Safety of utmost importance to the SAF

We thank Ms Mimi Yeo and agree fully with her letter that training safety is of the utmost importance to SAF soldiers (Constantly review national service training, safety procedures; Sept 19).

The Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) are deeply saddened by the death of 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Gavin Chan Hiang Cheng.

We grieve together with his family who has lost a good son. We will do our best to assist the family in this difficult period.

Safety is a core value of the SAF, even as our soldiers train realistically to defend Singapore.

Our safety outcomes for number of deaths are among the lowest in the world, but the SAF fully recognises that we must do everything possible to prevent any loss of life or bodily harm to soldiers.

To accomplish this, the SAF has a comprehensive safety system which is regularly updated.

We have also commissioned an External Review Panel on SAF Safety, consisting of prominent safety experts and professionals from outside the SAF, to advise on its safety management system.

Prior to the exercises, whether local or overseas, thorough planning, reconnaissance and coordination are carried out by the units.

A safety management plan is then developed to identify potential risks and establish mitigating measures.

Servicemen attend safety briefings, orientation training and take training safety regulations tests.

Inspections on compliance to safety regulations are regularly conducted by unit commanders and safety officers, as well as external safety teams.

After every incident, including the latest case that resulted in the unfortunate demise of 3SG Chan, a thorough investigation is carried out and safety systems strengthened against similar occurrences.

Any negligence, if found, will be dealt with appropriately.

In this particular case, the SAF paused training for all units in the area to review training and safety management plans to ensure that safety was not compromised before resuming training activities.

BG Kenneth Liow

Commander Army Training and Doctrine Command

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Safety of utmost importance to the SAF'. Print Edition | Subscribe