Operation Blue Ridge – Defending Singapore, by helping Afghanistan

Operation Blue Ridge might not ring a bell with ordinary citizen. Mention Afghanistan, and Taliban, Osama, insurgency, kidnapping, poverty comes to mind. It is a country torn by war, civil unrest, and constant struggles.

The first photo is significant as it symbolises SAF’s closure of Operation Blue Ridge (OBR) after six years (Home sweet home, Singapore).

By the way, Afghanistan has beautiful landscapes, but we doubt anyone will be booking a free and easy package to Kabul anytime soon.

Last Friday, Daddy was invited to SAF’s award presentation ceremony to honour those who have served in Afghanistan (click for details). Operation Blue Ridge started in 2007, and lasted six years.

Earlier in the day, the last batch of Singaporeans have completed their tour of duty, and touch down in peaceful Singapore.

Our SAF servicemen and women work closely with their coalition partners. The risk is present and soldiers face mortar and IED (improvised explosive devices) threats. It was not uncommon for insurgents to pose as “friendly” before detonating themselves !

Our closest allies Australia and New Zealand forces suffer 40 and 11 deaths respectively. Even the fittest special- forces can fall. Singapore is indeed blessed, that no one came back in boxes.

What is Operation Blue Ridge and why is significant? Is it worth the sacrifices, to place our men and women in a hostile scenario?What would the families of the servicemen be feeling about their spouse’s safety?

We got a first hand view of Operation Blue Ridge’s exhibition booths. The location and schedules for the exhibition is shared at end of the blog.

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It was not too long ago when terrorists try to harm Singapore’s peaceful landscape. The world after 911 has changed, no one is really safe from extremism. Singapore’s Armed Forces remains vigilant, but we hope the civilians will be more alert too.

In the earlier days, extremists from all over the world were flying into Afghanistan to pick up skills to kill and maim. Afghanistan was exporting terrorism.

Bamiyan, Kabul, Orugzan and Kandahar are the four sites where SAF personnel were stationed during the six years operation. Besides helping Afghanistan to stand on it’s own, we need to try and stop the export of terrorism.

Protecting Singapore, from 5000Km away.

While we sleep peacefully, someone is braving hostile elements, both weather and terrorists.

Afghanistan’s children do not worry about the latest iPhone or Surface devices, nor the most fancy F&B outlets or education. They worry about basic services like safety, clean water and sanitation etc.

Singapore is indeed fortunate.

Captain Evon Lum demonstrated how she would be helping in an operating theater. She is the first ever SAF servicewoman deployed to Afghanistan. It was interesting to hear her relate the challenges in adapting to local cultures.

Before each deployment, the SAF servicemen undergo fitness and arms handing courses.

Out there, soldiers need to hone their arms handling skills. Thanks to war movies, we all understand what Taliban do to their prisoners of war (POW).

From the exhibition panels, we also got a peek at SAF’s multi-dimension hardware and software, which together gave an additional layer of protection for our Servicemen and women in Afghanistan.

During our reservists in Singapore, we cannot wait to remove our helmet and sbo, but it will be suicidal to travel “light” in Afghanistan. The helmet and body armour (including mine resistant boots) could mean the difference between life and death.

On the ground, we rely on “Weapon Locating Radar” to detect incoming projectiles and provide extra seconds of warning, so that everyone can find shelter.

In the sky, our UAV gives us extended vision over the horizon. Back at HQ, the Imagery team will decode the images and highlight potential hotspots.

Our forces also transfer artillery and mines detection knowledge to their Afghanistan counterparts.

More simulation and photo opportunities awaits.
Hint : do not miss the C130 mockup !

Soldiers perform their duties in harsh weather conditions, be it Hot summer or Cold Winter.

Ever wonder what motivates the soldiers to carry on their duties?

At Safti, it was a happy occasion to see families reunited. Kids long for their Dads’ return. The boy in Desert fatigue must be so proud of his Dad.

Today, our primary 4 kids will learn about the cruelty of war in Social Studies, and why the Japanese occupation was a dark period for Singapore. We hope Singaporeans will not have to go through war again.

On 09 Aug, when we sing Majulah Singapura, sing it loud, sing it proud.

Thank you Singapore Army for the invite, the exhibition was an eye opener for Daddy. We witness how SAF reach out to Afghanistan, and the amount of protection we render to our soldiers.

(Image credit Army Information Centre)

Additional information on OBR :

– Click for infographics on our specialists’ rotations and deployments around Afghanistan.
– Hear from the serviceman’s experience, #‎6yrs16days‬
– For indept techical analysis, pop by Senang Diri’s debrief.
– CyberPioneer’s YouTube got six episodes on operations in Afghanistan

Operation Blue Ridge exhibition will be at the following location (from 1000 to 2000) :
1. Location: Toa Payoh Hub (Shelter area)
Date: 10 & 11 Aug 2013

2. Location: Chua Chu Kang (open space opp Mc Donalds & MRT exit at Lot 1
shopping mall)
Date: 07 & 08 Sep 2013

3. Location: Takashimaya (Civic Plaza outside of Taka)
Date: 21 & 22 Sep 2013

4. Location: Tampines (Open space opposite the MRT, same place where NS 45
was held)
Date: 28 & 29 Sep 2013