Modern gear doesn't make soldiers soft

I applaud the army for implementing the new heat-dissipating shirt, though it could have been sooner.

Contrary to the view held by Dr Michael Loh Toon Seng ('Air-con' shirts won't toughen our soldiers; June 22), I do not think the shirt is about making our soldiers comfortable.

Rather, it is about harnessing technology to our maximum benefit, to enhance productivity and effectiveness.

We do not have to worry about these enlistees becoming wimps or that it will prevent these boys from becoming men.

The training and the responsibility our soldiers carry, together with the pledge they make over the Singapore flag, will take care of that.

Also, these modern shirts and the elbow guards used by the soldiers, which Dr Loh referred to in his letter, don't make the soldiers soft.

Rather, they give soldiers greater speed and agility, allowing them to manoeuvre over rocks and pebbles without suffering unnecessary injuries.

Many forces in the world use these elbow guards, heat-dissipating shirts and other modern gadgets to help soldiers function better.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) cannot intentionally reject progress and technology under the mistaken belief that these work against our soldiers.

We should not let our idealism blind our pragmatism.

Heat injuries remain a major concern for the SAF. Every heat injury should be prevented, and we should not be unduly concerned about whether improvements that are made will make our soldiers soft.

Eng Keng Huak

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline 'Modern gear doesn't make soldiers soft'. Print Edition | Subscribe