In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Rear Admiral Ng Chee Peng
Singapore is located at the southern end of the Strait of Malacca, through which more than half of the world’s oil supply passes. The value of Singapore’s total trade is over three times its gross domestic product, and more than 90 percent of this trade is via the sea. Given Singapore’s strategic location and dependence on maritime trade, threats to maritime security such as terrorism and piracy are of serious concern to our nation.
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) plays a vital role in ensuring Singapore’s maritime security and seaward defense, protecting its sea lines of communication, and safeguarding the country’s sovereignty. To achieve this, the RSN maintains a capable, ready, and flexible force.
The complex and trans-boundary nature of maritime security threats require an integrated response to ensure safe and secure seas for all. At the national level, the RSN led in the establishment of the National Maritime Security System (NMSS), a unified entity that drives a whole-of-government approach to share, evaluate, and respond to maritime security incidents that may straddle the maritime and land domains. The NMSS attained full operational capability in November 2013. On a daily basis, the RSN’s Maritime Security Task Force works closely with other national agencies such as the Police, Coast Guard, and the Maritime and Port Authority to survey, patrol, and conduct security operations to ensure our waters are safe.
Collaborations are also extended regionally. Since 1992, the RSN and the Indonesian Navy have been conducting coordinated sea patrols under the ambit of the Indonesia-Singapore Coordinated Patrols. At the multilateral level, cooperative measures to enhance the security of the Strait of Malacca have been undertaken by Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand under the Malacca Strait Patrol framework. These collective efforts have proven effective. The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Piracy against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre reported that the number of piracy and robbery incidents in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore during the period of January to September has fallen sharply from 20 in 2011 to just 4 in 2013.
In 2009, the RSN established the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) to facilitate information sharing and collaboration with our foreign partners. To date, the IFC has established connections with 62 agencies from 32 countries, and the International Liaison Officers stationed at the IFC work together to fuse, analyze, and disseminate credible, real-time information to participating maritime agencies. The IFC builds regional capacity to combat maritime threats by organizing courses, exercises, and seminars, including shared awareness meetings for the various stakeholders of the maritime community.
Farther away, the RSN continues to contribute to international security by participating in counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Since 2009 we have deployed four task groups to the multinational Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 to enhance the security of ships transiting the area and will deploy a fifth this year. The Singapore Armed Forces, at the invitation of the Combined Maritime Forces, has also taken command of CTF 151 three times.
As a maritime nation and a responsible member of the international community, Singapore remains committed to contributing in meaningful ways toward strengthening maritime security and ensuring safe and secure seas for all.