SINGAPORE: The upcoming S$900 million revamp of the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) western SAFTI training area, announced during the Committee of Supply debate last week, will help the army maximise the potential of its training areas, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Thursday (Mar 9).
The new SAFTI City will span 88 hectares, about the size of Bishan town, and comprise two sectors of extensive road networks and more than 200 buildings.
Dr Ng said the revamp, which will take place over a decade, is a "significant investment" to help the SAF hone its ability to operate on different terrains and conduct realistic training to meet the needs of the next-generation army.
"We recognise that we put significant resources into SAF. Not only financial, but land, which is the most precious commodity in Singapore," he said.
"That is why we are building SAFTI City, together with reconfiguring the movement axes for vehicles in the SAFTI Training Area. The idea is to have our battalions be able to mimic the terrain that they would (operate in) during conventional operations, move from urban terrain to natural terrain such as this, where there are axes to be crossed and river bodies or water bodies to traverse," he added.
The Defence Minister was speaking on the sidelines of a rafting exercise involving SAF troops. About 1,100 personnel from the Headquarters Singapore Combat Engineers and 35th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers took part in the exercise, which is being held from Feb 27 to Mar 10.
Dr Ng (centre), accompanied by Chief of Army MG Ong (extreme left), piloting the M3G Raft across the Poyan Reservoir in the SAFTI Training Area. (Photo: MINDEF)
Dr Ng also highlighted the importance of conducting these exercises to increase the army’s operational capabilities and readiness.
“This is a very useful exercise,” said Dr Ng. “During National Day, many Singaporeans will be familiar with our M3G rafts in Marina Bay for the 21-gun salute. But beyond the ceremonial functions, the real function of the M3G rafts is to allow the SAF to cross water bodies.
“I think it is a great boost for the SAF to be able to test these capabilities, and use these rafts for what they were meant for,” he added.
Dr Ng was accompanied by Chief of Army Major-General Melvyn Ong and senior commanders from the SAF.