Everything About the First Total Defence Exercise from 15 Feb to 29 Feb

We all probably think that Total Defence Day is simply a day where we can hear sirens outside of our windows, but the Ministry of Defense of Singapore (MINDEF) are kicking things up a notch this year. 

15 February marks Singapore’s fall to the Japanese occupation in 1942. Since its launch in 1984, Total Defence has rallied Singaporeans together in responding to challenges that threaten Singapore’s independence and well-being.

It serves as a reminder that every Singaporean has a part to play to help strengthen our defences against these threats and challenges.

As Singapore commemorates 40 years of Total Defence (TD40) in 2024, the theme “Together We Keep Singapore Strong” highlights the ongoing relevance of this national defence concept in addressing contemporary challenges.

In the face of hybrid threats like misinformation, supply chain disruptions, and food security issues, the TD40 campaign emphasises the collective responsibility of every Singaporean to contribute to the nation’s preparedness and resilience.

Image: sg101.gov.sg

To commemorate Total Defence this year, MINDEF also unveiled the brand new TD40 logo which would be used throughout activities in 2024. 

It serves as a visual representation of unity, reflecting the importance of individual and community actions in maintaining Singapore’s security and stability.

What to Expect This Year

Exercise SG Ready, is a brand new key initiative under TD40 set to take place from 15 February to 29 February 2024.

MINDEF adds that “The aim of the exercise is to get individuals, communities and businesses thinking about the question, ‘Are you ready for disruptions?'”

Image: sg101.gov.sg

This inaugural exercise aims to enhance Singaporeans’ readiness for crises by simulating various scenarios, including power, water, food supply, digital connectivity disruptions, civil emergencies triggered by cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and even drone attacks from anonymous actors.

The exercise encourages individuals, communities, and businesses to develop and implement their contingency plans for potential disruptions.

The simulated disruptions will unfold at over 500 buildings, including schools, offices, government, and commercial buildings, as well as attractions. It would involve the temporary halting of escalators and air-conditioners on different days.


Additionally, 20 notable public buildings, including the Treasury, Supreme Court, National Heritage Board museums, Esplanade Theatres, and Suntec Convention Centre, will turn off their facade lighting to replicate a blackout resulting from a cyber attack on the power grid.

Exercise SG Ready will also simulate an attack on Singapore using a variety of hybrid security threats from an anonymous aggressor deploying cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and drones against various targets.

Moreover, participants will experience power outages, limited food options, and disruptions to essential services. 

Select markets and hawker centres will close their doors on 26 and 27 February to simulate food supply disruptions. This will take place during the already scheduled quarterly market and hawker centre cleaning.

Businesses and organisations participating in Exercise SG Ready will receive ready-to-eat meals developed by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and SATS, along with water bags provided by PUB.

These meals, designed to incorporate local produce and essential nutrients, showcase the nation’s commitment to self-sufficiency in times of crisis. These meals can also be stored at room temperature and have a long shelf life.

The meals are also intended to encourage flexibility in food choices, such as using frozen chicken and not only chilled meat, said SFA.

A video unveiled by MINDEF illustrates how hybrid threats can disrupt our daily lives. It also helps set the context for the simulated disruptions happening in the two weeks.

Image: YouTube (TotalDefenceSG)

Conventions and Open Houses to Raise Awareness

To further enhance public engagement and awareness, on 23 February, open houses of civil defence shelters are scheduled at Dakota, Potong Pasir, and Tan Kah Kee MRT stations to illustrate the transformation of stations into public shelters in times of emergencies.

A Total Defence convention in April and a roving Total Defence exhibition showcasing Singaporeans’ contributions over the past 40 years will also be held throughout the year.

Additionally, a dynamic Total Defence display at the National Day Parade 2024 will underline the concept’s significance.

Furthermore, the Cyber Security Agency will launch playbooks to help organisations deal with phishing threats, while Nexus offers a Total Defence Table-Top Exercise package for reviewing contingency plans.

Highlighting the potential impact of a crisis on Singapore’s more vulnerable populations, the Community Chest will initiate a donation and volunteering campaign. This effort aims to encourage members of the public to provide support to their fellow citizens in times of need.

Exercise was a Response to Public Feedback

Brigadier-General Kelvin Fan, Deputy Secretary for Policy at MINDEF and Chairman of the Executive Committee for Total Defence 40, highlighted the importance of creating experiential and action-based initiatives.

This came about due to public feedback stating that most Singaporeans, though aware of the significance of Total Defence, do not know how to actively contribute to it.

Hence, Exercise SG Ready serves as a practical way to activate public thinking and inspire action in the face of potential crises.

As Singapore continues to evolve and face new challenges, the Total Defence concept remains a cornerstone of national resilience.

The TD40 campaign reinforces the idea that every individual has a role to play in keeping Singapore strong and secure.

The events and initiatives planned for the year underscore the nation’s commitment to Total Defence as a dynamic and comprehensive approach to safeguarding its future.

If you would like to find out more about the locations and dates of the simulated disruptions for Exercise SG Ready, you can visit the SGReadygowhere website.

You can also head over to SG101’s website to find out about the other activities in store this TD40, including the Total Defence Sandbox, the Total Defence Murder Mystery Role-playing Game (MMRPG) Video Series, and even a Total Defence Tower Defence Game (TDTDG)!