It was heartening to see the operational readiness of Singaporean men some weekends ago, with most air force servicemen reporting back to their air bases within a few hours of activation
I shall not speculate whether this open mobilisation was due to the ongoing dispute between Singapore and Malaysia or it was pre-planned. One will not know unless you are at the top echelons. But nevertheless, intentionally or otherwise, it sent a strong political message that our country is not taking the dispute lightly and we are ready at a moment’s notice to defend our sovereignty.
However, there is an issue regarding the mobilisation worth highlighting. According to friends who are operationally ready national servicemen (NSMen) from the fighter squadrons that were recalled, not everyone in the units was supposed to report.
There were quite a number, upon seeing the public service announcement flashed on their television screen, swiftly reported back to the air base. But they were told in situ that they were not needed, and only selected personnel pre-informed of the manning period were required to return.
Apparently, in addition to the pre-information, servicemen that were actually required for the mobilisation on Dec 9 were only those activated by telephone call or SMS notification.
This has created a mini confusion among some NSMen, who have been drummed from day one to report to their camps immediately when activated for an open mobilisation, be it through public announcements or phone calls. It begs the question whether NSMen should be taking the cue from public announcements or from phone calls and SMSes.
I urge the Ministry of Defence to iron this out and make open mobilisation guidelines clearer so future recalls can be smoother and our forces can be activated quicker with lesser ambiguity.