RSIS SAF Day Roundtable on “Continuing the SAF Success Story: Defence Thinking, New Threats, Regional Efforts, and Active Citizenry”
- Mr Eddie Lim, Senior Fellow, Coordinator of Military Studies Programme
- Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, Head of Policy Studies in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman
- Ms Angela Poh, PhD Candidate, RSIS
- Assistant Professor Ong Weichong, Assistant Professor, Military Studies Programme
- Dr Graham Gerard Ong-Webb, Research Fellow, Military Studies Programme
2015 marks both the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence (SG50) and the establishment of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF50). The SG50 celebrations provide a warrant for Singaporeans to commemorate, reflect on, and celebrate their country’s world-class achievements attained in a relatively short period of time. SAF50 celebrates the journey that the SAF has traversed—through the vision, intrepidness, and wherewithal of Singapore’s leaders and its citizens—in becoming a leading-edge instrument for maintaining a stable external environment for Singapore and the region. SAF Day, which is commemorated annually on the 1st of July, reminds us that Singapore’s national defence is underwritten by the country’s full-time conscripts, ‘regular’ personnel and National Servicemen (NSmen) alike.
This roundtable will take stock of some of the factors underlining the continuation of the SAF’s success story. Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna will provide an update on the potential threat posed by the Islamic State in the region, and its implications for Singapore’s national resilience. Ms. Angela Poh will examine whether and how the concept of defence has evolved for Singapore over the past 50 years. Assistant Professor Ong Weichong will discuss how the SAF leverages on its capabilities and strengths to contribute towards peace support operations and humanitarian assistance disaster relief (HADR) missions, in order to maintain international security. From his perspective as an NSMan, Dr. Graham Ong-Webb will survey the changing face of NS over the years and why Singapore’s present and future national security is dependent on the preservation of a strong NS system and SAF, especially in an age of ‘hybrid warfare’.
About the Speakers:
Eddie Lim is the Coordinator of the Military Studies Programme (MSP), Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The MSP is the primary source of professional military education and training (PMET) for the Singapore Armed Forces in the military arts and sciences. The Programme Coordinator ensures the relevant and timely provision of Masters-level courses at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC) and an undergraduate-level course for SAF officers entitled the Undergraduate Professional Military Education and Training (UGPMET) in the area of Military Studies, as well as a spectrum of other courses for the SAF Warrant Officers’ School (SAFWOS) and the SAF Advanced Schools (SAS). Prior to this appointment, he was the Head of Strategic Research at the Centre for Operational Learning (COL), situated with the SAFTI Military Institute (SAFTI MI). In this capacity, Eddie oversaw relevant research at the strategic and operational levels, and contextualised it for educational and doctrinal purposes for the SAF. Prior to COL, Eddie was a Senior Lecturer at the Military Studies Branch (MSB), lecturing the courses which the MSP undertakes today. After serving his bond with the Public Service Commission, Eddie attended then-IDSS and attained a Master of Science (Strategic Studies). Eddie is still serving as a Major in the SAF as an Operationally-Ready NSman, having attended most of the courses at SAFTI MI, culminating in the National Service Command and Staff Course (NSCSC).
Kumar Ramakrishna is an Associate Professor and Head of Policy Studies in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He was previously Head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security or CENS (April 2006 – March 2015). His current research interests include British propaganda in the Malayan Emergency; propaganda theory and practice; history of strategic thought; and counter-terrorism with a focus on radicalisation. Assoc Prof Ramakrishna has been a frequent speaker on counter-terrorism before local and international audiences, a regular media commentator on counter-terrorism, and an established author in numerous internationally refereed journals. His book, Radical Pathways: Understanding Muslim Radicalisation in Indonesia (2009), was featured as one of the top 150 books on terrorism and counterterrorism in a May 2012 article published in the respected journal Perspectives of Terrorism, where Assoc Prof Ramakrishna was said to be “one of Southeast Asia’s leading counterterrorism experts” and Radical Pathways “an important and insightful case study on the pathways to extremism and violent jihad in Indonesia”. His latest single-authored books are Islamist Terrorism and Militancy in Indonesia: The Power of the Manichean Mindset (2015) and Original Sin? Revising the Revisionist Critique of the 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore (2015).
Angela Poh is a PhD Candidate at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). She received her Master of Science with Distinction from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Clarendon Scholar. Prior to joining RSIS, Angela served in the Singapore Ministry of Defence Policy Office, and received the Singapore Ministry of Defence Postgraduate Award in 2014 to pursue her PhD. Currently, Angela maintains her interactions with the SAF by tutoring and facilitating discussions at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC), as well as at the Undergraduate Professional Military Education and Training (UGPMET) Military Studies module. Academically, Angela’s research interests include U.S.-China relations and Chinese foreign policy. She will also be a Senior Visiting Student at the Peking University School of International Studies from 2015 to 2016.
Ong Weichong is an Assistant Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He is attached to the Military Studies Programme at the school’s constituent unit, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS). He is coordinator of the Asia Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO), a summer programme for senior military officers (OF-5 to OF-6) from the Asia Pacific region and beyond. He is also Course Director of the Campaign and War Studies (CWS) and Operations Other than War (OOTW) modules at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC). He has also taught at the advanced school and officer cadet school levels at SAFTI Military Institute. In National Service, Weichong is a Functional Specialist Support Staff Officer (Army) with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). In addition, he was an Affiliated Researcher with the Department of Leadership and Management, Swedish National Defence College (2010-2012) and a Guest Professor at the Ecole Navale, France (2013-2014). Weichong completed his doctoral studies with the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, University of Exeter, UK in 2010 where he was a recipient of research grants from the University of Exeter and the Royal Historical Society. Weichong’s articles, commentaries and op-eds have been published in the journal and magazine of the Singapore Armed Forces (Pointer and Pioneer); RUSI Journal; Armed Forces and Society; Defence Studies; Australian Defence Force Journal; Straits Times; Today; Lianhe Zaobao; Berita Harian; Defense News; Khaleej Times; RSIS Commentary Series; Canadian Naval Review; and Diplomatie.
Graham Gerard Ong-Webb is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He is also attached to the Military Studies Programme at the school’s constituent unit, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS). His research interests include military developments and security dynamics in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific. He teaches and facilitates discussions on the Command and Staff Course (CSC) and CSC (Executive) programmes at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GK SCSC), at the SAFTI Military Institute (SAFTI MI). He also teaches Political Risk Analysis on the ‘M.Sc in International Political Economy Programme’ at the RSIS. He has published in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Millennium: The Journal of International Studies, and Jane’s Intelligence Review. Previously, he worked for the Control Risks Group, Jane’s Information Group, the UK Defence Academy, and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He read for his PhD at the Centre for Science and Security Studies, at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, on a Commonwealth Scholarship. He also has an M.Sc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, funded by a Sir Tan Cheng Lock Master of Arts Scholarship, and a B.Soc.Sci (Hons) degree in Political Science from the NUS (supported by the then NUS-Shaw Foundation Scholarship) where he was also on the University Scholars Programme. As an NSMan on the ROVERS scheme, he currently holds a Principle Staff Officer (PSO) appointment, at the rank of Major, with an armoured brigade within the SAF Army. In completing the 14th National Service Command and Staff Course (NSCSC) at the GKS CSC in 2013, he received a Distinguished Graduate award.
Organised by the Military Studies Programme