Saturday, January 18, 2014

The number 369 and the fieriness of a chilli padi...

Back in the 1930s, when Joseph Stalin was giving Roman Catholics in the Soviet Union a hard time, someone urged him to ease off. Stalin's famous reply was: "The Pope? How many divisions has he got?"

(Division note: A division has upwards of 10,000 soldiers.)

In today's peacetime context, the world's remaining superpower -- the United States -- has no more than 13 operationally ready divisions: three marine and 10 army. China's million-man strong army, on a guesstimate, has about 75 divisions. But no US Army general is at present losing sleep over these comparative figures.

So why am I bringing these figures up?

TODAY (Jan 18) carried this report:

According to TODAY, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed the number of divisions that tiny Singapore -- a.k.a The Little Red Dot -- has:

That means the SAF has at least 3,690,000 (3.6 million) soldiers, not counting those not attached to the 369 divisions! Are the people at TODAY aware that Singapore's citizen population is currently 3.31 million? Indeed, this figure is from a TODAY article:

The newspaper's checkers should have been more careful. I am sure there are ex-national servicemen among its editors.

This is what most NSmen in Singapore would already have known: Our chilli padi SAF has three divisions: the 3rd, 6th, and 9th Divisions. So my bet is that Minister Ng Eng Hen said: "... we have the 3(rd), 6(th), 9(th) Divisions...".

So the answer, if a modern day Stalin were to pose the question -- "Singapore? How many divisions does that Little Red Dot has?"-- is just three. But the adviser giving that answer would be wise to add: "But, boss, don't let size fool you."

Chilli footnote: The chilli padi is a diminutive chilli but it packs a heck of a wallop, "chilli-fiery" wise.

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