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The military of Singapore includes the Singapore Army, the Republic of Singapore Navy, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force, collectively known as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) oversees its functionality, along with volunteer private companies involved in supporting roles. The Chief of Defence Force is Lieutenant-General Desmond Kuek Bak Chye. The armed forces are controlled by the Minister of Defence, Mr Teo Chee Hean.
Singapore legislation requires every able-bodied male Singaporean citizen and second-generation permanent residents to serve National Service for a minimum of 2 years upon reaching 18 years of age or completion of his secondary studies (whichever comes first), with exemption given to those with medical reasons or other official reasons. After serving the two years, every male is considered operationally ready, and is liable for reservist (operationally ready) national service to the age of 40 (50 for commissioned officers). More than 350,000 men serve as operationally-ready servicemen assigned to reservist combat units, and another 72,500 men form the full-time national service and regular corps.
The military of Singapore serves primarily as a deterrent against potential aggressors of the island, and also as a force in providing humanitarian assistance to other countries. Singapore has mutual defence pacts with several countries, most notably the Five Power Defence Arrangements. There is an extensive overseas network of Singapore’s training grounds in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Taiwan, Thailand and Brunei. Since 1980, the concept and strategy of Total Defence has been adopted in all aspects of security, an approach aimed at strengthening Singapore against all kinds of threats.
The recent rise in unconventional warfare and terrorism has cast increasing emphasis on the non-military aspects of defence. The Gurkha Contingent, part of the Singapore Police Force, is also a counter-terrorist force. In 1991, the hijacking of Singapore Airlines Flight 117 ended in the storming of the aircraft by Singapore Special Operations Force and the subsequent deaths of all four hijackers without injury to both passengers and SOF personnel. A current concern is Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant Islamic group whose plan to attack the Australian High Commission was ultimately foiled in 2001.
Singapore's defence resources have been used in international humanitarian aid missions, including United Nations peacekeeping assignments involved in 11 different countries. In September 2005, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) sent three CH-47 Chinook helicopters to Louisiana to assist in relief operations for Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami or Boxing Day Tsunami, the RSAF deployed 3 landing ship tanks, 12 Super Puma and 8 Chinook helicopters to aid in relief operations to the countries that were affected by the tsunami.
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