With shrinking armed forces, Singapore resorts to automation

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A youtube grab of a soldier with an army radio comms

The US News & World Report said growing threat of terrorism is putting a strain on Singapore’s small and shrinking army, pushing it toward greater reliance on automation and technology.

Among those are unmanned patrol systems to protect the island state, its defense minister Ng Eng Hen said.

The Singapore government earlier this month described the terror threat as the highest in recent years.

The emergence of militants loyal to Islamic State in the Philippines, where security forces have been battling since late May to recapture Marawi City, showed the extent of the danger to Southeast Asia, Ng said as reported by the US News & World Report.

From July, Singapore plans to train 18,000 servicemen annually for homeland security operations.

But its armed forces are expected to sink by one-third by 2030, due to the country’s low birth rate.

Ng said that the armed forces plan to increase the use of automation and technology to make up for the reduced manpower.

Singapore’s navy, for example, will have two fully autonomous unmanned surface vehicles in operation by 2020.

It is already using artificial intelligence to monitor nearly a thousand vessels passing through Singapore waters daily in order to detect possible threats, according to the defense ministry.

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