Singapore Holds "Army Open House"

Images Sources: mindef.gov.sg, kaskus.us,  facebook.com/SengkangBabiesBlog, and other internet sources. Expect to see mean machines...

Images Sources: mindef.gov.sg, kaskus.us, facebook.com/SengkangBabiesBlog, and other internet sources.

Expect to see mean machines of a different kind at the area surrounding the F1 Pit Building this weekend as the Army Open House (AOH) starts welcoming public visitors on 26 May.

The latest and most advanced platforms used by the Army, from
the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) to the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), and more will be on show in the heart of the city.

Explaining the choice location, Brigadier-General (BG) Yeo See Peng, Chairman Executive Committee AOH@Our City and Commander 6th Singapore Division said: "We wanted to make it easier for people to come, so as to better engage everyone." Previous AOHs were held in the western parts of Singapore which were not as accessible as this year's locale.

With the Promenade and Esplanade MRT stations close by and multiple public bus services plying the area, getting to AOH will be a breeze. The prime location also means that visitors will be able to catch the 45-minute Dynamic Defence Demonstrations against the dramatic backdrop of the Singapore skyline.

Grab a good seat for the shows which start at 10am and 4pm each day and get ready for action as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) takes centre-stage to swiftly neutralise threats to Singapore's security. Highly trained soldiers from the SAF's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives defence group, dogs from the Military Working Dog Unit and security troopers will all work together in a tightly synchronised show.

To pull it off, participants have been rehearsing up to five times daily for the past three weeks. "We've got to make sure that we get the cues just right and manoeuvre our vehicles into the correct position at specific times," said 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Daryl Tan, a Terrex ICV Commander from the 5th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment.

"The space that we have to manoeuvre the Terrex ICV is smaller than what we are used to, so we have to be extra vigilant in ensuring safety."

Not satisfied with just watching from afar? Shutter-happy visitors will have a field day walking down Army Avenue, which is literally packed with Army weaponry such as Leopard 2A4 tanks, BIONIX II Infantry Fighting Vehicle and AH-64D Apache Longbow Helicopter.

"The 3rd Generation Army is an integrated force with integrated capabilities. That is why air and sea elements which support the Army in our land-based operations, also feature at AOH@Our City," said BG Yeo. Visitors will be able to blast through the waters of Marina Bay on board the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN's) Fast Craft and the Army's Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo (LARC) V. Be prepared to queue as these rides are very popular.

After getting your feet wet, it's time to get your hands moving at the Combat Zone where visitors can fire the Singapore Assault Rifle (SAR) 21, experience the SAF's Tactical Engagement System and go head-to-head in a two-sided gun battle! The more adventurous can also opt to scale the Rock Tower and descend via the exhilarating flying-fox or the more challenging rappelling option.

Overwhelmed by all that excitement? Take a walk through the air-conditioned Pavilion Display area to check out some of the SAF's latest gadgets and weapons systems. Themed Celebrating 45 years of National Service: From Fathers to Sons, this year's AOH will host stories of NS told through the eyes of several father-son pairs. Also on display are the uniforms and equipment used by the SAF over the years.

With so much to see and do at AOH@Our City, here's a quick run-down of what your day might look like:

10am: We arrive bright and early to catch the official opening and it's off to the Dynamic Show Arena to catch the first show of the day!

10.30am: Voice still hoarse from cheering the Red Lions as they descended onto the show area. Slightly wet from the spray that the helicopters generated when they flew over the Marina Bay Area (yes, it was that close!). We bring the children to see the NS45 showcase. Thank goodness it's air-conditioned!

12pm: We are done rambling through the Pavilion Displays and the children were amazed at some of the technology which the Army uses today. As someone who served NS years ago, the Army has certainly come a long way! The children think I'm great as I share my stories of training in the jungles and enduring tough training during my NS days. Even the wife is looking at me differently. Score.

12.30pm: Just done with lunch at the aptly-named Canteen Break area. The children catch sight of the Terrex ICV and BIONIX II IFV rides. Oh my.

2.30pm: After the rides, the children were spoiling for another so I brought them to queue for the Sea-rides on the RSN's Fast Craft and the Army's LARC V. My son asks why there are boats at AOH and I'm stumped. Mental note to ask the roving ambassadors armed with tablet computers what's that all about.

3pm: I need a break. Bring the children to the Kidz Boot Camp area where they experience a mini obstacle course, jump around in an inflatable bouncing castle and pick up Army souvenirs. Think the wife and I will watch from a distance while we take a breather.

3.30pm: We try our hands at firing the SAR 21 assault rifle at the Sharpshooter area. The recoil is much less than with the weapon I used to fire! Tried to explain that to the wife and kids, they didn't seem to get it. Pfft. Good thing that we didn't have long to wait, as there were 44 firing lanes!

4pm: The children are running amok among the Army tanks and other platforms on display along Army Avenue. Think my camera battery is going to die as we snap away. We hear gun-fire in the distance, looks like the second Dynamic Defence Demonstration show is starting.

4.30pm: With most of the crowd watching the show, we breeze through the Urban Operations and Battlefield areas where we got the chance try out the SAF's Tactical Engagement System and Paintball Engagement System!

5pm: Leaving the children with the wife, I went off to try Adventure Soldier. Tried to convince them to scale the wall together with me and take the flying-fox at the top but they weren't keen. Oh well.

5.30pm: Maybe I shouldn't have been so garang (gung-ho in Malay), I'm a little gassed out after scaling that Rock Tower. I suggest going to the Singapore Flyer to take a flight. With my SAF 11B, I score a 45 percent discount on the tickets for my family of four. I get to rest, they get to take in the scenery. Win-win.

7pm: After a quick dinner, we head back to the show area to catch the Military Show as the SAF Band, Music and Drama Company and Military Police take the stage for an hour-long show. I hear that this is the first time AOH is being extended so late into the night!

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