Saturday, May 27, 2017

Malaysian Army scales up for the anti-armour fight

Show of force: Soldiers from 7 RRD on parade earlier this year, with this contingent armed wall-to-wall with RPG-7 launchers. Photo: Malaysian Army News.

The strength of a conventional army rests with its defence manpower who are optimised for war.

Trained, organised, equipped and supported for land warfare, the table of organisation and equipment (TOE) for a conventional army is also its weakness.

Army units cannot easily change the way they are armed or structured. Unit commanders cannot, for example, decide to dump a weapon and field another in its place, or reorganise their men under another hierarchical structure.

Such organisational inertia means that operational deployments for most army units are come-as-you-are affairs. You go to war with what you have, and hope that the training and capability of one's armaments, and fighting spirit of the troops, will outperform the enemy.

The history of warfare contains many examples of armies that were forced to modify their TOE in response to stalemates on the battlefield that had exacted enormous costs in terms of manpower, equipment and also morale.

During WW1, the German army's StoƟtruppen - stormtroopers - made a name for themselves as shock troops who were the force of choice for assaults upon fortified trench systems defended by wire and MGs, and covered by artillery fire.

At the Battle of Stalingrad in WW2, infantry and mechanised infantry units were found ineffective during fighting in built-up areas. As a result, German pioneers (i.e. combat engineers) were organised into assault units. Their TOE included weapons such as flamethrowers. Instead of bolt-action rifles that were standard issue in normal infantry battalions, the assault troops went into action liberally armed with machine pistols and grenades to maximise the volume of suppressive fire that fire teams could bring to bear.

And as the Red Army closed in on Berlin during the closing days of WW2 in Europe, the Soviets turned the tables on the Wehrmacht by unleashing assault troops on a massive scale. Troops organised into "shock armies" broke the back of the once-powerful German Army, which had been bled white by years of combat on multiple fronts.

More recently in Lebanon, the forces of Hezbollah that clashed with the Israel Defense Forces appear to have found a reply to the armour-heavy IDF. Light infantry armed with anti-tank weapons (issued at a scale well above that for a normal infantry unit), covered by fire teams with automatic, belt- or magazine-fed MGs and grenade launchers have proven hard to eradicate when fighting from prepared positions with numerous secondary and tertiary fire positions.

In our neighbourhood, the Malaysian Army has made clear how its infantry could face an armoured threat: With a profusion of anti-tank weapons, backed by a concept of operations for delaying, disrupting and destroying armour-heavy units.


Photo: Malaysian Army News.

Soldiers from Batalion ke 7 Rejimen Renjer DiRaja (Mekanise) paraded earlier this year armed with plenty of RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers. This instance was probably more for the camera, because any infantry unit thus armed would tip to the side of diminishing returns in terms of the sustainability of anti-tank firepower. 

The reason for this is simple: The RPG-7 is a not a single-shot weapon. This means that the weapon's efficiency (as opposed to effectiveness, which is contingent on the warhead, gunner's skill, effect of crosswind and distance to target, among other factors) is optimised with a supply of additional grenades to sustain the expected rate of fire discharged during one or multiple contacts.

What is clear to anyone who has been following the Tentera Darat Malaysia's (TDM) modernisation is the Malaysian army's increasing awareness of, and response to, emerging armoured threats.

Even if the parade by 7 RRD was intended for the camera, one takeway is the TDM's awareness that the normal TOE may need to be tweaked in order to break the momentum of an armoured thrust.

With light MGs and automatic grenade launchers issued at section level, backed by RPGs to do the heavy-hitting, a Malaysian army section can quite possibly give a good account of itself against an armoured opponent. The density of anti-tank fire that a Malaysian army section can bring to the fight has increased markedly; more so if RPGs were issued at a higher than normal rate during a hot-war.

Show-and-tell: Introduction to the Malaysian Army's Pakistan-made RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher in 2007. Ten years on, Malaysian infantry battalions have made noticeable improvements in their ability to deal with armour-heavy opponents.

In the 12 seconds or so that it takes a trained RPG gunner to extract a fresh round, remove the protective plastic end caps, insert the round and align it with the grove of the launcher, cock and shoulder the weapon, take aim and discharge the round, the other members of the section can lay down suppressive fire to make open hatch operations a hazardous undertaking.

Moving up the firepower scale, the TDM's inventory of heavy anti-tank guided weapons and anti-material rifles is also noteworthy.

Even without the fancy stormtrooper label, the Malaysians have everything it takes to orientate their infantry for the anti-armour fight.

If you need an example of a thinking soldier, look north.

Army Open House 2017 extended for one more day


The Singapore Army has extended the Army Open House by a day, thanks to overwhelming response to this one-in-five-years event.

Please note that the Dynamic Defence Display show will take place at 10am. Last show at 3pm.

Announcement below from Singapore Army Facebook -->



[Army Open House 2017 public days extended to 29th May, Monday]
Due to overwhelming response and positive feedback, the Army Open House 2017 public days will now be extended to 29th May, Monday from 9am to 8pm.
See you at the Army Open House 2017 @ F1 Pit Building!
Join the Army Open House event page for more details & get the latest information:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1871152876430113/ , or download the AOH17 app from: https://aoh17.skyopt.com

Friday, May 26, 2017

Things to see and do at Army Open House 2017

Peekaboo: Look out for a new Singapore Army armoured vehicle that will make a special appearance at Saturday morning's Dynamic Defence Display (10am start time).

Waiting for you: Part of the sprawling static display of Singapore Armed Forces war machines.

Water world: The Singapore Army's M3G amphibious rigs forming up on the Marina Reservoir.


Dynamic Defence Display
Showtimes at 10am and 4pm.
Tip: Seats on the spectator gallery are limited. Would recommend being at AOH2017 when it opens, get your seat and enjoy the view of the Marina Barrage. Pick the lower seats as these bring you close to the action. Keep your eyes on the deregistered car on the display ground. With a Leopard 2SG main battle tank the first performer let loose, it's fairly obvious what the tank will do to that doomed car.
Look out for: The Special Operations Force (SOF), Army Deployment Force (ADF), Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle, Higuard Protected Mobility Vehicle, Ford F550 ambulance are among the vehicles featured for the first time.

Just for Saturday morning's show, look out for the special performance by the Next Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle.


Battle Rides
You will need a mobilephone to register to ride on one of six types of Singapore Army vehicles. Four types of vehicles to choose from to ferry you around on land, while the LARC V and M3G raft will host you on water. You will be informed of your time slot via SMS.
Tip: Book your preferred time slot early, then take your time to browse through the exhibits.

Static Display
The NGAFV is expected to join the static display on Sunday.

You may want to take pictures of the Apache attack helicopter. The fleet is due to undergo an upgrade and the improved machine will have different stub wings.

Army Formations display
It's the place to find out more about the Singapore Army. It's packed with weapons and hands-on opportunities. It's a place to get out of the sun (and rain). It's got neat souvenirs. It's air-conditioned. Need we say more?


Level 2
Don't forget activities on Level 2. The large decals on the window tell you what to expect (see above). Good place to park active children. Kiddy rides, photo booths, shooting galleries, a chance to practice flying drones, "Night Walks" with night vision devices are among the highlights. Ask the AOH2017 ambassadors (in red shirts and green army slacks) how to get there.

Share your thoughts on National Service these circular handouts. Your feedback will be opened in 50 years' time at NS100.(Photo: Singapore Army Facebook)

For more:
Singapore Army Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/oursingaporearmy/

AOH2017 events page
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/events_and_activities/2017/aoh2017/news.html


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Busy week for Malaysian and Singapore armies in winning hearts and minds

Panzer strike: Mechanised infantry from 19 RAMD (Mekanise) engage targets in a coordinated attack, supported by gun and mortar fire from armoured personnel carriers. (Photo: Malaysian Army News)

Outgoing: An Astros rocket artillery launcher joins armoured platforms and 105mm light artillery on the firing line at Gemas. (Photo: Malaysian Army News)

Tank killers: Anti-tank gunners from 19 RAMD (Mekanise) fire a volley of rocket-propelled grenades down range. (Photo: Malaysian Army News)

Siap sedia: Troops from the Singapore Army's Army Deployment Force go on show during Tuesday's rehearsal for the Army Open House Dynamic Defence Display.

