NS101: What Is "Exercise Wallaby" And Does It Involve Marsupials?
STORY: Nicholas Yong
28 October 2021
For those of us who haven’t been through NS, the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) Exercise Wallaby might sound like some attack on unsuspecting kangaroos. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Now, don't hop away cuz here's everything you need to know about Exercise Wallaby and why it's so important for the SAF, and, more importantly, for Singapore:
So… what is Exercise Wallaby?
Exercise Wallaby is traditionally the SAF’s largest overseas exercise (and for the men and women on this mission, the chance to travel).
This year's exercise from 13 September to 21 October saw 580 personnel from the Singapore Army, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) took part in the annual overseas exercise in Australia. Hormat!
Exercise Wallaby 2021 is pretty scaled-down due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions - past editions have lasted up to two months, involving up to 4,000 troops and hundreds of platforms. Last year marked 30 Years of SAF Training in Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
Where does it take place?
The Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Queensland, Australia. The area is about four times the size of Singapore!
To get there, our peeps fly 7 hours from Changi to Rockhampton, then make the one and a half hour journey to Camp Growl.
Rockhampton is a beautiful small town for our guys to have R&R and is well known for its Botanic Gardens and Zoo, the limestone Capricorn Caves, beautiful Yeppon beach, and the sunset view from Mount Archer.
Why is Exercise Wallaby important?
It's all about location, location, location. Because SWBTA is so big, the SAF is able to conduct large-scale integrated training across the Singapore Army, RSAF, and RSN on a scale and complexity that cannot be done in Singapore.
It also gives the SAF the opportunity to conduct bilateral training with the Australian Defence Force.
What happened at Exercise Wallaby 2021?
The SAF at this year’s Exercise Wallaby conducted large-scale coordinated missions to strengthen air-land-sea integration.
The missions include <deep breath as we unleash some military jargon> live-firing by AH-64D Apache helicopters, air-drop from C-130 transport aircraft, ship-to-shore exercises, and the debut of the RSAF’s upgraded CH-47F Chinook helicopters used for deck-landing and replenishment serials from RSS Endeavour.
The CH-47F is a heavy-lift helicopter equipped with a fully integrated digital cockpit management system, advanced cargo handling capabilities, enhanced self-protection suite, and satellite communications systems.
The new Chinook will be deployed for search and rescue missions, aeromedical evacuation, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief missions.
Are any marsupials involved?
Sorry ah, we're here on serious business, no time to play-play with kawaii kangaroos and wallabies - and no, they are not part of the operation. But some have said that you will see plenty of wild wallabies; some even make an appearance in the tent on occasion.
Do we have exercises in other countries?
Got! There are SAF overseas exercises in the USA, China, India, Germany, and closer to home in Thailand, Indonesia, and New Zealand.