More recognition and added safety measures to better care for servicemen: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE - Devices that keep track of soldiers training in difficult terrain and heat stress monitors to reduce the number of heat injury cases are among the recent enhancements taken to ensure the safety of servicemen here, said Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing on Thursday.

Both technologies were introduced to various army units and its training centres in June last year.

The soldier tracker system, which links devices on troops to a central system via satellite services, provides real-time monitoring of their movements in difficult terrain and small unit operations. Previously, soldiers in navigation exercises were only equipped with military radio sets and satellite phones.'

Hand-held heat stress monitors, which generate readings based on the temperature, wind speed, pressure and humidity, were also introduced last year. These devices enable commanders on the ground to monitor and plan around weather conditions.

In his Committee of Supply speech, Mr Chan highlighted various improvements to the training systems to better care for soldiers, including added safety measures and more recognition for servicemen.

From September, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), together with the Home Affairs Ministry, will be advancing Medisave grant payments for full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) when they are serving their two-year NS stints.

For the first milestone payment of the NS Housing, Medical and Education (NS Home) Awards, NSFs previously receive $3,000 in their Post-Secondary Education Account, and $2,000 in their Central Provident Fund Medisave Account after they complete their two-year National Service.

Advance disbursements of $200 from the NS Home Medisave grant will be given to NSFs one month after they enlist, with a second advance of $200. This happens 12 months later. The remaining Medisave grant will be disbursed into their account when they complete their two-year stints.

Mr Chan noted that since the implementation of the award last September, more than 56,000 national servicemen have benefited, with about $270 million disbursed.

The ministry has also accepted the recommendations by the Advisory Council for Community Relations in Defence (Accord) and the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS). These include a revamped Total Defence Awards that recognises individuals such as superiors, colleagues and family members of NSmen, and a reduction of waiting times for NS enlistment to not more than six months from the completion of their post-secondary education.

calyang@sph.com.sg