Singapore launched its largest counterterrorism exercise to date on Monday to test the country’s response to potential attacks, local media outlets reported.
According to a press release by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), SPF, along with the Singapore Civil Defense Force, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the Singapore Armed Forces, and the People’s Association, are conducting an island-wide counterterrorism exercise from 17 to 18 October 2016, to test the city-state’s multi-agency response plan in the event of terror attacks and raise public awareness.
The exercise, which involves more than 3,200 personnel from the agencies as well as dozens of volunteers, is reportedly the largest drill of its kind conducted by Singapore to date.
According to the SPF, the exercise consists of two phases, with officers conducting joint patrols in the first phase and then using blanks, thunder flashes and smoke simulators at various locations in the second. The exercise will end at 4:00 am on October 18.
The exercise comes amid growing anxieties in Singapore about the terrorism threat, particularly with the rise of the Islamic State (IS). As I have written previously, Singapore’s defense minister Ng Eng Hen issued an ominous warning following the U.S.-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Informal Meeting in Hawaii, suggesting that the threat that violent extremist groups pose to Southeast Asia continues to grow each year (See: “Singapore Warns of Rising ASEAN Terror Threat”).
“Every year we meet, the situation and threat from extremist terrorism rises,” Ng said. “And by that I mean, compared to, say, a year or even two years ago, they are more organized… they are more networked, they are clearer in their articulation of what they want to achieve.”
As I indicated then, such warnings are not without reason. The Jakarta bombings in January 2016 signaled the growing reach of IS into Southeast Asia, while the foiling of a plot by Indonesian authorities in August of terror suspects planning an attack on Singapore’s Marina Bay revealed the extent to which the city-state itself could be under threat.