Leadership: Singapore Seeks India


October 16, 2007: Singapore has made a deal with India that will enable Singaporean military units to train in India. Earlier this year, a similar deal was made with Indonesia, although that one recently fell apart.

Singapore has a population of only 4.5 million, crammed onto only 704 square kilometers. There's no space for military training areas, and Singaporean forces travel as far as North America to train. While Indonesia is a neighbor, India is the regional superpower. It's not called the Indian Ocean for nothing. But for India, Singapore is the regional financial superpower, with an enormous concentration of banks and financial institutions. Singapore, along with Malaysia and Indonesia, also sit astride the vital Straits of Malacca, through which most of the world's oil exports pass. India has an interest in seeing the Malacca Straits remaining in friendly hands. Malaysia and Indonesia are both predominantly Moslem, and predominantly Hindu India is the target for many Islamic radical groups. So Singapore (largely Buddhist, Taoist and Christian) is seen as a natural ally. Singapore also is a democracy with a thriving economy, a combination that India shares.

Singapore is also becoming more defense conscious. It recently increased its defense budget from $6.5 billion, to $6.8 billion a year. That's for an armed forces of 60,000 troops. On a per-capita basis, Singapore spends more on the military, and has more people in uniform, than the United States. The Singapore military is one of the best equipped, trained and led in the region. Singapore has the best educated and most affluent population in the region. With so much worth defending, Singapore is ready to take on any hostile neighbors (mainly Malaysia, which Singapore used to be part of.)


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