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Five Things You Should Know About the SOC

Home Team News looks at the formidable capabilities of the Singapore Police Force’s Special Operations Command.
Agile Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) officers rappelling down a mock helicopter. PHOTO: Aizil A. Rahim

Firepower, focus, speed – In November, we caught a rare glimpse of the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF)Special Operations Command (SOC) and its tactics and equipment. Here are five things you should know about the SOC.

1. They Are Highly-Skilled Police Officers

The SOC comprises specialist units equipped to handle emergency situations. These units include the Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) unit, the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) and the Police K-9 Unit.

The STAR unit handles hostage and rescue operations that involve armed suspects, and conducts high-risk arrests. In 2007, they helped to arrest Dave Teo Ming, a Full-time National Servicemen who took a rifle and multiple live rounds out of Mandai Hill Camp.

Apart from responding to crises, SOC officers also help to patrol the streets of Singapore and for them to understand the ground better, just like their comrades in blue.

Special Operations Command (SOC) officers patrol different locations island wide, ensuring the safety of all Singaporeans. PHOTO: Firdaus Jupri

There’s no sure way of knowing what to expect in a crisis, but at the Home Team Tactical Centre (HTTC), various technological features and scenario-based resources have been developed to help SOC officers sharpen their skills. At the HTTC, it’s all about replicating actual operational environments, and then training until doing the impossible becomes second nature.2. They Train in Tip-Top Facilities

For example, the Drive-in Range lets officers train with their vehicles and prepares them to face suspects from multiple directions. Instead of just responding to “threats” in front of them, SOC officers can also respond to “threats” which may come from all around them.

During a demonstration, SOC’s Rapid Deployment Troops rode on Tactical Response Motorcycles and moved swiftly into formation. Mounted on their bikes, they fired their weapons to “neutralise” suspects.

In a separate scenario, the STAR unit demonstrated its agility in rappelling from a mock helicopter, and used explosives to gain access into a building.

3image_20171208u09thjwxfawvAn SOC officer shooting from the pillion position. PHOTO: Aizil A. Rahim

3. They Are Very Equipped to Fight Bad Guys

Altogether, the gear carried by SOC officers carry can easily weigh up to 20kg – these include a helmet, firearms, a ballistics-resistant vest and other accessories.

Armed with an arsenal for responding to various situations, SOC officers carry weapons such as the Sphinx 3000 Pistol, the MP5 submachine gun and the FN SCAR (Fabrique Nationale Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle).

The MP5 submachine gun and the FN SCAR have “red dot” sight, allowing SOC officers to take better aim of targets. Constant practice ensures that SOC officers are well-versed in handling their weapons, even in the most trying conditions – you do not want to mess with these marksmen.

4. It’s Hard to Make the Cut

The bar is set high for potential SOC officers. Those who hope to join the team must undergo rigorous physical and mental tests that gauge their abilities, attitudes and aptitude, to ensure that they are truly the right fit for this demanding job.

Highly trained, skilled and courageous – these are just some of the qualities that distinguish SOC units, whatever their specialisation. But if there’s one thing that all SOC officers share, it’s this – the burning desire (despite great personal risk) to ensure that our Little Red Dot remains a safe and secure home for all.

4image_20171208lh2oj3qwfoorSOC officers train hard to ensure that Singapore remains safe and secure. PHOTO: Aizil A. Rahim

5. They Have Been Around for a Long Time

The beginnings of the SOC can be traced to the Maria Hertogh riots in 1950. Known as the Riot Squad, the unit was formed two years later with 60 Police officers, and their responsibilities included crowd and riot control. Growing from strength to strength over the past 65 years, the SOC has evolved to meet the security needs of Singapore, and now comprises different units with specialised skills. Long history, leading-edge capabilities – that’s the SOC, in a nutshell.

5image_20171208krnwfger9rtdUsing explosives to break through a blocked entrance, steadfast STAR officers demonstrated how they quickly secured the building. PHOTO: Aizil A. Rahim

Keen to embark on a career with the Singapore Police Force? Click here.

Written by

Muhamad Khair


8 December 2017

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