15 Juli 2009
SOTF troopers landing on the roof of Rasa Sentosa Hotel to storm the hostage sites during the finale of Northstar VII (photo : Mindef)
SAF special operations group participates in Exercise Northstar VII
To test Singapore's readiness to deal with concurrent terrorist attacks, 15 agencies including the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) came together in a homeland security exercise codenamed Northstar VII.
Organised by the SPF, this year's exercise saw elements from the recently formed SAF Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) storming the final incident site at Rasa Sentosa Hotel on 15 Jul.
"While we have done a lot to ensure Singapore's peace and security, we cannot afford to be complacent. Terrorists' tactics and mode of operations constantly evolve and we must stay vigilant," said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was present to view the proceedings.
Mirroring the concurrent attacks seen during the Mumbai attacks last year, Northstar VII saw a 15-man terrorist group land in Singapore via various land and sea routes. Splitting into groups of two to three men each, they proceeded to their targets such as hotels and shopping malls, to execute a series of coordinated attacks.
After a series of bloody rampages at different locations , the remaining three terrorists barricaded themselves in two separate areas of the hotel together with some hostages.
While the SPF and the SCDF had contained the situation thus far in stellar fashion, further negotiations with the terrorists stood at a stalemate. Upon hearing gunshots from the hostage sites, the SOTF was promptly activated to deal with the terrorists.The Special Operations Task Force is a specialised force that can conduct complex hostage rescue operations (photo : Mindef)
Within minutes, SOTF troopers arrived on the scene, rappelling down from he Republic of Singapore Air Force's Super Puma helicopters. In a swift and decisive show of force, SOTF troopers stormed the two areas and subdued the terrorists.
To ensure the coast was completely clear after the terrorists had been eliminated, SAF units from the Chemical Biological and Explosive Defence Group (CBRE DG) moved in to neutralise any remaining improvised devices left behind by the terrorists.
Other SAF troops from the various formations also worked with their SPF counterparts to enforce an outer cordon around the hotel. Keeping the public away from danger, the cordon provided a secured area where complex operations can take place.
"The SAF stands ready 24/7 to meet a range of threats to Singapore," said Colonel Benedict Lim, Assistant Chief of General Staff (Operations).
The successful collaboration among the multiple agencies showcased during the exercise is a result of many years of working together, said Mr Lee.
"We are very grateful to the Home Team and the SAF for keeping us safe," he added.Also present to view the climatic finale of the exercise at Rasa Sentosa Hotel were Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Professor S Jayakumar, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Mr Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Home Affairs Mr Wong Kan Seng and other Members of Parliament.