Singapore Army

Singapore Army
Tentera Singapura  (Malay)
新加坡陆军 (Chinese)
சிங்கப்பூர் தரைப்படை (Tamil)
Crest of the Singapore Armed Forces.png
Singapore Armed Forces Crest
Founded12 March 1957; 62 years ago (1957-03-12)
Country Singapore
Size72,000 (active, including 35,000 conscripts)
385,000+ (reserve)[1]
Part ofSingapore Armed Forces
Motto(s)Yang Pertama Dan Utama  (Malay)
(First and Foremost)
Ready Decisive Respected
EngagementsIndonesia–Malaysia confrontation,[2][3][4]
Iraq War
Operation Enduring Freedom (as part of NATO-led ISAF)
International military intervention against ISIL
Chief of ArmyMajor-General Goh Si Hou
Winston Choo
Ravinder Singh
Desmond Kuek
Neo Kian Hong
Chan Chun Sing
FlagSingapore Army service flag.svg

The Singapore Army is the service of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) tasked with land operations. It is the largest of the three Services. The Singaporean army is primarily a conscript army that, in the event of national exigencies or war, morphs itself from peacetime to wartime by mobilising almost all of its combined combat power by calling up operationally-ready military reservists.


Two infantry regiments formed the nucleus of the Singapore Army. These were established pre-independence, in anticipation of self-rule following British decolonisation. The First Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR) was formed in 1957, under British auspices. The Second Singapore Infantry Regiment (2 SIR) followed in 1963. After a fraught merger with the Federation of Malaya and subsequent separation in 1965, newly-independent Singapore formally established its army by passing the Singapore Army Bill in December 1965.[5]

In 1972, Parliament passed further legislation (the Singapore Armed Forces Act) to reorganise and consolidate the armed forces' disparate commands and administrative functions.[6][7]

The Army celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017.

Military Deployments


The stated mission of the Singapore Armed Forces is to deter armed aggression, and to secure a swift and decisive victory should deterrence fail. The Army is also tasked with conducting peace-time operations to further Singapore's national interests and foreign policy. These range from disaster relief to peacekeeping, hostage-rescue and other contingencies.[10]

The Army views technology as a force-multiplier and a means to sustain combat power given Singapore's population constraints. Jointness across three branches of the SAF is integral to the Army's warfighting doctrine. Joint operations undertaken with the Navy and Air Force include amphibious landings and critical disaster relief operations in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

The Army has a technically proficient, relatively well-educated draftee pool and officer corps (non-commissioned and commissioned) reflective of the population at large, and has sought to leverage this to ease its transition into a more sophisticated, networked fighting force.[11]

Combat readiness is a linchpin of Army policy, and military exercises up to divisional level are conducted many times yearly, simulating full-spectrum operations, up to and including full-scale war. Divisional war games are a combined arms, tri-service affair involving the Republic of Singapore Navy and Air Force. Because training space is limited in Singapore—artillery fire would quickly traverse the island—some military exercises are conducted overseas. Reservists periodically [12] train abroad, their units regularly evaluated for combat readiness.[11] The Army also trains bilaterally with some host nations, and military exchanges are frequent. Training is billed as "tough, realistic and safe," with a premium on safety, given the sensitivity of military deaths in a largely conscript army.[10]

Following the Revolution in Military Affairs, and in tandem with modernizing its weapons systems, the Army is forging a transition to a more network-centric fighting doctrine that better integrates the Air Force and Navy.[13]


Singapore Army
Flag of the Republic of Singapore
History and Traditions
Military history of Singapore
Weapons of the Singapore Army
Singapore Armed Forces ranks
Singapore Army is located in Singapore
Singapore Army – major combat units

The Army is headed by the Chief of Army (COA).[14] In the past, the Army was head by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff (Army). Assisting him are the Chief of Staff, General Staff[15] and Commander, TRADOC (Army Training and Doctrine Command).[16] There are six branches of the General Staff (G1-G6), a National Service Affairs Department (G8) dealing with National Service issues, and an Inspectorate. The six branches handle manpower (G1), intelligence (G2), operations (G3), logistics (G4), planning (G5) and training (G6) respectively. Each department is headed by an Assistant Chief of the General Staff (ACGS). Also advising the Chief of Army are the Senior Specialist Staff Officers (SSSOs) of the various formations (Infantry, Guards, Armour, Commandos, Artillery, Combat Engineers, Maintenance & Engineering, Intelligence and Signals).[17][18]

Chief of Army[]

The current Chief of Army is Major-General Goh Si Hou.

