By Ross O. Storey
Social networking has been embraced by the Singapore armed services to engage and educate citizens of the Lion City state on the need for compulsory military service.
In Singapore, once they turn 18, all males are required to serve two years in the armed services and are subject to reserve service, involving annual training camps, until they are aged 40. The Lion City can reportedly muster a standing army of more than one million men in an emergency.
Singapore's deputy prime minister and minister for defence, Teo Chee Hean, outlined the military's use of social networking at the opening ceremony for the National Education Gaming Championship (NEGC) in the Lion City this week.
The minister said the National Education Gaming Championship (NEGC) was MINDEF's first foray into the area of gaming, and "marks a new way to engage young Singaporeans".
The National Education Gaming Championship is based on the training simulation software, Virtual Battlespace 2 or VBS2, which is used by the SAF and the US, Australian and other militaries worldwide.
Tactical video game
"We have set this game against the backdrop of the SAF Murai Urban Training Facility in Lim Chu Kang, and features weapons and systems currently used by our SAF soldiers," Teo said.
"VBS2 allows players to experience how the SAF operates as an integrated network-centric force. Commanders, soldiers and weapons are all linked on the same network, allowing information and battle decisions to be communicated seamlessly. Soldiers and their commanders can thus work together and plan their tactics to defeat the enemy."
The minister said that, while off-the-shelf commercial games usually require teams of five to eight players, this game requires 19 players per team so as to simulate the dynamics of a full platoon in action.
"Each team member is assigned a specific role such as the platoon commander, combat medic or gunner," he said. "The participants experience the entire battle sequence and learn about weapon capabilities, tactics and teamwork in a challenging and realistic setting.
"The National Education Gaming Championship is thus a great way for young Singaporeans to find out more about the Third Generation SAF and its capabilities, and hopefully, adjust better to military life when they eventually enlist for National Service."
Teo said the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) continue to explore innovative ways to reach out to young Singaporeans.
"In the short span of one year, the number of unique views we received on our cyberpioneer Youtube channel has multiplied from around 200,000 to more than two million today.
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