The Army's 1st Commando Battalion (1 Cdo Bn), the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s RSS Steadfast, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s 143 Squadron (SQN) have clinched the Best Combat Unit, Best Fleet Unit and Best Fighter Squadron awards respectively in this year's Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Best Unit Competition. In total, 18 active units and 11 National Service (NS) units are recognised for being the best in their respective formations. President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen will present the awards to the winners at the SAF Day Parade on 1 July 2017 at the SAFTI Military Institute.

For the 14th consecutive year, the Army's 1 Cdo Bn has garnered the top honours at the SAF's Best Combat Unit competition, chalking up an unprecedented 31 wins since the introduction of the competition in 1969. Trained to operate deep within enemy territory, the SAF Commandos are renowned for their proficiency in specialised operations such as airborne operations, reconnaissance, and raid missions. The Commanding Officer (CO) of 1 Cdo Bn, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Ng Kiang Chuan said, "Our achievement this year does not guarantee the same outcome in subsequent years unless we continue to train hard and realistically, to ensure the operational readiness and competence of our servicemen. Our commanders and soldiers are adaptive to challenging situations. The effective training and values of professionalism, fighting spirit, and discipline cultivated in every Commando have helped in a big way. We must continue to carry with us the Commandos' identity, in serving with a sense of purpose and ownership of our duty to the nation."

The RSN's Formidable-class Frigate RSS Steadfast has won the Best Fleet Unit award for the first time this year. RSS Steadfast demonstrated high operational readiness and excellent naval warfare competencies through its participation in numerous operations and exercises, such as Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). CO of RSS Steadfast, LTC Edwin Chen, attributed the achievement to his crew's hard work and professionalism towards their mission. LTC Chen said, "This award is recognition of the hard work and commitment put in by the crew in achieving mission success and consistently performing well in all our deployments. In particular, RSS Steadfast was the first non-US ship to lead a Multinational Group Sail for Exercise RIMPAC 2016, and successfully planned and executed surface warfare for 10 other ships as the Task Force Anti-Surface Warfare Commander. These achievements would not have been possible, if not for the crew's competence and professionalism."

The RSAF's 143 SQN has won the Best Fighter Squadron for the third time. It is the squadron's first win while operating the F-16C/D multi-role fighter aircraft, having last won the award in 1989 and 1990 while operating the A-4SU Super Skyhawk fighter jet. 143 SQN conducts a wide spectrum of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, and maintains a high state of operational readiness to defend Singapore's skies. To sharpen its combat skills, 143 SQN actively participates in large-scale air combat exercises such as Exercise Pitch Black in Australia and Exercise Cope Tiger in Thailand to put their skills to test and benchmark with other advanced air forces. Having clinched the award, CO of 143 SQN, LTC Ong Teck Koon, said, "I am very honoured to work alongside a team of very dedicated professionals. Every air and ground crew in the squadron constantly strives to push boundaries and to achieve higher standards whether in flying operations, maintenance, or day-to-day administration. The competition was strong but every member of the squadron -- Regulars, full-time National Servicemen and Operationally-Ready National Servicemen -- put in our best and worked as a team to achieve mission success. This year's win is attributable to the commitment and effort that everyone has put into every aspect of our work."

The annual SAF Best Unit and Best NS Unit Competitions were introduced in 1969 and 1993 respectively to recognise units which have excelled in the areas of combat readiness, operational proficiency and administrative excellence. The units are assessed based on a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process over the past year. The competitions also serve to enhance mission excellence, professionalism and camaraderie among servicemen in the SAF units.

Source: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (MINDEF)