National Service

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What if there's war with Spore's neighbours?

Defending the Lion cityTabloid Malay Mail report on Tim Huxley's book following Malaysian ministers' rejection of author's tipping easy victory for Singapore in a war.Jan 14, 2003Since the 1980s, Huxley wrote, the military balance moved decisively in the favour of Singapore, making an offensive strategy - the so-called pre-emptive strike - a realistic option for the island republic.By the 1990s, Singapore's Armed Forces (SAF) quantative and qualitative strength over the Malaysia Armed Forces (MAF) became well-entrenched.In 2000, the potential mobilised strength of the SAF stood at 350,000 personnel.By comparison, the MAF totalled only about 145,000 personnel, although 105,000 of these were regulars.Singapore's army formations, most importantly, the three combined arms divisions - each with integral armour and artillery, and a rapid deployment division - are coherent and highly offensively-oriented, in contrast to their Malaysian equivalents, which duringthe 1990s remained dispersed thinly throughout the peninsular and were only beginning to develop combined arms capabilities.Huxley (in"Defending the Lion City") said the SAF's crucial strength lies in its armoured force and air force.The Singapore Army operates some 120 upgraded Centurion main battle tanks and some 350 AMX-13SMI light tanks. It's air force has more combat aircraft than Malaysia and Indonesia combined.Together with tanker and airborne early warning aircraft, the Singaporean combat aircraft could wreck havoc in a conflict.Huxley stated that the SAF with it highly educated soldiers, high-techology equipment and synergistic relations among the three services yielded important military advantages over Malaysia or any other potential adversaries.He said the economic recession in Malaysia in 1986-1987 and 1997-1998 was an obstacle for its armed forces modernisation and re-equipment.He said the plans to build major bases in Johor, one each in Gemas and Mersing, would probably strengthen the defences in the south.What if war broke out between Malaysia and Singapore: Bombs away![Following scenario is quoted from Pg 58, A Scenario of War with Malaysia.]IT'S 4am.The early morning calm is suddenly shattered by the deafening screams of low-flying jets.Seconds later, Kuantan air base is rocked by multiple explosions, followed by "secondaries" as Malaysia's air assets in aircraft shelters and revetments are obliterated.Klaxons blaring, pilots are scrambled to whichever aircraft that are still air-worthy, but it's useless. The runways had been cratered.In the ensuing confusion, reports start streaming in. It seems that this is not an isolated case.Butterworth checks in and reports that its entire complement of F/A-18D Hornets are now smoking, twisted hulks out on the tarmac.And the entire Third Division which has overall command over Johor and Malacca had also been annihilated.The National Power Grid had not been spared, plunging the entire country in darkness, adding to the chaos and confusion.Reports also indicated that the Ministry of Defence building in Jalan Padang Tembak, Kuala Lumpur, had been hit by at least six GBU-31 1,000-pound JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions).Even the KLCC had been struck with such ferocity that only the Maxis Tower was left standing.On Bukit Nanas, only a blackened stump is left of what used to be the Kuala Lumpur Tower.Down in Johor and Malacca, the situation is much worse. A torrent of armoured vehicles, including tanks, are hogging all the roads linking Johor Baru to Muar and Kota Tinggi, disgorging armed soldiers who took over all the towns.Senai airport, captured in a pre-dawn attack was being used by the helicopters and planes taking part in the on-going offensive.On the North-South Expressway, main battle tanks and armoured fighting vehicles together with towed artillery with fighter jets and attack helicopters providing close support were going north, destination unknown.Reports of troops landing from helicopters were coming in from all over Johor, from Mersing to Muar.By noon, Johoreans find themselves under Singapore military rule.If you think the scenario described above are wild imaginings of The Malay Mail writers, think again.The scenario, in less graphic form, was written by a British scholar, Tim Huxley, in his book Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore.It was published in 2000 as part of a series which examine the military capabilities of Asian countries by Australian publishing company Allen & Urwin.Huxley's book, which is available at local bookstores, offers a fascinating look at a little-known but effective military organisation.Among others, it brought up issues that were almost never discussed - including sensitive questions of war plans with Singapore's neighbours.Drawing on Israeli and other foreign experts and using only their country's limited resources, the Singaporeans have moulded a technologically sophisticated and large military that is capable of striking far from the island State.Given the country's absence of natural resources and lack of strategic depth, said Huxley, it's a remarkable achievement.He said while the Singapore military has not yet been tested in real combat, few observers doubt its professional ability.In the second chapter of his book, Huxley points out that Malaysia was the most likely adversary to Singapore, with Indonesia second.He gave a detailed picture of how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) capabilities were tailored to meet such adversaries.Huxley wrote: "While it is clear that the SAF is sufficiently flexible in terms of its organisation, equipment and doctrines to be useful in wide national security contingencies, its capabilities have been refined with specific contingencies in mind - above all, the possibility of war with or in Malaysia."Singapore defence planners have also planned a war with or in Indonesia.Huxley said such plans have been played in SAF staff college exercises since the 1960s.He said that from the Singapore viewpoint, a war with Malaysia could be triggered due to communal conflict in Malaysia which resulted in the disruption of water supply from Johor.Singapore, according to Huxley, have not dropped plans for a pre-emptive strike.Huxley further states: "To make intervention possible, the SAF would need to disable the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) with a brutal and fearless pre-emptive offensive or at least retain such capability as to execute such an attack after absorbing an initial(Malaysian) onslaught."Probably in conjunction with electronic attacks on the MAF's communication and sensors (such as radars), the SAF would first attempt to establish air superiority by devastating the Malaysian air force - in the first few hours of any conflict - before mounting further air strikes against other military targets."Singapore's army would then seize the initiative on the ground with commandos - infiltrated by air and sea - and helimobile Guards unit securing the Malaysian side of the Causeway in Johor Baru and the Second Link bridge in Gelang Patah."Combined armed forces, most importantly, armoured battle groups equipped with tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles, would then cross into Johor and rapidly advance into the Peninsula."They would be supported by Guards battalions and transport helicopters, strike aircraft and attack helicopters."The Singaporean Navy will also play a vital role by landing troops on Johor's coast while keeping the sea-lanes around the island from any blockage by the Malaysian navy.Malay Mail


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