In 2012, the Singapore Army set a new precedent by holding the Army Open House (AOH) at the F1 Pit in the city for the first time, and five years later, AOH17@City returned back to the same location with the theme “Army Ready, Soldier Strong”. Drawing on the earlier experiences and lessons learnt, the AOH 17 committee pull out all the stops to ensure an enjoyable experience for all in the family, from young to old. Also celebrated was the significant milestone of the 50th Anniversary of National Service (NS), with the NS50 exhibition commemorating the contributions of every Singaporean son who served in the SAF Tri-Services, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
To enable as much visitors as possible to enjoy the event, this year’s AOH was divided into two segments. AOH17@City took place from the 24-29 May, with organised groups attending till the 26th, and the public thereafter. AOH17@Heartlands was held in the estates of Punggol and Jurong East on the subsequent 2 weekends of 2-4 and 9-11 June respectively. While the heartlands exhibitions were on a smaller scale, the overall atmosphere was still maintained with activities and displays, and the accompanying NS50 exhibition. (Read our Media Preview of AOH17@City here)
An important component this year was the NS50 Showcase, which was titled “From My Generation to Yours”. This experiential exhibition showcases the history and contributions of our National Servicemen through a Prologue and three Zones (Rite of Passage, Defending & Safeguarding Singapore, Recognising our NSMen). Visitors are brought through a multi-sensory Prologue segment, interact with various significant BMT icons, and learn about the SAF and Home Team operations through interactive MultiTaction tables and augmented reality exhibits. They also got to experience an immersive 4D movie that shows what NS means to Singaporeans, take a pledge at the Pledge Booths, and finally pen down their reflections of NS which were collected in a reflection capsule to be opened at NS100.
Another highlight was the Soldier Strong physical challenge course, inspired by past and present SOC stations and VFT (Vocational Fitness Training) modules. Adult and kid-sized obstacles were placed side by side, to encourage joint participation from fathers and their children, as they run the course and symbolically hand over “My Generation to Yours”. It also enabled children to experience a fraction of what SAF soldiers go through to maintain their physical readiness to be “Soldier Strong” in today’s Army.
The perennial crowd favourite military performance was also back in the form of a 30 minute Dynamic Defence Display (D3) Show, which was held twice daily. This action packed display showcased a gamut of the Army’s fighting vehicles and personnel, including the SAF Military Working Dog Unit, the Red Lions free-fall team, and the debut public display of the Special Operations Task Force and Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle (PCSV). Through a high-impact and fast-paced show, spectators got to see how various components of the SAF are utilised and how a simulated terrorist bombing is resolved.
To ensure a pleasant experience for visitors to the F1 Pit, many improvements were made compared to the 2012 edition. An example was the popular Battle Rides activity, which this year allowed visitors to go for a ride on any of the 6 Army military platforms available. In the past, visitors had to be physically in the queue till their turn, which doesn’t allow them to do anything else. An electronic queue system was in place this year, in which applicants can select the Battle Ride and available time slots, and an SMS would be sent to their mobile phones. They can then enjoy the rest of the Open House and arrive only at their timeslots, using the SMS as a means of verification.
Another improvement was the Kids Zone on the second floor of the F1 Pit Building, which allowed the young ones to have fun activities in air-conditioned comfort such as a mini Standard Obstacle Course (SOC), mini Battle Rides, Bionix shooting games, or camouflage face painting among others. The Canteen Break area was greatly expanded compared to previously, and had much more food and merchandise stalls to serve visitors.
Rounding off the list of activities were the Army Formations exhibition showcasing the various formations of the Singapore Army, the Technology & Innovation Zone which displayed the innovative and technology-centric projects in collaboration with the Defence Technology community, performances by the SAF Central Band, SAF Military Police Silent Precision Drill Squad and SAF Music & Drama Company, and the Battlefield Zone where participants can fire at targets with the SAR21 or MATADOR weapons.
Watch for our next article as we cover the AOH17@Heartland exhibitions at Punggol and Jurong East.