Following the Revolution in Military Affairs, and in tandem with modernizing its weapons systems, the Army is forging a transition to a more network-centric fighting doctrine that better integrates the Air Force and Navy.
The Army has a technically proficient, relatively well-educated draftee pool and officer corps (non-commissioned and commissioned) reflective of the population at large, and has sought to leverage this to ease its transition into a more sophisticated, networked fighting force.
Combat readiness is a linchpin of Army policy, and military exercises up to divisional level are conducted many times yearly, simulating full-spectrum operations, up to and including full-scale war. The Army also trains bilaterally with some host nations, and military exchanges are frequent. Training is billed as “tough, realistic and safe,” with a premium on safety, given the sensitivity of military deaths in a largely conscript army.
The Singapore Army is the service of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) tasked with land operations. It is the largest of the three Services. The Singaporean army is primarily a conscript army that, in the event of war, mobilises most of its combat power by calling up military reservists.
In 1972, Parliament passed further legislation (the Singapore Armed Forces Act) to reorganise and consolidate the armed forces’ disparate commands and administrative functions.
The Army views technology as a force-multiplier and a means to sustain combat power given Singapore’s population constraints. Jointness across three branches of the SAF is integral to the Army’s warfighting doctrine. Joint operations undertaken with the Navy and Air Force include amphibious landings and critical disaster relief operations in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
The stated mission of the Singapore Armed Forces is to deter armed aggression and to secure a swift and decisive victory should deterrence fail. The Army is also tasked with conducting peace-time operations to further Singapore’s national interests and foreign policy. These range from disaster relief to peacekeeping, hostage-rescue and other contingencies.
Two infantry regiments formed the nucleus of the Singapore Army. The First Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR) was formed in 1957, under British auspices. After a fraught merger with the Federation of Malaya and subsequent separation in 1965, newly-independent Singapore formally established its army by passing the Singapore Army Bill in December 1965.