Second Minister for Defence Mr Ong Ye Kung officiated at the inauguration of the Island Defence Training Institute (IDTI) at Clementi Camp this afternoon. The IDTI will prepare Active and National Service (NS) units to undertake Homeland Defence and Security Operations, and equip soldiers with the necessary competencies to be deployed alongside their counterparts from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This marks a key milestone in the Next Generation Army's transformation to take on a wider range of security tasks.

Speaking at the inauguration parade, Mr Ong highlighted that the terrorism threat to Singapore is at its highest in recent years, and reinforced the need for enhanced homeland security competencies, adaptability and Whole-of-Government integration. Mr Ong said, "Our security agencies are keeping watch 24/7, and they have done a good job in deterring any attempts to strike at our nation and our way of life... Inter-operability and cross-collaboration between the SAF, MHA and other security partners will have to be continuously refined, strengthened and exercised to meet this evolving threat."

To equip servicemen with the skills to defend our homeland and deal with counter-terrorism, the IDTI will train up to 18,000 active and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) in homeland security operations, and a further 15,000 personnel for other Island Defence roles yearly at its peak. The institute comprises two centres and two schools. The Homeland Security Training Centre (HSTC) and Island Defence Training Centre (IDTC) will be responsible for training and developing SAF units in the protection of military and civilian key installations and conduct of joint deterrence patrols; while the Security and Policing Leadership School (SPLS) and the Security and Policing Vocational School (SVPS) will focus on military security and policing duties. With the establishment of the IDTI, island defence and homeland security training can be centralised, resulting in synergy through the consolidation of training and resources.

Also present at the inauguration were Chief of Army Major-General Melvyn Ong, Deputy Commissioner (Operations) DC Lau Peet Meng and senior SAF and Singapore Police Force officers.

Quote from Commander of 2 PDF/IDTF

"First, let me start with highlighting how terrorism has evolved over the years. In the past, terrorism was confined to certain geographical areas, and they were primarily against political opposition. For example, the Irish Republican Army in the United Kingdom as well as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. These were functioning pretty much like start-ups, small little outfits that were located in localised parts in the world. However in recent time(s) we have seen the globalisation of terrorist networks, with the formation of Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, we are seeing terrorism having a wider appeal and a wider reach to many other parts of the world. Smaller terrorist outfits in the region are also able to subscribe to a larger ideology and thereby gain funding - similar to a franchisee-franchiser type (of) relationship. However, perhaps most disturbingly, we are starting to see the uberisation of terrorism, in other words we are starting to see small scale actors using very simple implements, such as knives and trucks, to be able to do great damage by receiving instructions off the internet or via social media.

Over the years, the SAF has adapted itself to be able to deal with such threats - pre-9/11, we were confined to our barracks, but after 9/11 the SAF has articulated the need, or we understood the need for us to protect key installations such as Jurong Island and Singapore Changi Airport. We have been there for the past 16� years. Moving forward as we have done last year, with the large-scale counter-terrorism exercise with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Home Team agencies, we see ourselves partnering the Home Team agencies to be able to be deployed in the heartlands. In other words, the SAF will move away from the barracks and move towards our heartlands should the terror alert or the threat levels increase. This will allow for areas where there will be congregations of public, such as the public transport nodes, as well as commercial areas and the heartlands to be protected by joint patrols by both the SPF and the SAF.

Let me just highlight how the IDTI fits into the entire ecosystem - IDTI aims to be a centre of excellence to train National Servicemen and National Service force members for both homeland security as well as homeland defence missions. In other words, if we were to deploy our soldiers to the heartlands, they need to be trained to do similar duties to what the police are doing in the heartlands. They need to be trained and need to be given a wide spectrum of training facilities to be able to deal with a whole host of security threats that they might be facing. We feel that IDTI is timely at this point in time; it fits very a very important area and allows our soldiers to be well-trained before they can be deployed to the public. We think IDTI is an important element in the nation's security architecture. Thank you."