16 July 2009

Did Sentosa's natural shores survive Exercise Northstar VII?

From the Straits Times RazorTV clip, the scenario is that 6 terrorist boats approach Sentosa.


The 'authorities take out one of the boats'.
Of the remaining five boats, one lands on Siloso Beach.
The rest of the activity is inland.
The final phase of the Exercise was held yesterday (15 Jul).

There were these two photos of marine aspects of the exercise:
Singapore police (R) gives chase to 'armed terrorists' on a speedboat during an anti-terrorist drill in Singapore on July 15, 2009. One of Singapore's hotel was "attacked by terrorists" in an exercise code named - Northstar VII - a similar action to the Mumbai-like terrorist attacks. (Photo and comment from Getty Images' Daylife photo gallery)
Singaporean coast guard officers apprehend a mock terrorist during Exercise Northstar VII on Wednesday, July 15, 2009, in Singapore. The exercise led by the Singapore police force along with fifteen other agencies, stimulated a major terrorist assault similar to the coordinated attacks across Mumbai, India in November 2008. The drill was carried out in a bid to boost public confidence and test the operational readiness of emergency response forces in the city-state. (Photo and comment from Getty Images' Daylife photo gallery)

The video clip on RazorTV of the high speed 'chase' on the waters in front of the natural shores suggests that this was done well away from the shore. And that there was no actual landing on the shore. Here's some screen shots from the clip.

And this was described for the marine elements of the Exercise.
We really can't tell if there has been any 'casualties' on the natural shores until we go out there again at the next low tide.

Links and related posts
Here's media reports about the Exercise.

Elite forces put to the test
Jermyn Chow & Carolyn Quek, Straits Times 16 Jul 09;
ARMY commandos on air force helicopters jumped in to battle the 'terrorists'.

Meanwhile, out at sea, crack special operations teams riding on sleek Police Coast Guard boats took down more infiltrators.

Yesterday, as the curtain came down on Exercise Northstar VII, the biggest terror drill to be held here, the wraps came off the SAF's newly minted command - the Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) - which brings together the army's commandos and Special Operations Force and the navy's divers.

The SOTF combines the capabilities of different units within the SAF and was formed to tackle incidents such as the one which played out on Sentosa yesterday.

In it, 'terrorists' swept in by sea and attacked the Rasa Sentosa Resort, shooting guests indiscriminately and taking others hostage.

Then, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, together with other Cabinet ministers and top officials looked on, black-clad troopers swept to the scene, rappelled down the side of the hotel and despatched the enemy.

The demonstration of the capabilities of Singapore's anti-terror force yesterday marked the climax of a three-day exercise aimed at testing the country's response to such attacks.

In exercises held last week, other agencies, such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Land Transport Authority were put through their paces.

Yesterday, the stage was left to the SAF and the Police's Special Operations Command (SOC) and Coast Guard.

The objective was to see if the SAF and Home Team agencies knew their roles and could coordinate their activities.

SOC officers were the first on the scene.

The elite police officers, who are regularly seen around town conducting patrols in their dark blue uniforms and red berets, assault weapons at the ready, are trained to respond to any terror attack within 15 minutes.

They managed to 'kill' a terrorist, but three others 'escaped' into the hotel.

The SAF troops, who are trained and equipped for storming operations, then swung into action and dealt with the others.

SOTF commander Lam Shiu Tong said the new command would allow Singapore's elite soldiers to muster a faster and sharper response to varying threats.

This is because he now has the SAF's helicopters and naval boats at his disposal, he said in an earlier interview.

'They are practically just a phone call away.'
Swift response to 'terror attack' impresses PM
Singaporeans can have full confidence in their forces, he says
Goh Chin Lian, Straits Times 16 Jul 09;
IN 15 minutes, the terrorists were captured and bundled away, ending a siege at Rasa Sentosa Resort.

But for the elite forces that stormed the seaside hotel in an enacted terror attack, it took years of planning and training to build up their counter-terrorism capabilities.

The swift response of the police, civil defence officers and the Singapore Armed Forces yesterday impressed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who watched them in action.

He told reporters later that Singaporeans could be confident in their forces' ability to overcome a major terror attack, as they have spent many years patiently strengthening their capabilities.

The SAF's Special Operations Force, for instance, has been at it for more than 20 years.

'I think that's what our safety, security, peace of mind, stability and prosperity ultimately depends on, and we are very grateful to the Home Team and the SAF for keeping us safe,' he said.

