Singapore soldiers to train in India for 5 more years

Singapore soldiers to train in India for 5 more years

India will allow Singapore to train its soldiers at two Army establishments for another five years, further cementing military ties with the city-state, which overlooks the strategic Malacca strait.

The agreement was inked on Monday night at Singapore by Defence Secretary R K Mathur and his Singapore counterpart Chiang Chie Foo in the presence of two defence ministers, A K Antony and Dr Ng Eng Hen.

The Indian Army offers its facilities at Babina, near Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh and Deolali in Maharashtra for training of the Singapore Army, which would bear the cost of training.

While Deolali was used for artillery training, the Singapore Army personnel received training on armoured and mechanised infantry at Babina, sources said.

India and Singapore signed two agreements in October 2007 and August 2008 for utilisation of the Indian facilities by the Singapore Air Force and the Singapore Army respectively.

Being one of the smallest countries of the world – 704 sq km comprising 60 tiny islands and a big city – Singapore does not have adequate training establishments. It uses the Indian Air Force's Kalaikunda base to train Royal Singapore Air Force pilots on combat skills using their own F-16D fighter planes. The practice has been in place since 2007 and will continue as the agreement for training and exercises of the Singapore Air Force in India had already been extended up to October 2017.

Singapore is the only country to which India offers this facility because of the strategic importance New Delhi attaches to the city-state.  Antony's visit to Singapore comes days after a naval fleet from the eastern command reached Singapore to participate in a maritime exhibition and bilateral exhibition. The defence minister is on a three-day tour of Singapore, Australia and Thailand.