Singapore to send 192 military personnel to Iraq

  Agence France Presse
October 27, 2003

SINGAPORE will send 192 military personnel on a two-month mission to help US-led forces rebuild war-torn Iraq, the government said Monday, Oct 27.

Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said the personnel, from the navy and armed forces, will accompany one Singapore Landing Ship Tank (LST) and a C-130 transport aircraft that will depart in the next few weeks.

"Singapore's contribution is part of the ongoing multinational effort to help rebuild Iraq, involving some 30 countries," Teo said in a ceremony to announce the imminent deployment.

"This mission will see the deployment of the RSN's (Republic of Singapore Navy) Landing Ship Tank RSS Endurance and an RSAF (Republic of Singapore Armed Forces) C-130 detachment to provide logistics support to Iraq's rebuilding efforts."

The RSS Endurance LST will undertake logistical tasks, providing replenishments and supplies for other naval vessels operating in the Arabian Gulf, Teo said.

Manned by 161 onboard crew members, the LST will also be a platform for helicopter missions and maritime boarding missions by teams from other countries who are part of the US-led effort to rebuild the country.

The C-130, with 31 crew, will be carrying out airlift, transportation and supply missions.

It will also assist coalition forces in carrying supplies and personnel, humanitarian material as well as conduct medical evacuation operations.

Singapore, one of Washington's strongest Asian allies in the war against terror, sent 32 police personnel to Iraq in July to train the local police force. The police team returned to Singapore in August.

Monday's announcement came as the Iraqi capital of Baghdad came under coordinated attack by guerrilla forces that increased concerns about the United States' ability to enforce security in Iraq.

At least 15 people were killed as car bombs exploded outside the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) offices and four police stations.

The news of Singapore's assistance has been met with little public opposition in Singapore, where the People's Action Party has ruled since the country's independence 38 years ago.

One of the few dissenters in Singapore, former MP J. B. Jeyaretnam, issued a press release last week questioning why the government did not seek approval from parliament before agreeing to send the military forces.