Sunday, July 11, 2010

National Day Parade 2010: 4th Combined Rehearsal

Counting from 1 MID to the vehicle with the biggest MID number plate in my note book, I'm quite sure that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has several thousand A and B-vehicles in its inventory. Add Home Team vehicles and that number would swell even more.

Of these thousands, only 210 have been picked for the National Day Parade 2010 Mobile Column.

This moving display that takes place once every five years will show Singaporeans the capabilities that their armed forces, police and civil defence force can call upon to defend the Lion City. About 40 per cent of the 90-plus different vehicle types that make up the Mobile Column are new. Their inclusion in NDP 2010 will speak volumes about the SAF and Home Team's readiness and ability to carry out their assigned missions.

The 900 SAF and Home Team personnel who crew these vehicles would not have been chosen if their officers are not confident they can pull off a good show. NDP will unfold in front of an audience of millions of people and that's not the arena for sloppy showmanship.

Apart from the actual parade on 9 August 2010, the Combined Rehearsals NDP participants have been enduring since four Saturdays ago put them in full view of Singaporeans who expect a high standard of showmanship and panache.

Yesterday at CR4, Mobile Column participants got a taste of things to come when they drove past thousands of hysterical primary school children cheering themselves hoarse.

To CR4 spectators and those at last Saturday's CR3, made up mainly of NDP 2010 family members and friends who are more likely to forgive cock ups, the Mobile Column's "rehearsal" in anything but a formal run through of the actual parade sequence. Spectators invited for these previews treat the event as an actual show and expect a tip-top performance.

To be fair, none of the Mobile Column participants are entertainers. That said, their ability to show that they can stick to rigid timesheets or improvise on the spot when a vehicle breaks down is a telling indicator of how well they may perform during an actual operation.

If, for example, a vehicle crew cannot show up on time to take its place in the Mobile Column as the vehicles form up, would you really rely on this crew during operations? What if they also show up late during a hostage rescue mission?

When one considers that the NDP 2010 Executive Committee only had CR1 and CR2 to work with before the spectators stands filled up from CR3 onwards, you will sense the amount of pressure the Exco has to bear as 9 August draws ever closer.

Rehearsals in front of a "live" audience are very different from driving past a mock Padang in Tuas or driving past empty spectator stands during CR1 and CR2.

As spectators cheer on Mobile Column participants and as spectator galleries sparkle with thousands of camera flashes, many Mobile Column participants will get a sense of the intense buzz they will create on Singapore's 45th National Day.

The NDP rehearsals will take claim many Saturdays, but no one can take away the sense of pride and achievement that NDP participants inevitably feel when they respond to the curtain call on 9 August.

1. Plans to include HIMARS were dropped after CR1.
2. The Terrex Command Post which had a blanking plate in place of the main armament was dropped after CR3.
3. The vanilla Leopard 2A4s that took part in earlier rehearsals will not appear at NDP 2010.
4. Two more photos have been added to the CR3 commentary. Please click here. Many thanks to the RSAF personnel who suggested adding these. :-)


Anonymous said...

Why HIMARS not featured in this NDP?
Puzzling?? Again that sensitivity issue to neigbors?

Anonymous said...

I know we test-fired the HIMARs in Oklahoma last year, the actual rockets were US Army stock as actual delivery would not begin until 1-2 years later. Have we started receiving HIMARs already?

Anonymous said...

I personally thought and had hoped that the HIMARS should be fielded as part of the mobile column. Given its lethal firepower, it would have added a big WOW to the parade. Since a certain leader across the causeway had remarked that they could use their Brazilian-made MLRS to target our HDB flats, I don't think our govt needs to show too much consideration to the sensitivity issue.