SINGAPORE: Soldiers in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) "rose to the occasion" when carrying out their tasks in the fight against COVID-19, said Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen on Wednesday (Jul 1).
The SAF was mobilised to pack and distribute more than 5 million masks to more than 1 million households. Many soldiers were also re-deployed to help with contact tracing, health surveillance, and mass testing, as well as to manage recovery and quarantine facilities for affected patients.
"These were not tasks that SAF soldiers had been trained for, but nonetheless our men and women rose to the occasion and successfully completed every mission assigned," Dr Ng said in his speech at this year's SAF Day ceremony.
"Because of their professionalism and dedication, and close collaborations with other contributing agencies, Singapore's public healthcare system has been preserved and many Singaporean lives were saved."
The SAF will play a crucial role in Singapore's recovery from COVID-19, Dr Ng added.
Dr Ng said that the SAF must be strong and vigilant to safeguard Singapore's interests and also protect Singaporeans against harm in these uncertain times.
Examples of existing threats include terrorism, cyberattacks and maritime disputes.
"The SAF will have to remain alert to this wider spectrum of threats and be nimble to respond to each threat decisively," said Dr Ng.
"Let us face the future together with confidence and optimism despite the global pandemic. A strong SAF provides that solid foundation to look forward to a brighter future," he added.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a ceremony was held in place of a parade for SAF Day this year.
Operationally ready national servicemen, full-time national servicemen and regulars joined the ceremony virtually via the Ministry of Defence's social media channels.