Special Operations Task Force

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Special Operations Task Force
Active30 June 2009[1] – present
Country Singapore
BranchSingapore Armed Forces
TypeSpecial forces
RoleCounter-Terrorism
Specialized Homeland Security Operations
SizeClassified
Nickname(s)SOTF
Motto(s)We Dare
Commanders
Current
commander
Colonel Kenny Tay (Commander)[2]
Colonel Tan Tai Tiong (Deputy Commander)[3]
Notable
commanders
Colonel Lam Shiu Tong (Commander)[2]

The Special Operations Task Force (Abbreviation: SOTF; Chinese: 特别行动队; Malay: Operasi Khas Pasukan Khas) is a special operations force created by the Singapore Armed Forces to better combat terrorist threats that would harm Singaporean interests at home and overseas.[4][5] According to Colonel Benedict Lim, then Assistant Chief of General Staff (Operations), the SOTF is responsible at the national level for conducting counter-terrorist operations.[6]

History[edit]

On 30 June 2009, it was officially announced to the media that the Government of Singapore was planning to create the Special Operations Task Force to counter all terrorist threats from land, sea and air.[4] According to Teo Chee Hean, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence at that time, he stated that the unit's establishment was needed because Singapore is not "dealing only with people with guns. They may be dealing with people who have very powerful explosives and various kinds of other substances, chemical, radiological and so on, so you need to develop capabilities to deal with these things. You have to deal with them at sea, at shore, buildings, aeroplanes, ships, coastlines and so on, so you do need to bring together these capabilities, develop them in a much more complete, coherent and integrated way."[5] In addition, Colonel Lam commented on the 2008 Mumbai attacks "where terrorists are getting smarter as well. They are getting more organised - they learnt from what the special and security forces are doing."[2]

The SOTF saw its inaugural monograph Key Perspectives on Special Forces (2009) published in the same year the integrated unit was formed. The monograph was edited and developed by Captain Kwong Weng Yap, a Commando Officer who served as head of its leadership development. The monograph was published by Pointer (journal), the Journal of the Singapore Armed Forces. The publication introduces the first comprehensive monograph involving Singapore’s Special Forces from the Army and Navy; it offers a critical examination of the history, evolution and theory of special forces. Professor Denis Fischbacher-Smith of the University of Glasgow commented that the monograph "provided the reader a stimulating insight into the working and thought processes that underpin the selection, training, and deployment of these elite troops. Moreover, it is rare for such a collection to be made available from serving and recent members of elite forces, and for that reason, the book is an important contribution to the literature."[7]

The SOTF is a military command rather than an actual unit, combining the Commando Formation's Special Operations Force and the Navy's elite Naval Diving Unit - both already well-established special ops units, as an integrated force and operational command. Furthermore, the task force would be able to tackle and adapt to various threats according to the various specialties of Singapore's special forces units.[8][5]

The SOTF had recently participated in the Exercise Northstar VII drills, neutralizing several "terrorists" after they have infiltrated Sentosa.[6][9][10]

On 11 March 2011, Colonel Chiang Hock Woon was appointed to serve as Commander of SOTF, replacing then-Colonel, Brigadier-General Lam Shiu Tong, who will be appointed Commander of 2PDF.

On 22 January 2016, COL Nicholas Ang was appointed to serve as Commander of SOTF, replacing COL Simon Lim. [11]

Every year, the SOTF participate in counter-terrorism exercises led by the Police in order to validate their operational response to any large-scale terrorist attacks or when there is a heightened security threat to Singapore.

Formation[edit]

The following units are to be placed under command of SOTF:

Headquarters[edit]

The SOTF formation includes personnel from the Air Force and Navy, who are in charge of mobilizing resources for SOTF missions based on their service-specific knowledge.[3]

Colonel Tan Tai Tiong said in a statement that SOTF operators "are not losing our individual identities as Divers and Commandos, but gaining a valuable partner in each other's skill sets."[3]

Equipment and weapons[edit]

Pistols

Submachine Guns

Assault Rifles

Sniper Rifles

Shotguns

References[edit]

  1. ^ Official announcement to create the unit was first reported on this date.
  2. ^ a b c Ashwin Lee (22 January 2016). "Chief Commando Officer / Commander SOTF Change of Command Parade". Singapore Army. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "SAF special forces to operate under one command". Singaporean Ministry of Defence. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009.
  4. ^ a b S. Ramesh (30 June 2009). "SAF to develop integrated task force against terrorist threats". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "Special Operations Task Force Web TV Interview". The Straits Times RAZORTV. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
  6. ^ a b S Ramesh (15 July 2009). "Exercise Northstar tests Singapore's response to terrorist attack". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  7. ^ [1]. Kwong Weng Yap (Ed.) (2009). "Key Perspectives on Special Forces". 'Pointer (journal). Mindef.gov.sg. Retrieved 15 Oct 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d Jermyn Chow (1 July 2009). "Special forces to work under one command". The Straits Times. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
  9. ^ "When Terror Strikes pamphlet" (PDF). Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  10. ^ "SAF special operations group participates in Exercise Northstar VII". Singaporean Ministry of Defence. 15 July 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009.
  11. ^ https://www.mindef.gov.sg/oms/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/army/army_news/News_Archive/2016/Jan16/ChiefCDOCOC.html
  12. ^ a b Xinhua News Agency (1 July 2009). "Singapore to develop integrated task force against terrorist threats". Global Times. Retrieved 1 July 2009.