The SAFTI Military Institute (Abbreviation: SAFTI MI, Simplified Chinese: 新加坡武装部队军训学院) is a tri-service military training institution for officers of all ranks of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Located within an 88 hectare campus in Jurong West, it was officially opened by the then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong on 25 August 1995. Officers from the Singapore Army, Republic of Singapore Navy and Republic of Singapore Air Force begin their training at the Officer Cadet School (OCS), before proceeding on to the SAF Advanced Schools and the Singapore Command and Staff College (SCSC) at various stages of their careers.
History[edit | edit source]
Although the SAFTI MI is an amalgamated institution, it draws much of its heritage from the original Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFTI), which was officially opened on 14 February 1966 at Pasir Laba Camp. The link to the past is preserved in both the name of the new institute, as well as the name of the bridge connecting Pasir Laba Camp with the new SAFTI MI. Officially named SAFTI Link, it is referred to by insiders as MI Bridge.
Architecture[edit | edit source]
There is much symbolism in the SAFTI MI campus. The Officer Cadet School HQ is described by the architect to be shaped like a cradle, from which officers are born (paraphrased).
SAFTI MI sits on a hill. The locations of each school are metaphors for the career of an SAF officer. The lower reaches house the barracks for Officer Cadets. Advancing up the hill, SAF Advanced Schools are encountered. Finally, at the pinnacle, is Singapore Command and Staff College.
A prominent feature is the Tower, approximately 60 m tall and visible from many parts of western Singapore. It is a three-sided tower, for the tri-service nature of the SAF. It is served by a lift and a 265 step stairway which symbolises the days a cadet requires to take towards commissioning day. This number should not be taken literally as the various commissioning courses vary in length.
The OCS parade square is 120 m by 170 m in area. It is designed to reduce the heat and glare of the sun. The viewing stands are able to accommodate up to 5000 people.
SAFTI MI was originally intended to be an "open camp" like the United States Military Academy (West Point) and the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis). Indeed, prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, civilians did not need passes nor security checks before entering the complex. The only restricted areas were the offices and living quarters. Since 9/11, armed sentries are now posted at the main entrances, and side entrances have been barricaded with concertina wire. Passes and security checks are now mandatory for all, including military personnel in uniform, in military vehicles.
Organisation[edit | edit source]
The Commandant, a Brigadier General or Rear Admiral, heads SAFTI MI HQ. MI HQ overlooks all training and training support within the complex.
Schools[edit | edit source]
There are a total of five schools in SAFTI MI: the Officer Cadet School (OCS) for cadets, SAF Advanced Schools (SAS) - one for each Service - for Captains, and the Singapore Command and Staff College (SCSC) for Majors and Lieutenant-Colonels.
To meet changing needs, curriculum and various exercises of the schools go through major revamps about once every five years. The first revamp was in 1999, led by then-Permanent Secretary Peter Ho, and the most recent was led by BG Tan and his team in 2004.
In between the five years, there were smaller reviews to maintain currency. For example, after mission like Operation Flying Eagle, some of the course content in SCSC and other schools was tweaked. New doctrine is also infused into the curriculum by SAFTI MI after various exercises carried out by the SAF.
Leadership development is the means by which SAFTI MI tries to inculcate values, and better align the value in officers.
People don't come in with zero values, all of us have values from our parents, our upbringing, from the schools that we have attended. With this set of values, it is now a question of reaffirming some of them and realigning some of them to the SAF's core values which have been in place since the late 1980s, said BG Tan.
SAFTI MI has a branch called the Centre of Leadership Development (CLD). This is a full-time SAF centre with psychologist and headed by a former brigade commander. These people focus their entire attention on how to develop officers in leadership.
As for helping officers in handling uncertainty, a lot of different methodologies are incorporated in courses.
Officer Cadet School[edit | edit source]
Officer Cadet School (OCS) is the only commissioning route in the Singapore Armed Forces. Outstanding conscripts from Basic Military Training and the School of Infantry Specialists (Specialists are NCO-equivalents in the SAF) are sent to OCS to train to be officers. On completion of their National Service, these officers will continue to serve with their men in the Operationally-Ready NSmen battalions. After commissioning, some officers may choose to continue to serve as career soldiers. Regular Specialists may also attend OCS on application, recommendation, and selection.
Prior to moving to the SAFTI MI complex, it was at the old SAFTI at Pasir Laba Camp.
Singapore Command and Staff College[edit | edit source]
Singapore Command and Staff College conducts the Command and Staff Course (CSC) for career officers, and the National Service Command and Staff Course (NSCSC) for selected reserve officers who have demonstrated potential for higher command and staff appointments in the SAF.
SAFTI Services Centre[edit | edit source]
SAFTI Services Centre provides security, medical, dental, physiotherapy, transport, estate, signal and logistics support for all units within the camp complex.
Facilities[edit | edit source]
Sport facilities[edit | edit source]
SAFTI MI has extensive sporting and recreation facilities including a stadium with a soccer field and running track, an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a diving tower, and an indoor rock-climbing wall.
Library[edit | edit source]
SAFTI MI Library houses the best collection on military history in Singapore. Previously, membership was only available for military personnel. Since, the management of the library has been taken over by the National Library Board, and ordinary library members may borrow books. The collection is available through inter-library loan to any of its other branches. This is especially convenient because SAFTI MI can be rather inaccessible to civilians due to its location and its security checkpoint.
Since 1 April 2007, National Library Board had handed the operations of the SAFTI MI library back to MINDEF. Along with the handover, the book return service has also been terminated. Ordinary library members need to apply for individual membership from then on.
Mess[edit | edit source]
As is the case for almost all camp complexes in the SAF, all the tenant units share a single Officers' Mess and a Warrant Officers' and Specialists' Mess. The Officers' Mess is located near the officers' living quarters, beside the artificial lake adjacent to the Singapore Discovery Centre. The Warrant Officers' and Specialists' Mess is similarly located near their accommodation blocks. The Officer Cadets have a mess too. However, they have much less liberty to use the facilities compared with the other personnel not under training.
References[edit | edit source]
- Menon, R. (1995) To Command: The SAFTI Military Institute Landmark Books, Singapore ISBN 981-3002-99-9
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