Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mercy flight

There was a casevac flight this afternoon around 1400 Hotel involving a Super Puma.

Good to know that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has elements on standby for such contigencies 24/7 and men and women with the professionalism, dedication, training and support to do the needful.

Visited the camp in question yesterday for a firsthand look at their set up and safety protocols. Am satisfied that decisive action backs up what was shared during the briefing and camp walkabout.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guide to Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) anti-vehicle barriers on the South Korea side of the DMZ

Gate guards: Like silent sentinels, a daunting array of anti-vehicle barriers guard a bridge near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on South Korea's side of the border. Vehicles moving along the bridge have to negotiate portable barriers in a slalom-like course while under constant observation from sentries at either end of the bridge. When on high-alert, gates on either side of the bridge are pulled to seal off the bridge completely.

For a country that makes most of the war machines in its arsenal, South Korea has opted for simple yet apparently effective measures to safeguard key avenues of approach in one of the world's most heavily-fortified borders.

Unlike Singapore's border checkpoints and entrances to key installations here which have mechanical cat claws installed as anti-vehicle barriers, roads and bridges near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on South Korea's side of the border are protected by portable barriers designed to stop, slow down or obstruct speeding vehicles. The image above shows the range of barricades typically seen at checkpoints around the DMZ.

These include road blocks festooned with metal spikes, miniaturised versions of the Czech hedgehog (usually fielded as anti-tank barriers) and barricades on wheels that allows Republic of Korea (ROK) troops to quickly reposition such barriers. These passive defences are complemented by fortified positions whose arcs of fire cover the barricaded areas as well as avenues of approach leading to the checkpoints.

No frills anti-vehicle devices
Simple, low maintenance and effective against soft-skin vehicles, the South Korean security barricades do away with the possibility that mechanical barriers may fail when they are needed most - which was the case in March 2014 when a Mercedes-Benz speed past a cat claw barrier that failed to deploy properly at Singapore's Woodlands Checkpoint.

Few speeding vehicles are likely to get past their spike road blocks and nasty looking rollers with spikes with their tyres intact. It's a disarmingly low-tech approach to anti-intrusion devices in an age where defence contractors will try to hawk all manner of fancy (read: expensive and maintenance intensive) mechanical barriers for your front gate.

But the devices fielded by the ROK forces work.

Do not confuse the no frills approach to anti-vehicle barriers with lack of know-how in defence engineering on the part of the South Koreans. Their defence industrial base is years ahead of what we have in Singapore.

If you know what to look for, you may notice that ample examples of top notch defence engineering abound in the DMZ from fortified construction to long-range observation devices and assorted electronic devices that provide earning warning of signs of attack.

Where it matters, the South Koreans seem to spare no effort at keeping their borders safe.

ROK sentries stop and check all vehicles moving towards the fortified border area with North Korea.

Close view of the miniaturised Czech hedgehogs (left), spike road block, sentry post and the retractable gate that moves on rails set into the road. The barricades are light enough to be repositioned rapidly during a high alert.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Brisk RSAF air activity noted over Singapore

Am in Seoul, South Korea, this week.

Have been following developments from Singapore with keen interest, particularly reports of brisk air activity around Tengah Air Base this evening (3 Nov'14) and reports that an "RSAF" Gulfstream IV had been intercepted by Indonesian warplanes en route from SIN to DRW - the RSAF standing for Royal Saudi Air Force. :-)

Last Thursday, people around the Central Business District may have seen or heard RSAF F-15SGs flying race track patterns over the city skyline - an unusual sight to say the least. Look south, think about what's roosting there and you will have ample food for thought for what's happening in our immediate neighbourhood.

Spent several hours the other day getting up to speed with the history of the Korean War and the situation today on the Korean peninsula. When all is said and done, the central message is best summarised by an inscription (above) at a memorial to the fallen. The South Koreans are determined not to take their defence and security for granted. A succinct message that many of us should take heed of.