres have an Emergency Resuscitation Facility (ERF) to handle medical emergencies.

These are modelled after emergency resuscitation bays in the emergency departments of hospitals.

SAF medical officers stationed at the ERF are trained and accredited in advanced clinical resuscitation protocols, including Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Advanced Trauma Life Support and Emergency Airway Management.

Medical evacuation is an important component of EMSS.

The principle is to evacuate an injured serviceman to an emergency medical facility with the appropriate level of care within the shortest possible time.

This can either be the nearest ERF within an SAF medical centre or a restructured hospital's emergency department.

All SAF medical personnel are trained to decide on the most appropriate facility to evacuate an injured serviceman to in an emergency.

Dr Ng also asked about the training of our front-line medical personnel. SAF medics undergo systematic training on paramedic protocols for medical emergencies that they are likely to encounter.

This training is developed in conjunction with the Justice Institute of British Columbia, a leading educator for training pre-hospital care paramedics.

In addition, SAF medical personnel regularly conduct team-based training in managing medical emergencies.

Last year, the SAF introduced mobile medical evaluation teams to assess the medical response standards of the entire EMSS.

This stress-testing and evaluation allow the SAF to continually improve its EMSS capability and proficiency.

The SAF's EMSS is endorsed by the SAF Emergency Medicine Specialist Advisory Board, which comprises senior emergency medicine and trauma surgery specialists from Singapore's restructured hospitals.

This clinical governance framework ensures that the SAF's evacuation policy, training, medical equipping and protocols are continually benchmarked against best clinical practice guidelines.

The Ministry of Defence assures the public that while the training remains tough and realistic, the SAF also maintains high safety standards to ensure that the safety of our soldiers is not compromised.

Colonel (Dr) Kang Wee Lee
Chief of Medical Corps
Singapore Armed Forces

The Straits Times

http://www.straitstimes.compublished/ on Apr 19, 2012

NSF's death: Doctor queries medical protocol in field, SAF centres

LIKE most of the other national servicemen who collapsed during training, the latest victim was attended to by an onsite medic before evacuation to a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medical centre ('NSF dies after collapsing during training exercise'; yesterday).

As I understand from the protocol, such servicemen will be treated by an SAF medical officer before being evacuated to a hospital, with resuscitation en route. Some of these servicemen, unfortunately, do not survive.

Can the SAF shed light on the standards of its medical officers, who often take up duty at its centres after having graduated from medical school only one to two years earlier, and are expected to perform life-saving resuscitation?

Are SAF medical officers expected to run a full adult cardiac life support code, that is, undertake a set of clinical interventions competently and urgently to stall or arrest life-threatening situations?

It is difficult for a junior medical officer supported only by medics to execute this medical code.

In a hospital, the code team often consists of experienced doctors and nurses.

Does the SAF Medical Corps audit the codes run by its servicemen? Are its medical officers regularly certified?

When a civilian collapses in public, he is tended to by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedics, who practise a basic life support code called Basic Cardiac Life Support and Defibrillation, before being taken directly to a hospital.

As time and advanced medical support are of the essence, the SAF may want to harmonise its protocol with the SCDF's, and consider direct evacuation to a hospital when a soldier collapses in the field.

Dr Ng Shin Yi

Friday, April 20, 2012

When a member of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) dies in service

After 45 years of National Service, the death of a son of Singapore still causes the same grief as military deaths long forgotten by our island nation.

For today's wired generation, news of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training casualties spreads as fast as one can type out the message and is received as quickly as you can scroll through your tablet PC. (Indeed, many of you would probably read this off your mobilephone handset or while on the move using wireless.)

There are few better examples of how the job of explaining SAF training deaths has been made more challenging than the newspaper article above, published in September 1970. The choice of words used, story structure and the unpolished delivery of hard truths ("...any soldier is assured of a coffin from the SAF when he dies." and this gem "If the family of the dead soldier wishes to carry out its own funeral arrangements it is free to do so but the SAF will still pay for the coffin.") will not sit well with today's parents of the Gen Ys and strawberry generation.

That said, Singaporeans serving the Third Generation SAF cannot escape the statistical reality that every calendar year will claim around one training death every three months or so.

Should the September 1970 article be written for today's audience, the following guidelines might help deliver a more socially acceptable story.

