SecCom: The First Female CAU Operator
By: Irwan Shah
(Photos: Singapore Police Force)
An elite arm of the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Police Security Command (SecCom), the Counter Assault Unit (CAU) sees an average of only 70 per cent of officers making it through the course to become CAU operators. In August 2020, Sergeant (Sgt) Anna (not her real name), became the first female CAU Operator who graduated from the three-month course. Police Life uncovers what it takes to be a CAU operator and Sgt Anna’s experiences throughout her CAU training.
Counter Assault Unit
The CAU was set up to counter potential security threats and the evacuation of VVIPs during hostile situations at major events. This is in addition to the CAU operators’ primary duties as Personal Security Officers (PSOs). Before becoming a full-fledged CAU operator, PSOs have to undergo a rigorous three-month CAU Main Course that puts their physical and mental capabilities to test. During the course, the officers will undergo rigorous training in Tactical Firearm, Close Quarter Battle, Methods of Entry and Scenario-based Activities.
These four areas focus on our key operational concept, which trains the CAU officers to operate at the highest possible level of proficiency. This includes operating effectively in covert and overt gear in both local and overseas situations,” explained Assistant Superintendent of Police Bros Leong, CAU’s Commanding Officer. “The training is designed to support the unit in all Counter Assault Operations, High-Risk VVIP escorts and Security Deployments.”
The CAU trainees have to don their full gear during training, which weighs up to almost 20 kilograms. To make the training more realistic during simulation exercises, instructors will also shoot simulation rounds at the trainees to train them to shield their principal charges when under attack. Only 60 per cent of the officers who went through the latest round of CAU Main Course passed and one of them was Sgt Anna, who became the first female CAU operator since the unit was formed in 2006.
Joining the SPF was Sgt Anna’s childhood dream. She vividly recalled her encounter with police officers when they came to her home in response to her mother’s report of a suspicious character loitering at the void deck. It was this episode that dawned upon her that the Police will always be there for those who are in need. She joined the SPF in 2016 and was subsequently posted to SecCom in 2018, where she was deployed as a PSO at the historic Trump-Kim Summit.
“When I was younger, I enjoyed first-person shooter games and how the teams had to work together to contain the adversary. That inspired me to join the SPF, to have the opportunity to do so in reality,” said Sgt Anna. “Given the increase in terrorist threats around the world, I wanted to be in a position where I could contribute to the efforts against security and terrorist threats.”
When the opportunity for the CAU course came, Sgt Anna signed up to be a CAU trainee without hesitation despite knowing that the CAU only had male operators at that point of time. Even though Sgt Anna was the only female trainee during the 3-month CAU Main Course, everyone was expected to undergo the same training regime and uphold the same standards, regardless of gender.
Sgt Anna described the training to be tough and challenging as the trainees’ physical abilities and mental readiness were pushed to the limits. What kept her going was her innate drive to prove that she could achieve whatever her male counterparts could do. Eventually, Sgt Anna completed the gruelling course on 20 August 2020, becoming the first female officer to join the ranks of the CAU operators. It was a surreal moment for Sgt Anna, who not only proved her mettle but also showed that with hard work and determination, one can achieve anything.
“It is definitely an honour to be the first female police officer to graduate from the CAU Main Course,” quipped Sgt Anna. “I hope to inspire other aspiring female officers to join the unit (CAU) as long as they believe in themselves.”
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
12 January 2021 @ 12:00 PM