This week has been noteworthy for Tentera Darat Malaysia (Malaysian Army) and the Singapore Army - two land forces whose destinies will forever be intertwined.

On Monday 22 May 2017, TDM staged its annual firepower exercise, Latihan Kuasa Tembakan (LKT), at Kem Tentera Syed Sirijuddin in Gemas to demonstrate the capabilities of the TDM's principal assets. The LKT took place in front of spectators that included Malaysian media and defence attaches accredited to the Federation.

On Tuesday 23 May 2017, the Singapore Army held a sneak preview for the media for this weekend's Singapore Army Open House 2017 (AOH 2017) with new capabilities such as the Safari weapon locating radar system and a new armoured platform making their show debut.

If you believe the defence of Malaysia and Singapore is indivisible, then these public demonstrations by land forces from both countries are welcome. Having soldiers showcase what they are trained to do contributes to building a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the work of land warriors from both sides of the Causeway.

Malaysia's LKT was impressive. Given the expanse of ground at the firing range in Gemas, the Malaysians put on quite a show although the firing was mainly academic, just like during range practice. Warplanes and helicopters from TUDM and PUTD (Malaysian Army Air Corps) also made their presence felt, rearranging the landscape with freefall bombs and unguided rockets.

But there was no opportunity to demonstrate the interplay between firepower and manoeuvre, or how information can be exploited to coordinate the timing and delivery of ordnance with the precision and volume of fire to maximise shock effect during operations.

In Singapore, the Dynamic Defence Display, staged with Singapore's city skyline as a backdrop, placed far more constraints on the Singapore Army. There was no live-fire component. Neither was there any chance to showcase precision firepower, manoeuvre and information. Movement was confined to having individual platforms like the Leopard 2SG main battle tank and Terrex infantry carrier vehicle perform slalom turns and sudden braking - typical motor show stuff - more for the benefit of the camera.

Even at large-scale war games, it is not easy showing observers all the moving parts involved in land battle at the level of grand strategy or operational art. Instead, what observers typically see are tactical-level executions - a component of an Armoured Battle Group moving into action, an artillery battery letting loose, a bridging unit deploying its assets and so on.

That said, the armies of Malaysia and Singapore have done what they can to reach out to stakeholders.

First and foremost among these would be their respective home audience. The rakyat in both countries need to be informed, updated and reassured from time to time on the capability, ability and readiness of its warfighters to do what's necessary during a hot-war scenario.

Defence information officers from both armies will probably agree that this task is neither straightforward nor easy.

Malaysians and Singaporeans have enjoyed decades of peace. This has inevitably contributed to vigilance fatigue, which tends to breed complacency.

Even with the impressive slew of pictures and videos from the light and sound show in Gemas, and with the Singapore Army likely to enjoy a brief spike in public awareness thanks to the upcoming AOH 2017, such publicity is transient.

When the guns have fallen silent in Gemas and the AOH team packs up at the end of the show, people in Malaysia and Singapore will swing back to everyday issues that command their (limited) time and attention.

Even so, one can be assured warfighters from Malaysia and Singapore will remain vigilant, 24 by 365, protecting their respective borders against all comers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Singapore Armed Forces Commandos Special Operations Force (SOF) at Army Open House 2017

High alert: Commandos from the Singapore Armed Forces Special Operations Force take centrestage during a rehearsal for the Dynamic Defence Display. Spectators will be able to photograph SOF troopers armed with H&K 416 5.56mm assault rifles and H&K MP7 4.6mm machine pistols. Of special interest is the attachment of silencers on all weapons.

Island defence: Special Operations Force (SOF) troopers, supported by Army Deployment Force troopers (foreground) equipped with ballistic shields, prepare a forced entry.

Let's Roll: The Special Operations Force demonstrate how they mount up on a Ford vehicle equipped with the Mobile Adjustable Ramp System (MARS) and Side Assault System (SAS). The vehicle is one of the few left-hand drive vehicles in the Singapore Armed Forces inventory. 

A demonstration involving the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Special Operations Force (SOF), like the one rehearsed yesterday for this weekend's Singapore Army Open House 2017 (AOH 2017), will herald the first known public display by the once-classified Commando #specialforces unit.

