Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen visited the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) troops participating in a rafting exercise on 7 March. Conducted from 27 February to 10 March, the exercise involves about 1,100 personnel from the Headquarters Singapore Combat Engineers and 35th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers.
Dr Ng witnessed the Army’s tactical mobility capabilities as Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicles were transported across a simulated river using the Mobility 3rd Generation (M3G) Raft. Dr Ng also experienced piloting the M3G, and interacted with both active personnel and Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) participating in the exercise.
At the end of the visit, Dr Ng underscored the important role that Combat Engineers play as a vital support arm of the Army, such as in facilitating the movement of troops across obstacles such as rivers. He also spoke about the value of the exercise in honing the Army’s operational capabilities and readiness.
Dr Ng said, “This is a very useful exercise. During National Day, many Singaporeans will be familiar with our M3G rafts in Marina Bay for the 21-gun (presidential) salute. But beyond the ceremonial functions, the real function of the M3G rafts is to allow the SAF to cross water bodies.”
“I think it is a great boost for the SAF to be able to test these capabilities, and use these rafts for what they were meant for,” he added.
Dr Ng also commended the professionalism displayed by the national servicemen participating in the exercise. He recognised that a strong and effective SAF is only made possible by the commitment of the NSmen.
Dr Ng also underscored the transformation efforts of the Army to meet future challenges, by maximising the potential of its training areas. He said, “That is why we are building SAFTI City, together with (the) reconfiguring of the movement axes for vehicles in the SAFTI Training Area.”
“The idea is to have our battalions be able to mimic the terrain that they would (operate in) during conventional operations, move from urban terrain to natural terrain such as this, where there are axes to be crossed, and river bodies or water bodies to traverse.”
“That will take us a good part of a decade, but it is a significant investment and the general idea is that we want to maximise the resources given to us,” he stated.
These training transformation efforts will allow the Army to hone its ability to operate continuously across different terrains, and conduct realistic training to meet the needs of the Next Gen Army.
Dr Ng posted a video of the event and wrote that he was impressed with the confidence and professionalism of this NS unit on his Facebook.
He wrote, “SAF’s Mobility 3rd Generation (M3G) Raft is well recognised as the platform on Marina Bay during NDP. As it swivels, the guns pound away for the 21-gun salute, as accompanying soldiers kneel smartly in their No. 1 Uniforms.”
“But of course the M3G has a more serious mission, and that is to ensure that the SAF can move fast when it needs to, even across water bodies. This was the mission across the Poyan Reservoir in SAFTI Training Area.”
In the visit, Dr Ng was accompanied by Chief of Army Major-General Melvyn Ong and senior commanders from the SAF.