Eight years after storming the hell out of a beach on Pulau Sudong, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) were at it yet again on Tuesday (2 August 2011).
War games were staged on the island off Singapore for the new Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, to make his first press call at an SAF exercise.
It was an impressive setting as the exercise was about as tri-Service as one could ask for. Army, navy and air force elements were conveniently composed in one frame, with the action suggesting the brown water power projection capabilities of Singapore's war machine.
Though the SAF has made great strides in its people, war fighting concepts and defence technology, the media plan for Dr Ng seemed
On 1 August 2003, the Singaporean media was invited to the same beach to watch the same landing sequence, albeit without attack helicopter support as our Apaches were then still with Peace Vanguard in the United States.
Rather than repeat what defence watchers have seen before, Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) spin doctors should have used the opportunity to showcase a new, improved and more lethal SAF.
A strong deterrent message could have been sent to the
If one wanted to be more ambitious, the manoeuvre elements could be tracked during an overseas exercise with the live-fire elements on another continent.
The amount of C2 and coordination such an enterprise demands would speak volumes of the SAF's defence readiness.
It would also offer shutter bugs from the mainstream media a new setting rather than having them capture how Sudong's treeline has aged in the past eight years.
It is infinitely easier to run the same PR gig all over again. But defence watchers on the Singapore desk in regional countries who are trained to pick out trends and highlight capability developments would surely notice the rehashed camera angles and talking points.
The deterrent effect is blunted further when informed observers realise that the beach landing tactics are little changed from WW2 amphibious landing tactics.
Watching the Sudong beach landing sequence, Singaporeans who recall the opening scenes of the block buster Saving Private Ryan might be horrified at the thought of impending casualties when they are supposed to feel reassured at the vigilance of our men and women in uniform.
Imagine then what foreign defence observers might think.