Mr Lee had witnessed the finale of the three-day Exercise Northstar VII, which involved more than 2,000 people from 15 agencies. The exercise simulated a major terrorist assault on unprotected 'soft targets' such as Sentosa, Raffles Place MRT station and VivoCity shopping mall.

It was similar to the coordinated terror attacks last November in Mumbai, India. In those attacks, terrorists sprayed machine-gun fire in two luxury hotels and lobbed grenades at the main railway station, killing nearly 200 people.

One of the dead was Singapore's first terror victim abroad, 28-year-old lawyer Lo Hwei Yen, who was there for work.

PM Lee said the Singapore authorities had studied the attacks and worked out a coordinated, multi-agency response in the event of similar attacks here.

This multi-agency response was tested yesterday as police exchanged fire with terrorists on the ground, while civil defence personnel evacuated casualties and special operations troops, flying in by helicopter, rappelled from the hotel roof and rescued hostages.

With Mr Lee yesterday were Senior Minister S. Jayakumar, Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Wong Kan Seng, other Cabinet ministers, MPs and foreign diplomats.

Also present was an observer from the anti-terrorist unit of the French National Police, who for security reasons was identified only as Commander Jean-Marc. He was struck by the professionalism and efficiency of the elite forces.

'It wasn't an easy intervention because it was a hotel with many hostages, and they did it successfully with different agencies working together,' he told reporters.

PM Lee said the Mumbai attacks underscored the public's role in preventing such attacks - by alerting the authorities of anything or anyone suspicious.

'In Mumbai, to get to the hotels and the targets, the terrorists had to come by boat, land, lug heavy knapsacks, go through the streets, and arrive.

'A lot of people must have seen them, but the authorities didn't get the warning in time, couldn't react quickly enough to prevent it from happening.'

Singapore's Community Engagement Programme is one way to heighten people's vigilance, he indicated.

Noting its efforts, Mr Lee said: 'It's quietly building links and engaging people, so that if ever we are in a stressed situation, then we can rely on the links, and the bonds will hold.'

Additional reporting by Carolyn Quek and Jermyn Chow
Sentosa 'under fire' in anti-terror simulation
Lee U-Wen, Business Times 16 Jul 09;
FOR 20 minutes yesterday morning, the island of Sentosa came under fire as 'terrorists' swarmed a luxury hotel there and 'killed' scores of innocent bystanders.

The attackers then went head-to-head in a violent encounter with members of the army, navy, air force and police as they seized scores of 'hostages'.

But soon, the terrorists were cornered and killed, and the hotel patrons rescued, bringing to an end Singapore's largest anti-terror drill, which involved 15 agencies.

The exercise, code-named Northstar VII and witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, simulated a deadly assault similar to that in Mumbai last November.

There, almost 170 people were killed and more than 300 injured when 10 gunmen opened fire in at least five locations in the Indian commercial capital.

A slow response to such a coordinated attack is something Singapore wants to avoid, Mr Lee told reporters at the Rasa Sentosa Resort hotel after yesterday's exercise was over.

'In Mumbai, to get to the hotels and targets, the terrorists came by boat and land, lugged heavy knapsacks and went on to the streets,' he said. 'A lot of people should have seen them, but the authorities didn't get the warning in time and couldn't react quickly enough to prevent it happening.'

Mr Lee said that the government has studied the attacks in India, learned lessons, identified areas in which Singapore may be vulnerable and came up with a viable response plan.

'This is not just a quick, improvised way but one that has planning, preparation and coordination involving all the agencies, such as the civil defence and armed forces,' said the prime minister, who was accompanied yesterday by deputy prime ministers Teo Chee Hean and Wong Kan Seng, Second Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Second Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

'We've spent a long time on this,' Mr Lee said. 'That's what our safety and security, peace of mind, stability and prosperity ultimately depend on. We are grateful to the Home Team and the SAF keeping us safe.'

Urging all Singaporeans to carry on as normal in this age of heightened terrorist danger, he reminded them to be vigilant and alert at all times. 'Always keep an eye open and be slightly suspicious,' he said. 'If you see a bag or some person that looks doubtful, let somebody know and we will have it investigated. It may be nothing, but could be something.'

The Sentosa exercise was the second and final phase of Northstar VII. In the first phase last week, smaller-scale attacks and operations were simulated at Raffles Place MRT station, Vivocity and several downtown hotels.

