The Singapore Armed Forces has named the winners of its annual Best Unit Competition.
Winning the Best Combat Unit this year are the Red Berets from the 1st Commando Battalion. This is the 28th time they’ve won the award since the competition started 45 years ago in 1969.
The commandos train daily in specialised operations, like raiding enemy territories.
Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Iain Hoo, who is the former commander of the unit, said: “It’s easy to say that commandos by default are good, they will win. I don’t think it’s that easy for us to win. They put us through the entire journey and they put strict criteria on us and expect us to perform and eventually deliver results.”
Full-time National Serviceman Kanna Gokul said: “Back then when I got the letter, when I heard I was joining the commandos, I was obviously scared. My parents themselves were worried when I told them I was going to join the commandos. But once I got my Red Beret, they were there to see me. They were really proud. They were happy for me. I believe I was able to show my parents I could go through such tough training and prepare myself for my next phase of life after my NS.”
Meanwhile, 145 Squadron, which operates the F-16D multi-role fighter aircraft, won the Best Fighter Squadron.
To them, open communication is key. Commanding Officer of 145 Squadron LTC Lim Kok Hong said this ensures officers in the unit maintain strong ties with one another.
“There are no barriers in communication. That is the only way we can make sure processes are tight. If there’s something that needs to be changed, everyone who owns that process will be vocal enough to speak up and get it changed,” LTC Lim said.
This is the fourth win for the squadron which takes part in major exercises with other countries to hone its operational capabilities and build ties with their counterparts.
The winner of Best Air Combat Support is 122 Squadron which operates the C-130 aircraft. Their training has taken them to disaster zones such as those ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan recently.
Major Darrell Goh, a pilot with the squadron, said: “We train to the best of our abilities, and we train for situations like this, so situations like this only allow us to put into practice what we’ve trained for.”
Apart from taking part in peace-support operations and helping out during disasters overseas, the fleet of C-130 aircraft in 122 Squadron is also involved in a wide range of other missions, such as supplying fuel to fighter jets while they’re in the air, as well as and search-and-locate operations.
One such mission was the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Officers in the unit were deployed at short notice to the South China Sea on the day news of the missing plane broke. There was also an overwhelming response from non-regular officers who offered help. LTC Wong Hong Kai, Commanding Officer of 122 SQUADRON, said: “When they heard about it, they realised that this is a very meaningful job. And being a closely, tightly-knit unit, they requested to come and help in this very important mission – especially when it involves saving lives.”
The unit was also involved in other missions during the Bangkok floods and the Christchurch and Chengdu earthquakes.
Clinching this year’s Best Ship award is the navy’s RSS Formidable. The unit demonstrated excellent warfare competencies to win the award for the second time.