Thursday, August 9, 2018

Singapore's National Day Parade 2018

Amazing isn't it?

Singapore island, aka the Little Red Dot, seen from the perspective of the Singapore Army's crack Red Lions Commando parachute display team. This photo mozaic was stitched together from a video that shows the commandos rehearsing for this evening's 53rd National Day celebrations in Singapore.

On the far right (east) of the landmass is Changi. To the left (west) is Jurong and Tuas, with Pandan Reservoir visible as the glistening patch near the top left. The green patch of the central catchment area with the freshwater reservoirs can also be seen.

From east to west, about 50km. North to south, a mere 22km.

You are looking at the most densely defended country in Southeast Asia. Within the field of view of the Red Lions, the city-state has the:
Most number of armoured fighting vehicles in Southeast Asia.

Heaviest concentration of tube and rocket artillery.

Biggest number of combat engineer bridging rafts.

Deepest underground ammunition depot.

Largest fleet of fast landing craft.

Extensive naval sealift.

More combat warplanes, hunter-killer submarines and MBT types than the neighbours.

Region's highest density of SAMs.

Neighbourhood's only counter rocket artillery and mortar (C-RAM) system.

Unrivalled military training arrangements globally.

And yet, critically vulnerable. See for yourself:
No strategic depth.

A currency backed by no natural resources.

Open border with the home shore minutes away from the world's busiest sea lane.

Exposed to artillery, special forces and rapid deployment parachute forces.

Lack of economic hinterland.

High density of ageing population.

Virtually no room to manoeuvre on home ground.

Heavy reliance on open access to sea and air trade routes.

Your back towards the sea any way you face.

Sleep well at night?

Many of us do, blissfully unaware of Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team units serving as the city-state's sentinels whose sensors watch above and beyond the border, and can see beyond the obvious.

We thank them all. :-)


Tigermoth said...

Thanks for your highlighting again of the fact how vulnerable Singapore is and always will be. Yet we still have scores of Singaporeans asking to cut our defence budget. Hope they open their eyes and clear their minds to the significance of a strongest defence posture possible. Happy Birthday, Singapore.

AARONQFW said...

More MBT... **types**?

singaporean learning to retire well said...

Yes all these are not by accident! But careful planning

David Boey said...

No typo :-p


Kok Soon Lim said...

We are literally bursting at the seams. some clowns are still calling for a 10 mil population with barely 30k active personel defending (out of which 1/3 are PRs with questionable loyalty. Go figure the future.

AARONQFW said...

@Kok Soon Lim ,

Ok let's look at the real figures!

The US has a 325 mil population, of which 1281k are active military, and 811k are reservists. That's a military to civilian ratio of 1:155.6

Singapore has a current population of 5.6 million of which 35k are NSFs, and 37k are regulars for a total of 72k (and note, here I exclude NSmen, which the US does not). The military to civilian ratio is currently 1:70.

That's at least twice the US, but nobody will say the US is poorly defended, even if we exclude our own reservists. I don't think the military to civilian ratio is a sufficiently accurate estimator of military strength.

You've gotta remember that the Singapore Government does not control the population. It may attempt to encourage more people to come, but the numbers don't magically appear in a vacuum, nor are they independent of other changes. I of course, have no clue what these changes are. Go figure!

Unknown said...


Your ratios are meaningless - you still need a critical mass. Say, a country with 100,000 population and a military of 2,000 regulars - that's a ratio of 1:50. Impressive? These 2,000 can be wiped out in an instant.

Singapore has 72k. Say 36k are wiped out in initial contacts. Can we still fight effectively? US can suffer 360K KIAs and still fight.

The government does not control the population - that's precisely the point Kok is trying to make. The government CAN control the population by slowing down immigration.

AARONQFW said...

I don't disagree! In fact that was my original point, to think about capabilities rather than numbers.

But then hor, why Kok must say 10 mil and 30k? Why not simply say "30k is too few"? ;P

There's another point to the numbers debate that has just surfaced itself. An SAF that overmatches neighbouring forces is crucial for basic survival. But an SAF that is so large as to consume say 1/70 of the population takes up a lot of labour and manpower that could be put into the economy. And an exceptional economy is also crucial for basic survival.

So how? If we say that 72k is enough to defend *Singapore* per se, then letting the population grow by bringing in (hopefully) skilled labour would address part of the economic problem by expanding the labour supply and hence the tax base to fund a more lethal SAF right? But would that then put a strain on public infrastructure and services? The problem compounds. What if Kok is indeed right to say that 72k is not enough? Then the size and capabilities of the military should increase. But where will the money come from? A daily headache for planners.

