Military litter can have dire consequences in wartime

While we should not be hasty in pointing fingers at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for the empty food ration packets, mess tins and transparencies bearing map markings found littered around reservoirs and a beach, the volume and description of the items collected make it hard to think otherwise ("Visitors bugged by litter at scenic spots"; May 3).

Besides this being inconsiderate and uncivil behaviour, it suggests a more serious problem - a kink in our military training or, worse, military indiscipline.

In wartime, such litter could lead an enemy to our soldiers, and transparencies (or other materials) with map markings could expose our soldiers' operational objectives.

These could lead to dire consequences for our armed forces fighting a battle.

The SAF has said that our soldiers are educated and consistently briefed to keep training areas litter-free and to clean up before decamping.

The assistant chief of general staff (training) has said that the SAF receives public feedback on occurrences of litter in training areas from time to time.

This suggests that there are more occurrences that have gone unreported.

Military exercises are a serious business, during which our armed forces train for any eventuality.

This is why our servicemen traverse the globe to various training facilities to exercise and train at great cost to our taxpayers.

I suggest a review of our training standard operating procedures to ensure that our soldiers know the consequence of littering in the battlefield.

The cost of not doing so will be long term and will be felt only when the chips are down.

Ng Chor Chye

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'Military litter can have dire consequences in wartime'. Print Edition | Subscribe