Sunday, January 19, 2014

A look at riot police from the Singapore Police Force Special Operations Command and Gurkha Contingent

Follow me: Officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) Gurkha Contingent stand to in full riot gear. GC officers can be distinguished from Singaporean policemen by the five-digit service number embroidered in white on the right chest pocket and the crossed kukris on their helmets. Gurkha officers lead from the front, as seen in this picture.

With the Singapore Parliament due to discuss the Little India riot (8 Dec 2013) tomorrow, here's a series of images that show how the Singapore Police Force (SPF) would deploy and respond to civil disorder.

The images date back to 2006. They record a set piece demonstration staged for the media ahead of the IMF-World Bank meeting in Singapore that year. The publicity was aimed at assuring delegates and Singapore residents that the Republic was ready to tackle any eventuality at the meeting as such sessions have been known to attract activists who vent their views through violent street demonstrations. The high-profile event passed without street protests and were widely viewed as among the most peaceful in the long-running series.

The incident in Little India clearly indicates that real ops are different from set piece demos where forces can be marshalled and deployed in textbook formations like the ones seen below.

Am unsure if SPF has a Singapore Armed Forces ATEC-type evaluation for its riot police but it looks like they could benefit from such a framework, along with more realistic OPFOR simulators.

If you like reading about ancient warfare, you may see similarities between the formations used by Roman legions and what you see below. Enjoy!

Special Operations Command troopers form up line abreast in preparation for the order to advance.

With a water cannon vehicle providing close support, SOC troopers close ranks to form a shield wall as they confront demonstrators (played by other SOC troopers wearing civvies). The front ranks of a Roman legion deployed for close combat would probably have shields placed side by side like this. Evident from this view is the fact that while the troop commander has deployed the block force over a broad frontage, the line has poor defence in depth and no immediate reserves to exploit and pursue tactical opportunities. Such a formation is also vulnerable on its flanks. One would assume such a formation would be deployed across the breadth of a street, both to seal off the area and protect the flanks of the formation.

Providing support behind the SOC troopers are Gurkha Contingent police officers. Note the different types of shields. The officers with the round shields serve more as skirmishers who can rush out from either end of the protective shield wall, which in this formation is in stand to formation in open order. Impressive for pictures but the reality is that urban areas in Singapore afford few opportunities for large-scale formations like these to form up. Indeed, as seen in Little India, traffic congestion may prevent support vehicles from getting close to the flare up.
Pelted by "bricks" (shuttle run blocks for those of you old enough to have used these during PE), SOC vehicles support the shield wall with non lethal munitions. This vehicle has a mast-mounted camera for recording purposes. This stunted vehicle is not the prettiest in the SPF stable but does the job. It replaces an old Command vehicle design dating back to the Malayan Federation which had an open deck cupola built over the driving compartment of a bus. The SPF Gurkha Contingent and Royal Malaysian Police still use the older sort of vehicle as the elevated position of the cupola  gives commanders a better view of the area of operations.

The water cannon lets fly to soften up demonstrators moments before a baton charge is ordered. At close range, the jet of water can knock you off your feet. The water can be dyed to identify people soaked by the water cannon. Note the exposed flank of the thin blue line. Once a charge is ordered, tactical control of the dispersed troopers is almost impossible unless every trooper has a comms device. During street riots in South Korea, police who charged at demonstrators often found the tables turned when they were subsequently surrounded by superior numbers.

The baton charge is followed by the advance of the GC troopers, who are tasked with mopping up operations (below). This stop line comprises Tactica armoured personnel carriers and has strength in numbers, giving GC officers the option to form up their men with more depth than the SOC formation seen above and with reserves to exploit tactical situations. One assumes that the Gurkha stop line is the point beyond which demonstrators will not be allowed to cross.


Anonymous said...

Don't know if I should be happy or sad seeing this post.

FinalFive said...

When I first got hold of Call of Duty Modern Warfare, they had introduced the riot shield as a sort of defensive tool - In the game, the riot shield could withstand 7.62mm machine gun rounds. It this true of riot shields?

Anonymous said...

I think your COD MW shield is a ballistic shield for swat team use.

Anonymous said...

Gurkhas only comes in when Singaporeans riot.

Anonymous said...


HomelandSecurityNaik said...

Military manpower problem in Singapore?

Use Gurkhas loh. There are already close to 3K Gurkhas in Gurkha contingent.

Build up one brigade worth of Gurkhas to make up short fall of manpower (particularly quality line infantry)

At the same time allow Gurkha families (of soldiers who show merit)to take root in Singapore and induct their sons into NS 9which they would be more than grateful for the opportunity)


Cheap (ish) and good. Many of the second generation Gurkhas (off springs) may also relish the military profession.

As a plus, the brigade of Gurkhas can double as riot troops thereby allowing a quasi- military role (home security) and for the police to stand down or reduce their Gurkha numbers.

As NS recruitment numbers diminish over future years, so will manpower quality particularly for line units where fitness levels are key (should be anyway)

Gurkhas, Lagi Kilat, Lagi boleh.

Anonymous said...

This is an obvious solution but for reasons unknown to us, it has never been adopted.

G doesn't want to admit that even with the Population White Paper, we still have a shrinking manpower pool for defence.

Anonymous said...

Gurkas riot is to reduce perception that local police have racial bias during riot control. what if a Chinese police kills a Indian or Malay during riot control,or vice versa.LKY has explained in his books. ..lionnoisy

Anonymous said...

Like that is the official reason lah. Unofficially someone does not trust citizens for their last layer of security.

Anonymous said...

Please lar. Gurkhas might be an anachronism as a neutral party for racial riots in the past. But Sgreans have blended well. Just look at singlish. Also, our local boys have outgrown their gurkha counterparts. Local boys are taller and bigger. We are generally bigger then the indons and malaysians too thanks to our rich diet. Hear that overseas women? We have the best milkshakes in the region.

Anonymous said...

I think you have not taken a stroll around Mount Vernon. You can see the Gurkhas freely jogging there. The Gurkhas are still bigger than us.

I wonder what their arsenal looks like also.

Anonymous said...

The shire is that way my dear hobbit brader..

Anonymous said...

Looks like we spend billions on the weapon system, fighter aircraft, submarines..we still need this foreinger forces to help us..defend ourselves....

Are we a ready a 3 G fighting force...looks like a lot of nonsense...and now a British man calling us "wuss"..

Anonymous said...

Right, they are enjoying life...jogging and even their wives can go jogging..

Does your loved ones have this privilege

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well, good for you...your mum and dad must be very responsible..whereas we have to blame our mum and dad..for not raising us properly..

By the way...we can close our Singapore Police Force lah, let the Malaysian and Gurkha take care of us lah

and save the monies to be spend on the equipment etc..
January 22, 2014 at 10:53 am Nsman(Quote)
Now many people are going to point out to this ivory tower and out of touch minister the past security breaches.

It’s a widely known fact that many who man our land checkpoints and the airports are Malaysians in the uniform of the Auxilliary Police, the security business arms of the sovereign wealth funds like TH.

Many spies I believe have already infiltrated the country in the banks, telcos, IT, transport and homeland security. Foreigners in law enforcement have zero loyalty towards the country. You can make them sign all the forms on official secrets you like but it’s easy for them to sabotage any system.

As usual, it takes an incident like this to wake up this minister.

With disciplinary action being taken, there will be more disgruntled officers and their families who will now not vote PAP.

This is another example of a govt that acts only once the horse has bolted. Like SPF.

Homeland security should be in the hands of ONLY true blue Singaporeans


Anonymous said...

Malaysia? Are you crazy? That will be a lot worse. They cant take care of their own security.