SAF unit allows peek into secret work

A once-secret military unit has finally shed some light on how it produces topographical maps used not only by defence planners and troops but also environmentalists to predict flooding.

The men and women of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Mapping Unit also spring to action when an emergency or natural disaster strikes.

The personnel of the unit, called the Open Source Centre, piece together crucial information from sources such as news reports and government websites.

They then compile reports that allow commanders to decide how best to mobilise troops, and send help quickly where it is needed most during humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who yesterday visited the unit, located near Paya Lebar Air Base, saw first-hand how the mapping process has changed since the unit was set up in 1970.

The unit is part of the Imagery Support Group, which specialises in collecting combat information to give SAF troops early warnings about the enemy.

Dr Ng also witnessed the "see first, know more, strike first" capability, which transforms raw data into useful information for the coalition ground troops. The capability was honed in Afghanistan between 2010 and last year.

This article was first published on Oct 22, 2014.
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