Third-Generation SAF Ready for Urban Ops
(Source: Singapore Ministry of Defence; issued July 25, 2006)
Your enemy is hiding behind a wall and you have only one chance to shoot at him. But his incessant firing is making it impossible for you to aim well. Out comes the Round Corner Firing (RCF) SAR 21 module and with one aim, you take him out successfully.

If you think this is from a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, think again! It is the third-generation SAF gearing itself towards fighting wars in urban terrain.

Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean, together with Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Defence Dr Ng Hen and senior officers, watched a demonstration of the Army's enhanced urban operations capability at the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) urban training facility in Sarimbun on 24 Jul.

The demonstration was conducted by 3rd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (3 SIR), which will become the SAF's first fully urban-capable battalion.

The battalion re-enacted a realistic scene of fighting in the midst of buildings and among civilians, using state-of-the-art equipment like the Battlefield Management System (BMS), SAR 21 module and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The BMS enables the battalion to network and share data among the entire force. It has a tracking system which provides commanders with precise updates of their own forces through the Global Positioning System (GPS).

The RCF SAR 21 module allows soldiers to aim at enemies hiding behind walls or corners before opening fire, while UAVs help them detect enemies from stand-off distances.

Apart from adopting new fighting doctrines for urban terrains, the battalion-sized task forces will also be restructured to include new elements such as company marksmen teams and sensor operators that will operate alongside armour and combat engineers vehicles.

Said Brigadier-General (BG) Winston Toh, Commander of 9th Division/Chief Infantry Officer: "The challenges that we will face in the urban terrain are about having better situation awareness and survivability for our soldiers to deal with civilian interference as well as collateral damage.

"The urban terrain represents a terrain that is opaque. You're unable to see through majority of the walled buildings and the enemy is ever fleeting. So this complexity, coupled with civilians in the area of operations, will complicate our engaging the enemy while preventing collateral damage and not harming civilians."

Commanding Officer of 3 SIR LTC Simon Chang added: "The enemies can hide much better in the urban environment, so we must be able to make use of technology in order to detect them and destroy them as quickly as possible."

Minister Teo was briefed on the urban fighting concepts, new force structure and urban operations technology before he interacted with the soldiers to get their feedback on urban operations.

He said: "Today's exercise demonstrates a few things, one of which is the transformation of the SAF, which is applied in different fields.

"We are always ready (for urban operations). That means if we have to operate today, we will operate with what we have and what we have is already every effective."

He added: "But what we want to do, because we are never satisfied with what we have, is to keep on improving on it, so that as the technology becomes available, we want to exploit the technology as quickly as possible, so that our soldiers have the best that technology can offer when they go into the battlefield."

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