The last two years have reminded Singaporeans that they cannot take their peace and security for granted. A strong defence is the best guarantee of Singaporeâ€™s survival, security and continued success. This will require steady investments in both good times and bad. As Singapore enters the new millennium, we must show that we are vigilant, ready and able to face the new security challenges ahead.
The SAF has developed into a well-balanced, integrated and technologically advanced fighting force. The SAF will build on its strengths to become a first class armed force that is able to fulfil a variety of roles and missions.
People are the SAFâ€™s most valuable asset. To ensure that the most able serve in our defence, MINDEF will review its man-power policies to attract high quality people and optimise our use of talent. The SAF's launch of the New Partnership for Officers in 1998 and that for Warrant Officers and Specialists in 2000 aim to ensure that the best people are attracted to serve in the SAF. The SAF will also be providing attractive professional and educational upgrading schemes at key career milestones. These schemes will allow greater clarity in the career management of our people and also ensure retention of experience within the SAF.
As a citizen armed force, full-time and Operationally Ready National Servicemen form the backbone of the SAF. MINDEF will motivate and bring out the best from our National Servicemen, and give due recognition to the contributions of Operationally Ready National Servicemen.
Training. Training is the key to maintaining the high state of operational readiness of the SAF. MINDEF will ensure that our service-men receive the best training supported by sound administration and excellent logistical systems. The SAF will benchmark itself against the best armed forces in the world and continually refine our training procedures and methodology. To minimise the impact of reduced local training areas on our overall training and operational proficiency, the SAF will increasingly utilise simulation technology to provide realistic and cost-effective training locally.
Technology. The SAF will harness technology as a force multiplier to maintain its strategic edge. MINDEF is currently restructuring its technology arm, the Defence Technology Group or DTG. The restructuring will allow MINDEF to concentrate on giving strategic direction while devolving the other functions to a new statutory board called the Defence Science and Technology Agency or DSTA. The restructuring, which will be completed by 1 April 2000, will enable MINDEF to better anticipate, respond and exploit the future trends and challenges in the technology sector, in order to maintain the technological edge of the SAF.
Deterrence alone cannot ensure peace and security, especially for a small state like Singapore. It is important therefore for Singapore to have friendly relations with as many countries as possible.
Bilateral Defence Relations. MINDEF will strengthen the network of defence relations which we have developed with many countries both in and outside the region, by enhancing existing bilateral relationships and establishing new ones.
Multilateral Arrangements. MINDEF will also participate actively in regional multilateral arrangements such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Five Power Defence Arrangements to maintain and promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
Overseas Training. Establishing good defence relations also enables the SAF to have access to overseas training areas. Our shrinking local training areas and limited airspace means that the SAF needs to train overseas. Over the last few years, the SAF has secured new training areas in countries like France and South Africa. To meet the SAFâ€™s training needs, MINDEF will look for additional overseas training opportunities in friendly countries.
UN Missions. MINDEF will also support Singaporeâ€™s role as a responsible member of the international community, by contributing SAF personnel to UN peacekeeping and humanitarian missions wherever possible.
Total Defence remains the cornerstone of our deterrence strategy. Total Defence stresses that the defence of Singapore is not that of the SAFâ€™s alone, but the collective responsibility of all Singaporeans; each and every Singaporean has a part to play.
National Education. MINDEF will promote and emphasise the concept of Total Defence through our national education programmes. Total Defence becomes increasingly important as Singapore prepares to meet a more diverse range of threats. Singaporeans must be reminded that we can never take the peace, stability and prosperity that we now enjoy for granted.
Heartware. MINDEF will also increase its efforts to strengthen the â€œheartwareâ€ in our citizens. This is the most important aspect of Total Defence. Unless our people have the will to fight and are ready to make sacrifices to defend our way of life and our homes, the best weapon systems, training or technology will count for little.