The SOF was such a tightly-guarded secret that it was deployed for operations even before the unit was publicly acknowledged.

On 26 March 1991, SOF operatives stormed Singapore Airlines flight SQ117 at Changi Airport. The hostage-rescue mission saved 123 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A310 that was serving the KUL-SIN shuttle flight.

Four Pakistani hijackers had threatened to kill one hostage every 10 minutes unless their demands were met.

The hijackers gave Singapore authorities five minutes to respond.

We responded by the third minute by sending in the SOF to settle the issue.

Codenamed Operation Thunderbolt, the storming of SQ117 marked the first known instance when the SAF resolved a hijacking with deadly force. The veil of secrecy over the SOF was lifted only on Feb 20, 1997, nearly six years after the SQ117 rescue and some 13 years after the SOF was formed in April 1984. 

The SOF are among the highlights of this year's Army Open House, which is organised by the 6th Singapore Division.

While the SOF has been declassified, it is thought there are other closed units within the SAF whose capabilities, readiness and commitment are needed to help settle issues, should the need arise.



For more on AOH 2017, visit these sites: 
Singapore Army Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/oursingaporearmy/

MINDEF AOH site:
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/AOH17/


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

See the Very Slender Vessel from the Singapore Armed Forces SAF Commandos at Army Open House 2017




You won't find many Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) war machines with a sexier name than "Very Slender Vessel".

With its sleek profile and enclosed, aircraft-style pilot house, the VSV looks fast even when sitting on dry land.

This VSV, which flew a Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) ensign from its staff, is believed to be operated by the SAF Commando unit at Hendon Camp in Changi.

The SAF describes the VSV as a "fast interdiction craft that is designed to punch straight through waves, rather than going over or through the top of them".

Measuring 16m long and with a width just 2.4m wide - less than three M-16 rifles end-to-end - the VSV could quite possibly be employed for high-speed runs to insert/extract Commando teams from contested shores, usually under cover of darkness.

Armament fitted to the VSV seen at the sneak preview of the Army Open House 2017 comprised a CIS40AGL 40mm automatic grenade launcher and a 7.62mm GPMG.

It's best defence, however, is speed.

The VSV is thought to originate from British shipbuilder, VT Halmatic Marine. This company traces its roots to Vosper Thorneycroft, whose motor torpedo boats were well-known for their speed and hitting power.

According to the AOH 2017 info board, the wave-piercing craft is capable of "more than 40 knots". This seems a rather modest way to state the VSV's published speed of around 60 knots.

The SAF has operated VSVs for more than 10 years.

The vessel's debut at this weekend's Army Open House 2017 is believed to have been made possible with the arrival of more advanced means of executing "fast interdiction", with such assets still kept under wraps.

Catch the VSV at the Singapore Army's Open House 2017 this weekend.
For more, visit the Singapore Army Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/oursingaporearmy/

Next Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle expected to debut at Singapore Army Open House along with new ARV


The Singapore Army is expected to unveil a new tracked vehicle at this weekend's Army Open House 2017 (AOH 2017), a free event that will be opened to the public this weekend at the F1 Pit Building.

At a sneak preview this afternoon, one vehicle in the lineup of "performers" for the Dynamic Defence Display segment - a kind of soft introduction to some of the Army's vehicles and mobility demo - remained covered by a green tarpaulin.

The vehicle is all tracked and appears to conform to the profile of the Next Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle first seen last year.

We won't spill the beans so do come back to this site in the next few days for more.

On a less speculative note, one of the Next Generation AFV's stablemates goes on show at AOH 2017. The vehicle is the Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) variant of the new, yet-to-be-named AFV family that was designed and built in Singapore by Singapore Technologies Kinetics.

Like the cannon-armed Infantry Fighting Vehicle variant, the ARV has an all-round camera function. This allows its crew of three armoured engineers to carry out recovery operations from within the vehicle under full armour protection with hatches closed.

Specifications are sparse. The new ARV is said to be 6.9 metres in length and is fitted with a front-oriented winch with a 25,000 kg capacity. The vehicle is so new it did not appear to have a MID numberplate.




For more on AOH 2017, do visit the Singapore Army's Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/oursingaporearmy/

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