SAF, Aussie troops in key manoeuvres

SAF, Aussie troops in key manoeuvres
Soldiers from the SAF Guards battalion and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) 7th Australian Regiment carrying out a beach landing during a preview of seven-day Exercise Trident.

There were two groups of soldiers - one in green, the other in olive drab - but the men operated as one fighting unit as soon as they hit the shoreline of Freshwater Bay in Rockhampton.

Arriving by navy fast-craft, troops from the Singapore Guards and the 7th Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR) charged shoulder-to-shoulder across the beach, weapons at the ready.

Overhead, a pair of Apache helicopters from the Republic of Singapore Air Force provided air support.

Disappearing into the vegetation, the 100-strong ground force converged at a holding area to prepare for a 4km trek to their mission objective.

Although yesterday's ship-to-shore exercise in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) was a preview, today will mark the first time the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Australian Defence Force (ADF) will execute this manoeuvre together.

Conducted as part of the seven-day Exercise Trident, this amphibious operation will be observed by Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing, and Australia's Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert.

During last year's inaugural Exercise Trident, both countries practised conducting a humanitarian and disaster relief operation. ADF personnel, however, were involved only in the planning stages.

This year, 38 ground troops from 7RAR will join the exercise.

On Sunday, they will team up with the Singapore Guards for a night-time helicopter insertion, which will be followed by an urban-based operation.

Colonel Lim Kwang Tang, the overall exercise director, said: "This is about sharing tactics, techniques and procedures. The Australians are very strong in the urban terrain, and their troops are very experienced in terms of operations. A lot of the troops here have been deployed, for example, in Afghanistan and other operations."

Singapore Guards commanding officer James Yin said: "Ship-to-shore is a very complex manoeuvre because it includes the integration with the navy as well as the air force in terms of providing close air support."

Lt-Col Yin added that working with the ADF meant a closer understanding of each other's armies.

About 230 servicemen from the army, 280 from the navy, and around 250 from the air force are involved in Exercise Trident. It is part of Exercise Wallaby, an annual training exercise conducted by the SAF in SWBTA, and which is now in its 24th year.

This article was first published on Nov 8, 2014.
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