How involved is Singapore government and Mindef in the Iraqi Invasion?

7 Dec

Now that the newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to withdraw at least 550 combat troops out of Iraq, perhaps the Singapore government should also look at being accountable to Singaporeans about the type and level of its involvement in Iraq.

According to Straits Times dated Thursday 6th December 2007, (Pg 28, World Section), a photo story revealed that the Republic of Singapore Navy’s RSS Persistence, have been on a deployment on the Northern Arabian Gulf since it left Singapore since September this year.

While the Singapore government has voiced support for the Bush Administration prior to the Invasion, it has been rather elusive about its military support efforts. The occasional short articles about its participation in the invasion has often been referred to as efforts for “reconstruction of the war torn country.”

Back in October 2003, AFP reported that it would sent “192 military personnel on a two-month mission to help US-led forces rebuild war-torn Iraq.” Seven months before the announcement, the then Deputy Prime Minister, Tony Tan was also quoted in Asian Political News that the Singapore government “supports the U.S.-led attack on Iraq and will allow the United States to use its military facilities during the campaign.” As such, Singapore was part of the “coalition of the willing” even though it has never properly consulted its citizens on the invasion.

According to Defense Daily website which is a website dedicated to “military purchasing news for defense procurement and contractors”, the Singapore Navy had used “RAFAEL’s Protector series USVs” during a deployment near Iraq. USVs are Unmanned Surface Vessels which allow ships to deploy these vessels without getting the men too close to suspicious boats.

Mindef website reported that it has contributed to the deployment of a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) KC-135 tanker aircraft in June 2004 and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Landing Ship Tank (LST) RSS Resolution on November the same year.

According to forum site, Military Nuts, a post was republished from Jane’s Defence Weekly (dated 2 October 2007) whereby an interview was conducted with Captain Paul Severs, US Navy Commander Combined Task Force 158.1. The man said that the Singapore Navy would soon join his commanding troops next month. Currently, the coalition he commanded consists of the US, the UK and Australia, along with the Iraqi Navy and marines. In this report, the area that is currently being protected is because of its importance as “Iraq’s future and the security zone around the oil-pumping platforms.”

The Iraqi invasion has become widely unpopular around the world, especially from people in the “coalition of the willing”. As such, these governments have been pressurised to withdraw their troops. US President, George Bush and his administration have been proven wrong in its assessment to invade Iraq – primarily that they accused Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction even though its own intelligence agency has disputed these allegations.

As the American President stirred up more anti- Iran sentiments, pushing for sanctions and even the possibility of war, it is time the Singapore government be up front on how involved it has been in the Iraqi invasion, so that we are not lead into another immoral war.

It must explain to its people how and why it has decided to aid in the Iraqi invasion initially. It must also explain if its reconstruction efforts are done through official and unilateral agreements such as through the United Nations mechanisms (i.e. International Compact with Iraq or UNAMI). It must explain why it is still being involved, especially in questionable areas such as protecting the “oil pumping platforms”.

The Iraqi invasion has caused thousands of deaths on both Iraqi civilians and displacements as well as the deaths of military troops. That is not taking into account the hardship suffered by Iraqis due to failing healthcare and increased poverty. Singaporeans are justified to demand these answers considering the gravity of the situation.



1. Australian troops to leave Iraq by mid-2008: Rudd, AFP, 1 Dec 2007

2. Singapore backs war on Iraq, lets U.S. use military facilities, Asian Political News, March 25, 2003

3. Singapore to send 192 military personnel to Iraq, AFP, Oct 27, 2003
4. Spartan USVs for Singapore’s Navy, Defense Industry Daily, May 18, 2005

5. SAF KC-135 Deployment to Aid in the Reconstruction of Iraq, Mindef, 9 June 2004

6. SAF Landing Ship Tank Deployment to Aid in the Reconstruction of Iraq, Mindef, 27 Nov 2004

7. Singapore sends LST ship to help in Iraq, Military nuts, extracted on 6 Dec 07


6 Responses to “How involved is Singapore government and Mindef in the Iraqi Invasion?”

  1. sophie December 8, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    i definitely agree with you. it’s too high a price to pay to support the Big Bully. here’s an old article by me. woof woof

  2. Gary Teoh December 8, 2007 at 3:06 pm #

    Singapore is a small country, why waste resources on invasion that was not fruitful. We cant always follow big brother in doing things

  3. celluloidrealitys December 8, 2007 at 5:23 pm #

    I support greater involvement in this effort. We’re actually under MNF-Iraq mandate. Our boys are based out of CENTCOM Qatar, for the RSAF.

  4. celluloidrealitys December 8, 2007 at 5:25 pm #

    CTF 158 is comprised of Coalition ships and its primary mission in the NAG is maintaining security in and around both the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminals (ABOT and KAAOT, respectively), in support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1723.

    This resolution charges the multinational force with the responsibility and authority to maintain security and stability in the Iraqi territorial waters and also supports the Iraqi government’s request for security support.

    Does that answer your question?

  5. joncharles December 9, 2007 at 7:01 pm #

    The link to UN Security Council Resolution can be found through Google. Even if the navy was dispatched to support this Security Council Resolution, it still does not answer some pertinent questions:

    1. Why did the Singapore government back the US in the invasion and allowed them to use our military facilities? Especially since it has not properly consulted Singaporeans on this issue? Note, this is not some military exercise but allowing the US to use these military facilities to launch the attacks into Iraq. The invasion was not approved by the UN.

    2. The Mindef website has released some press statements on what was being dispatched to aid in “reconstruction of Iraq”. What is the cost of such efforts and how many are of “reconstruction” nature?

    3. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1723 is a mandate passed by security council – the same council that refused to take actions against Burma when it crushes the Saffron Revolution (primarily, due to obstruction from the Chinese). This is not to discredit the security council but to highlight how the permanent members within the group have a greater say in what is to be done (or not). Considering that it consists of only 5 permanent members with 10 non-permanent members, it can hardly be considered an “international consensus”. The only way to determine whether the Resolution is genuine (to promote national reconciliation and rebuilding efforts in Iraq) is to read the resolution.

    4. In deploying our troops to “protect” the oil pumping platforms, one has to consider what sort of protection they are offering? Is it mainly to protect the interests of the multinational corporations which will then have the “legitimacy” to exploit Iraq’s natural resources – namely oil?

    5. In what ways hence, are the efforts aimed at “reconstruction of Iraq?”

  6. celluloidrealitys December 10, 2007 at 1:19 am #

    We have a stake in American supremacy on certain fronts. The relationship we share with the United States is largely a vital counterweight that is part of our vital interests for the long term, perhaps beyond the next 40 years.

    Secondly, Singapore’s foreign policy with regards to this is quite a realist one. We have a greater role to play in future peace enforcement operations.. and it is one area where we can expand our influence.

    This I feel, is but a stepping stone.

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