Sunday, July 18, 2010

National Day Parade 2010: 2nd National Education Show (NE2)

Getting ready: The crew of a Bronco 120mm SRAMS self-propelled mortar flush rainwater from their vehicle after the pre-dawn downpour. The water had collected in storage bins on the SRAMS.

An unexpected wave was added to the 11 waves of vehicles that make up this year's Mobile Column.

This was the wave of water from the flash flood that drowned at least four private vehicles owned by Mobile Column participants early on Saturday morning. Water rose knee high at one part of the Kallang Leisure Park's car park after drains overflowed.

With their Saturday burnt (yet again!) and their cars soaked, the wet start to preparations for the second National Education show (NE2) must have been a lousy way to start the day for these car owners.

But work had to proceed. Dozens of traffic marshals and safety officers were drenched in the downpour as they supervised the unloading of A vehicles from low loaders.

By early Saturday morning, more than 210 vehicles from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and police, and civil defence that represent Singapore's Home Team were safely assembled.

Among them were three Maxxpro MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) which were fresh additions to the Mobile Column.

The recently-ended NE2 show, performed for some 15,000 Primary Five students, showed that the Mobile Column had factored in results of last week's vetting.

Tracked and wheeled vehicles that form the 2-km long column drive past City Hall in waves in this march order:
Wave 1: Armour; vanilla Leopard 2A4s last seen during NE1. By NE2, all Leopard main battle tanks carried the enhanced armour package.
Wave 2: Infantry; Terrex Command vehicles used as spares at CR3 and were absent from NE1
Wave 3: Guards
Wave 4: Combat Engineers; EOD five tonners should switch on their light bars.
Wave 5: Artillery; HIMARS still absent at NE2 : (
Wave 6: Ground-based air defence
Wave 7: C4ISTAR
Wave 8: Combat Service Support
Wave 9: Maritime Security Task Force; Protector Unmanned Surface Vessel added from NE1
Wave 10: Homeland Security
Wave 11: Overseas Missions; a pair of armoured wheeled shovels from the Combat Engineers wave and two LARC-Vs from CSS were moved to Wave 11. Two MaxxPro MRAPs added for NE2. I feel this makes Wave 11 look much better. Though it is the tail end of the column, it is the last item that spectators will see and this wave should look as kilat (impressive) as possible.

It is interesting to note that the MRAP (or what the SAF calls MPTVs) have number plates that start with the magic letters MID. For example, MID 60xxx. In most other SAF vehicles, the number plates end with MID. This numbering convention is noteworthy because it strays from what is usually practised.

I am surprised Civil Resource vehicles are not represented at NDP 2010. Mobile Columns of yesteryear always had civilian low loaders, cranes or buses that showed people the kind of civil resources that support Singapore's defence and homeland security needs.

With the NDP 2010 parade show concept more or less frozen, I suppose it is too late to include the CR element now. But this is something that officers tasked to execute NDP 2015 should consider.
As street lighting for the Singapore Formula One grand prix has been installed, it would be nice if these lights could be switched on for NE3 and the Parade Preview. The Mobile Column would look much better under bright lights and this would result in better pictures too.

Though the morning downpour threatened to dampen spirits, this was clearly not the case looking at the expressions of Mobile Column participants as their vehicles drove past thousands of spectators around Marina Bay.

Camera flashes pulsated like strobes from the crowd line. A forest of hands were raised to wave at the Mobile Column. People had waited patiently for hours to see this moving display.

Just imagine what the real thing will be like on 9 August 2010.

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