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New SAF hybrid uniform goes viral, sparking both ridicule and intense support online

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The new Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) hybrid uniform that has been engineered to help troops beat the heat has sparked both ridicule and intense support online, after photos of the uniform went viral on social media.

The Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) unveiled the new hybrid uniforms yesterday, months after the uniforms were rolled out in January this year. In a press release, MINDEF revealed that the uniforms have been in development since 2011 and are designed to improved troop performance by “providing better comfort and heat dissipation.”

MINDEF added that these fast-drying uniforms are made of both “high-performance fabric” as well as the “tougher No. 4 uniform pixelised fabric” and are are meant to be worn underneath the soldiers’ Integrated Load Bearing Vests (iLBVs) during operations and training.

Besides allowing better air permeability due to its porous construction, the hybrid tops are fire resistant and boast self-extinguishing abilities, besides being 60 per cent more effective for drying than No. 4 uniform.

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The hybrid tops quickly drew flak from certain quarters on social media, with several netizens ridiculing the design of the uniform and circulating memes such as:

<Readers Contribution by Jason>On another note.. The uniform damn ugly sia.

Posted by All Singapore Stuff on Wednesday, 20 June 2018

While many poked fun at the uniform online, others intensely supported the aim of the new uniform to help prevent heat-related injuries.

One such voice, netizen Daniel Ong, fiercely defended the uniform on Facebook in a post that has received over a thousand “likes” in less than a day. Asserting that Singaporeans who think the uniform is stupid are “brats” and “ugly”, Ong wrote:

“If you simply dislike the color of the torso material, then no arguments here. Everyone has their color preference, including me. But if you’re complaining because you think it’s a stupid or worthless introduction by DSTA, you’re being a fucking brat.
“Combat shirts have been used by Special Operations since early-2005 when the guys wanted a cooler (heh) option to combat the desert heat. Since then, countries all around the world have adopted this technology not just for their Special Ops, but for their regular grunts as well. We’re far behind.
“But this rant isn’t just to prove that the new combat shirt is an extremely long overdue addition, but it’s to prove that Singaporeans can be fucking ugly.
“When that Guardsman unfortunately passed away due to heat stroke, almost all of you were up in arms. But when an improvement is brought in here you are shooting it down without any hesitance. There is also a small minority that claim our army is being too soft on its soldiers by catering to needs like this. This is exactly why our country cannot prosper, it’s because of people like you. When the government does nothing, you complain. When they do something right, here you are complaining also, so what then? What would you have done?
“Sorry but this uniform addition to the SAF would be making a much better difference than you ever will.”

If you simply dislike the color of the torso material, then no arguments here. Everyone has their color preference,…

Posted by Daniel Ong on Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The Guardsman that Ong referred to in his post is late NSF Dave Lee who died days before his 19th birthday, on Apr 30 – nearly two weeks after “displaying signs of heat injury” following an 8km fast march at Bedok Camp.

Chief of Defence Force Major-General (MG) Melvyn Ong revealed yesterday that the 5-member external panel that was convened following Lee’s untimely passing has said that improvements could be made to how the SAF prevents and responds to heat injuries.

He added: “This panel has been going through the processes, measures and policies for heat injury management in the SAF. Two of the areas that they have suggested improvements are in the areas of prevention and response to heat injuries.”

MG Ong further said that the panel is “not ready yet” to share more details and that it will take a “few more months.” He said: “We will wait for the findings and then we will share. We’re working as quickly and as thoroughly as we can so we’ll get it out as soon as we can.”

Besides rolling out the new hybrid uniforms, MINDEF has ensured that the independent panel looking into Lee’s passing has visited Bedok Camp to go through the implementation of heat injury policies on the ground: “The panel has provided feedback that the SAF’s heat injury policies and measures are essentially sound and aligned with prevalent industry and foreign military practices.”

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