Monday, 29 January 2018

SAF holds largest mobilisation exercise since 1985 with 8,000 troops, 700 vehicles

Mobilisation and equipping exercise (MOBEX) conducted from 26 to 27 Jan 2018
By Lim Min Zhang, The Sunday Times, 28 Jan 2018

The Singapore Armed Forces activated a total of 8,000 troops and 700 vehicles in its biggest mobilisation exercise since 1985 that ended yesterday.

The two-day exercise also featured two firsts.

One, troops worked hand in hand with the police in a homeland security operation in responding to a simulated anti-terror exercise at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Two, the exercise also tested out for the first time a new enhanced Mobilisation and Equipping Centre (MEC) at Selarang Camp in Loyang - a one-stop place for recalled operationally ready national servicemen to draw their combat gear and be ready for duty faster.

Speaking to the media near the end of the exercise, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said: "This (mobilisation) included an anti-terrorism exercise that we did together with the police force.

"So whether it's for humanitarian action, low-intensity conflict or terrorism threat, or even in the unthinkable scenario of outright war, I think Singaporeans have that confidence that the army is ready, and NSmen are committed and ready to be equipped, to be able to fulfil their mission."

The Selarang Camp MEC - enhanced by a four-storey 147,020 sq m building completed last year - has helped to improve the army's ability to mount a sizeable force within hours by cutting the time needed to mobilise and equip the troops.

About the size of 22 football fields, it is even able to store military vehicles under the same roof in a controlled-humidity facility, allowing electronic systems to be kept on board the vehicles when not in use. Previously, such systems had to be removed and disassembled by technicians.

Facilities such as self-registration kiosks, as opposed to manned counters, also help. The kiosks reduce the registration time from one minute to about 20 seconds, and manpower required from 24 to eight people.

Corporal (NS) Shentil Samugam, 33, reached the MEC after 11am and was ready by 1.30pm yesterday - saving him about 80 per cent in time taken as he did not have to travel to multiple locations to get equipped.

"Previously, we had to also go through administrative officers and sign papers, and the queue was really long. Now, with the self-service kiosks, the process has become more efficient and we can be equipped, all in one place."

Some 5,500 NSmen were recalled to the centre yesterday.

Head of Supply Hub East Pak Chun Hua, 42, who oversees the centre, said: "The time saved can be used to focus on their basic soldiering skills, be it for the commanders doing map-planning exercises, or for soldiers on the ground to go through their weapon drills."

MECs were first established in 2009, allowing NSmen to go through a one-stop mobilisation and equipping process. It took between four and five hours for servicemen to be combat-ready then.

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