AARONQFW said...

Oh ya also, Reservists are the bulk of our fighting force in war time. It's the old Continental/French/German system. We don't fight with a professional Army. I also don't think NSFs should count as active, as much as warfighters-in-training. Gotta finish dat ATEC first.

Playtime said...

Somehow if anyone ask about defence spending, automatically will be told it's crucial etc etc.. it's not wrong to question.

Let's not be naive, we don't spend for defence, it's for offence.
An offensive force will cost you a tonne more... The usual 3to1 thingy

The moment we achieve water Independence, the game changes, so should money be spend on achieving that Independence or on more offensive capability.. which is cheaper. That's the question.
Are we overspending on offense?
Once that offense is triggered, do we "win"?

LRD said...


To be more precise, we are applying offensive action for the purpose of defending our right and sovereignty, which is very much determines by the constrains that we faced, non other than our lack of strategy depth.

It is not true that defensive force has a lower cost compared to offensive force. It is all depends on how effective and how much damage you can sustain when a fight break out. In Singapore case, any explosion that takes place is a huge damage to public confident, which affect stock market, property market, foreign investment etc whereby their values are sustained via public confident of our ability to protect their asset in the form of right of use as well as value. Hence it is the comparison between the value you are protecting vs the cost you put in for the defend, much like medical insurance where you pay a nominal amount to protect yourself from potential huge medical bills.

Water Independence - If we secured our water independence, yes we are less vulnerable but this does not mean that our defend posture will turn from offensive strategy to defensive strategy as the constraint that we face will never change. In addition, our survival also depends on international trade as all our daily necessity come beyond our border and this depends on our ability to maintain an open SLOC and freedom of overflight. Much of these can be dominated/controlled by our neighbors if we cannot contribute to the international community in a meaningful way.

Lastly, nothing is guaranteed except for tax & death. Hence no one can provide assurance on any warfare outcome. However with the right assessment of the situation and preparation, it can provide us with confident of the desired outcome.

Hence it is confident that we seek and not assurance out the outcome.

LRD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Min Sheng Kwok said...

@Playtime, @LRD,

I also want to point out that sustaining our water independence will entail securing our energy supply to keep the Newater and desal plants running. This is a task even more complicated then ensuring our imported water supply is uninterrupted, as it entails securing our SLOC.

To be a defensive force is to return to the poison shrimp strategy and remove an important foreign policy tool. Tim Huxley called the SAF a regional doomsday machine and that is still true.

Should we ever need to press the button, we have already failed at our primary mission of deterance and what remains is to minimise the effects of whatever is happening to Singapore.

tankee1981ify said...

With regards to engery independence,there were plans for a nuclear power plant which was actually being reported in the mainstream media many years ago. That was pre-Fukushima.

sepecatgr1a said...

Unfortunately, we live in an unpredictable and oftentimes dangerous world – this is especially so for a very tiny nation like Singapore.

We currently enjoy peace and prosperity. This truly cannot be taken for granted.

The younger generations have never experienced the terrors of WW2 and the brutal Japanese occupation.

Most Singaporeans have a vague inkling of the fear & uncertainlty during konfrantasi.

How many remember the fear of a spillover of the race riots in Malaysia on May 13 1969.

How many Singaporeans are even aware of the Indonesian invasion and subsequent annexation of East Timor in 1975. The 24 year Indonesian occupation was brutal.

How about the May 1998 riots in Indonesia where the main targets were ethnic Chinese.

History has repeatedly shown that small weak nations are not only very susceptible to the manipulations of larger nations but also to
political, economic & military attacks.

The current war is Ukraine and annexation of Crimea are just some recent examples in the long list of conflicts involving small nations with much larger ones.

With zero strategic depth, there is no way we can adopt a purely defensive strategy. We have no land to maneuver or to trade for time. We cannot become an Aleppo or Malawi both of which suffered massive destruction.

Potential enemies must already know that in the worst case scenario that we will defend our way of life by taking the fight to them. We will suffer death & destruction but so will they.

We want to be friendly to all. Being a tiny nation (nor for any nation for that matter) it is not in our interest to wage war unless it is a matter of last resort. But it must be clear to potential enemies that it is also in their best interest not to wage war.

Our enemies choose us & not we them.

However, ff the need ever arises it will take overwhelming military power to win convincingly. Building our military might cannot be a taken as a half measure. It is moronic to think that we can do so otherwise.