Singapore Armed Forces test new urban operations concept

The prospect of facing increasingly urbanised operational environments has prompted the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to examine new war-fighting concepts in a series of experiments dubbed the SAF Innohub Experiment (InnoX).

Held over five days starting from 8 Nov, InnoX brought stakeholders – soldiers, concept developers and technologists – together to conduct trials of a new operational concept. At the heart of these experiments are new operational guidelines and technological tools which enable soldiers to better handle urban operations. For example, soldiers using modified commercially-available electronic gadgets are able to call up images captured by small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) monitoring the locations of their targets, as well as remote ground sensor-shooters.

Also tested at InnoX were new Command and Control (C2) guidelines, such as empowering junior commanders to make more decisions in the field.

Explaining the rationale behind the conduct of InnoX was Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) James Tan, Assistant Director, Future Systems Directorate. “We want to understand the enablers as well as the tactics that we need to equip our troops with for urban operations because we have discovered that the ability for a small unit to be tactically proficient and empowered is critical for our troops to survive in urban combat,” said SLTC Tan.

When cyberpioneer observed the proceedings on 11 Nov, the soldiers from the Guards formation seemed to have an uncanny sense of their surroundings as they moved towards their objective – a building held by “enemy” forces.

“The UAVs provide me and my men with a real-time situational picture and we are able to able to move in with greater accuracy,” said Staff Sergeant Muhd Bukhari, a Platoon Sergeant from the Guards Formation.

Foreign observers of the experiment proceedings were also impressed with what they saw. “Small tactical formations are at the front of the war-fighting spear, so any experiment that aims to make them better is the right thing to do. What I saw was a well-planned and well-executed experiment,” said Mr Vince Goulding, Director, Experiment Division of the United States Marines Corps.

“It’s pushing the envelope and it’s going to force people to think about changes in manpower, training and equipment,” added Mr Goulding.

Also part of InnoX was the Marketplace: an area where defence-related products from Singapore Technologies, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the Nanyang Technological University and several other innovative companies were showcased to SAF personnel and visiting officers from foreign armed forces.

Held at the Murai Urban Training Facility, InnoX is held twice a year. This second edition of InnoX saw participating forces engage in five runs over the five-day period and the results are still being evaluated.

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By Ong Hong Tat 

Singapore Ministry of Defence



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