Speaking to the media yesterday (1 Jul), Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng said Singapore’s 3rd generation military is progressing well, and is at an “advanced stage”.
LG Ng said SAF is now in a position of strength.
“Today, we can bring lethal firepower at a very short time to hit moving targets – one shot, one kill,” said LG Ng. “This is a capability that few armed forces in the world possess, and we have the capabilities to ensure that we fulfil our mission to protect Singapore.”
The SAF attempts to use technology as “force multipliers”. It also tries to enable its various units to fight in an integrated manner. The Army, Air Force and Navy are linked via advanced data-links and networks to enable coordinated attacks and support for various units and forces. Technology is said to be an important element in the SAF’s transformation into a 3rd Generation Fighting Force.
Having consistently had one of the largest defence budgets in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore has focused on maintaining its spending on sophisticated and superior weaponry.
One of the expensive and sophisticated weapon that Singapore has committed to buy is the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter plane. Each plane is expected to cost at least US$160 million a piece [Link]. In an interview transcript released by the Defense Writers Group, conducted in July last year, US Air Force General Herbert Carlisle disclosed that LG Ng had told him that Singapore would procure the F-35B [Link].
“I know that’s a decision that’s been made and that’s why they’re part of the program, but I don’t know where they’re at in putting that in the budget,” said General Carlisle, commander of Pacific Air Forces.
LG Ng said work on the next generation of soldiers has already begun.
“We are looking at new opportunities on the horizon, and beyond, and also the challenges,” said LG Ng. “It is clear that our country faces demographic challenges, and the SAF will have to look at how to harness new technologies, automation, robotics and unmanned technologies to incorporate them more into our fighting systems so that we can create even more potent fighting capabilities with leaner resources.”
The defence chief hopes to forge a “tribe” identity in the SAF within five to 10 years by growing a shared sense of pride and purpose.
Who is Ng Chee Meng?
Ng graduated with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in 1991. He also attended the Singapore Command and Staff College and graduated in 1999. In 2002, he obtained a Master of Arts in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Tufts University.
Ng joined the SAF in December 1986 and was a fighter pilot in the Air Force. Throughout his military career, he has held various appointments, including: Commanding Officer, 144 Squadron; Commander, Changi Air Base; Deputy Head, Joint Communications and Information Systems Department; Head, Air Plans; Director, Joint Operations; Deputy Chief of Air Force. He was also the Military Private Secretary to the Minister of Defence from December 1995 to July 1996.
Ng succeeded his elder brother, Ng Chee Khern, as the Chief of Air Force on 10 December 2009. In March 2013, he succeeded Neo Kian Hong to become the 8th Chief of Defence Force (CDF), relinquishing his position as the Chief of Air Force to Hoo Cher Mou. Ng was promoted from the rank of Major-General to Lieutenant-General on 27 June 2013. Ng is the second air force general in Singapore’s military history to be appointed as the CDF, after Bey Soo Khiang in 1995.
Ng’s 2 other brothers are all in SAF. His elder brother, Ng Chee Khern, was the Chief of Air Force from 2006–2009 and currently serves as the Director of the Security and Intelligence Division. His younger brother, Ng Chee Peng, has been serving as the Chief of Navy since 2011.
$12.6 Billion Defence Budget
MINDEF was allocated $12.6 billion in this year’s Budget, up 3.2% from $12.3 billion last year. It is more than a fifth of total government expenditure for this financial year. In comparison, the government will only be spending about $430 million a year to subsidise premiums in the recently announced MediShield Life (‘Ng wants a bigger warship to carry more helicopters‘).
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”