MINDEF Public Affairs (PAFF) news release
Word on SAF training incidents are usually disseminated via a new release (NR) issued by PAFF. In most cases, a brief, straight-to-the-point NR is all you will get out of MINDEF.

Exceptions are made for stories that demand frequent updates because of the way the story unfolds. For example, the search-and-locate operation following the collision between the patrol vessel, RSS Courageous, and a container vessel that resulted in staggered recoveries of the dead servicewomen and updates following the ROCAF F-5F crash in Taiwan resulted in multiple NRs issued over several days.

As the template-style write-up from PAFF may be softened with a quote from your superior or camp mate, it is always good to leave a lasting impression so they will have something good to say about you without lying through their teeth. The NR issued on 26 October 2009 to report the death of Army First Warrant Officer S. Thivvianathan is believed to have kicked off the new template which includes a quote from someone who knew the deceased serviceman.

Over-used template phrases include "our hearts go out to xxx" - a soppy, try-too-hard line from officialdom that only states the obvious.

Picture and Internet presence
Calibrate your signature and be mindful of your footprint in cyberspace. Journalists will trawl every source possible for the your picture. If the picture of you clowning around is all that is available on your unprotected Facebook page, you can bet your last dollar that will be the one gracing the story. Make sure pictures are properly labelled so there's no ambiguity: The 90 cents newspaper once published the wrong photo for a story on someone who died during an open water swim at East Coast Park, ending up shocking not one but two families. Yes, this happens.

In this regard, MINDEF/SAF's move to photograph recruits professionally is a positive move. With the right search engine and key strokes, anyone searching for pictures of recruits from recent graduation parades should have little problem finding the individual they are after. For many full-time National Servicemen, that photo session will mark the first time being photographed in their Number 4 uniform and Singapore flag.

The absence of images from the family or online resources is likely to push mainstream media to rely increasingly on this repository of NSF images.

In some cases, families may argue whether or not to release a picture. Fathers usually relent. Mothers tend to cling onto every vestige of privacy, when there is really none because of internet forensics.

Intermediaries like trusted friends or relatives may help defuse such situations. In one story on the death of a Singapore Army warrant officer, it was his sister who persuaded the WO's widow to pose with her children in a solemn, dignified way. It took almost two hours for the widow to relent but the Home 1 cover that appeared the next day portrayed the husband/father as a strict disciplinarian who cared deeply for his family and showed his love and concern in other ways.

The thing to note for grieving families, many of whom have never been thrust into the media spotlight before, is this: Almost all newspapers in Singapore will write a piece about the dead person that will skew towards the positive. Even for the most basket case of emotional misfits and hopeless soldier, there is some silver lining that a good reporter will tease out of the family.

The sudden intrusion of privacy may be untimely, unwelcome and an absolute pain to deal with. PAFF may frighten NOKs into silence by describing horror stories of how the feral press forces quotes out of grieving relatives. This, in my experience, does not happen (at least during my time) and the IOs who pull this sort of stunt do the NOKs a grave disservice by robbing them of an occasion to recollect the best times of their loved one's life.

Almost every family covered by the media will cut and keep the newspaper articles that appear the next day. These often represent the last keepsakes with their last ones. Some even compile them into scrapbooks to reflect upon in years to come.

On a related point, the commitment of the Singapore Artillery formation in remembering its dead gunners who died serving their country during the first Thunder Warrior live-fire exercise in New Zealand is both commendable and touching. Fifteen years have passed since Third Sergeant Ronnie Tan Han Chong and Lance Corporal Low Yin Tit died while manning their FH-2000 155mm gun. But the simple, dignified obituary has kept appearing year after year, long after that fateful date.

The Singapore Artillery officers and men who were directly involved in that incident would have long gone on to other postings in the SAF or left the military. And NSF gunners who served alongside the two men would be in their mid-30s by now. But the Singapore Artillery has somehow internalised the incident and future generations in HQ SA have never forgotten to place the newspaper obit on the death anniversary.

The Straits Times 9 March 2012
Not the name, the acronym which means Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, Help. Some psychologists use Denial, Anger, Fear, Bargaining and Acceptance or some other similar permutation.Whichever line of reasoning one subscribes to, the central point for crisis situations is acknowledging the roller coaster of emotions people naturally undergo when faced with stressful life events.

