Mindef opens sprawling new urban combat training facility
Soldiers used to learn urban warfare by training in old buildings.
But a new training centre, called the Murai Urban Live Firing Facility (Mulfac), will allow the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to train its soldiers in a more sophisticated and safer environment.
The site at the live firing area in Lim Chu Kang was opened yesterday by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Speaking to reporters at the launch of the new live-firing area, Chief Infantry Officer Brigadier-General (BG) Chiang Hock Woon said: "Close coordination and precise shooting are very critical components in successful missions."
"You can do a lot of training, but live firing is the most important part because that is as realistic as it can get before you submit and subject the soldiers to an operation," he added.
Designed to give soldiers 50 to 60 per cent more live firing opportunities, Mulfac consists of five double-storey Urban Operations (UO) buildings, a hand grenade house, an After Action Review Facility and two Firebases, which are sites where heavy fire is directed against the enemy.
The facility also aims to offer scenarios for soldiers to practise their skills when fighting in towns and cities in a safe live-firing environment.
For example, soldiers will be firing live rounds inside the UO buildings where the walls are made of ballistic absorbing concrete.
This means that the bullets are absorbed into the walls, preventing accidental ricochets.
But what sets the Mulfac facility apart is its sheer size.
In the past, urban live firing could only be conducted within a building at section level, or seven people at each time.
But Mulfac, which has an area of about two hectares (about 215,278 sq ft) or the size of three to four football fields, enables live firing up to company level, involving up to 120 men.
Soldiers can go through a variety of urban fighting manoeuvres, such as firing at buildings from an armoured vehicle, advancing towards buildings to engage the enemy in building-to-building firing, and assaults on buildings.
Combatants are also monitored via the action learning process: Cameras placed inside the rooms of the five UO buildings will allow soldiers to review their performance after each exercise.
There will also be a hand grenade house, ready in December, for soldiers to train in methods of throwing a grenade.
With the new facility, soldiers can feel the impact of a grenade attack inside a confined area.
While the SAF will continue with training in jungle warfare, Dr Ng said: "I think we have to train what we feel are realistic scenarios, and built-up areas are certainly the focus of training in many, many militaries, not only for the SAF."
You can do a lot of training, but live firing is the most important part because that is as realistic as it can get before you submit and subject the soldiers to an operation.
- Chief Infantry Officer BG Chiang Hock Woon
1 Soldiers storm the first door and gather in the first room before clearing the first corner.
2 They split up into two groups for the doors and wait until everyone is ready before ramming through the doors at the same time.
3 Possible threats are taken down before the soldiers inch slowly around the blind corner to clear the entire course.
The walls are made of a material called Ballistic Absorbing Concrete (BAC), an ideal material for live-fire exercises. Live ammunition get embedded into the wall instead of ricocheting off it, making it safer for the soldiers. They are also fire- and shock-proof. Each wall panel can be easily replaced with a new one whenever the old one wears out.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
An observation deck above the arena lets safety and platoon supervisors oversee the entire exercise to ensure everything is in order.
Cameras are installed throughout the facility to monitor and track the soldiers. These videos can be used to assess each soldier's operational performance during a debrief.
Target boards are placed in random locations within the course. These target boards can be pre-programmed or remotely controlled to switch between a hostile target or an unarmed civilian, testing each soldier's quick response time.