Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Singapore Armed Forces Guardsmen help New Zealanders with quake relief - more help on the way after NZ gov't gives green light

Singaporean soldiers are now assisting with earthquake relief operations in the New Zealand city of Christchurch and more help will wing its way there from Singapore early tomorrow morning.

As you read this, additional quake relief forces are being prepared at the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) air base at Paya Lebar. They were assigned their mission to New Zealand after the NZ government accepted Singapore's offer to assist with quake relief operations in Christchurch, the largest city in New Zealand's South Island.

Rescuers from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will be airlifted to New Zealand aboard one KC-135R from the RSAF's 112 Squadron and two C-130 Hercules transports from 122 SQN.

The airlift will be the RSAF's largest and longest range humanitarian assistance and disaster relief flight since the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. The flight from Singapore to New Zealand is expected to take around 12 hours, with refuelling stops in between for the KC-135R and C-130s.

This demands thorough route planning and weather intelligence by RSAF pilots, navigators and airmen as the airlift will have to cover the vast continent of Australia and the wet gap to New Zealand. Anyone who has taken a C-130 ride for any length of time will realise the challenge of riding cargo class in a Herk on a SIN-NZ air route.

Complicating flight schedules and time-on-target arrival planning is the difference in airspeed between the turbofan-powered KC-135Rs and the slower, propellor-driven C-130s. This may see the contingent arrive in New Zealand at staggered timings, complicating the deployment of the Singaporean rescue force in one wave.

Presently deployed in and around Christchurch are 116 SAF regulars and full-time National Servicemen from Headquarters Guards.

The Guardsmen, who are trained as heliborne infantry, are in New Zealand for the Lion Walk land forces manoeuvres with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Their mercy mission alongside New Zealander rescuers extends a helping hand to residents of Christchurch after a 6.3 magnitude temblor struck around midday on Tuesday (22 Feb'11).

DPM Teo Offers Assistance in Response to the Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand

Source: Ministry of Defence, Singapore
Posted: 22 Feb 2011, 2048 hours (Time is GMT +8 hours)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean has conveyed Singapore's condolences and offer of assistance to the New Zealand government and people as they grapple with the devastation of the earthquake in Christchurch.

In a telephone conversation with the New Zealand Minister of Defence Dr Wayne Mapp this afternoon, Mr Teo offered the assistance of 116 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regulars and full-time national servicemen to help with rescue operations and to provide humanitarian aid to victims of the earthquake. The servicemen, from Headquarters Guards, were participating in the annual bilateral exercise in Christchurch, codenamed Exercise Lion Walk, when the earthquake happened. The exercise has since stopped, and all SAF personnel are safe and accounted for.

The New Zealand authorities have accepted Singapore's offers of assistance. Besides the SAF team in New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will be flying a 55-member Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) urban search and rescue team and a command team led by Colonel Melvyn Ong, Commander 7 Singapore Infantry Brigade, to assist in the disaster relief efforts. The Singapore contingent will depart from Paya Lebar Airbase in two RSAF C-130s and one KC-135 military aircraft early tomorrow morning.

Last updated on 22 Feb 2011


Hsien said...

Hi David,
Do you have any info about Ex Lion Walk, seems like a very obscure exercise.

David Boey said...

Hi Hsien,
Ex Lion Walk has been reported before. Pse check PIONEER mag and MINDEF website.


FIVE-TWO said...

Mother Nature's retort to SDP's defense budget proposal?

Ben Choong said...

Poor NZ shouldn't have to pay for SDP's lack of know-how...must be quite something for the Guardsmen on exercise to suddenly have to be on a real mission though.

Wocelot said...

Uncle 52

It is Mother Nature's reply to that whoever who thinks we could take a leave from NZ military posture.

FinalFive said...

Disaster Relief - the new HADR ops portfolio of the FPDA. Is this the first time an ops is taking place under the framework? (Is it even taking place under this framework?)

Anonymous said...

Let it not be said that we forget our friends, the SG-NZ military ties have existed since WW2 and the New Zealanders were based here until the late 80s...

- K

Anonymous said...

always ready, ready to strike.

-Guardsmen from 11 MONO 1st Guards.

Anonymous said...

Lion Walk is a biannual exercise between Singapore Army and NZ Army. Coincidentally, Lion Walk 2011 edition, was meant to be a HADR exercise.

The last waved of exercise contingent arrived on SQ in CHCH, just two hours before the earthquake struck.

Reports reported Guardsmen, but only 20% are Guardsmen aka Guards trained. The rest (80%), a good majority, are technically, not Guardsmen :)

One of the 116 :)