Being self-aware is vital during such situations - not just for the NOKs for obvious reasons but also for journalists covering the story. The scribes must resist growing so close to the tragedy that the grief somehow percolates into their psyche. I know journalists who covered the SQ006 crash in Taipei in October 2000 who cried openly on the tarmac during the memorial service.

Being emotionally detached from a story is easier said that done. All of the above did not prepare me for the situation in 2005 when I had to explain to a 13-year-old how his father died while on a tsunami relief mission to Krabi I helped organise. The death of former RSN officer Fong Peng Khoon was a painful lesson for me in mission preparedness and contingency planning. Till this day, I occasionally ask myself whether - with 20:20 hindsight - the mission should have been scrubbed by giving all sorts of excuses and by not giving the donation drive the publicity in the 90 cents newspaper and Channel i. But that's life and as one's mind rolls through denial to acceptance of fact, one hopes the right lessons are picked up and rigorously applied.

Having attended more wakes for strangers during my time with the 90 cents newspaper than many of you will during your entire lifetime, I found my defence mechanism was to treat the story clinically with mental fact boxes to be filled during the interview: Name of deceased, age, unit, appointment, if NSF when he enlisted/ORD date, if regular when he joined, NSF's plans for the future, former school, how many siblings, father's name/occupation, mother's name/occupation, gf's name, quote from NOK, ask for a picture from the family album and so on.

That said, I do remember certain dates well. Try as I might with the standoff, unemotional approach to news-gathering, some incidents do tug at the heartstrings. The date 26th March may not mean anything to many of you, but it does to me (and a handful of you out there) and not just because of Ops Thunderbolt. If you know, you know.

Singaporeans close ranks against post on NSF's death

Not since Tin Pei Ling appeared in Singapore's political scene in 2011 has a Singapore girl stirred so much debate in cyberspace.

Zheng Huiting's three-word response (see above) to a story on the death of full-time National Serviceman (NSF) Private Dominique Sarron Lee Rui Feng made the hitherto unknown lass an instant target for netizens' ire.

For those of us who have been following Internet gaffes, the end result was a predictable replay of past backpeddling by netizens who learned the harsh reality that even in cyberspace, there are social norms one should never flout. By sunset on Wednesday, Zheng Huiting had turned from faceless netizen to Internet flame bait to recluse. She had shut down her Facebook account, blog and Twitter accounts. The obligatory apology popped up in an attempt to quell public anger before she beat a hasty retreat from cyberspace.

Before she frantically erased her net presence, self-appointed internet sleuths had done their handiwork. They had captured screenshots from the girl's (then unprotected) Facebook account, posted unprintable comments on her blog and outed her boyfriend, who is apparently serving with the Singapore Combat Engineers. Poor fellow: this is one stink bomb even CBRE cannot defuse.

For thousands of citizen soldiers around our island nation, an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday suddenly become livelier.

If the Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) ever needs an example to underline, underscore and emphasize the importance of never taking National Service (NS) for granted, this Zheng Huiting episode would be it.

To be sure, her pitiful apology - a rambling and grammatically incoherent mea culpa - was probably intended to persuade netizens to cease fire.

The response from Singaporeans to this episode is noteworthy. Such a response is certainly better than a situation of complete silence and apathy from a citizens' armed forces. From a defence commitment standpoint, the energy and vigour expressed during this episode goes to show that Singaporeans will not hold back when people take pot shots at National Service.

Indeed, many netizens who spoke up to protect the memory of Dominique Lee probably never even knew the NSF personally. Many who spoke up questioned what they are defending and had harsh words for the likes of Zheng Huiting who do not seem to understand or appreciate what NS entails.

As we mark the 45th year of NS in 2012, this year marks an opportune moment for us to reflect upon the relevance of NS, why we must serve and how our island nation has gained, collectively as a society, from the institution of NS.

All of this probably makes no difference to the Lee family as they grapple with the shock of Dominique's sudden death a week after his 21st birthday.

As the Lee family mourns their loss, they may - perhaps not now but some day in future - take comfort from the fact that thousands who never met him personally cared enough for a fellow citizen soldier to speak out for him when it counted.

