Special Operations Force (Singapore)

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Special Operations Force
(Republic of Singapore)
Active Since 1985
Country  Singapore
Branch  Singapore Army
Type Special Forces
Role Homeland Security
Direct Action
Hostage Rescue
Special Reconnaissance
Special Operations
Part of Special Operations Task Force
Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation
Motto(s) We Dare
Engagements Operation Thunderbolt
Colonel Lam Shiu Tong[1]
Colonel Chiang Hock Woon[2]

The Special Operations Force (SOF) is the Republic's Army Special Forces composed of highly trained elite soldiers within the Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation and an essential component of the joint special forces unit Special Operations Task Force (SOTF).[3] According to the Principles of Special Forces, the Republic's special forces thrive on their exceptional qualities and advanced skills, consisting of highly adaptive individuals who can operate independently, and the Republic's special forces soldiers cannot be mass-produced and must be managed carefully.

Other than their Commando duties and specializations as cross-trained Signalers, Medics, Weapons Specialists, Demolitions Experts, Snipers and Boatmen, the Republic's Army special forces soldiers also specialize in operations such as direct action, counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, special reconnaissance as well as special operations. It is also one of the few units in the Singapore Armed Forces to be trained in high-altitude military parachuting and combat diving. The SOF also trains with the Republic's domestic home agencies and renowned global elite special forces partners such as the United States Army's Special Forces, Delta Force, United States Navy's SEALs and Naval Special Warfare Development Group, French Marine Commandos, Australian Special Air Service regiment and New Zealand Special Air Service regiment.


A SOF exhibition booth displaying the unit's equipment at the 2005 Singapore National Day Parade celebrations at Marina South.

On 27 September 1972, a flight engineer aboard Olympic Airlines Flight 472 accidentally activated a hijack alarm. The flight, which had 31 passengers and 11 crew members on board, took off from Sydney, Australia at 1030 hours SST and was heading towards Paya Lebar Airport in Singapore. The Australian authorities were not informed of the situation until four hours later. Following a flurry of conflicting reports, Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority warned Paya Lebar Airport to be prepared for a possible hijack. Flight 274 landed at its destination at 1825 hours SST and was immediately surrounded by the police before the Singapore authorities could confirm that it was a false alarm. The incident highlighted the lack of special forces trained and equipped to deal with a hijack or hostage situation in Singapore. This led to the creation of the SOF in 1985 as a unit specially tasked with dealing with such situations.


The SOF is made up of classified number of troops. Trained in jungle warfare, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, air assault and amphibious warfare, among other things, they also specialize in military freefall, combat diving and long-range land insertion. They are also cross-trained to operate various types of weapons and equipment. Each member is assigned to a specialist appointment in his team.

It takes approximately four years for a recruit to complete his training and become a qualified member of the SOF. The recruitment process is open to all members of the Singapore Armed Forces, provided they pass a selection test. Upon passing the test and completing a year of basic training, trainees receive a red beret and become fully inducted into the SOF, in addition to becoming a member of the Commando Formation.

Operation Thunderbolt (1991)[edit]

On 26 March 1991, Singapore Airlines Flight 117 was hijacked in flight by four men, who took all 129 people on board hostage. At Singapore Changi Airport, commandos from the SOF stormed the plane, killed the four hijackers and freed the hostages in under a minute.

Equipment and weapons[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yeo, Jared (27 June 2011). "Our Army recognises the commitment and dedication of its servicemen". MINDEF. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Cheam, Samuel (11 March 2011). "Commando Formation and SOTF Welcome New Commander". MINDEF. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Chow, Jermyn (1 July 2009). "Special forces to work under one command". AsiaOne News. Retrieved 19 December 2013.