"G.I. Jane" is a 1997 American action film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen. The film tells the fictional story of the first woman to undergo training in U.S. Navy Special Warfare Group.
While the movie is fictional, this story is NOT! This article ran in The Straits Times on Sunday November 21, 2010 and featured two of the SAF's (Singapore Armed Forces) female combatants!
Captain Joyce Xie is an Apache attack helicopter pilot with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the only woman out of the 100 pilots flying the lethal AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. Her callsign? FLAPS which stand for First Lady Apache Pilot in Singapore :) and to think she almost ended up being a researcher in a lab coat. Kudos to her for her achievement. You can read more about her in the article below
The other G.I. Jane featured was Captain Michelle Boey who has the distinction of being the first and only woman guardsman in the Singapore Armed Forces. She is part of the 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards now taking part in Exercise Wallaby 2010, the largest SAF overseas drill to date.
Exercise Wallaby is a 65-day exercise carried out in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Rockhampton, Australia. Shoalwater Bay Training Area is about FOUR times the size of Singapore and 5,200 SAF troops from the Armour, Artillery and Guards units as well as personnel from the RSAF are participating in the excercise, along with 540 vehicles including Leopard 2A4 MBTs (main battle tanks), F-16 fighter aircraft, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, Super Pumas, M113 Ultras and others. Singapore pays Australia just A$1 (S$1.28) a year to gain access to Shoalwater Bay Training Area. So that means Singapore has paid A$20 for using the land since 1990 - now that's a pretty good deal :)
The Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area in Rockhampton is not the only place in Australia the SAF trains in. For more than two decades, Singapore has had bases all over Down Under. These include the RAAF Base Pearce in Perth, Darwin and Amberly in Queensland as well as the Army Aviation Centre at Oakley, Queensland and Flight Training College at Tamworth, New South Wales.
Australia is among the dozens or so countries where the SAF conducts overseas training. These include the United States, India, South Africa and Germany.
On a side-note: The SAF also recently conducted a 13-day joint exercise at Fort Sill in the United States where 170 soldiers from the 23rd Battalion Singapore Artillery successfully completed the first live firing of the new rocket launchers - known as High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars). I'd covered these in an earlier post HERE as part of "Exercise Forging Sabre". According to a September 2007 US Department of Defense press release, Singapore's purchase of its 18 launchers is estimated to cost US$330 million (S$428.6 million).
You know what they say: "The best defense is a good offense!" Often success rests on destroying the enemy's ability to attack. In reference to fighting terrorists, Matthew Levitt opines, "It’s important to pre-emptively strike at those who intend to do us harm."
Related post: Singapore's very own Green Beret / SEAL Second Warrant Officer (2WO) Chan Mun Hong!