Towards a ‘Forward Defence’ for Singapore: Revisiting the Strategy of the Singapore Armed Forces, 1971-1978


  • Abdul Rahman Yaacob Australian National University (ANU), Australia



Conventional narratives emphasise Singapore’s defence policy from 1965 to the early 1980s as defensive-oriented. Drawing on previously under used research materials from Australia, Britain and the United States, this article examines Singapore’s defence strategy during the 1970s and argues that during that period Singapore’s Armed Forces (SAF) focused on acquiring the capability to conduct an offensive military campaign within Malaysia in the event of threats to Singapore’s security or the continuity of  its water supply from Malaysia. The United States termed this strategy forward defence. The article also discusses Australian, British, and the United States’ contributions towards Singapore’s ‘forward defence’ strategy.