Finding their bearings amid choppy seas

https://www.defencepioneer.sg/images/default-source/2bfc39f6-5a2f-47ef-976a-5d3ce9be7f25/28jun24_news1_photo1.jpg?sfvrsn=2c880d92_1 https://www.defencepioneer.sg/pioneer-articles/28jun24_news1
https://www.defencepioneer.sg/pioneer-articles/28jun24_news1
COMING UP TOPS: THIS YEAR’S SAF BEST UNITS
28 Jun 2024 | MILESTONES

COMING UP TOPS: THIS YEAR’S SAF BEST UNITS

A total of 18 active units and 12 NS units were recognised at this year’s competition.
//STORY BY THRINA THAM /PHOTOS BY CHAI SIAN LIANG, KENNETH LIN & JOHN WONG /GRAPHIC DESIGN BY LAWRENCE CHIAM

The Commandos have done it again!

The Red Berets have clinched the Best Combat Unit title for their 21st consecutive win – this is their 38th win since the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Best Unit Competition was introduced in 1969.

Eighteen active units and 12 national service (NS) units are recognised for being the best in their respective formations this year. The Best NS Unit Competition was introduced in 1993.

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and defence minister Dr Ng Eng Hen will present the awards at the SAF Day Parade on 1 Jul at SAFTI Military Institute.

Here’s what the winners have to say:

Best Combat Unit

1st Commando Battalion (1 Cdo Bn)

"I can, I will, I must": This attitude has helped 1 Cdo Bn bag the SAF's Best Combat Unit award for 21 years in a row.

How many wins: 38

It's their 21st consecutive win!

What it takes:

The success of the Commandos is in the mindset of its people, said 1 Cdo Bn’s Commanding Officer (CO), Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Kok Yi Long, 36.

"The DNA of every Commando reflects motivation, capability and a strong mission belief."

Company Sergeant Major, 3rd Warrant Officer John Prem S/O Rajoo Kumaran, agreed, adding: "Our training has instilled this mindset of 'I can, I will, I must'. Even for a simple task, we expect our soldiers to perform to the best of their ability."

This means that, whether they are just standardising their equipment for inspection or working as a unit to fight a complex mission, the soldiers always have to do their best, said the 35-year-old.

Soldiers from 1 Cdo Bn carrying out an urban operations training mission. [Photo: Singapore Army]

Most memorable mission:

Without a doubt, the unit’s overseas Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) Stage 2 evaluation this March was one of the hardest missions for 2nd Lieutenant Adima Emmanuel Chubike.

As a detachment commander, he had to look out for his team’s well-being.

"When we embarked on ATEC, it seemed treacherous with the new terrain, weather conditions and challenges from our opponents. But we worked together as a team to achieve our mission…and I saw that teamwork can take you far," said the 20-year-old Full-Time National Serviceman.


 
The Commandos conducting their inaugural jump with their new MC-6 parachute which includes improved safety features. [Photo: Singapore Army]

Did you know?

The Commandos are continuously looking for ways to improve amidst busy daily operations.

For example, 1 Cdo Bn acquired and conducted their inaugural jump with their new MC-6 static line parachute late last year. It has additional vents so that the parachutist can manoeuvre faster, and a reduced descent rate to allow for softer landing.


Best Maritime Security Unit

RSS Indomitable 

Celebrating their first win: RSS Indomitable is this year’s Best Maritime Security (MARSEC) Unit.

How many wins: 1

It’s the ship’s first BUC win since she was commissioned in 2018. Bravo Zulu!

What it takes:

Consistency and reliability, said CO of the ship, Major (MAJ) Jaime Liew.

"I wasn't expecting to win this competition. Many other ships in the Flotilla (did well) too," she said. The 32-year-old, who has been in command of RSS Indomitable for a little over a year, will be promoted to the rank of LTC on 1 Jul.

"I think what made the difference was how the crew has consistently and reliably achieved mission success in every operation they've undertaken…while having a high morale and high cohesion."

Most memorable mission:

The ship’s strong family spirit makes every mission memorable, said Military Expert 2 Kurumbian S/O Vijaendian, Electrical & Control Systems Supervisor.

The 29-year-old once had to sail over Deepavali and miss celebrating with his family and relatives. But he still had a mini "celebration" on board ship – the crew had decorated the dining hall, while the chief chef whipped up a delicious biryani meal for the occasion.

"That was very memorable for me. It's just like a home away from home whenever I go sailing!"

The crew said that their ship’s win is a nod to its strong family spirit. [Photo: RSN]

Biggest challenge:

As the ship often goes out to sea for routine patrols, a challenge the crew faces is guarding against complacency, said MAJ Liew.

To do this, she reminds herself to stay on her toes and expects the same of her crew. For example, during training she surprises them with occasional scenarios that test their response to anything from emergency procedures to typical threats out at sea.

"After I did that for a while, they started to do it themselves… I think everyone wants to make sure we are at the forefront of our competencies."

Did you know?

RSS Indomitable will also be taking part in her first overseas exercise later this year – Exercise Singsiam with the Royal Thai Navy!


Best Fighter Squadron

142 Squadron (SQN)

The Gryphons bag their second Best Fighter Squadron win since they were inaugurated with the F-15SG jets in 2016.

How many wins: 3

142 SQN has won twice since they were inaugurated with the F-15SG in 2016!

Before that, they won the award in 2001 when they operated the A-4SU Super Skyhawk.

What it takes:

Team excellence and spirit are the key to 142 SQN’s success, said its CO, LTC Wilson Wee.

He shared that the squadron has a culture where anyone can give feedback to their teammates – regardless of rank – if they notice that something is amiss.

For one, his wingman (the pilot flying another jet in the same formation as him) noticed that he was not in the best shape from back-to-back events and stopped him from taking part in a flight.

"(As pilots), we look forward to flying. But I respected (his opinion), and took myself off the schedule," said LTC Wee, who added that safety was of utmost importance to the squadron.


 
An F-15SG fighter aircraft from 142 SQN taking off at Paya Lebar Air Base.

Most memorable mission

The Gryphons responded to an alleged bomb threat on board Scoot flight TR16 last October, and escorted the plane to land safely.

"Our training kicked in (and) we took off within a couple of minutes and intercepted the aircraft," recounted Captain Li Zheyuan, who was one of the activated pilots.

He added that the crew are well-prepared for such incidents. "When we're activated, we don't think about the stress. We are prepared to always be calm," said the 31-year-old.

"Most important for me was that the people on board were safe. It was only when the plane landed back safely that I could take a breather."

Did you know?

The squadron was also involved in an aerial capability display at last year’s RSAF55 Open House – where they took off in their F-15SG in front of large crowds! Were you there to watch them in action?


Best NS C4I Unit

167th Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence Battalion (167 C4I Bn)

LTC (NS) Phua (right) and 1SG (NS) Koh are glad that 167 C4I Bn unit is standing down with the perfect swan song – their third Best NS C4I Unit win in a row.

How many wins: 3

And it's also their third win in a row!

What it takes:

A commitment to serve, said the unit's CO, LTC (NS) Phua Kian Aun, who has gone through 10 years with his men.

"We have the spirit to do our job well and serve our duties to the best of our ability."

"Coming back for two weeks (for In-Camp Training or ICT) every year is not trivial at all… We have good turnout every year. And when the soldiers are committed, the families are also supportive," added LTC (NS) Phua, who is a Senior Vice President in ST Engineering.

Biggest challenge:

As NSman, finding a balance between NS, work and family is a challenge. But the unit is focused when they return for ICT, said Operations Specialist 1st Sergeant (NS) Ivan Koh.

167 C4I Bn supports all the communication needs of Headquarters 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade to enhance command and control in the battlefield.

"There are many things happening outside of Army… But everyone comes back with the shared objective to complete our ICT safely and effectively," said the 40-year-old, who has a seven-year-old daughter.

He added that, with support from his family and company, he has been able to serve all his ICT cycles without fail.


 
Personnel from 167 C4I Bn before an exercise in 2023. [Photo: Singapore Army]

Most memorable mission

Every single exercise with his men has been a memorable one, said LTC (NS) Phua, who has been leading 167 C4I Bn since 2016.

"It's the spirit of helping each other to get things done that I will always remember," said the 45-year-old.

For example, the battalion often stayed back and lent other units a hand in clearing up stores and equipment even when they were tired after each exercise, he noted.

Did you know?

167 C4I Bn stood down in March after completing its 10-year Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) cycle. Good job and happy MR!

Suggested Reading
Feature
REAFFIRMING COMMITMENT TO THE DEFENCE OF SINGAPORE
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

She used to serve on the Some 400 NSmen came together at Combined Rededication Ceremonies across the island, while the SAF held its annual parade at SAFTI MI on 1 Jul to commemorate SAF Day.

Feature
MENEGUHKAN KOMITMEN UNTUK MEMPERTAHANKAN SINGAPURA
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

She used to serve on the Kira-kira 400 Anggota Kerahan Perkhidmatan Negara berkumpul di Majlis Rededikasi Gabungan di seluruh pulau, manakala SAF mengadakan perbarisan tahunan di SAFTI MI pada 1 Jul untuk memperingati Hari SAF.

Feature
重申对保卫新加坡的承诺
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

She used to serve on the 全岛约400名战备军人聚集在联合宣誓效忠仪式上,而新加坡武装部队于7月1日在新加坡武装部队军训学院举行了一年一度的检阅礼以纪念军人节。

28apr24_news1_photo1
Cover story
MENJADI YANG TERBAIK: UNIT TERBAIK SAF TAHUN INI
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

Sebanyak 18 unit aktif dan 12 unit NS diiktiraf dalam pertandingan tahun ini.

11apr24_news1_photo1
Cover story
RSAF'S LATEST HELICOPTERS TURN FULLY OPERATIONAL
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

THE H225M MEDIUM-LIFT AND CH-47F HEAVY-LIFT HELICOPTERS WILL ENHANCE THE RSAF'S CAPABILITIES IN OPERATIONS RANGING FROM SEARCH AND RESCUE TO DISASTER RELIEF TO TROOP LIFT.

11apr24_news1_photo1
Cover story
HELIKOPTER TERBARU RSAF BEROPERASI SEPENUHNYA
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

Helikopter pengangkut sederhana H225M dan pengangkut berat CH-47F akan meningkatkan keupayaan RSAF dalam pelbagai operasi-daripada mencari dan menyelamat kepada bantuan bencana kepada mengangkut tentera.

Cover story
新加坡空军部队最新直升机全面投入使用
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

H225M型直升机和CH-47F重型直升机将增强新加坡空军部队的作战能力 – 从搜寻及援救到救灾工作再到空运兵员。

08mar24_news1_photo1 Feature
榜样力量
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

She used to serve on the 值此国际妇女节来临之际,我们来看看10位鼓舞人心的女性服役人员,她们在各自的领域中脱颖而出。

08mar24_news1_photo1 Feature
DIA BERJALAN SUPAYA ORANG LAIN DAPAT BERLARI
MILESTONES
28 Jun 2024

She used to serve on the Pada Hari Wanita Antarabangsa ini, kita meneliti 10 anggota tentera wanita menginspirasikan yang telah tampil ke hadapan agar menjadi wanita yang pertama dalam bidang masing-masing.