List of Chiefs of Army[19]
Years in office COA Vocation
1990–1990 Boey Tak Hap [citation needed]
1990–1992 Ng Jui Ping Artillery
1992–1995 Lim Neo Chian Combat Engineers
1995–1998 Han Eng Juan Armour[citation needed]
1998–2000 Lim Chuan Poh Infantry
2000–2003 Ng Yat Chung Artillery
2003–2007 Desmond Kuek Armour
2007–2010 Neo Kian Hong Guards
2010–2011 Chan Chun Sing Infantry
2011–2014 Ravinder Singh Signals
2014–2015 Perry Lim Guards
2015–2018 Melvyn Ong Infantry
2018–present Goh Si Hou Artillery[citation needed]

Combat Arms[]

The Army consists of seven Combat Arms, from which are derived Divisional and Non-divisional units:

These are bolstered by Combat Service Support Units comprising the following:

Divisional and non-divisional assets[]

Combined-Arms Divisions[]

The Army's main organizational components are its Combined-Arms Divisions, of which there are three:[22] the 3rd, 6th and 9th Divisions.[23] They include both active and reserve units that are operationally ready, all subject to mobilization orders in the event of war.[12]

3rd Singapore Division (motto: "Foremost and Utmost") consists of the following subordinate units:[citation needed]

Under the Division-National Cadet Corps (NCC) affiliation scheme, NCC West District is affiliated to the 3rd Division.[citation needed]

6th Singapore Division (motto "Swift and Deadly") consists of the following subordinate units:[citation needed]

Under the Division-NCC affiliation, NCC Central District is affiliated to the 6th Division.[citation needed]

9th Division/Infantry (motto: "Forging Ahead) consists of the following subordinate units:[citation needed]


Under the Division-NCC affiliation, NCC East District is affiliated to the 9th Division/Infantry.[citation needed]

MINDEF Reserve (MR) NS Divisions[]

2 People's Defence Force[]

2 People's Defence Force (PDF) is responsible for homeland security, including that of key civilian installations and infrastructure. 2 PDF is also responsible for the coordination and secondment of military resources to civilian agencies in the event of a civil emergency.[24]

Organisation:[citation needed]

21st Division[]

Designated as Army Operational Reserve (AOR), the 21st Division is a rapid deployment force of highly mobile infantry (Singapore Guards) specializing in amphibious, heliborne, and maneuver warfare. The armoured and artillery components of the division are lightweight, amphibious or airborne, and rapidly deployable.[citation needed]

Organisation:[citation needed]

Of the three infantry brigades, one is active and staffed mainly by career servicemen. Two are held in reserve, one tasked with heliborne operations, the other tasked with amphibious landings.[25]

25th Division[]

Also designated as Army Operational Reserve (AOR).[citation needed]

Organisation:[citation needed]

32nd Division[]

In Defending the Lion City, Tim Huxley speculated that "the reorganisation of 1991 and 1995 left one armoured brigade, 4 SAB, outside the divisional structure, prompting speculation that it has been earmarked to form the core of a conceptualised new mechanised division." Huxley asserted that it was "initially codenamed as 32nd Division at the planning stage."[26]

Non-Divisional Units, some appended to the General Staff[]


Photo gallery[]

See also[]


  1. ^ "2018 Singapore Military Strength".
  2. ^ "1957 – Our First Battalion". MINDEF. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  3. ^ "1963 – Konfrontasi". MINDEF. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  4. ^ "1963 – Pioneering Spirit of 2 SIR". MINDEF. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  5. ^ "The Singapore Army Is Established". HistorySG. National Library Board Singapore. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Singapore Armed Forces Act". Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Singapore Armed Forces Come Into Effect". HistorySG. National Library Board Singapore. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Singapore Armed Forces Concludes Deployment in Afghanistan". Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Joint Statement Issued by Partners at the Counter-ISIL Coalition Ministerial Meeting". Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs. Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  10. ^ a b "The Singapore Army- About Us". MINDEF.
  11. ^ a b Tim Huxley, Defending the Lion City, Allen & Unwin, 2000, p.65.
  12. ^ a b "NS Matters - Home". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  13. ^ "The 3rd Generation SAF". MINDEF.
  14. ^ "Organisation Structure".
  15. ^ "Organisation Structure". The Singapore Army. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  16. ^ "File Not Found".
  17. ^ " – Directory". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  18. ^ " – Directory". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Past Leadership". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Armour". The Singapore Army. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Artillery". The Singapore Army. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  22. ^ " – Directory". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  23. ^ See also [1], and Huxley, Defending the Lion City, 2000, pp. 123–126
  24. ^ "2 People's Defence Force". The Singapore Army. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  25. ^ Tim Huxley, Defending the Lion City, Allen & Unwin, 2000, p. 124.
  26. ^ Tim Huxley, Defending the Lion City, Allen & Unwin, 2000, p. 127. Huxley's source note on 32nd Division referred to an article by defence journalist Prasun Sengupta (1992, p. 76), but Huxley's bibliography is incomplete.
  • Tim, Huxley. Defending the Lion City: the Armed Forces of Singapore. Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pty LTD, 2000. ISBN 1-86508-118-3.
Further reading

External links[]