SINGAPORE: Ninety-five Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel received Overseas Service Medals on Thursday (Sep 19) for their contributions to disaster relief operations in Palu, Indonesia as well as counter-Islamic State efforts in the Middle East.
Of the medals given out, 68 were for SAF servicemen who worked alongside partner contingents from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to train 4,500 Iraqi troops in counter-terrorism over nine months.
The other 27 medals were awarded to Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) personnel for their contributions to support disaster relief efforts in Palu, Indonesia, following the September 2018 earthquake and tsunami.
“You represented Singapore and the SAF proudly, flew our flag high through your professionalism and conduct, and fulfilled missions under trying circumstances,” said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who presented the awards at the Ministry of Defence.
“As a result, you garnered praise from other militaries … You also got gratitude from the people you helped directly and from the local governments there.”
SAF has deployed teams and aircraft since 2014 in support of the multinational coalition against the Islamic State.
In his speech, Dr Ng said the fight against terrorism is “a long-term challenge”, and that Singapore and SAF will have to deal with subsequent threats as they come.
“The SAF is a relatively small-sized military but it is in Singapore’s interest to do our part to deal with this global security challenge posed by terrorism,” he said.
He also highlighted that the international coalition working together “thwarted the terrorist plots and averted many potential threats and injuries” in the Middle East, as well as in Singapore and the region.
“If we did not act against Al Qaeda and IS, I have no doubt that you will have more terrorist attacks across the regions and in Singapore,” he said.
“Your contributions there protected Singaporeans here and citizens everywhere.”
DISASTER RELIEF IN PALU
On Sep 28, 2018, Palu was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, killing thousands and leaving hundreds still missing.
The SAF was the first foreign military to arrive in Palu on Oct 2, 2018 with two RSAF C-130 transport aircraft carrying aid supplies such as medicine, portable shelters and food to Sulawesi.
"The group there coordinated our supplies that flew to Indonesia and the relocation of displaced persons out of the affected Palu area," said Dr Ng.
The team continued to help in efforts for two months, which is longer than most other countries, Dr Ng noted.
Singapore's deployments are examples of the increasing interconnectedness in the world today, where instability or humanitarian disasters in one part have "far-reaching implications" for another part, he said.
"Singapore and the SAF will therefore continue to do what we can as a friend that our partners and neighbours can depend on in times of need, and as a responsible member of the international community."