Mr Wong (third from left), accompanied by Chief Armour Officer Brigadier-General Benedict Lim (second from left) and Commanding Officer of 42 SAR Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Choo (left), interacting with men from 42 SAR.
Minister of State for Defence and Education Lawrence Wong visited Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) troops participating in Exercise Wallaby 2011 today, at Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA), Queensland, Australia.
This year's Exercise Wallaby, conducted from 23 Sep to 26 Nov 2011, involves about 5,500 personnel and over 400 assets including armoured vehicles, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles from the SAF.
During his visit, Mr Wong observed an integrated air-land live-firing exercise conducted by the 42nd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment (SAR) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) Air-Land Tactical Control Centre. The live-firing involved RSAF AH-64D Apache helicopters, as well as Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tanks and Bionix II Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) from the Army. Thereafter, Mr Wong interacted with the servicemen who participated in the exercise and emphasised the importance of Exercise Wallaby in allowing the SAF to train in a challenging and realistic environment. Mr Wong also highlighted that the integrated training in this year's exercise has further enhanced the SAF's operational capabilities. Speaking to the media after his interaction, Mr Wong said "It's something quite precious for us to have this opportunity to train here where we can exercise the integration between air and land operations, as we progress to transform the SAF. We are grateful for it and I think the men, if you talk to them, will tell you that the training is challenging and realistic. We are very appreciative of the commitment that they have displayed here because they do spend quite a number of weeks, a long way from home. They come here, they train hard and we are appreciative of the commitment and dedication that they put into their training to sharpen their abilities as a potent fighting force. Having seen what our people are doing, I think it's certainly something the SAF and MINDEF values very highly."
Exercise Wallaby 2011 marks the 21st year of SAF training in SWBTA since 1990 and is a testament to the close and longstanding defence relationship between Singapore and Australia. The SAF and the Australian Defence Force interact extensively through multilateral training exercises, visits, professional exchanges, military courses, and work in close partnership in the ongoing multinational reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.