In all, 2,000 servicemen and officials took part in the Northstar VII, to help boost public confidence in national security and raise general awareness.
By sea, air and land
Combined-arms assault kills 'terrorists' on Sentosa
Teo Xuanwei, Today Online 16 Jul 09;
OUT AT sea, two Police Coast Guard speedboats engaged a suspicious motorised sampan in a high-speed chase, before rounding up three "terrorists" on board.

On land, four "terrorists" ran amok and slayed scores of people at the pool area in Rasa Sentosa Resort Hotel before they - in turn - were "killed" by police troopers from the Special Operations Command.

In the air, officers from the recently formed Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) descended from two roaring choppers and stormed rooms where guests had been taken hostage by other "terrorists".

The action-packed counter-terrorism exercise at the Rasa Sentosa Resort Hotel yesterday - witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and several Cabinet ministers - marked the finale of this year's anti-terror drill Exercise Northstar VII.

Speaking to the media at the end of the exercise, PM Lee said it took years of careful planning, preparation and coordination involving a multitude of homeland security agencies before Singapore achieved such proficiency in neutralising possible terrorist threats.

"On the one hand, it depends on quick reflexes to an uncertain moving foggy situation.

"On the other hand, it depends on many years of patient building up of the capabilities, building up of the units, training the people," he said.

"And I think that's what our safety and security and peace of mind, and our stability and prosperity ultimately depends on."

Exercise Northstar VII - conducted over three days and involving about 2,000 participants from 15 agencies - mimics the attacks on Mumbai last November, when terrorists launched simultaneous attacks across the city.

Yesterday's test scenario was linked to three others held earlier - where emergency response forces were put through their paces dealing with terror acts at beachfront bar Cafe del Mar, Raffles Place MRT station and VivoCity shopping mall.

A note to the public from PM Lee: Security agencies are not the only ones who need to keep pace with ever-changing terrorist threats

"In Mumbai, to get to the hotels and the target, the terrorists had to come by boat, land, lug heavy knapsacks, go to the streets, and arrive. A lot of people must have seen them, but the authorities didn't get a warning in time, and couldn't react quickly enough to prevent it from happening," he said.

"You must carry on living lives as normal but at the same time, always keep an eye open and be slightly suspicious and vigilant. If you see some people who look doubtful, let somebody know and we will have the investigations. Maybe nothing could be something."
Exercise Northstar tests Singapore's response to terrorist attack
S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia 15 Jul 09;
SINGAPORE: Singapore's response to a simulated land and sea assault by terrorists on the resort island of Sentosa was tested in the final phase of Exercise Northstar VII on Wednesday morning.

This year's exercise re-created simultaneous terror attacks, similar to the Mumbai incident last November.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who witnessed it with several ministers responsible for security in the country, said the exercise tests the readiness of the security forces to save lives.

The scenario of the exercise: Three terrorists infiltrate Singapore's territorial waters in a motorised boat, but their attempt is met with a swift response. Later, more terrorists make their way to the Siloso Beach and go on a rampage.

Mr Lee said: "In Mumbai, to get to the hotels and the targets, the terrorists had to come by boat, land, lug heavy knapsacks, go through the streets. A lot of people must have seen them, but the authorities didn't get the warning in time and couldn't react quickly enough to prevent it from happening.

"You must carry on living life as normal, but at the same time always keep an eye open and be slightly suspicious and vigilant. So if you see a bag which you think is doubtful or if you see some people whom you think are doubtful, let somebody know and we will have it investigated."

During the simulated exercise, the police tactical team was the first to swing into action, followed by the Singapore Armed Forces' Special Operations Task Force. They pursued a few terrorists who managed to enter the hotel's ballroom and take several hostages.

Colonel Benedict Lim, Assistant Chief of General Staff (Operations) and also the exercise director of Singapore Armed Forces, said: "In a counter-terrorist situation, the Special Operations Task Force is the force at the national level to conduct storming operations to neutralise the terrorists and to rescue the hostages."

PM Lee stressed that the responses by the various agencies were the outcome of many years of building up capabilities and training people.

"We have spent a long time doing this and that is what our safety, security, peace of mind, stability and prosperity depend on, and we are very grateful to the Home Team and the SAF for keeping us safe," he said.

Besides the various agencies involved in Exercise Northstar VII, the private sector – particularly the hotel management – also played an important role by working closely with security agencies in the safety and evacuation drills.

The exercise was conducted at ten different locations, including a shopping mall and an MRT station, in two phases.- CNA/yb/so


More links
Mindef media release

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails