31 October 2018

Maintaining A High Level Of Operational Readiness

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By Operations Department (Photos: Public Affairs Department)

Maintaining a High Level of Operational Rea


In recent years, the threat of terrorism has significantly increased with many terror attacks occurring in many countries. Singapore is not immune and we currently face the highest level of terror threat in recent years. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has prioritised efforts to tackle these terror threats to ensure that we are ready to respond when an attack happens in Singapore. Other than building up frontline capabilities, such as the setting up of the Emergency Response Teams (ERT) and In-Situ Response Teams (IRT), it is critical that we maintain a high level of operational readiness to ensure that the Police’s response would be swift and effective.


The London Bridge attack in June 2017 emphasised the crucial need for an operationally ready emergency response force. The quick deployment of specialist forces, closure of Tube stations and evacuation of civilians allowed the City of London and the Metropolitan police to neutralise the threat within eight minutes of the initial emergency call. One of the contributing factors to this swift and coordinated response was the regular counter-terrorism exercises by the London police, which has trained their officers to respond effectively to any threats presented.


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To maintain a high level of operational readiness, the SPF has a dedicated team of police officers conducting regular ground deployment exercises to prepare our frontline emergency response officers to effectively and efficiently respond to such an attack. These exercises focussed on the SPF’s operational response to both public security and public order incidents.


The Exercise and Readiness Division (ERD)


At the ERD in Operations Department, we recognise the importance of preparing our frontline officers to respond to public security or public order incidents. ERD was formed in April 2016 and has taken on the responsibility of maintaining the SPF’s operational readiness through the rigorous conduct of exercises. Realistic exercises simulating mass shooting of civilians, suicide bombing or vehicle ramming are painstakingly planned and conducted to provide a safe learning platform for our officers to test and validate operational plans. This would not have been possible without the strong support from the Special Operations Command (SOC), Gurkha Contingent (GC), Training Command, SPF specialist units, various divisions within the Operations Department as well as other agencies over the past few years.


Exercises Conducted/Coordinated by ERD


Exercises conducted by the ERD can be categorised into Readiness exercises, Major-Event exercises and Demonstrative exercises.


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Readiness Exercises


Readiness exercises aim to assess the knowledge and competencies of the SPF officers from various units such as the Land Divisions, SOC and GC. From these exercises, the officers are able to familiarise themselves with the operational plans for different scenarios. Assessments are made of their responsiveness, competencies and capabilities. These assessments play a critical role in identifying strengths and particularly, areas for improvement in current operational plans.


“The ability to work well with various public and private stakeholders is critical to ensuring an effective response to any attack,” said Director of Operations, Senior Assistant Commissioner How Kwang Hwee.


Therefore, readiness exercises are not restricted to only SPF resources. Multi-agency exercises are conducted to evaluate the coordination effectiveness with external agencies such as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and private stakeholders, which include commercial establishments and schools. The interoperability of agencies, tactics used to manage the various types of incidents, command and control effectiveness are also put to stringent tests during such exercises.


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Major Event Exercises

Major-event exercises aim to prepare SPF officers for key large-scale events such as the National Day Parade, Formula 1 race, the historic Trump-Kim Summit and the 32nd ASEAN Summit hosted in Singapore earlier this year. These exercises are tailored to validate and enhance operational readiness for such major events. In addition, these exercises have been instrumental in ensuring operational, competency and logistical readiness for these major events.


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Demonstrative Exercises


Last but not least, a biennale demonstrative exercise allows the SPF to showcase its counter-terrorism capabilities, as well as those of our partnering agencies, to the public. One of such exercises is “Exercise Northstar X” which was conducted at Changi Airport on October 2017. This exercise involved more than 650 personnel from the SAF, SCDF, SMRT, Changi Airport Group and other agencies. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was also invited to observe the exercise.


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The Road Ahead


The combination of exercises led by the ERD has allowed us to obtain invaluable insights to improve the SPF’s operational plans, coordination between units and agencies, and equipping. However, this cannot be achieved by the ERD alone. ERD will continue to work closely with the SPF units and its external partners and stakeholders to ensure that we will always be operationally ready to safeguard Singapore every day!

Last Updated on 02 November 2018