Some volunteer for SAF's Exercise Wallaby

Some volunteer for SAF's Exercise Wallaby

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia - One has already served his time as a reservist soldier, having reached the age of 40. The other was supposed to attend in-camp training (ICT) at Sembawang Air Base.

Instead, navy Captain (NS) Ganesh S. Peramaiyan, and air force Military Expert 4 (NS) Ang Kheng Wee, 28, are in Queensland, Australia, having volunteered for Exercise Wallaby - the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) biggest unilateral overseas war games.

Cpt (NS) Ganesh even extended his reservist commitment by five more years under the SAF's Reservist On Voluntary Extended Reserve Service (Rovers) scheme so that he could go.

The ongoing Exercise Wallaby, the 23rd since 1990, is taking place in three phases from Oct 3 to Nov 30 in the dusty and remote bushland of Shoalwater Bay Training Area, which is four times the size of Singapore.

The vast majority of the 5,200 SAF troops taking part have been sent there with their units. But a small number of the 800 NSmen there asked to go.

Cpt (NS) Ganesh is spending his three-week ICT on the Landing Ship Tank RSS Resolution ensuring personnel and supplies promptly reach the shore during the ongoing Exercise Trident, a six-day Humanitarian and Disaster Relief exercise under Exercise Wallaby.

"I missed ship life very badly," added the former navy regular, who is married with two children. He is now a Customs prosecution officer with Singapore Customs, having had to leave the SAF in 2003 after suffering a knee injury playing football.

"We're all on one ship. You can be from all walks of life, but when you come on board the ship you're taken as one family," said Cpt (NS) Ganesh, who is at Exercise Wallaby for the first time.

Seeing more of the world was also an opportunity that ME4 (NS) Ang could not pass up.

The former regular had previously flown with the air force to Thailand and Indonesia as an aircraft engineer. He left the military last year for a taste of civilian life.

He said: "During my regular days I never had the chance to come to Exercise Wallaby. So now with the opportunity, why not?

"It lets me work in a different environment."

He also misses his time in the armed forces, where a "common purpose" at work helps to forge a deep bond among servicemen and women, he added. "It's not really something you can find outside, where it's more profit-driven."

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