In the wake of the untimely demise of actor Aloysius Pang as well as 3 other recent SAF-related deaths, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Melvyn Ong announced on Thursday, January 31, that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be establishing an Inspector-General’s Office (IGO) whose purpose it is to make sure that “command emphasis on safety is consistently applied” for all the units of the armed forces.The new IGO will directly report to the Chief of Defence Force and has complete authority to examine and implement safety practices and processes for all levels of SAF. The Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) said that Ong met with 750 active and operationally-ready National Service (NS) commanders at a command call at Pasir Laba Camp on January 31 to discuss making training safer for servicemen.All senior commanders of SAF attended the meeting, wherein Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Goh Si Hou, Chief of Air Force Major-General Mervyn Tan, Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong were also present.Goh, who talked to the press after the meeting, said that SAF will increase full-time safety officers as well as safety inspection teams for monitoring safety systems in all the units, as part of endeavors from the armed forces to increase on-ground safety measures. Additionally, Goh said that the safety time-out that took effect after the death of Pang would end by Thursday next week, February 7.Basic physical fitness training, small arms live-firing, Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) and IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) will resume for Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen).Goh added that SAF’s biggest overseas training for this year, called the Exercise Wallaby, could possibly be scaled down. “We’re looking at re-scoping the scale of our exercises, including our overseas exercises… so that we can really free up capacity and allow every unit to focus on their training.”
Ong also asked for servicemen to adopt a “zero accident” mindset and to do their work with mindfulness, doing “things right the first time, every time”.
Yahoo News Singapore reports him as saying, “Safety is a command responsibility. Commanders answer for the training and safety of their men. To do so, commanders have to be fully committed and personally and intimately involved in their unit’s training, operations, and safety. The reduction in training tempo will allow us, commanders, to take stock, re-orientate, and give full attention to this.”
Ong added that he and the army, air force and navy chiefs and commanders at all levels will be visiting SAF units to make sure that safe training methods are observed.
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