Please take part in the poll. Your views matter. -->

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Exercise Kocha Singa 2012 CALFEX

This Royal Thai Army video is best enjoyed on max volume. : )

Sa Kaeo Province, Thailand: Royal Thai Army BTR-3 armoured fighting vehicles join forces with Singapore Army Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles during a combined live-fire exercise (CALFEX) on 5 April 2012.

The wheeled 8x8s from Thailand and Singapore were taking part in the annual bilateral army war games, codenamed Exercise Kocha Singa. This year's exercise, the 14th in the series, was held in Thailand from 20 March to 5 April 2012.

Motorised infantry from the Singapore Army's 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment and the Royal Thai Army's 1st Infantry Battalion from the 2nd Infantry Regiment operated alongside one another to approach and demolish enemy targets. Notice how the extended reach of the 30mm cannon on Thai BTR-3s allowed them to play a more active part in taking down distant targets compared to the Terrex ICVs. Wheeled armour from both armies advanced with all hatches closed, which is a noteworthy departure from the usual practice for Singapore Army tracked AFVs where the tank commander fights the battle from an open hatch to maximise situational awareness.

Terrex ICVs from 5 SIR make their entrance from 1:33 min in the second clip. 

Footage of Exercise Kocha Singa 2012 was filmed by the Royal Thai Army. Any idea what the commentator is saying?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coming to terms with Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training deaths

All of us will die someday, so what is it about Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training deaths that gets Singaporeans so worked up?

The emotional energy that jolts this island nation whenever we hear of yet another death in the Singaporean military is far better than a situation of complete and utter apathy.

After 45 years of National Service (NS), compulsory conscription is a common experience firmly rooted in Singaporean society. Every family who learns about a training incident would therefore be able to commiserate with the family reeling from the loss of their loved one. In their hearts, they know that NS is a risky business and someday, the bearer of bad news could come knocking on their own front door.

Most times, the sentiment that weighs heavily on society is the sense of loss when a son of Singapore dies while serving his country. Such sentiments are stoked by the impression that NS is a waste of time. The life lost was thus wasted in a useless enterprise. Compare this with the sense of selfless sacrifice and commitment that is seeded in our mind whenever someone dies while doing a notable deed (like dying during a humanitarian mission).

The idea that NS is a waste of people's time could be seeded by one of the following reasons.

First, Singaporeans may feel the island nation cannot be defended. Serving the SAF is therefore futile.

Second, Singaporeans may feel the city state is not worth defending.

Third, the SAF cannot do its job. NS is therefore a waste of time even if the island can and should be defended.

Fourth, Singaporeans may feel there is no imminent threat worthy of universal conscription.

Fifth, training deaths may trigger negative sentiments towards the SAF because conscription is compulsory. In coming to terms with the death, society may rationalise that the young man would not have died if the NSF wasn't place in the situation in the first place. In many cases, the sense of loss is magnified in direct proportion to the age of the deceased.

It will be clear that it will take more than a clever public relations campaign to remedy the mindsets listed above. For starters, having a Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and SAF that does not throw smoke screens or belittle concerns of its citizens soldiers would be a good start.

Share BOI/COI results
Singaporeans would benefit from learning results of investigations into training deaths because such knowledge can reinforce the safety first mindset among NSFs, operationally ready NSmen and SAF regulars. Our obsession with secrecy is self-defeating when our citizens' army has to relearn painful lessons in accident awareness, risk mitigation, workplace safety and personal healthcare.

Are results of a BOI/COI really that sensitive our national defence ecosystem would collapse if word leaked out? Are we keeping things under wraps because publicity will compromise security or are we doing so because the findings may embarrass MINDEF/SAF? There's a big difference between the two. Isn't losing face a better option than losing another life?

From time to time, politicians will tell us that no amount of preventive efforts will lead to a zero accident rate. This is certainly true. After 45 years of National Service, most Singaporeans are reasonable enough not to expect a clean slate.

But we owe it to our citizens who step forward to serve that every death was not in vain.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PIONEER April 2012

Any comments on this story from Pioneer April 2012?

Particularly this line --> "The current hotel was built in 1926 as the administration building of the British Far East Command Headquarters, and it was here that its commanding general officer Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival surrendered Singapore to the invading Japanese forces in 1942."