Total Defence (or TD) is the name of Singapore's comprehensive defence strategy, adapted from countries like Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Ukraine and Russia. It is based on the understanding that besides military action, aggressors can also attack the country by wrecking its economic systems, tearing its social fabric apart, targeting Singaporeans' beliefs and commitment to defence, and its ability to recover from disasters, both natural and man-made. The Total Defence concept encompasses five key aspects – military, civil, economic, social and psychological defence – and focuses on the need for each Singaporean to play his or her part to defend the nation. These five aspects are very similar to the "4 Defences" of the Austrian "Comprehensive National Defense" (Umfassende Landesverteidigung) strategy of 1975.
The Five Aspects
"Military Defence" consists of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), including its citizen soldiers. Their mission is to "enhance Singapore's peace and security through deterrence and diplomacy, and should these fail, to secure a swift and decisive victory over the aggressor". As part of the mission, the SAF strives to maintain a high state of operational readiness 24/7.
"Civil Defence" is about ensuring Singaporeans know what to do in times of an emergency. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) supports this aspect of Total Defence. However, if Singapore encounters a nationwide emergency (e.g.: terrorism act or war), the SCDF will not be able to cope with the demands of the situation. Hence, it is crucial to rope in Singaporeans to help their fellow Singaporeans. To facilitate this, the SCDF recruits and trains civil defence volunteers in first aid, rescue and evacuation procedures, and shelter management.
"Economic Defence" is defined as maintaining the economy of the country and its ability to compete in the world, as well as environmental protection. It also involves helping Singapore (and Singaporeans) stay relevant in the global economy and putting in place economic systems to ensure that the Singapore economy does not collapse in times of crisis.
"Social Defence" is about keeping the social fabric strong and ensuring that Singaporeans live in harmony regardless of race or religion. This is especially important because Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-religious society.
"Psychological Defence" is about loyalty, commitment to Singapore, and having the will power and resilience to overcome challenges. This is the component that would determine if Singaporeans will stay to fight or abandon the country when it is in trouble.
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Total Defence Campaign
Each year, Nexus (Central National Education Office), a department within Mindef, will launch a Total Defence Campaign before 15 February to promote public awareness and elicit ground-up initiatives for Total Defence.
On 15 February every year at 6:20 pm (changed from 12:05 pm in 2015), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) would sound the Important Message Signal via the island-wide Public Warning System (PWS) sirens. At the same time, all local radio stations would also sound the important message signal and explain to their listeners the appropriate measures to be taken for the three different types of PWS signals.
The theme for the 2006 campaign was "Stay Vigilant, Be Resilient".
The theme for the 2008 campaign was "Total Defence. It's Personal. Play Your Part."
The theme for the 2009 campaign was "What Will You Defend?".
The theme for the 2010 campaign was "I Will".
The theme for the 2011 campaign was "Home - Keeping It Together".
The theme for the 2012 campaign was "Total Defence - It's My Turn".
The theme for the 2013 campaign was "Will You Stand With Me?".
The theme for the 2014 campaign was "Because You Played A Part".
Total Defence Day
Total Defence Day is marked annually on February 15 in Singapore to commemorate the anniversary of the surrender of the British to the Japanese on February 15, 1942, precursoring 3 years and 8 months of Japanese Occupation.
Schools frequently organize activities, such as quizzes or fire drills, for students to remind them on the importance of Total Defence, to remind students that Singapore is defensible and is worth defending, and only Singaporeans would have the will to defend Singapore.
At 1820 hours, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will sound the Important Message Signal through the island-wide Public Warning System (PWS) sirens. Simultaneously at 1205 hours, 10 local radio stations will sound the important message signal and explain to the listeners on the appropriate measures to be taken for the three different types of PWS signals. After the sounding, schools will read out a Civil Defence message in which students were reminded of the significance of the PWS signals and appropriate measures