Forces: April 8, 2001


Singapore has a unique military situation. The entire country consists of a few small islands (623 square kilometers, not quite four times the size of Washington, DC), but has a population of 3.3 million. The nation was created in 1965 as a way to temper the ethnic tensions between Malays and Chinese in the region. Some 76 percent of Singapore's population is Chinese. The Chinese are often resented, and sometimes attacked, in the region. After the Vietnam war, most of the Chinese living in Vietnam (most for many generations) were driven out. Mindful of the sometimes hostile neighbors, Singapore has built up a small, but modern, well trained and well equipped armed forces of 72,000 active duty troops and 270,000 reserves. One of the more pressing problems is the lack of land for training ground troops. Singapore has turned this liability into an asset by forging alliances with nations like Brunei and Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, where Singapore can send their troops for field training, and getting to know friendly foreigners. By becoming chummy with neighbors who also face foreign threats (Taiwan and Brunei), Singapore has added a network of useful diplomacy to its core of formidable military power. 


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