SOF - Special Operations

Singapore Airshow 2018: Training focus for Singapore's special operators

12th February 2018 - 03:02 GMT | by Andrew White in London

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Singapore’s Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) continues to build up its counter-terrorism (CT) capabilities as it becomes increasingly concerned about the flow of fighters associated with extremist organisations across the region.

Speaking to Shephard, defence sources associated with the tri-service SOTF explained how the final quarter of 2017 had witnessed a significant increase in joint CT training exercises with partner nation forces from the Asia-Pacific.

Examples included a table-top CT exercise, conducted with representatives from Indonesia’s KOPASSUS army special operations forces on 28 November, aimed at enhancing collaboration and interoperability between the various force components. 

Exercise scenarios included a simulated terrorist takeover of a shopping centre at the Sheraton Towers Hotel in Singapore, which required commanders to assess and evaluate the situation before identifying courses of action before deploying rapid reaction forces.

The exercise was quickly followed by a live exercise conducted between 4-15 December at the Murai Urban Training Facility, Singapore, in which operators from the Infantry Training Institute executed ground assault force (GAF) operations alongside a platoon from the Philippine Army’s Special Operations Command. The exercise was designed to enhance the small unit tactics, techniques and procedures of participating troops in an urban environment.

An official spokesperson for Singapore’s Ministry of National Defence was unable to provide further details, citing the ‘nature’ of the SOTF’s work. 

However, one defence source associated with the US Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC), explained how SOTF operators had benefited from the operational experience of their Philippine counterparts, some of whom had been involved in offensive action operations at home in 2017 to liberate the city of Marawi from extremist fighters.

In a post-exercise statement, commander of the Singapore Armed Forces' Infantry Training Institute, Col Liew Kok Keong, explained that the ‘experience of the Philippine Army soldiers have from the Marawi crisis has allowed us to validate our doctrines and drills in the urban operations’.

Based out of Hendon Camp, the SOTF comprises a small force of approximately 400 operators sub-divided into force components including the commandos and naval diving unit. 

Beyond domestic CT and counter-insurgency missions, special operations teams are tasked to conduct the full spectrum of mission sets including direct action, special reconnaissance and military assistance.

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