Exercise Highcrest: Maritime, land-based agencies keep 'terrorists' from reaching shore
Exercise Highcrest 2017, held on Oct 19 to 26, involved land-based operations for the first time.
SINGAPORE: For the first time, land-based operations featured in a large-scale maritime defence exercise demonstrating Singapore's capability not only to counter terror threats at sea, but prevent the threats from spilling over to shore. The biennial Exercise Highcrest, which ended on Thursday (Aug 26), involved approximately 300 personnel from 14 agencies, including Singapore Customs, the Maritime Port Authority, and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.As part of the exercise at Changi, the Singapore Police Force’s Coastal Hardening Strike Force (CHSF) demonstrated a scenario in which personnel prevented "terrorists" at sea from infiltrating to land.
Following an interception at sea by the Police Coast Guard and the Republic of Singapore Navy, "terrorists" managed to escape and make their way to shore but were later apprehended by the CHSF.The exercise also demonstrated the interception of “terrorist” speedboats."WE MUST MAKE SURE THOSE GAPS ARE FILLED": MALIKI
Noting that Singapore's waterways are among the busiest in the world, operations group commander of the Maritime Security Task Force, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ang Jeng Kai, said that the security environment has undergone much change.He said: “The Mumbai attacks in 2008 had a very important lesson for Singapore, where we saw how terrorists were able to infiltrate the shore by the sea.”Because of the interconnectedness of land and sea activities, collaborative operations such as this year's Exercise Highcrest are needed, National Maritime Sense-Making Group director Colonel Nicholas Lim said.“We're trying to coordinate to see how things that happen on land that could potentially have an impact on the maritime domain, and that we are prepared for it. And similarly, if a threat comes from a maritime domain, how do we work with our partners on land and they are in turn being ready for responses on land?
“I think there is a greater need for us to do this, especially since we've always been saying that the terrorist threat is as high as it is right now, so we really need to have an effective response,” he added.Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, who witnessed the exercise near Changi Naval Base, said: "If we are all in our own domains and we're not talking to each other, then there will be gaps between us and that's where the vulnerabilities are. That's where the terrorist may enter, through those gaps. We must make sure those gaps are filled."Dr Maliki said more of such inter-agency exercises are set to take place, involving more personnel on land and even in the air."They need to be able to talk the same language, use the same systems, see the same feeds and analyse the same things ... I think this is a continued work in progress," he said. "Moving forward, we'll see a lot more of such integration (including) the land and air domains and ... different agencies."